Saturday, October 31, 2015

Haunting Books You Should Read This Halloween

Everyone knows that Stephen King has the genre down pat, but there are a lot of other bone-chilling horror novels worth losing sleep over out there. Now that Halloween is almost upon us, lock yourself up in your room and feast on these horrific delights—just be sure you don’t turn the lights out afterwards.

1.The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

Why do people always fall for the huge, old house that obviously has its deep, dark secrets? Based on a true story (although that certainly has led to plenty of lawsuits), the book revolves around the horrors that the Lutz family encountered in a house where Ronald DeFeo, Jr. murdered his family in 1974. The Lutz family moved in about a year later, and because of the terrifying paranormal activity that surrounded the house, they eventually left after 28 days. After visions of glowing red eyes, demonic imaginary friends, and waking up at the ungodly hour of 3:15am every night, who wouldn’t run out of there screaming?

2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002)

This so-called children’s book is supposedly for the youth, but we definitely beg to disagree. When bored little Coraline stumbles into a horrific alternate world where buttons are in place of eyes, what ensues is a deeply disturbing tale that will unsettle any reader, child and adult alike. Other Mother is the formidable antagonist in a fantastical world that only the master Neil Gaiman can create. This story will tell anyone to appreciate their parents no matter what—or would you want them to be replaced with an Other instead?

3. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk (2005)

Twenty-three short stories are used as a framing device for the main narrative of this novel, and yes, those are twenty-three of the most disturbing pieces you will ever read. The premise begins simple enough—the main characters go to a secret writers’ retreat for three months, each hoping to concentrate and pen their stories to perfection while on retreat. When basic necessities which were initially readily available begin to dwindle, things unravel rather quickly. The seventeen writers eventually sabotage one another and turn savage, resorting to murder, suicide, torture, and even cannibalism—all of these the writers are using to further their own plots and dramas. The nicknames of the characters might sound funny (Saint Gut-Free, Lady Baglady, and Miss Sneezy, to name a few), but their tales are anything but. Particularly gruesome is the infamous “Guts” story, which, when Chuck Palahniuk read it aloud to audiences, caused about a total of 60 people in different places to faint. Yes; it’s that grotesque. And if you’re still not convinced, just think about this: a swimming pool suction valve, a masturbation gone wrong, and the reason why Saint Gut-Free is aptly named as he is.

4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

At its core a satire of the extremely rich upper class, American Psycho details the gory lengths of what a bored and wealthy man will do to find an escape. Patrick Bateman went the crazy route—torture, animal cruelty, and chainsaw fascination included. What makes this story even creepier is that Paul Bernardo, a serial killer in real life, was found with a copy of the novel he allegedly used as reference. Sick, sick, sick.

5. Books of Blood, Volumes 1-3, by Clive Barker (1984)

What do “Rawhead Rex”, “Candyman”, and “The Midnight Meat Train” have in common? Duality, horror, and disturbing imagery written in the way Clive Barker knows best. Imagine meeting a murderer who hangs up the lifeless corpses of his victims on a subway train, or your life being replaced by that of a doppelganger’s? It’s exactly what we would expect from the mind of someone who wants horror to be a no-holds-barred thing. “I would remain consistent with my view. I don't like PG-13 horror movies. I think they're a contradiction in terms. When I was younger and I'd go and see a horror movie, the whole point was to feel like you're in the hands of a mad man. To pay respect to the originator of that quote, it was Wes Craven who said it. He said that a film viewer, a spectator, needs to come in and feel as though the person behind the camera is crazy. I think that's true,” Barker says.

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Back before Twilight made a horribly nauseating mess of vampires, Dracula ensured that the classic creature was cool. It was Bram Stoker who transformed the vampire into how pop culture sees it today, and if you are a fan of the gore and sensual romance, you owe it to yourself to read this book—and Halloween is as perfect a time as any!

7. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is approached by FBI trainee Clarice Starling to assist her with a case, and the cannibalistic serial killer, serving time for the horrific murders he committed, agrees in exchange for Starling telling him bits and pieces of her past. What happens next is a search for serial killer Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter’s eventual (and gruesome) escape. The sequel to 1981’s Red Dragon does not disappoint—you can check all the Oscar awards that the film adaptation won just to be sure.

8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, Illustrations by Stephen Gammell (1981)

This supposedly children’s book will send unholy chills down your spine—and those creepy illustrations aren’t helping, either. Guaranteed to scar your childhood forever (or even your whole adulthood, too), these macabre tales tell of everything from glass-eyed mothers to spouse-selling butchers. Based on old folklore, Schwartz says in his foreword: “Some of these tales are very old, and they are told around the world. And most have the same origins. They are based on things that people saw or heard or experienced—or thought they did." The first collection was such a hit that it spawned two more in the trilogy, because who doesn’t want to wake up screaming from a horrible nightmare in the middle of the night, right? Oh, and did we mention that a film adaptation is in the works and will be out by 2016? Yup, a lifetime of trauma for every viewer of that film awaits.

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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