Autumn is my favorite time of year. Oddly enough, I feel almost guilty admitting that because my birthday isn’t even until winter, and a little part of me thinks birthdays should trump all. But autumn has changing leaves, pumpkin carving, corn mazes, hot apple cider, cozy piles of blankets, and the best thing of all: Halloween. Yes, winter has some of those things too but autumn is where it all begins. After suffering in the sweltering Tennessee heat, autumn offers relief with cool breezes and crisp air. But by the time December rolls around hot beverages and blankets are old news. And to stack the odds even higher, winter does not have Halloween.
In a similar vein, I highly recommend Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Written in 1897 and still genuinely creepy, it is one of my favorite books of any genre.
Carrie by Stephen King: If you’ve never read this King classic now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the source material before the remake is released next spring.
The Shining by Stephen King : The book is so different from Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation that they almost shouldn’t even be compared – except to say that they are both very good.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: Quite a bit of an undertaking, this creepy mammoth of a novel broke new ground with traditional storytelling and book formatting. Very interesting read.
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk: Told as a series of stories, this is not horror in the traditional supernatural sense but rather the horrors to which humanity can sink. Fun fact: Some editions have glow-in-the-dark covers!
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz: A childhood staple of many millennials, this series was the most challenged book series from 1990-1999, according to the American Library Association, due to its violence. While the stories are fun, and generally aimed towards children, the original macabre illustrations by Stephen Gammell are really what make this series memorable.
Check out the Bristol Public Library for some of these titles and more!
Film RecommendationsBut what’s Halloween without some good old fashioned horror movies? Sticking with my classic theme, so far this month I’ve watched the Universal monster movies The Invisible Man and Dracula. (Enjoyed the latter much more than the former.)
As for modern horror, I’m a little bit obsessed with The Cabin in the Woods right now. Described by the director as a “love letter to horror movies”, this film takes classic horror tropes and satires them on a new, crazy-fun level. Reactions to this movie seem to go to either extreme - you either love it or hate it. But I think for any horror fan it’s definitely worth checking out.
John Carpenter’s The Thing: If you’re fan of practical effects, creature gore, or Kurt Russell with a tremendous beard you might want to check out this 1982 classic.
Insidious: While it received mixed reviews I really enjoyed this “haunted house” movie. Three dimensional characters and delightfully creepy imagery set it apart from the recent torture trend in horror.
The House of the Devil: This slow-burner was shot in 2009 but effectively styled as an early 1980s horror film. The plot is simple and familiar – a babysitter alone in a big, old house – but the escalating tension and resulting pay-off make it one of the best horror movies in recent years. (Fun fact: As a promo, this movie was released on VHS like the ones of the early ‘80s would have been. It is the final film to be released in that format.)
Frozen: Thanks to absent-minded operators, three friends get stuck high up on a ski lift and must survive the freezing cold night. A nice change of pace from supernatural horror.
Slither: This underrated gem is extremely funny, extremely gross, and a perfect mood-lightener for your horror movie marathon.
With the exception of The Cabin in the Woods, all these movies are available on instant Netflix! (And some at our library too!)
If you like your spooky fun a little bit more interactive there are plenty of activities around the Tri-Cities to get you in the spirit. Whether you’re in the mood for something haunted (house, forest, corn maze or otherwise) or want something more kid-friendly like pumpkin painting, WXBQ’s website (www.wxbq.com) has a great list of Halloween fun to choose from.
However you decide to celebrate Halloween just remember to have fun, be safe, and eat LOTS of candy. (But save me a Kit Kat or three.)