Are you ready for Halloween?
I don’t mean, “Do you have a costume?” or “Do you think there’s enough candy in the house?”
What I mean is: Are you stocked up on chilling books to read and eerie movies to keep you up at night?
Whether you’re a treater or a tricker, or if you plan to turn off the porch light at 7 and hide from all your local ghosts and ghoulies, it’s important to be able to enjoy our annual day of spookiness.
In that spirit (forgive us, library folks can get punny sometimes), we give you our top ten spine-tingling books and movies to enjoy this season. You can find them all here at the library, on display across from the front desk. There’s something for everyone. If you like gory horror or stylish chills or just plain autumnal fun, you’ll find it here.
Those Across The River by Christopher Buehlman – Set in a tiny southern town shortly after WWI, this novel’s foreboding creepiness will keep you guessing until you’re about ¾ of the way through. That’s when the mayhem really starts.
The Turn of the Screw – Henry James’ classic tale of suspense. Is the governess mad? Are the children lying? Are there ghosts – or something worse?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – A wonderfully atmospheric tale of two warring magicians. There’s a sort of a love story here, but what’s better are the intricate and lovely weirdnesses met at every turn. The attention to detail and setting will have you thinking you can smell the cider and the smoke of this most unusual of entertainments.
The Stand – I think this is Stephen King’s scariest novel. And that is saying something.
The Haunting of Hill House – Anything by Shirley Jackson will have you reluctant to turn off the lights once you put it down. We have We Have Always Lived in the Castle too. They’re short, so you may need more than one. Since you’ll be staying awake and all…
Haunted Akron -- Like a little local history with your scares? This collection of stories, compiled by Jeri Holland, will let you know what shades of yore prowl our nearby metropolis.
The Chick and the Dead – Local author Casey Daniels gives you a little romance, a little humor, and a lot of ghost story; all set right in our own back yard. There’s a whole series of these to satisfy your cravings once you’re hooked -- and you don’t need to begin at the beginning if the one you want is already checked out. Just jump in anywhere.
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman’s story of a world that isn’t quite there will definitely add to your electric bill. You won’t want to enter a darkened room … possibly ever again.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – This novel is three things that you don’t often see together: a true literary achievement, an epic historical love story, and a really realistic depiction of what happens to the human body under a number of very unfortunate circumstances. Not for the faint of heart, but absolutely worth every minute that you give to it.
Stolen Child by Keith Donohue -- A dark take on the old “changeling/fairy-child” story. Gruesome, but also thought-provoking and well-written.
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin – Think The Body Farm, but in Medieval Cambridge. Every bit as blood-soaked as an episode of Dexter, but set in (marvelously researched) twelfth century England.
The Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton – Cozy Cotswold mysteries. The twist? Aunt Dimity is a (purely benevolent) ghost. These books are perfect for an autumn evening with a pot of tea.
Poe – What could be scarier? Edgar Allen taught everybody else who writes horror just about all they know.
My selections tend to favor the creepy over the gory. If you’re hard-core, check out the “horror” section of our DVD collection. We’ve also got plenty of zombie mayhem, including The Walking Dead TV series.
Psycho – The classic Hitchcock film still startles today. If you’ve only seen the shower scene, you are missing out. This movie made my Aunt Joan hide underneath her seat back in 1960. And even then, movie theatre floors were pretty gross.
The Shining – Jack Nicholson, “Red Rum…” what’s not to be scared of here? If you’ve never seen it, this film is worth a look. The movie retains Stephen King’s incomprehensible scary-book logic, where nothing is ever quite fully explained and shadows seem to linger menacingly in the corners even when all is said and done.
Nosferatu – I think this is the scariest depiction of Dracula ever. He is not graceful or sparkly. There are no flourishes of a long, black cape. One suspects that this vampire smells of dust and ice. He is like finding a dead mouse in your cookie jar. If you doubt you could be scared by an old silent movie, doubt no longer.
Cabinet of Dr. Cagliari – A classic of German Expressionism. Delve into a world of insanity where even the sets break the rules.
Them – No not the one with the giant ants (though I love that one too!) This Them is a French horror film from 2007, recommended for folks who like a lot of fright in a film without a lot of blood. Its French-language title is Ils. The website Rotten Tomatoes called it, “Suspenseful and tense from start to finish . . . Them proves that a lack of gore doesn't mean a dearth of scares.”
Young Frankenstein – Pure comedy gold.
The Woman in Black – Set in a small, English town in the Edwardian era, this film excels at the stylishly sinister.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Back in the 1970’s, I regularly checked underneath my bed for pods. There’s no blood in this one, and it was pretty retro even when I was a kid, but the concept is still eerie.
Let the Right One In – This is the Swedish film that Hollywood remade as the well-reviewed, Let Me In. There’s something about Stockholm that I think is creepier than the U.S. setting, making this a literally as well as figuratively chilling film; eerie and at times very beautiful. Except for the scene with the cats, which is just silly. Fast-forward through that one (unless you liked the horror classics Ben and Willard, in which case, prepare to laugh heartily).
Have a happy Halloween!