Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: Childhood (page 2 of 2)

11 Halloween Movie Recommendations for Fans and Non-Fans

As a devoted horror movie fan, I’ll be the first to admit that the market is glutted with horror movies, most of them terrible. And not in an enjoyable, over-the-top kind of way.

If you are a horror movie novice searching for a good horror movie, the simultaneous breadth of availability and lack of choice entertainment can be discouraging. Horror fans feel that way all the time, but we know enough that we can make solid recommendations.

With Halloween fast approaching, I decided to compile a list of horror movies with solid scares and terror but that are accessible to a wide audience. The following films are perfect for a Halloween watch party because 1) they are relatively easy to find on streaming services, 2) they’re actually well-made films, and 3) they scare audiences in thoughtful, enjoyable, entertaining ways.

Even if you’re a horror movie buff, I feel like this list is a nicely packaged bundle of great horror movies that present a strong argument for the merits of horror. These movies are harrowing, smart, witty, and funny. They are heartbreaking and profound. They reinforce the magic of telling stories through the medium of film and legitimize a genre that critics loves to hate.

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30 Years of IT – Stephen King’s Enduring Horror Classic

September marks the 30th anniversary of IT, Stephen King’s infamous 1986 novel. IT sold a million copies in its first run and spent weeks on the bestseller lists. Like so many of King’s horrific tales, IT has broken past the confines of the own story, spreading chills and scares through our nation’s pop culture and terrorizing children and adults alike. People who have never read the book or seen the movie still know who Pennywise the Clown is.

Case in point: when I was a child, all the kids at school knew about the killer clown from the sewer who murdered children. We’d all seen that black book with the blood red letters sitting on a parent’s bookshelf, just out of reach. Some of us had even seen parts of the movie. Many of us had no idea what the actual story was; it didn’t stop us. We whispered and teased each other about Pennywise, and no one really wanted a clown at their birthday party. Such was the strength of that symbol.

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20 Years Later, The Craft Is More Than A Cult Classic

One of my all-time favorite movies is 90s horror classic The Craft. I’ve loved this film since the first time I saw it, close to 20 years ago. I think it’s something of a perfect movie in many ways— gloriously 90s, unapologetically goth, and brimming with witchy fun. Those god-awful clothes? That terrible wig Robin Tunney wears? The maroon lipstick and smudged black eyeliner? Love Spits Love’s awesome cover of The Smiths “How Soon Is Now”?

TheCraft1

Neve Campbell, what are you wearing?!?!

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Autumnal Musings on the Wonderfully Morbid Art of Edward Gorey

Oftentimes, autumn puts me in a melancholy mood and only the most wonderful morbid art makes me feel better. Someting pretty, something scary, and something Gorey.

It has to do with how autumn affects me. The nights get very cold. The days wilt and dim under the flat, gray light. In Texas, because we don’t have real autumn, the leaves wither to a dull brown instead of the fiery colors other states enjoy. As such, the sickly brown emphasizes the emaciated, skeletal tree branches. And as the sky begins to darken earlier and earlier, all I find myself wanting to do is be home. There is a small voice urging me to go home, to get inside where it’s warm and safe.

I experience a curious mixture of forlornness and calm during these cold months. There is beauty in the cold. It possesses a certain elegance as it sweeps in with its frosty nights and frigid winds. Despite my apprehension of the cold (I am from Texas, y’all), when it washes over me in a sudden gust, I accept it.

And it always makes me think of the dark. Of the end.

It has always been this way for me. Every year.

I don’t share this to be overly morbid. There are some wonderful bright points in autumn and winter—tons of holidays, good food, time spent with family and friends, and no work! I only mean to acknowledge the connection.

I’ve always thought it had something to do with the fact that, around Halloween and into November, my grade school’s library would put out all the really good scary books. Overnight, beautifully illustrated copies of the children’s version of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein would appear. There were numerous volumes of ghost stories, urban legends, and campfire tales. One of the best and creepiest of these books was the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark series, of which I’ve already written about here and here. Those books were deliciously scary, so good that most kids felt compelled to read them, no matter how much those pictures frightened them.

Another one of my favorites was the wickedly artful The Gashlycrumb Tinies, written and illustrated by Edward Gorey. I always remembered those dark tales, despite having long forgotten the name of the author. I remembered the sinister rhyme, offered to help small children remember the alphabet. I remembered the demented but clever drawings.

