A Month Of Horror: Days One through Five or Now We Play Catch Up

I had what I thought was a really fun idea for this October.  Since people are always asking for recommendations of horror movies to watch and books to read in October, why not post one a day, each day, for the whole month?  The problem is I didn’t have this idea until the 3rd, then I had a really busy weekend (read: I was out late on Friday, worked early Saturday, and am so old it has taken me two days to catch up on my rest).  What all this boils down to is that I am five days behind.

Looks like it’s time for me to start playing catch up.

So here is the plan: each day I will post one movie and one book recommendation each day.  Every once and a while I will include a bonus thing.  I understand that not everyone can read a book per day, so don’t feel like you have to try and run through all of these each day (especially since we’re starting five days in).  Also, these may not be the scariest or even the best movies and books.  They will, however, be the ones that I have enjoyed.
1  Also, most of them should be readily available on cable, the library, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or wherever you get your viewing and reading material

So, ground rules established, let’s jump in.

1 October
Pet Sematary

Let’s get this started by hitting some of the big ones right off the bat.  You simply can’t go through the month of October without watching the John Carpenter classic.
2  Masked, nigh indestructible villain?  Check.  Scream Queen?   Check.  Awesome soundtrack?  Check.  Halloween is one of the films which defined the slasher genre, plus it is the perfect movie for the season.3

Pet Sematary, my favorite book by one of my favorite authors.  This is a prime example of Mr. King at his best, creating memorable characters and making us care about them before the bad stuff happens.  Nearly half of the book is set-up for the eventual, wonderful, horrible pay off.

2 October
Trick r’ Treat
The Girl Next Door

I have a soft spot for well made anthology films and
Trick r’ Treat definitely fits the bill.  Despite limited theatrical release, this film became an instant holiday classic.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, the movie tells multiple, interwoven stories which all happen on the same Halloween night.  There is a good dose or humor mixed in with the gore.  A number of the stories feature a shock ending or comeuppance reminiscent of something from The Twilight Zone or Tales From the Crypt.

I often describe
The Girl Next Door4 as the best book which I can not recommend.  It tells the story of a girl’s abuse by the hands of her caretaker and the children of the neighborhood.5  Ketchum so masterfully creates a story of abuse that the reader feels at first like a voyeur, then an accomplice (mimicking the narrative’s point of view).  I remember being torn between the need to finish the book and thinking that if I just stopped reading, all of the horrible things would stop happening.

3 October
The Crow
The Collected Works of Poe

As you all know, the Devil’s Night
6 viewing of The Crow is a tradition in our household.  The story takes place in Detroit on two consecutive Devil’s Nights.  On the first, Eric (Brandon Lee) and his fiancee are murdered.  On the second, Eric comes back for revenge.  While not strictly horror, it does have numerous elements of the supernatural7, plus it gets a pass for taking place during the month of October.

If you take a moment to plot out all of the movies which have been made based upon the works of Poe, then add in all of the writers who were influenced by his works, then multiply that by the fact that Vincent Price was in a number of those movies...you would get some random number.  I’m not sure where I was really going with that, other than to show how important old Edgar Allan was.  While you might not want to go through everything he wrote
8, you should definitely hit the hight notes like “The Telltale Heart,” “The Mask of the Read Death,” “The Conqueror Worm,” and, of course, “The Raven.”

4 October
Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II 
The Books of Blood

All right, I’m cheating a little here.  I wanted to put in both of the original Hellraiser movies but I didn’t want to take up two spots on an already crowded list.  Deal with it.  

Actually, I think that the first two movies bookend each other nicely, although if I was forced to pick just one to watch this October, it would be the first one.  Illicit affairs, murder, sadomasochistic torture by demons...and Doug Bradley as Pinhead.  This one still gives me the shivers.

Naturally, I paired this with the books which inspired the film.  I recommend almost all of Barker’s work, but most people start with the
Books of Blood.  It’s a good jumping off point before delving into his longer works.

5 October
The Drive-In: A Double Feature Omnibus or The Complete Drive-In: Three Novels of Anarchy, Aliens, and the Popcorn King

We finally come to our first haunted house movie of the month.  Yes, that’s exactly what
Alien is.  Forget the second movie9 and it’s sci-fi soldiers.  Forget the third movie and everything that came after10Alien is, at its essence a straight up horror story featuring Ripley as the last girl but in a space suit.  From the feeling of being captive in a setting from which there is no escape, to the dark corners, to the dread of being stalked by the unknown, this is horror at its finest.

From the mind of Joe Lansdale, the man who brought us an ailing Elvis fighting off an Egyptian mummy in West Texas, comes one of the craziest batch of stories ever put on paper.  The setting is an all night horror movie marathon at a drive-in, at least at first.  Soon the movie goers find themselves trapped and subject to horrors ranging from cannibalism to a rampaging T Rex to the dreaded Popcorn King.  While the first novel is definitely the best, I recommend paying for the multiplex ticket and enjoying the entire ride.

  1. 1. As such, I will probably have mentioned them before.  Sorry about that.

2.  Yes, the original.  There will be very few remakes on this list because, as everyone who has been here before knows, I hate them.

3.  This year
Halloween will be played at a number of movie theaters nationwide, one night only -- Halloween, natch.  In this area, the honor goes to the beautiful Redford Theater.  I’ll be there, for sure.

4.  This has nothing to do with the movie where the porn star moves in next to the teenager.

5.  Unfortunately, based upon a true story.

6.  I’ll be cold in the ground before I call the night before Halloween “Angel’s Night.”

7.  Hello, a dude comes back from the dead!

8.  My copy of
The Complete Works of Poe runs four volumes.

9.  Which is awesome!

10. Cthulhu knows I’ve tried to.