It’s Christmas Eve, a few hours before midnight. Presents are wrapped. Stockings are hung. If you went to a Christmas Eve party, you’re probably home by now. Any children in the house are tucked snuggly into bed. Before you go off to bed yourself, you and your family might enjoy the fire as it slowly goes out. You might reminisce about past Christmases or tell stories about the meaning of each ornament on the tree. Or you could tell each other ghost stories. Christmas ghost stories.
It’s not as weird as you might think and, in fact, Christmas ghost stories are a time-honored tradition that has been somewhat forgotten as of late. The tradition started in Britain and quickly spread to the U.S. Every Christmas Eve, whole families gathered around the fire and scared each other silly with ghost stories.
Halloween is only a few days away! In case you aren’t yet in the spirit, or if you are and you want to add a bit more scary fun to these last few days, consider picking up one of these classic horror books!
There are a lot of scary stories out there, too many to read. However, if I have to recommend some good scary books, I’ll recommend the following eight classics of the genre. These books are essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in horror fiction because they are 1) thoughtfully written and well-crafted; 2) unsettling, creepy, and horrifying; and 3) insanely influential. Stephen King wouldn’t be famous at all if it weren’t for Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, and Robert W. Chambers.
Also, its worth noting that while you may “know” about these classics, if you haven’t read them, you’re missing out. So run to your nearest bookstore, library, or Amazon account and get yourself any one of these for a spooky read. If you’re pressed for time, you might like some of the short story collections, which are quick, morbid reads. Enjoy!
*Beware of some spoilers!*
It’s finally October! Time to break out the candy, decorations, and fake blood. It’s also the best time to watch a bunch of scary movies. You can always watch the horror classics or you can check out some of these crazy October 2015 releases! This month has something for everyone–horror-comedy, bloody slashers, haunted houses, witches, zombies, cannibals, and Guillermo Del Toro’s latest gothic horror flick.
Here’s a list of October’s theatrical releases. Enjoy!
I love horror. I love beauty. And I love both of those things in one pretty, shiny, terrifying package.
There’s something to be said for being scared by something aesthetically and visually enticing. A movie with striking, artistic visuals pulls me in and won’t let go. It creates a delicious tension that deepens my experience of being scared. Who doesn’t want that?
Here are some of my favorite beautiful horror films. I won’t bother you with too much commentary. If you are enticed by any of these films, you can find the plot summaries hyperlinked in the titles. Otherwise, save for a few comments, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves! Leave your own recommendations in the comments!
Every once in a while, I find a hidden gem of a horror film. Something with a low but meticulously managed budget. Something that prefers spooky lighting to buckets of blood. Something inventive, moody, and unsettling. Something that I can’t stop thinking about, even a week later.
The most recent movie to make me feel this way was 2013 Venezuelan psychological thriller/gothic horror film La Casa del Fin de Los Tiempos, or The House at the End of Time. Written and directed by Alejandro Hidalgo, this movie is old-school gothic horror, in the same vein as The Others (which is one of my favorites).
Odds are, Dear Reader, that you own a least one IKEA item. Odds are even higher that you’ve visited an IKEA at least once in your life. Those stores are everywhere—a quick Google search tellls me that IKEA operates 351 stores in 46 countries on 5 continents. Its furniture is endemic to college dorms and first apartments because its relatively good furniture for being dirt cheap. While IKEA furniture is ridiculously easy to assemble, the shopping at IKEA is like running a gauntlet. Huge crowds, a maze-like showroom floor, and a massive warehouse are only some of the obstacles you must overcome to get your Klippan sofa home.
Seriously, you don’t know the meaning of existential frustration until you go to IKEA for one thing, but you are funneled into the showroom labyrinth through no design of your own, and for two hours you are stuck behind a family that takes up the entire width of the path and stops to touch every. Single. Thing.
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.
I am here, reading with you. I am reading this over your shoulder. I make your home home,
I’m the Braille on your wallpaper that only your fingers can read—I tell you where you are.
Don’t turn to look at me. I am only tangible when you don’t look.
Home. There place where we belong. Where we put our things, our emotions, our past. More often than not, it is a dwelling of some sort—a room, an apartment, or a house. You know every room, every door, all the corners, the way the fourth step from the top creaks, and the way the sunlight enters the windows. You know it intimately. You will carry this knowledge with you forever.
I’ve always been fascinated by the interaction between a person and the building she inhabits. It is a relationship, and both person and dwelling provoke change in each other. I’ve written about it before on this blog, particularly to examine the ways in which purportedly haunted buildings physically interact with the people who move about inside.
Even after we have left, we carry the physical presence of home. It is part of us, and we have become a part of it. Home is a record of our lives. We dirty it. We wear it down. Sometimes we break it or fix it up. Home is the intersection of our past, present and future.
Which brings me to my new favorite book, White is for Witching.
Alcatraz. The Rock. The most infamous prison in America.
Ask anyone about it, and almost everyone will know exactly what you’re talking about. Even though Alcatraz only operated for twenty-nine years, its impact on the popular consciousness is legendary. It’s inspired many films, most notably the 1979 classic Escape from Alcatraz, starring Clint Eastwood, and the 1995 classic The Rock, starring Nicholas Cage.
It even had a TV show, Alcatraz, a few years ago (my personal favorite, due in no small part to the amazing Sam Neil).
Gone too soon.
The story of the prison looms large in our collective history, an archetypal prison made real. We’ve heard about the freezing, shark-infested waters surrounding the island. We’ve heard that the United States Prison System ran the prison with an iron fist. We’ve heard about the men who stayed there—Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr., to name a few. We’ve heard that it was a “super prison,” an inescapable, impenetrable fortress. We’ve heard about the failed escape attempts, including the six men who broke out and were never seen again. Did they drown in the frigid, black waters? Or did they make it the Mexico after all?
And we’ve also heard that the prison is haunted.