And it was a particularly grey day that inspired me to dig through my books to revisit this part of my childhood.

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Fantasy Horror: A Horror Subgenre to Watch For

The genre of horror tends to go through phases where certain subgenres experiencing a sort of “renaissance”, where writers and filmmakers explore all limits of the subgenre, where audiences become temporarily obsessed with the subgenre. It’s happened with creature features, psychological horror, slasher films, haunted houses, demonic possession, and the hyper-realistic gore of the “torture porn” subgenre. I guess that, currently, supernatural “found-footage” horror is the big, mainstream deal, what with the Paranormal Activity series, the V/H/S/ series, and July’s upcoming The Gallows.

However, a wholly different type of horror is bubbling up from underneath. Movies and television are gradually starting to explore the intersection between the sinister and the fantastic, while books have long intertwined the two.

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You need to know about the Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark Documentary

Almost anyone I’ve ever asked has fond memories of the classic children’s series Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Even now as adults, most people I’ve talked to excitedly remember the vivid tales and the terrifying illustrations. Remember those?

Back in October, I wrote a blog post about Scary Stories. In that post, I reminisced about how much I loved those books—how they creeped me out, how I felt compelled to read them despite their scariness. Those books struck the perfect balance between whimsy, horror, and folklore, creating a darkly inviting world.

Sometimes I’d read the story with one hand covering the picture until I had worked up the nerve to look at! Even now, I feel like a little kid reading these, scaring myself silly.

 

IT’S LOOKING AT ME

I’ve always thought that these books held a power far strong than nostalgia alone. As this blog demonstrates, I’m fascinated by the way in which Scary Stories resonate with us and teach us about ourselves.

So imagine my utter joy and excitement when I heard that a team of filmmakers is producing a documentary about the history of this series! You read that right! Director and Producer Cody Meirick and his team are currently working to explore everything from the publication history of the Scary Stories, the legacy of the iconic illustrations, the importance the books lend to children’s literature, and efforts by some to restrict access to the books, among other subjects. The team has already begun production on the film, having already conducted a handful of interviews, with plans for many more.

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Why the Poltergeist Remake Won’t Be As Good As The Original

Last week, news of the Poltergeist remake set fire to the Internet, and not in a good way. In an interview with Collider, Sam Rockwell, who has been cast as father figure Eric Bowen in the remake, dished out details about the new film. And what he shared may give pause to some fans of the original, including myself.

I should probably disclose that the 1982 film Poltergeist is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love it. I’ve loved it since I was a small child and I love it now. Every time it comes on TV, I drop everything and let myself get sucked into the world of the Freeling Family—mother Diane, father Steven, and children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Ann. Poor, sweet Carol Ann. It’s utterly compelling—well-acted, scary, and an incredibly well-balanced story. It’s amazing and awesome and you can’t convince me otherwise. It doesn’t need to be remade.

So it’s not surprising that my immediate reaction to news of a remake (an unnecessary remake) was to make this face:

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Hocus Pocus and the Independence of Children

Didn’t you just love Hocus Pocus when you were a kid?

I remember watching this movie as a kid and loving every minute. Even now as an adult, this movie is so much fun. It’s the right mix of scary, dangerous, funny, over the top, and whimsical. Who would think that a movie about three grotesque witch sisters who want to attain eternal youth and beauty by kidnapping small children and consuming their life force would be so entertaining? It certainly helps that the witches, while scary, are bumbling and ridiculous and completely over the top.

 

LOVE IT

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Ghost Stories for Childhood – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Why do kids love being scared? Not just sneaking slasher films or scary movies, I’m talking about ghosts stories, urban legends, monster stories told in tight circles, bathed either in the glow of the TV or the campfire.

Tales of the boogeyman. Playing “Light as a Feather.” Communicating with the other side using a Ouija board. Gathering the courage to summon Bloody Mary in a dark, cramped bathroom.

I think kids feel the same attraction adults feel. Scary things make you excited, in the purest physiological meaning of the term.

You know what it feels like to watch a really, truly terrifying movie. Your heart rate increases, as does your blood pressure and your respiration rate. Your amygdala goes to work, flashing signals to your pituitary glands and adrenaline glands, which, depending on how intense the situation is, release adrenaline and cortisol.

It’s a rush, and people generally love the sensation.

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