Ah, October. The month never seems to remain steady or silent. We’ve had occasional storms, government drama, gradual or abrupt changes in weather. Leaves go from green to yellow, orange, red, and brown. Men, women, children, and dogs are walking around in costumes. Then there are birthdays and sweets and children/teenagers/young adults/parents running amok with goodies bags, going door to door to ask for treats (whether they follow up with a trick is a different story). Which leads us to October 31st, the culmination of the month’s horrors.
I’m not typically a horror person, but from time to time, I watch/read/play dark, twisty things. There are certain movies and games you couldn’t get me to play because I either get turned off by the “gore for gore’s sake” plot or I turn into a scaredy cat. I tend to avoid hacker/slasher flicks like Halloween and Friday the 13th (sometimes I am unsuccessful, because I had a few friends who literally dragged me to watch slashers with them), and you couldn’t get me to play Slender or Amnesia for the reason that first POV narratives are psychological mind-frells. But other than that, I respect horror for what it lets the audience feel. In horror, your mind questions your surroundings. The bump in the night makes your heart race. The patch of unknown in the corner of darkness sends chills down your spine. The shadow behind the shower curtain could very well spell your death.
So if you’re looking to fill the rest of October with something that might up your levels of paranoia (or, you know, if you like the kick of suspense and horror or dark and twisty things), here are just some awesome games, books, and shows to help you enjoy!
Grimm – A dark fantasy crime drama inspired by the dark tales of the Brothers Grimm. Grimm revolves around Nick Burkhardt, a detective who discovers that he is a descendant of a long line of Wesen (German “being/creature”) hunter. Throughout the series, Nick encounters dangerous and not-so-dangerous creatures. The show has been doing relatively well and renewed for a third season, so there’s at least two seasons’ worth of twisty fairy tale goodness there. Not to mention the fact that there’s actually an awesome werewolf character in the fray.
The Walking Dead – Obviously this franchise was going to make my list. Zombies galore! I don’t really understand why I can tolerate zombie-related things when I hate hacker/slasher flicks, but there it is. For those who are not aware, The Walking Dead follows a rag-tag bunch of characters as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse. Originally created by Robert Kirkman in the comic medium, The Walking Dead has since spread to include a hit television show and a video game.
The Sandman comics, Coraline – Basically, a lot of things by Neil Gaiman. I don’t even want to elaborate on this. Just…Neil. Gaiman. He is a wonderful fantasy author, and is quite well-known for his comic stories about the Endless, particularly that of Dream. And Coraline? Yeah, I read that only a few years back, and I was still rather scared of it, so that’s saying much.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Alright, for a lighter read, here’s a parody by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen). For those wondering what this novel entails, it’s practically Jane Austen’s classic…with zombies. Yeah, no, seriously, it is. To be honest, it was much more entertaining to read the comic version of this.
Return of the Dead Men (and Women) Walking – Call this shameless plugging or whatever, but I can’t very well leave off this post without mentioning this short story anthology, no? Released in October 2012, the anthology, edited by Julie Ann Dawson, is filled with tales of the undead, including zombies, ghouls, vampires, and erm, well, undeady things. Of course, it’d be nice if you checked out “The Body in the Water”. Just saying.
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Mention of large, black hound dogs roaming the midnight streets is probably one of the more fantastical elements in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Still, with a vivid imagination, the story itself can be downright scary. Well, that and if you’ve seen Sherlock, you’d know to be a little frightened, too.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – I have a love-hate relationship with Victorian fiction. On one hand, I did not love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, nor was I keen on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I understand both works are very influential, and have been done and redone and there is much to be said about their stories that makes Shelley and Stoker renowned masters of horror. That said, it’s Robert Louis Stevenson who hits the mark for me, so I’ve added him on my list.
Rear Window, The Birds, Psycho – Well, admittedly, a lot of Alfred Hitchcock’s stuff are barrelfuls of suspense, but these were the three that came to mind. I have yet to watch The Birds myself, but enough of my friends have cringed when the movie was mentioned, so I figure I’ll include it in here. Hitchcock’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents should also be given a mention here, as it was a television show featuring thrillers and mysteries (think early version of The Twilight Zone).
Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Old skool fear goodness! I throw this in here because I enjoyed watching these when I was younger. Not sure if any of these episodes are actually available anywhere (some of the good ones probably are), but for those wanting a trip down memory lane, this is definitely one way to go about with things.
Goosebumps – R.L. Stine came out with this children’s horror fiction in the ’90s, spawning a television show in its wake. I admit I had a great love for these books when I was younger, and still boast a massive collection somewhere in my house. My favorites were probably the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, though I wasn’t particularly keen on having died a few times as I read the story. Oh, did I mention Ryan Gosling was a Goosebumps actor? Priceless.
Alan Wake – Admittedly, this made the list because I kind of play-marathoned it yesterday, which was what spurred this blog post. Anyway, this was a mystery thriller, the elements of the detective noir-type story mixing with a fantastical horror. Oh, and I suppose it gets plus points for the fact that the main character is a writer (never mind that I wasn’t particularly fond of the character myself).
Bioshock – Okay, so maybe I make exceptions about first-person POVs when it comes to games. But um, Bioshock. Yes. That’s really the only thing to say. This game practically spoiled me rotten, because I’ve now got a high maintenance complex about gaming narratives and breathtaking graphics. Not only does this game deliver in both, but it should not be forgotten how pee-your-pants scary this game can be when you’re not being vigilant.
Yes, I’ve left out a number of other great horror-related things on this list, like Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, heck, even a number of other Gothic horror writers, as well as a smattering of movies and games that are far scarier than most. But for the sake of preventing this overly-long post from getting any longer, I won’t. Perhaps next time I’ll learn to separate and organize things more efficiently…
I swear my next topic is going back to food. Yep.