I can’t believe it’s October already! This is absolutely, my favourite month of the year. Once I get over the pain of leaving summer behind, I fully embrace sweater weather. There is something about the cool, crisp air that inspires comfort. I also enjoy our Canadian Thanksgiving holiday and my favourite holiday of the year…Halloween. In honour of this spooky holiday I thought I would share some of my scariest reads.
Show me any slasher flick and I’ll be sure to sit through most of it without flinching. Show me a good ghost story or a psychological thriller? Chances are I’ll be up with the light on until the wee hours. Same goes for books. There are a few times I wanted to make like Joey from Friends and put my copy of The Shining in the freezer…
The Shining by Stephen King
Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr. Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of an the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.
As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of it’s own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?
Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine…
Stephen King…master of the mindfuck. I was barely out of my teens when I first read The Shining. While reading, I actually had to read a different book after in order to sleep…it freaked me out that much. I’ve only had the courage to read it once more since then. The movie version by Stanley Kubrick, is quite different…but still packs tons of creep factor. I make a point of watching it every Halloween.
IT by Stephen King
A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.
To read the synopsis, I was expecting much in the way of scare. Oh ho ho…how wrong I was. This is also my second favourite book of Stephen King. I love the characters. Except for Pennywise…I have a thing for clowns. *shudders* They did do a movie, and I wasn’t impressed for the most part. But with Tim Curry as Pennywise? Nailed it. Completely freaked me out.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in that house. But the property complete with boathouse and swimming pool and the price were too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror. This is the spellbinding, best-selling true story that gripped the nation, the story of a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.
I watched this when I was quite young, it wasn’t until I was older that I finally read the book. Yeah, I won’t be reading this one again. The redid the movie a few years ago with Ryan Reynolds (which is what sold me on watching it even though I knew it would freak my shit out). And as yummy as he was? Still scared me. Thanks to this version of the movie, if I wake up anywhere near 3:15am and need to use the washroom? Dude…I’m not going anywhere near the bathroom at that time….
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker did not invent the vampire story, but he popularized it with his classic 1897 novel. In form Dracula is an epistolary novel, told through a series of journal entries, letters, newspaper articles, and telegrams. It begins with lawyer Jonathan Harker’s perilous journey to Castle Dracula in Transylvania, and chronicles the vampire’s invasion of England, where he preys upon the lovely Lucy Westenra and Harker’s fiancee, Mina. Harker and Mina join forces with lunatic asylum proprieter Dr. Seward, Lucy’s fiance Arthur Holmwood, Texas man of action Quincey Morris, and Dutch vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing to try and defeat their powerful adversary.
I tried reading this a few times when I was a teenager, but I just couldn’t get into the cadence of the book. A few years later? I flew through the book, and my true love for vampires was born. What scared me the most about this book? He followed Jonathan back home to England. The idea that there was no where safe to go, really got to me. There have been several movies done, but I am truly a product of my time and prefer the most recent version by Francis Ford Coppola. Gary Oldman was the PERFECT Dracula, and the movie captured everything I loved about the book.
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.
This is my most recent addition to my scary reads list, which I reviewed a few months ago. You can see the review here. This is not at all a traditional vampire story…it spreads more like a plague and is just as effective. I’m still reading the second book, which is just as creepy as the first. (needs to invest in more light bulbs for my bedside table)
Edgar Allan Poe
I couldn’t forget my favourite macabre writer and poet…the dark romantic of the American Romantic Movement. This man scared me before I even knew who he was. I recall being quite young when I heard a recitation of The Raven by Vincent Price. I hated those birds for a long time after that, though now I believe ravens to be quite intriguing. Some of my favourite Poe pieces: The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, The Oval Portrait, The Fall of the House of Usher, Hop-Frog, and The Black Cat. No matter what piece of his I read though, I’m guaranteed to be disturbed.
Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!