Matt Berry is a man of seemingly infinite talents. He’s an actor of the funniest and highest order. He’s also, it turns out, an accomplished musician whose albums run the gamut from jazzy interpretations of classic television themes to what can best be described as “British folk horror prog rock.” It is in the spirit of that last effort that I bring you the following suggestions for what spooky book to read this fall based on your favorite Matt Berry incarnation.
Kill the Wolf/Witchazel | Devil’s Day, Andrew Michael Hurley
There’s a song called “Devil Inside Me” on Kill the Wolf that goes “Remember we met at the old goose fair? I hate to admit that I was never there” over a slightly menacing pastoral folk beat–and therein lies a perfect encapsulation of British folk horror. Andrew Michael Hurley’s work is full of those slow-burn, slightly-mannered scares, particularly the wonderings about the reality of the Devil in Devil’s Day.
Douglas Reynholm, The IT Crowd | IT, Stephen King
Berry loves to play a gregarious idiot and his scenery-chomping character on The IT Crowd stole nearly every scene he was in. And sometimes you want that! Big, boisterous, blissfully unaware of his behavior… sounds like Uncle Stevie in his imperial phase to me.
Dixon Bainbridge, The Mighty Boosh | The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria, trans. Ramon Glazov
Bainbridge was my first introduction to Matt Berry, and while there are weirder, darker elements of the Boosh, his greedy capitalist villain leaves a lasting impression. De Maria’s strange allegory of neo-fascism and over-sharing lingers in just the same way.
Michael Squeamish, Squeamish About… | American Predator, Maureen Callahan
Squeamish is ostensibly a documentary show, so let’s turn to some non-fiction — particularly Maureen Callahan’s absolutely terrifying exposé on one of the most frightening real-life serial killers to ever darken this Earth.
Stephen Toast, Toast of London | To Drown in Dark Water, Steve Toase
It’s not hard, their names are almost exactly the same. Also, a short story collection feels apropos for one of the greatest stage actors (and voiceover artists) in all of London. (Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango.)
Todd Rivers/Dr. Lucien Sanchez, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace | Meddling Kids, Edgar Cantero
Darkplace is possibly the zaniest show that Berry has been a part of (which is really saying something), full of meta jokes, over-the-top eeriness, and nearly offensive 80s-ness. Cantero, a modern master of the meta and the zany, delivers a similarly outrageous (and delightful) riff on both Scooby-Doo and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.
Laszlo Cravensworth, What We Do in the Shadows | Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, ed. by Carmen Maria Machado
BAT! I didn’t want to be so obvious as to pair Berry’s vampire with any of the truly famous vampires (I nearly chose The Vampire Lestat because that jam session would be wild) — but Carmen Maria Machado’s excellently edited edition of Carmilla is erotic and strange and under-appreciated, much like Berry.
The Blue Elephant | Animal Money, Michael Cisco
Berry’s latest album is a full-on psychedelic freak-fest that shows off his many instrumental talents (he plays everything but the drums, which blows my mind) — and Michael Cisco’s mind-bending epic about rogue economists who imagine sentient money into existence delivers the same kind of delightfully maximalist weirdness.
Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender, What We Do in the Shadows | No Gods, No Monsters, Cadwell Turnbull
This instantly iconic performance gets its own pairing because of course it does. Jackie’s got a big heart and knows how to take care of his town and he’s definitely a regular human bartender and not a vampire. So how about a book where things are definitely normal? Yep, no gods, no monsters (except, well, obviously…)