In honour of Halloween this weekend, we decided to share our favourite scary things. It was originally intended to be limited to books, but there are so many movies that we love too we couldn’t resist adding some in.
Growing up, I was never really a fan of horror; in fact, I was a bit of wimp! After watching an episode of Goosebumps (The Blob That Ate Everything) and having nightmares about green ooze that came out of my tap and ate me, I decided that horror was awful and not at all fun. Watching The Ring at 13, on my own… at night, reinforced this. I avoided anything scary for a long time after that and probably didn’t read or watch any horror until a few years ago, which is a huge shame because it turns out that I actually love it!
This means that my list is not at all comprehensive, and has a noticeable gap in the middle of it, but the things that I can recommend are extremely, enjoyably scary. I hope you enjoy!
Even just looking at these books on the shelf used to creep me out – the text used to move and shiver. I was old enough to know that there must be some rational explanation but young enough to still be scared by the possibly that there wasn’t (are we ever not young enough?).
As a child, I loved everything Roald Dahl. I had a huge collection of his books that I read over and over again and one of my favourites was The Witches. The witches were so terrifying and the main characters felt so vulnerable that I could barely make myself read the most scary bits… but I always did.
Although it may seem a strange place to look for stories, Reddit is actually an amazing place to find scary stories, especially when you just fancy a quick shiver and don’t have time to read a whole book. There are some amazing scary subreddits and threads, and if anything, I find these scarier than novels, because they’re presented as real life. My current favourite is this thread. Of course the posters could be lying through their teeth, but you can never know for sure…
My current favourites:
4. The Last Days of Jack Sparks
My current favourite scary book is Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp. As well as being genuinely scary, it’s also witty, funny and compelling – I think I read it in less than a day. As the title implies, the book revolves around the character of Jack Sparks, who died whilst trying to write the book… I can’t explain it any better than the blurb does so have that instead:
Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.
Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.
Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.
I read this on holiday in Rhodes, possibly the least scary place in the world, and I was still too scared to turn the light out at night, especially during that scene. I also barely spoke to my holiday companion because I couldn’t put the book down – she eventually forgave me after I made her read it too.
I think this might have been the first scary movie I watched after my awful experience with The Ring (I watched it again more recently and whilst I can appreciate that it’s an excellent movie, the nightmares that follow are so bad I still can’t enjoy it). I loved it because it’s not just a scary movie… it also has an interesting story and interesting characters. Oh, and of course, it’s terrifying! The dining room scene made me jump three feet in the air and the creepy little boy still gives me shivers. Overall, a great movie to watch as your first one for 15 years.
I knew about Carrie before I read Carrie (everyone knows that prom scene) and because this was the first King novel I read, I went in with certain expectations. I was expecting to be terrified – hiding under the bed covers terrified. But it wasn’t like that – yes the ending is gory and violent, and her mother is horrifying – but more than anything I related to it – and that creeped me the hell out.
It’s really rather simple when you think about it – don’t give your main character loving, cuddly parents. Give her two sets – including one who are strangers to her, terrifying, unknowable strangers. That way neither your main character, nor your reader will ever feel safe. Combine that with Gaiman’s always-skillful writing and you’ve got a great, spine-chilling story that works every time. It’s just genius.
When I first watched this as a 12 year old I was scared – it gave me, for want of a better word ‘the willies’. Dr Frank-n-Furter honestly terrified me, and to be honest even now there’s a tiny part of me that feels the same and yet I would happily watch this film every day – probably because it makes me feel that way. I think it’s Tim Curry’s performance – he is a little too much of everything (a little too crazy, too sexy, too loud, too weird) and it’s just perfect. Well Tim Curry and Time Warp.