Horror

  •  Funny Television

    There are a lot of good reasons to read, and many of them are important reasons: it develops empathy, it encourages creativity, it makes you a more informed and thoughtful citizen, it reduces stress, it builds your critical thinking skills, etc. All of that is wonderful, but there's another, often ignored reason why reading a lot is great - it makes pop culture more fun.

    Once you start watching for them, you'll notice literary references all over the place, and one of my favorite feelings is watching a sitcom and catching a joke I would have missed if I hadn't read a particular book recently. These are just a few of my favorite bookish jokes from recent TV shows.

    NEW GIRL (Episode 1.21 "Kids")

    Referencing: BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA
    By Katherine Paterson
    (1977)

    Jess's day bonding with her boyfriend's daughter is ruined thanks to Nick.

     New Girl 2

     
     

    PARKS AND RECREATION (Episode 6.8 "Flouride")

    Referencing: MOBY DICK
    By Herman Melville
    (1851)

    Chris reads too much into Ron's woodworking lesson.

     
     

    BROOKLYN 99 (Episode 1.15 "Operation: Broken Feather")

    Referencing: OTHELLO
    By William Shakespeare
    (1622)

    Amy reveals that she's considering a job in another precint, and Jake feels betrayed.

    Brooklyn 99

     
     

    HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (Episode 7.3 “Ducky Tie”)

    Referencing: THE MILLENNIUM TRILOGY
    By Stieg Larsson
    (2008 - 2010)

    Ted: Oh, guess who I ran into. A girl from my past. Any guesses?

    Lily: Stella.

    Barney: Zoey

    Marshall: Karen?

    Lily: The girl who beat you up.

    Barney: The girl who ruined a photo with Slash!

    Marshall: The girl who made you get the butterfly tattoo?

    Ted: You make it sound like I've dated a series of Stieg Larsson novels.

     
     

    THE MINDY PROJECT (Episode 1.4 "Halloween)

    Referencing: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
    By John Le Carré
    (1974)

    Hoping to impress her new boyfriend, Mindy dresses in a series of punny Halloween costumes.

    Tinkerbell

    Tinkerbell Tailor Soldier Spy  
     
     

    Referencing: HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    By J.K. Rowling
    (1997)

    Dirty Harry Potter

    Dirty Harry Potter
      

    Referencing: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE
    By Laura Ingalls Wilder
    (1935)

    Lil Wayne on the Prairie

     Lil' Wayne on the Prairie 
     

    THE GOOD PLACE (Episode 1.3 "Tahani Al-Jamil")

    Referencing: The works of Plato and Aristotle

    Chidi spends weeks trying to teach Eleanor the history of philosophy, hoping that an understanding of ethics will help her keep her spot in The Good Place. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be sinking in.

    Plato

     

    GILMORE GIRLS (Episode 4.22 "Raincoats and Recipes")

    Referencing: THE LORD OF THE RINGS
    By J.R.R. Tolkien
    (1954)

    Lorelai’s not sure if her “will-they-won’t they” relationship with Luke has actually turned into something after he’s asked her to a movie and to his sister’s wedding.

    Bonus joke: In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Rory has taken on running the Star's Hollow Gazette only to find the staff aren't especially efficient. When Ethel refuses to answer the phone because she's busy with paperwork, Rory replies: “I don’t want to say you’ve been filing that same piece of paper for a long time, but when you started, Nora Ephron felt good about her neck.”

     
     

    FRIENDS (Episode 3.13 "The One Where Monica and Richard are Just Friends")

    Referencing: LITTLE WOMEN
    By Louisa May Alcott
    (1868)

    Referencing: THE SHINING
    By Stephen King
    (1977)

    After Rachel finds Joey's copy of THE SHINING in the freezer (where he puts it when things get too scary), they agree to swap favorite books. She'll read THE SHINING if he'll read LITTLE WOMEN.

    Scary Little

     
     

    Things are going great until Joey accidentally reveals major spoilers.

    Friends

     
     
    Once again, things get a little too scary.

     

    UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT (Episode 1.11 "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"

    Referencing: THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
    By Michael Crichton
    (1969)

    "Reverend" Richard Wayne Gary Wayne unexpectedly wins over the jury while on trial for Kimmy's kidnapping.

