October is upon us and we all know what that means. Halloweeeeeeeen! So lets get some scary shit started. Now I know its the 14th already and I’m a slow coach / lazy bastard (delete where appropriate) so let’s not waste anymore time. Without further ado and rambling chat let’s get cracking.
Over the next couple of weeks I have some spooky soundtrack reviews planned, horror movie reviews and the best Netflix recommendations for the season. So stay tuned if you’re interested in any of that.
But for now I thought I’d start in the old fashioned way – and recommend some books.
Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
You know how annoying it is when you’ve just really enjoyed a film only to be told “the book is so much better”. Well in this instance I’m afraid that irritating and slightly pretentious sentence could actually be true.
I read Let the Right One In after I’d seen both adaptations and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it loads more as such but to cut a long story short (no pun intended) it’s just so much more horrific. The book goes into territory that neither movie would ever have dared and the subject matter goes way darker. It’s a fantastic debut novel – well written, gripping and also pretty gross. Which is always good.
I’ve read other books by Lindqvist and though none of them impressed me as much as Let the Right One In, one thing that constantly stood out is he knows how to create characters. And flawed characters at that. There’s never anyone particularly “good” in his novels, there’s a layer of darkness over everyone, even main characters.
Of course we’re all familiar with this particular story – Oskar and Eli (or their apple pie cousins Owen and Abby), fangs, snow, bullies and blood. Oh and some angry cats. Yep it’s a great film. But in the original story the depravity goes waaaaaay further and though it’s horrible it’s also kind of awesome.
Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
It’s true I could have used any number of Stephen King novels for this post but I always remember – with genuine fondness – just how badly Salem’s Lot scared me the first time I read it. Which was only about nine years ago – I wasn’t a kid or anything!
Stephen King, he just has…..a knack for what he does. A way of really getting into the reader’s head and I’ve never been scared in the same way when reading stuff by other horror authors. With King you really believe it’s real sometimes.
I had a pinnacle moment with Salem’s Lot when I realised (to some dismay) that I couldn’t actually read the book at night anymore. I constantly imagined the awful fang-shaped things that were surely lurking outside my window and I resigned the book to daytime use only. An absolute corker of a vampire novel with real old school echoes.
Collected Ghost Stories – M.R. James
M.R. James actually helped to formulate the creepy, crawling ghosts we know today in modern film and literature. Before James time, ghosts only really existed in gothic horror and were all ‘white sheets and rattling chains’. James wrote his ghost stories in a more contemporary style (and setting) which made his stories far more relatable to the reader which also made them scarier and more realistic.
I used Collected Ghost Stories for illustrative purposes but there are tons of books around dedicated to his short stories and some publications may be cheaper than others. It’s also worth mentioning that whilst I was writing this post I discovered a podcast dedicated to his stories – A Podcast to the Curious – that’s got to appeal to you hip, trendy, smart phone using bloggers, hasn’t it? And having listened to a few ‘creepy pastas’ on youtube I know how effective it is, listening to a scary story whilst sitting in a dark room. Ha, who am I kidding. I’ve never been brave enough to sit in a dark room whilst listening to a scary story!
But whatever route you go down, you must be sure to read the story ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ – it’s my personal favourite M.R. James and it’s really, really spooky.