In the Halloween spirit, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite scary stories–books, movies, tv shows, etc. After you light your jack-o-lantern tonight and indulge on some candy, perhaps you should try one of these recommendations. Everyone likes a good scare, right?
“One of my all-time favorite scary movies is The Thing. *shivers* I just need to see an image of a polar landscape and terror starts to rise up in me! For novels (and movies, too, actually,) I would have to say King’s The Shining is at the top of my list. Classic!” — Julie Eshbaugh
“When I was younger, Tremors freaking TERRIFIED me. It was on TV one night when I was like, 12, and I watched it and was so scared that even after it ended, I COULD NOT MOVE from the couch, as if the tremor worms would eat me, since that’s what they do– they sense people/animals from footsteps or vibrations, like a richter scale, and then THEY EAT YOU. My dad came in from milking the cows at like, midnight and was all, “What are you still doing up?” So I SPRANG from the couch and leapt to the stairs. I was SO happy that my room was on the second floor. I’ve seen the movie more recently and find it to be more of a comedy. Go figure.” — Mandy Hubbard
“I think Neil Gaiman writes some excellent horror. I read Coraline when I was 18 and was so creeped out I couldn’t sleep with the lights off. My brother (who was 8 at the time) read it and thought it was a fun adventure story. Neil Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors contains two of what I consider some of the greatest horror stories of all time: We Can Get Them For You Wholesale (seriously, read it, it’s GREAT) and Nicholas Was.” — S. Jae-Jones (JJ)
“Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is chilling, modern, brilliant. I read Stephen King’s short story, The Boogeyman, when I was around 10 and barely slept for weeks.” — Leigh Bardugo
“I had to stop reading Salem’s Lot at night because it scared me so much. Event Horizon and Alien terrified me in terms of movies. Also 28 Days Later (the first few times). Sci-fi horror generally scares the crap out of me because it feels so possible. But Insidious and Paranormal Activity scared me, too….And (don’t laugh), but there were a few Are You Afraid of the Dark episodes that were really creepy…Oh! And Tales from the Crypt! I always watched it, and always couldn’t sleep. Eek! And that little dwarf from Cat’s Eyes! I had nightmares about that thing when I was little! Omg, and The Birds. That movie STILL freaks me out. So does the ear wig episode of Twilight Zone. Ok. I have issues. I’m done.” — Jo Volpe
“So my favorite movie of all time–ALL TIME, ALL TIME–is Donnie Darko. It’s not that scary a film…though the first few scenes you see Frank in the mirror are certainly creeptastic. *shudders* However, when I first saw this movie as an overly imaginative, impressionable teen, I 1) became thoroughly obsessed with the movie and watched it 3 times in a row trying to understand the time travel/martyr plot, and 2) had to sleep with the lights on for daaays. I had this irrational terror of waking up to see Frank in my room or in my bathroom mirror. And I was 18 years old!! Similarly, the book House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski traumatized me. And I was, like, 21 when I read it. But to this DAY, I have to leave all closet and bedroom doors shut…and LOCKED when I sleep. And it’s thanks to that book. It is quite simply the most terrifying, disturbing, and ultimately wonderful work of fiction out there.” — Susan Dennard
“I second The Haunting of Hill House. I ADORE that book…The film adaptation, The Haunting, from the 60s starring Julie Harris is one of the creepiest movies of all time and it’s all about atmosphere. There is only one “jump” scare in the whole film, the rest is just unending horror of the unknown. “Whose hand am I holding?!” Best ghost scene in a film!
Paranormal Activity scared the crap out of me. I literally didn’t sleep for three weeks. I saw PA2 with Jo and the same thing happened. My husband no longer allows me to see scary movies because those two movies upset me so much. I guess I don’t do well with demons on film.” — Jordan Hamessley
“I was never really scared of anything when I was younger- not movies, tv shows, anything. Hardly anything still frightens me, but I have to say that I mostly loved American Horror Story on tv last year. Jessica Lang is awesome for creep factor! As for books, I think My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews was probably one of the most frightening novels I ever read. I remember that keeping me up at night when I was about 13.” — Rachel Seigel
“I am a delicate flower. After too many movies left me hiding under my covers as a kid, unable to sleep because my imagination wouldn’t shut up about ghosts and creepy sounds, I gave up watching truly scary films. My husband likes horror, but I skip it. I can’t even deal with fake-looking gore.” — Jodi Meadows
“I’m like Jodi. Can’t wait scary movies at all–as Sooz and Sarah can attest to, as we watched Fright Night together. I talk all the way through them because apparently blabbering about a movie is how I remind my brain that it isn’t real It’s the music! Even when I KNOW they’re just prepping you for a jump scare, I’m terrified anyway. I read the wikipedia articles of scary movies when I want to know what they’re about. Seriously.” — Kat Zhang
“I’m in camp Jodi + Kat. I despise horror movies. (I’ve decided much of this is my cousin’s fault who, when we were pretty young, convinced me to watch The Exorcist by telling me it was a comedy.) I make a lone exception for TV’s Supernatural, which I absolutely adore. Something about those Winchester brothers gives me the strength to face the creepy scenes.” — Erin Bowman
“Paranormal Activity scared the bejeezus out of me. Especially the third one. AGH. I loooove horror movies, but it’s sort of like when you get to the highest point of a roller coaster–I always regret watching it afterward, when I’m holed up in my bathtub with a helmet and a bat.” — Marie Lu
When I (Erin) was collecting answers, Marie also shared a poem that gives her the creeps without fail. I’m going to wrap this collection up by sharing it again with you:
Antigonish by Hughes Mearns
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)
Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away
Yeah, creepy. (Thanks a lot for the shivers, Marie!) Now tell us, what are your favorite horror stories? Will you be reading/watching them tonight?
And to all of you east-coasters dealing with the aftermath of Sandy: stay safe! Our thoughts are with you!
Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN, comes out from HarperTeen in Winter of 2013. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).