By Liz, gleefully waiting for the scariest night of the year!
When I was a kid, my parents were a little, shall we say, worried about me. There were many reasons for this (my interest in serial killers being the main one) but definitely topping the list was my life-sized poster of Freddie Krueger that hung in my room, right next to my Johnny Depp poster. This was also ironic because Johnny Depp was killed BY Freddy Krueger in that iconic bed scene in Nightmare on Elm Street, but it definitely showed the range of my tastes at the time.
Yes, I was obsessed with Freddy Krueger. I dressed as Freddy for a few Halloweens, and I had the voice down pretty good. I had a talking Freddy doll with which I would shamelessly scare my brother half to death. (When you pulled the string in his back, there were a few different lines he would say. I used to stand in my brother’s doorway in the dark after he went to bed and make Freddy talk. And yes, I got in a lot of trouble for it.) I also watched the Nightmare on Elm Street movies repeatedly, although they admittedly got worse as they went on. But still, Freddy was an iconic character to me, a killer with panache who could bring humor and his own unique style to every gruesome murder. He was much more interesting than Jason, for example, who just silently went around killing people. I mean, where’s the personality in that?
So as we approach Halloween – my favorite time of the year – I started thinking about scares, and what makes a good one. I know that my tastes have changed over the years. I still love to have the bejesus scared out of me, but that looks different than it did in my Freddy-obsessed days. Back then, I loved these kinds of movies, the gorier the better. Scream, Halloween (Michael Meyers is still the scariest of all of them, hands down), Candyman, The Conjuring. While I still have a fondness for those kinds of scares, admittedly my tastes have changed a bit.
I’m not seeking out the goriest movies or books anymore, but I still love a good scare – and my new motto is, the creepier the better. I love anything that’s atmospheric, instills a sense of unease from the moment you start watching or reading, and that delivers its chills more subtly than, well, Freddy sucking you into a bed along with all your electronics.
One of my favorite things to watch during Halloween season since its release a few years ago is the remade Haunting of Hill House. I never watched the original, but I do love this version – I think it was extremely well done and had its share of “jump scares,” but ultimately they did a great job of balancing that creepiness with the main storyline, which to me was the devastating breakdown of a family.
Another good example is a book I had to pick up because it was on Stephen King’s list of scariest books. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay is reminiscent of The Exorcist – a teenager possessed by demons, an ensuing reality show, and I’m not sure what else because I’m still reading it but it’s definitely freaky. It’s terrifying in a very subtle, matter-of-fact way and part of the reason I’m not done it yet is because I can’t read it at night.
There are so many other good examples – but it’s your turn! Tell me in the comments below what your favorite scary book or movie is for this time of year.