    Good Book

     
     
  • ppz

    True confessions of Carla: I love vampires!  Well, I love books about vampires and a few years ago a little book titled PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES introduced the world to an amazing new genre of mashups mixing fantastic horror with established classical novels.  With the film version of Grahame-Smith’s best-seller screening this weekend, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few of my favorite classic/horror parody titles.

    wutheringbitesWUTHERING BITES
    by Sarah Gray
    (2010)

    Be honest.  Heathcliff as a vampire just makes sense!  His brooding, mysterious nature lends itself perfectly to a reimagined WUTHERING HEIGHTS where his brutal thirst wars with his love for beautiful Catherine Earnshaw. And then there’s the part where he digs up her corpse…

     

     

     

    alicezombielandALICE IN ZOMBIELAND
    by Gena Showalter
    (2013)

    This is the first book in an imaginative young adult series which follows poor Alice as she falls into an open grave.  Finding herself in a nightmare of death and decay she must learn to fight the monsters that inhabit this strange, mad world.  Admit it, Carroll’s Wonderland was a little creepy even without zombies.

     

      

     

    janslayreJANE SLAYRE
    by Sherri Browning Erwin
    (2010)

    This is actually my favorite mashup to date.  I love the thought of young orphan Jane escaping her vampyre relations (and that creepy red room) and learning to fight the evil in her world.  Taking a governess job for the mysterious Mr. Rochester introduces our brave heroine to romance though true love may yet be thwarted when Jane discovers Mr. Rochester’s first wife, a mad werewolf, locked up in the estate attic.  JANE SLAYRE is a fantastic twist on beloved story.

     

      

    darcyvampyreMR. DARCY, VAMPYRE
    by Amanda Grange
    (2009)

    Instead of retelling Pride and Prejudice, MR. DARCY, VAMPYRE picks up after Elizabeth and Darcy have tied the knot.  Now part of the family, Elizabeth becomes aware of their well-kept, deadly secret.  Danger and darkness  face the newlyweds as they travel across the Continent in attempt to break the curse and assure their future happiness.

     

     

      

    pemberleyDEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY
    by P.D. James
    (2013)

    If you are not quite sure about the supernatural spins on these well-known classics, you may want to try something on the lighter side.  P.D. James has written a delightful murder mystery picking up six years after Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage.  An autumn ball is violently interrupted with Lydia’s unexpected and hysterical entrance proclaiming that Wickham has been murdered.  What follows is an excellent crime drama perfectly recreating Austen’s beloved characters and atmosphere.

     

  • Spooky House 1

    Warm up with your favorite pumpkin-spice beverage before getting a chill up your spine from these grisly graphic novels. 

    10.28 My Friend DahmerMY FRIEND DAHMER
    By Derf Backderf
    (2012)

    Though true crime is usually a little too real for my horror tastes, this comic focuses on both Jeffrey Dahmer and the people who grew up with him. Written by one of the boys who went to high school with Dahmer, the book manages to show the human side of a serial killer, while not shying away from the sadistic qualities that would make him a murder. 

     

    10.28 OutcastOUTCAST
    By Robert Kirkman
    Illustrated by Paul Azaceta
    (2014)

    In this comic, exorcism goes a little differently than in The Exorcist. Best known for his work on the Walking Dead comics, Robert Kirkman writes the chilling tale of a man’s battle against the demonic possessions that plague those anyone he comes in contact with. While supernatural, the comic also manages to explore the effects of real issues like childhood trauma and abuse. The comic was also adapted into a short-lived, but well-received tv series. 

     

    10.28 AjinAJIN: DEMI-HUMAN
    By Tsuina MiuraI
    llustrated by Gamon Sakurai
    (2014)

    An award-winning manga from Japan, this series takes place in a world where the general populace lives in fear of “ajins”: beings who look and act like normal humans. Just like normal people — except for the fact that they cannot die. One of the most visceral scenes is when, Kei, a normal high-schooler, finds out he is an ajin in the worst way possible — by getting run over by a truck. 

     

    10.28 Through the WoodsTHROUGH THE WOODS
    By Emily Carroll
    (2014)

    While the colors are vibrant, the stories are dark. Each tale in this spooky anthology reads like a dark fairy tale and is illustrated beautifully by the author, Emily Carroll. I have to put down that this is my personal favorite and a comic that I recommend to just about every person I meet.

