Celebrating Halloween with Scary Story Recommendations

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?

Julie Eshbaugh

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!

Mandy Hubbard

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.

S. Jae-Jones (JJ)

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.”

Leigh Bardugo

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.

Joanna Volpe

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.

Susan Dennard

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.

Jordan Hamessley London

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.

Rachel Seigel

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.

Jodi Meadows

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.

Kat Zhang

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.

Erin Bowman

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.

Marie Lu

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.

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!


9 Responses to Celebrating Halloween with Scary Story Recommendations

  1. Alyssa Oct 31 2012 at 10:00 am #

    OMG, I agree with so many of these! My sister and I saw Paranormal Activity in the theater when it first came out. We were traveling to Asheville, NC the following day with my mom and aunt, so we stayed the night at my parents’ house, and we were so freaked out by the movie that we both slept in the living room with a light on!

    There were a TON of Twilight Zone episodes that freaked me out as a kid. I’ve had an irrational fear of mannequins ever since I saw the episode where the mannequins in a department store come to life at night.

    Shirley Jackson is one of my all-time favorite writers, and I agree that The Haunting of Hill House is not only creepy and chilling, but an absolutely fantastic example of how to use atmosphere in a story.

    I’ve been wanting to read House of Leaves for a while, and Susan has reminded me that I need to get around to it!

  2. Christa Oct 31 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I’m not a huge fan of scary movies but I do love ones that are really well done and I think you guys have named all of my favourites. Although no one mentioned Halloween!

    Julie you picked my favourite one right off the bat though. I love The Thing. It’s the perfect mixture of horror and sci-fi and the continuity is crazy! I can’t believe he kept everything straight. In fact I love it so much my NaNoWriMo project for this year was inspired by The Thing!

    • Julie Eshbaugh Oct 31 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Hey Christa! Glad to find a “The Thing” kindred spirit! I love it so much!

  3. Lauren Oct 31 2012 at 10:36 am #

    After watching “The Shining,” I gave up on all horror movies. Talk about nightmares! But books? I still touch those. So I absolutely agree with “House of Leaves.” SO haunting! It ones one of those books that I wanted to put in the freezer halfway through reading.

    • Julie Eshbaugh Oct 31 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      Wanted to put it in the freezer? Now I have to read House of Leaves! 😉

  4. Kirsty in London Oct 31 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I love an old-fashioned ghost story with a Victorian setting like THE TURN OF THE SCREW or THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

    My favourite horror film is THE OMEN (the Gregory Peck original, of course!) — the sinister choral opening theme is already enough to freak me out!

  5. Julie Eshbaugh Oct 31 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I forgot about the original OMEN! Good choices Kirsty!

  6. Rowenna Oct 31 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    I hate horror movies–I think it’s because when I was a teenager my friends loved them but couldn’t watch the scary parts, and I was always the designated “keep eyes open during scary parts and alert others when it’s over” person. I’m scarred.

    But–I love old movies. So I get my scary movie quota in on really old stuff–White Zombie, The Black Cat, Bride of Frankenstein. If it has Bela Lugosi in it, I’m in! But I think one of the scariest movie of all time is also one of the oldest horror flicks–Nosferatu. Just the image of the vampire is chilling!

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