The Funeral: One Happening Place!

This week we’re taking a look at a short story called “The Funeral”, written by Richard Matheson (of last week’s I am Legend fame). This short story is a complete opposite in tone and theme than I am Legend. Where as the longer novella really dealt with the concept of who exactly was the monster, and loneliness and desperation in the end times, “The Funeral” read to me like a who’s who of creepy crawlies, just out to celebrate and support each other. And what better way for them to celebrate than by going to a funeral?


Poor Morton Silkline, the funeral director. He gets thrown into it right away, having to plan an extravagant funeral for a Mister Asper, who actually comes into his office to do all of his arrangements. The guy is physically there, so he’s definitely not dead, or at least not yet. Silkline can’t even fathom what this is all about, but it’s made pretty clear the night of the funeral, when Asper comes in with a witch, a creepy dude that keeps saying “tasty”, a hunchback named Ygor (of course) and other classic spooky characters. The “funeral” goes off with only a slight hitch and an almost brawl with lightning involved, but the overall festivities pleased Asper so much he recommended the funeral home to another of his “friends.”

One of the great details of this story is the description of Morton Silkline. I actually thought for a moment that he was the one that was part of the creepy-crawly brigade. His simpering manners, and his “liver-colored” eyes instantly set him apart for me. Though, to be honest, I think there is something about working at a funeral home that makes you straddle the line between here and there. I quickly realized though that he was the odd one of the bunch, being very human, and (pardon the pun) extremely mortified by the funeral and its guests.

This looks like a party to me!

This looks like a party to me!

This story feels like a party, or a high school reunion, more than an actual funeral. This may sound weird, but it kind of reminded me of the movie Hotel Transylvania. I could totally see these guys celebrating their friend, then having a party, or a wake of sorts, where there’s all sorts of nasty nibbles that creepies like to eat, and funky dance moves, and the occasional row. And I love that kind of vision. It’s the “monsters are people too” thought, or at least “monsters were once people too”.

Why wouldn’t they band together, compare notes, share experiences, be friends, or at least have tolerable working relationships? We as human beings do the same thing. And if one of us had an important party planned, like a wedding, or a shower, or a graduation, we’d want our friends there to support us.

Hopefully our friends wouldn’t throw lightning around or try to eat any of the other guests.



  1. I totally agree with you. I hadn’t thought of Hotel Transylvania until you said it but that totally fits for those guys. I could see them rotating each year who got to have the funeral. Pretty awesome. And definitely agree about the monsters are people theme.

  2. I like the idea of this as more of a party for the monsters than a proper funeral – it gives Jenny’s actions a whole different spin and makes a lot more sense. I didn’t pick up on Silkline being kind of monstrous, but now that you mention it I think you are onto something. I did wonder on my first reading why none of them tried to do anything to him. He was right there, passed out on the rug. Maybe they were extending a courtesy to one of their own?

    • I feel like Ludwig would have thought it extremely rude if anyone had tried to eat Silkline. He was providing them a service, after all. And Ludwig did apologize for his guests behaving poorly.

  3. Oh, gosh with that cute little picture of Winona, I hadn’t even thought of this as a Beetlejuice sort of thing or even Tim Burton-esque at all. How silly of me! Clearly this was a big influence on Burton.

  4. I agree with Bryan’s comment and like your interpretation of the funeral as being more of a party than an actual funeral. It’s another humanizing characteristic of this band of classic monsters

  5. I agree with Kathleen–love the Beetlejuice reference (one of my favorite movies). In many ways, The Funeral is a 1950’s version of the same kind of story, which could explain why I loved it so much.

  6. I swear Bryan, when Silkline passed out then woke up, I thought he was going to be one of the undead. Or at least missing fingers. And I approve of the monster party. We should have that be the theme of one of the summer balls in an upcoming residency.

  7. It isn’t weird that you thought of Hotel Transylvania. The film is basically paying homage to the comedic treatment of monsters in films and TV shows form the 60s, 70s and even 80s. Everything is connected.

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