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“Don’t Go Dancing in the Cemetery Tonight”: 7 Translated Tales in Classic Horror Settings

By Susan Harris

If you’re looking for a seasonal chill, we direct you to our archives for these seven narratives that nod to classic horror tropes. While the settings may be familiar, you’ll find no clichés here, as plots take unexpected turns into terror. Featuring uninhabited villas and rustic campgrounds, robotic coworkers and phantom hotel guests, these seven pieces from Mexico, India, Macau, and more are guaranteed to keep you up all night.


“Corporal Liberio himself disappeared a week later, during the night he was on duty. When Fortunato reported to take over from him in the radio room, the corporal was no longer there.”

Sergio Kokis stations a terrified crew in an isolated post in “Incidents at the Evangelista Lighthouse,” translated from French by Hugh Hazelton.


“Yet her colleagues seemed entirely unaffected. They were as quick and uncomplaining as the wind. No matter how tired, hungry, or put upon they were, they forgot themselves in the wholehearted pursuit of money.” 

An ambitious young Macanese woman learns the hideous secret behind the success of her cutthroat employer in Eric Chau and Chi-Wai Un’s “Work Hard,” translated from Chinese by Natascha Bruce.


Photo by Yener Ozturk on Unsplash.


“‘208!’ The manager’s eyes widened in surprise. He opened the register and checked something. ‘There must be a misunderstanding. That room is empty.’”

An Indian philosopher finds that his room at an Athens hotel comes with spectral neighbors in Ajay Navaria’s “Fragmentation,” translated from Hindi by Laura Brueck.


“‘No one,’ the man said very calmly. ‘No one,’ he repeated, ‘wants to force you to do anything. No one wants to detain you here against your will.” 

A young man accepts an invitation and finds himself alone in a sinister villa in Markus Orths's “On Killing,” translated from German by Renata Latimer.


“There’s something in the air!” “It looks like glowing snow.”

Glowing snow—and in Buenos Aires to boot? Hector G. Oesterheld and Solano López depict a deadly blizzard in “The Eternonaut,” translated from Spanish by Erica Mena.


Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash


don’t go dancing

in the cemetery: don’t go
dancing in the cemetery: stay here with me

Luis Felipe Fabre mourns a Mexico turned land of the walking dead in “Notes on a Zombie Cataclysm,” translated from Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson.


“That smell had kept them company during the night, the entire night, when they slipped into their sleeping bags, then out, then back in, finally falling asleep; it was a rancid smell, something rotten: the smell of rotten meat.”

Marco Candida trails two campers who pitch a tent and seal their fate in “Dream Diary,” translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris.


Looking for more scary stories? Try these:

For Halloween, 13 Eerie Stories from around the World

Other Lives, Other Worlds

Criminal Minds: International True Crime

Published Oct 27, 2021   Copyright 2021 Susan Harris

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