     

     

  •  Horror on the Silver Screen

    Looking for a movie to send chills down your spine? While the horror genre has had some great films in recent history—from the Oscar-winning GET OUT, to the John Krasinski breakout, A QUIET PLACE—there have been many classic movies that have scared the pants off audiences. Here are some hits from yesteryear to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

    10.26 The InnocentsTHE INNOCENTS
    Directed by Jack Clayton
    (1961)

    Based on the American novel, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this British adaptation combines everything you’d want in Victorian horror — haunted estates, women in distress, and creepy children. A woman becomes the governess to a young brother and sister who may be much more than they appear. Are the apparitions she sees real? In this film, you can never really trust what people say—or what they see. If you are a fan of modern gothic films like THE WOMAN IN BLACK or THE OTHERS, check out THE INNOCENTS. 

    Fun Fact: The screenplay for this film was worked on by Truman Capote, who took a break from his true crime classic, IN COLD BLOOD, to finish the movie script. 

     

    10.26 Abbott and CostelloABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles Barton
    (1948)

    If you are looking for some good scares and good laughs, check out Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Made after the heyday of monster movies like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLFMAN, this movie manages to put all of them into one story. The “Avengers” of Universal horror films, the film manages one of the first “crossover” plotlines, pitting each monster against one another or our protagonists.  

    Abbott and Costello both pull off one-liners with their usual skill, poking fun at the monsters while still allowing for some scary moments. The fear factor is helped by the fact that most of the creatures are played by their original actors—who are perfectly happy to howl, bite, and groan amid the jokes. My personal favorite is when Lon Chaney (the Wolfman) attempts to warn Costello over the phone about Dracula’s plot. Instead, Costello quickly becomes more and more irritated with Chaney’s “barking dog.” 

    If you enjoy this film, be sure to check out other Abbott and Costello horror crossovers, such as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

     

    10.26 Cape FearCAPE FEAR
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    (1962)

    This film was initially worked on by Alfred Hitchcock, before he passed it onto his colleague, J. Lee Thompson. One of the best thrillers of the 1950’s, it tells the story of how one ex-con terrorizes the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison. Robert Mitchum pits himself against the upright everyman, Gregory Peck—who was known for playing another famous lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  

    Mitchum manages to play both cold, calculating villain and out-of-control maniac. It is his personality that truly makes the audience fear for the lawyer’s family. This film would be made again in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro in the ex-con role. However, if you are interested in other horror films that showcase Robert Mitchum’s talent, I recommend the beautiful and horrifying THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

     

    10.26 The HauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise
    (1963)

    Based on the 1959 book by Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, which is widely considered to be the scariest book ever written. Both the movie and its classic film adaptation tell the story of four people invited to investigate not a house that is “haunted,” but is rather “diseased,” with a mind of its own. We soon realize the disturbing effect it has on each person who stays there, including the poor, lonely Eleanor.  

    This film came out just 4 years after the book’s initial publication and was directed by Robert Wise—who had just come off a successful adaptation of WEST SIDE STORY (and would later go on to direct THE SOUND OF MUSIC). Don’t let the director’s background in musicals fool you, this movie will certainly keep you up at night. This film truly takes to heart the old adage that what you don’t see is scarier than what you do. From great acting, to terrifying sound design, this movie will drag you down into the madness that has enveloped the people staying at Hill House.  

    In addition to the 1963 film, The Haunting of Hill House has had plenty of adaptations. These include a recent Netflix adaptation, of the same name, and a 1999 film with Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Despite the star-studded cast, please do not subject yourself to this film.)

     
  • Teen Horror Skull 

    If you love the suspense and spine-tingling, slow-burn of horror books, you need to know about the treasure trove of horror in Young Adult (YA). These books are just as convoluted, smart, and terrifying, but they just happen to be on the YA shelves. If you are looking for something horrifyingly new to read, why not check out these YA Horror books.

    10.23 Blood CountessBLOOD COUNTESS
    By Lana Popović
    (2020)

    The is a classic example Gothic Horror novel with some modern sensibilities. You follow sixteen-year old Anna into the alluring world of the Countess Elizabeth. Anna starts out as a lowly scullery maid, but then she is noticed and elevated to the rank of chambermaid. But as Anna is drawn closer and closer to the stunning and clever Countess, she finds that the Countess can be as cruel as she has been kind. The atmosphere of the book is very romantic; the reader is drawn slowly into a web of darkly forbidden love. It also has some serious REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier vibes.   

