As is tradition, I’ve spent a good deal of this month watching horror movies. I’ve included old favorites as well as some I haven’t seen before. Last night, I showed C.H.U.D. to my neighbor. I think he liked it. I remembered how truly great it is. There’s more humanity in it than a hundred Ari Aster movies, but I digress. A newer standout is the Barker-esque Beezelbuth. It’s a lot of fun, and pretty gory. I also got the chance to watch some Hammer movies I missed as a child like Twins of Evil, Vampire Circus and Hands of the Ripper. I didn’t get to do a horror movie a day, but I did watch a lot more than I have in previous Octobers.
But this isn’t a post about movies. Instead, I’d like to talk about some great reads to get you through this final week of October. I’ve read lots of fun stuff this year alone, but you’ll find some classics here as well.
A final note, this list isn’t in any particular order. Everything listed here is awesome!
1. Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith: “On the night before Halloween, a Satanic mass is held deep in the woods outside a small American town. Followers of the dark faith are assigned a mission in a message delivered by the devil himself. On Halloween, they must deliver a bounty of pure souls to their dark master. By killing virgins. As Halloween begins, so does the all-day horror movie marathon hosted by Count Victor von Gravemore on Channel 39. Many will be watching as real horror invades their lives and screams ring out all over town.”
Now, if that doesn’t get you excited for Halloween, or this fantastic book, I don’t know what will!
2. Halloween Fiend by C.V. Hunt: ” Strang isn’t the small, quaint town it appears to be. It’s haunted every night by a creature the townsfolk refer to as Halloween. Once the sun sets each day, Halloween emerges to collect its treats: a small, live offering from each household. The residents comply because no one wants to be the target of Halloween’s tricks. But the nightmare of residing in Strang is nothing compared to the yearly ritual Halloween demands of the citizens on All Hallows’ Eve.”
I love the mythology behind this book. Hunt does a great job giving the reader a fully-realized world in this very quick read.
3. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Illustrated by Stephen Gammell: “This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright. There is a story here for everyone—skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney. Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories—and even scary songs—all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.”
Yeah, the movie’s great, but this collection is fantastic. The macabre illustrations alone are worth the price.
4. The October Country by Ray Bradbury: “Ray Bradbury’s second short story collection is back in print, its chilling encounters with funhouse mirrors, parasitic accident-watchers, and strange poker chips intact. Both sides of Bradbury’s vaunted childhood nostalgia are also on display, in the celebratory “Uncle Einar,” and haunting “The Lake,” the latter a fine elegy to childhood loss.”
This collection changed everything for me. It reintroduced me to the power of prose after half a decade spent writing only brooding song lyrics. “The Next in Line,” in particular, is probably my favorite.
5. Come Closer by Sara Gran: “If everything in Amanda’s life is so perfect, then why the mood swings, the obscene thoughts, the urge to harm the people she loves? What are those tapping sounds in the walls? And who’s that woman following her? The mystery behind what’s happening to Amanda in Come Closer is so frightening that it ‘ought to carry a warning to…readers.'”
Hands-down, Come Closer is the scariest novel I’ve ever read. I’ve been saying this for a decade now. This year, mostly thanks to book reviewer Sadie Hartmann, this book has seen a resurgence. It’s not centered around Halloween or October like some of the books on this list, and it’s not playful with its horror like Schwartz’s collection of folklore retellings, but it’s kept me up nights. Sometimes it still does.
Anyway, that’s my list of great books to read around this time of year. What are some of your favorites?