Today, to celebrate Halloween in all its dark glory, we’re sharing some of the scariest books and movies (TV shows count, too) we’ve ever read or seen. We invite you to join in.
John Clark: Books don’t scare me, but when I was in college back in the 1960s, a bunch of us believed a classmate was driven insane by reading The Mind Parasites: The Supernatural Metaphysical Cult Thriller by Colin Wilson. We found out months later she had schizophrenia and the book was just a book. As for movies, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte starring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland which came out in 1964 still creeps me out when I think of it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058213/
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett: I try to avoid being scared, because when a book or movie does scare me, the impact stays with me. Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and Salem’s Lot (especially the scene shooting rats at the dump) for books and, oddly, Clive Cussler’s Dragon, which includes a plot to wipe out all electronics on the planet. The movie that terrified me as a child was The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. I was looking over my shoulder for that cyclops for months afterward! But the best horror movie of all time, in my humble opinion, is the original black and white film, The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s novel. There is no blood or gore. The scary stuff is all in the viewer’s mind, created by some terrific acting and special effects.
Maggie Robinson: Total wuss here. Much too anxious. I have missed many, many movie scenes due to closed eyes. I had to stop reading Stephen King years ago though I still love The Stand–so many bad dreams. But one scary book still sticks with me, Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home. Beneath the surface of pristine perfection, evil lurks…
Kate Flora: The scariest book I ever read is, interestingly enough, one that wouldn’t work in today’s digital world, though I expect that an innovative writer could find a way to work a similar plot. The book is Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. A book in which the killer chooses the families he murders in grotesque ways through processing their family photos in an on-line photo lab. Gave me chills for years. In the film department, undoubtedly The House on Haunted Hill. What I most remember, though, is that my brother John suggested the movie, saying it would be funny, and since we didn’t have any money, we had to search through coat pockets and old purses to finally come up with enough to buy our tickets. It wasn’t funny. It was the close your eyes and hope it ends, leave you with nightmares kind of film. Followed closely by a Twilight Zone episode called To Serve Man. The final scene still makes me shudder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp_EhjlLGkQ
I asked some of my friends on Facebook for their scariest books, and while there are a few votes for Red Dragon, Stephen King books were the overwhelming winners. Among the other suggestions, in case you are looking to be scared are: In Cold Blood, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, The Lottery or The Haunting of Hill House, Amityville Horror, Come Closer, Night of the Hunter, and of course, anything by Poe.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
I’m sorry I didn’t have time to toss my two cents in on this topic, but I agree on In Cold Blood and also Helter Skelter. Slept with the light on for a very, very long time after HS. Yikes!
I had forgotten about Harvest Home, but the second I read the title, the entire book came back to me. Oh my.
Haunting of Hill House, Harvest Home, Pet Cemetery, King’s short story Strawberry Spring, and the Exorcist. I was dating a guy who promised me it was laugh out loud funny. Didn’t sleep for two days!! The silent movie Nosferatu is darn good.
As many of you most likely are aware Pet Cemetery is the one book that King swore he would never publish because he found it too scary. I guess he changed his mind.