     

    10.23 Wilder GirlsWILDER GIRLS
    By Rory Power
    (2019)

    One of the great things about the Horror genre is that is mixes well will other genres. For example, this novel is a mixture of horror and quarantine survival story. Something is not right at the Raxter School for Girls. A mysterious illness threatens them from the outside. Since the Tox hit the mainland, the tiny island that the school is on is quarantined. Now the teachers are dying one by one and something is wrong with some of the students. When her best friend Byatt goes missing, Hetty is determined to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine.The writing style of this author is gritty and lush. The characterizations are compelling and drive the plot. It also has some bite-your-hand scary twists in it.

     

    10.23 Dreaming DarklyDREAMING DARKLY
    By Caitlin Kittridge
    (2019)

    This is another Gothic Horror novel with an unreliable narrator and a mysterious uncle who lives on a small island in New England. Ivy has never known a home. She has never been able to trust her mother. She doesn’t even know who her father was. When Ivy’s mother dies, Ivy is sent to live with a rich uncle she has never known or met. Ivy soon discovers many family secrets including a string of mysterious murders. But then one night she awakens from a nightmare covered in someone else’s blood. This intricately plotted story has a super creepy and menacing atmosphere.

     

    10.23 Here There Are MonstersHERE THERE ARE MONSTERS
    By Amelinda Bérubé
    (2019)

    Sometimes Horror spills over into fantasy, the kind that includes monsters, dark forests, and mind games. This book is super atmospheric, meaning that the language is very descriptive with lavish depictions of the world the author is building. This is particularly important in this novel because Skye and her sister Diedre have moved across the country and now live next to a deep, dark woods. Skye is able to acclimate to the new town and school, but Diedre withdraws from everyone and starts spending a lot of time exploring the woods and building stone and stick faces on the ground. When Diedre disappears, Skye must confront her deepest secrets and make a deal with a horrifying creature who promises the help her find her sister.This has a very PAN'S LABYRINTH feeling to it. Think dark creatures, a desperate attempt to save a sister, and having to face the monsters that reside inside of us all. 

     
  • Haunted Holidays 

    Missing October? But already hung up the Christmas lights? Here are a few spooky-flavored books on the Christmas season to “chill” you over until December. 

    12.06 Nos4a2NOS4R2
    By Joe Hill
    (2013)

    You’ll never listen to Christmas songs on the radio the same way again. Joe Hill brings forth one of the most sinister villains to haunt the holiday season. Over many years, Charles Manx has grown into a vampire-like creature -- kidnapping children and bringing them to “Christmas Land” where they truly never grow up. Combining sinister set-up with engaging characters, Joe Hill’s novel stands up with even the best books written by his father, Stephen King.  

     

    12.06 HogfatherHOGFATHER: A NOVEL OF DISCWORLD
    By Terry Pratchett
    (1996)

    Sir Terry Pratchett pens another satire set in his fantastical Discworld, this time for a holiday special! This black comedy tells the story of Death putting down his scythe and donning the big man’s red suit. Think THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but with more assassins, poker-wielding nannies, hung-over gods and of course, flying swine. 

     

    12.06 The Woman in BlackTHE WOMAN IN BLACK
    By Susan Hill
    (1983)

    Many of you may be asking, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a Christmas book?” or even, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a novel?” But yes, this book/play/movie begins while sitting around a Christmas hearth. This novel continues the old English tradition of telling spooky stories around the holidays, recounting a “true ghost story” that affected the narrator in his youth. 

     

    12.06 The Annotated Christmas CarolTHE ANNOTATED CHRISTMAS CAROL: A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PROSE
    By Charles Dickens
    (2004)

    No list would be complete without the most famous Christmas ghost story of all. If you are looking for a bit bigger of a read (the original was only 110 pages) or just want to know more about Charles Dickens’s novel, check out THE ANNOTATED CHRISTMAS CAROL. Filled with copies of the original illustrations, theatre playbills and plenty of footnotes, it tells the history of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in its entirety. Once December rolls around, I also recommend pairing it with THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS, a film about the creation and impact of Dickens’s little book.

     
  •  juvenile horror magic 01

    THE LOST GIRL
    By Anne Ursu
    (2019)

    Iris and Lark are twin sisters and they do everything together—until their parents decide that they should start doing things on their own. Suddenly Iris who is often grounded in facts and reality feels like she is drifting without an anchor (her sister) and Lark becomes more and more withdrawn (from everyone including her sister). When mysterious ravens start watching the girls and items start disappearing all over town Iris figures out that something is amiss—only nobody believes her. With a dark magic threatening all that she holds dear, will Iris be able to overcome her frustrations and fears to save “the lost girl”?

