Scary Stories

Happy Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday, and as a writer – and reader – one of the things I love most about it is all the spooky lore. Things that go bump in the night, spirits walking amongst us, that monster under the stairs…It’s all fair game on All Hallow’s Eve.

My son has recently become enamored of the horror genre, so I’ve been seeing the return of many of the books I loved in my horror heyday. The Stand, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Dark Half, Needful Things, Pet Cemetery…there’s a whole row of Stephen King on his bookshelf and I love seeing it there. I just loaned him my copy of Heart Shaped Box, the debut horror novel by Joe Hill (a.k.a. Joseph Hill King) and let me tell you, the scare gene runs in the family. It’s a fantastic, creepy read and it’s named after a Nirvana song – who could resist? (Not me. And not my son, who is dressing as Kurt Cobain this year. No, I’m not worried. He’s actually quite an upbeat, cheerful fellow.)

One of my other favorite horror writers is Whitley Strieber. I have read (and re-read) most of his earliest works, including The Hunger and Wolfen, and Communion scared the bejeezus out of me. I also dig his post-apocalyptic books, Nature’s End and War Day. I tried to read The Grays, the first in his new alien trilogy, and made it to page five before I freaked out and put it back on the bookshelf. (Alien abduction tops my AUGH!!! list, for sure.)

I have hardback copies of my favorite horror classics – Frankenstein, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Dracula – on the shelf in the living room, as well as a lovely volume of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and poems. You’ll also find Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles there (including a few first editions and one signed) and, I’ll be honest, I haven’t met any literary vamps (Vlad aside) who come close to Louis, Lestat, Armand and company. (Okay, maybe Miriam and John from The Hunger, especially when they’re played by Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Yum.) As a rule, vampires don’t scare me, with the fang gang from ‘Salem’s Lot being the exception. (But don’t get me started on aliens again! *shivers*)

As for zombies? Love them. Can’t get enough of those brain eating buggers, though most of my neural intake (sorry, I couldn’t resist) has been through movies. World War Z and Patient Zero are both at the top of my scary looking TBR pile (that’s a post for another Halloween!) and I just finished The Enemy, a fantastic zombie middle-grade book.

So, do you like scary stories? If so, which are your favorites? Inquiring minds want to know… before they get eaten by the undead hordes tonight…

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9 responses to “Scary Stories

  1. *laughs* You know, I’m just now realizing how little I really care for Halloween. I don’t like scary movies, I’m not all that into costumes, and even the whole candy thing is now just – meh – for me.

    I do love myself a zombie novel (or movie) but that’s about the extent of it. Vampires are not my bag, and neither are werewolves.

    Psst, I have a copy of The Dead which I bought without realizing The Enemy was the first book in the series. Though I’m not sure if they have to really be read in sequence. You can borrow it if you’d like.

    • Thanks, but we have it already. And since it’s actually a prequel, I don’t think you have to read them in order. 🙂

  2. One of the scariest stories I ever read was a short called “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. It ‘s a classic, but it affected me so much, and then I saw the film … I had nightmares for about a week.

    I’m definitely more afraid of reality, and what could possibly happen. That’s why vampires, zombies, chop ’em up Jasons, Michael Myers, Pinheads, etc don’t scare me. For me, they’re comedy.

    eden

    • Oooh, Eden! “The Lottery” is a great scary story!! I didn’t realize they made a movie out of it. I’d probably have nightmares, too.

  3. Hmm, scariest book ever? It’s probably Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Those end of the world, apocalyptic stories are what scare me. Scariest movie ever? The Exorcist. I was only 16, and I’ve never seen it again. I went with friends from the suburbs to downtown to see it (I’d read the book and I couldn’t believe they’d put things on the screen that were in the book – they did) and the first time that happened, I piled the other four people’s coats on top of me and didn’t watch the movie at all. Going home, we got to the car – an excellent 1958 Caddie – which wouldn’t start. When we finally got it started and I got home (I was still sharing a bedroom with my younger sister) I couldn’t sleep. What I didn’t know – being generally a very good sleeper – was that my sister often talked to herself in her sleep. It was the middle of the night – she sat bolt upright in her bed and started talking. I was scared to death. I’ll never see that movie – or read that book – again.

    Kate

    • I heard that was a terrifying read from a couple of people. I think stories where humanity loses its…um…humanity are the scariest because we can all too easily imagine it happening.

      A friend and I were in the back seat of her parents’ car at the drive in watching some comedy or something, but we turned around and watched The Exorcist out the back window instead. Even without sound, it scared me stupid.

  4. Being an All Saints Day baby, Nov 1, 1940!, I have always had an affinity and connection to Halloween. But I have always thought of Halloween as a fun time with candy, dressing up, and partying with friends–a time of celebration if you will. I don’t rally like horror films and stories, oh, I read them and go see them but they are not my favorites–I don’t like having the ‘bejeezus’ scared out of me. However, I love mystery and thriller stories, Psycho, The Birds, Diabolique (the 1955 French made movie not the 1996 remake) Those are scarey because they could happen!

    Wally

  5. I’m not much into horror, but the best one I’ve read is Anne River Siddons “The House Next Door”.

    I’m definitely not a big fan of scary movies. Something about the visual aspect of it hits deeper than just reading about it. The movie version of Pet Sematary kept me up for days on end, but I I had no problem with the book.

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