    WATCH HOLLOW
    By Gregory Funaro
    (2019)

    Lucy and Oliver’s family has had a hard time since the death of their mother. When their father is given a chance to go and live in the grand Blackford House for the summer to fix an old clock in the building they feel like they are finally getting a break—only there is more to the mansion than the owner revealed and some of it is good and friendly and some is dark and evil. Can Lucy and Oliver figure out the puzzle to fixing the cuckoo clock and saving their family?

    WINTERHOUSE
    By Ben Guterson
    (2018)

    Elizabeth is an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle (who don’t actually like her). Strangely, Elizabeth is mysteriously sent to Winterhouse—a grand hotel—for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday even though she knows that her aunt and uncle would never pay for her to go there. Elizabeth knows that something is up. Winterhouse turns out to be lovely—mostly. There are strange puzzles and bits of magic that keep Elizabeth and her friend Freddy on their toes. And Elizabeth is afraid that if she doesn’t solve the biggest puzzle of Winterhouse than it could be the end of everything. Will Elizabeth be able to figure out who is good and who is bad and what the clues to the puzzle really mean in time to save everyone and the hotel?

  • Ghost

    As I was looking up some books, I realized that a lot of picture book titles can be foreboding. Some sounded like they belonged to horror films rather than picture books. With that thought spiraling out of control, I decided to create my own horror film synopses for different children’s book titles. 

    10.7 Bye Bye Baby BrotherBYE-BYE BABY BROTHER!
    By Sheena Dempsey
    (2013) 

    Actual Book: This is a story for children who are about to become older siblings. It addresses the jealousy children may feel when they have to share their parents. 

    Horror Movie Idea: An older sibling decides to oust their new baby brother. Is there a changeling in the midst? Or a demonic spirit? Don’t know. But this title could be truly frightening. 

     

    10.7 Ruby Red ShoesRUBY RED SHOES
    By Kate Knapp
    (2012) 

    Actual Book: This book is about a rabbit named Ruby and her life with her grandmother. They love quilts, buttons, tea and more. This book is a calming and lovely. 

    Horror Movie Idea: Think a twisted Wizard of Oz prequel that explains how the ruby slippers got their color. The Witch of the East loved the blood of her victims (I know. The original slippers were silver, but the movie slippers are so pretty!). 

     

    10.7 Youll Find MeYOU’LL FIND ME
    By Amanda Hill
    (2020) 

    Actual Book: This book is told in rhyme and encourages hope throughout the grieving process. Losing someone can be hard, and this story helps create a space for parent-child conversations on the tough topic. 

    Horror Movie Idea: A girl with a loving boyfriend starts receiving life threatening notes. She and her boyfriend go to the police but they can’t find substantial evidence. She eventually figures out that her boyfriend has dissociative identity disorder and his alternate personality is a serial killer who’s chosen her as the next target.  The nice side of her boyfriend tells her to run away when he finds out the truth. Now the question is, will the crazy half of the boyfriend find her or will her feminine wiles find the hero beneath the monster? 

     

    10.7 Swim Swim SinkSWIM SWIM SINK
    By Jennifer Harney
    (2020) 

    Actual Book: This is a cute book about three ducklings following their mama out for a swim, but then something strange happens. One of the ducklings sink! The little one tries and tries again to swim but it takes a little creativity to keep the duckling afloat. 

    Horror Movie Idea: A family decides to vacation at a rented beach house. A storm comes in and they spend the day indoors. Then they realize the house is flooding and slowly sinking into the ocean. They try to leave, but they’ve been locked in with no way out. The family swims from furniture to rafters as the house sinks deeper into the ocean. Oh, and there’s a creature in the water. 

     

    10.7 Everyone AwakeEVERYONE’S AWAKE
    By Colin Meloy
    (2020) 

    Actual Book: Told in rhyme, this book talks about what happens when everyone stays awake at night. Someone practices their trapeze skills while others do house chores. The whimsical illustrations bring the story together in a delightful way. 

    Horror Movie Idea: No one on earth has been able to fall asleep for 42 days. Anesthesiologists can’t even put their patients to sleep for surgery. Everyone is growing tired, weary, and more irritable. Then people start seeing things and people realize that their childhood nightmares are coming to life.  What are some titles you’d rewrite as horror movies?