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scary monsters and super creeps

After all the talk about Stephen King yesterday, I decided to spend my summer catching up on the horror genre, which I abandoned a while ago.

There was a time when I read nothing but horror books - King started me on that path. I also wrote nothing but horror at the time. I have quite a few boxes of dusty piles of paper filled with gore, blood, monsters, otherwordly things and creepy humans. I may transcribe to the computer one day.

I'm looking for some good horror - scary, spine-tingling, don't-read-when-you're-alone books to get me through this season that I always save for cheap-thrill reading. It doesn't have to be great literature. And it doesn't have to be gore horror, Twilight Zone type stories will do as well. Creepy stories.

[Just keep in mind I am not a huge fan of Koontz.]


I've read a few books by John Saul. The God Project was the first. Of the books of his that I've read, I've yet to come across one with a happy ending.

The Ledge by Lawrence Sargent Hall is, by a wide margin, the most horrific story I have ever read.

There's always Lovecraft.

Thinking outside of the box a bit, I find 1984 to be one of the creepiest books I've ever read.

The Straw Men, Michael Marshall.

(I'd recommend What You Make It, a collection of his short stories, but it isn't out in the U.S. The first story in the collection, More Tomorrow, has the most disturbing final sentence I've ever read)


1984 was creepy, but not nearly as much as Brave New World. Need to re-read that one.

I second Lovecraft.

I also enjoyed Peter Straub's "Lost Boy, Lost Girl" quite a bit. I've yet to read the follow up, but have it on my list.

I'm also a big fan of King and agree with your rankings (more or less...I liked Firestarter more than you did and Cujo less).

You might try Robert R. McCammon. Most notable works by him: Swan Song, Mine, and Boy's Life (although Boy's Life isn't as scary as the others it's a great story).

If you haven't read it, Peter Straub's Ghost Story and Shadowlands are also great reads. I also agree with the other commenter that Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Straub is also worth reading (best thing he's written recently).

"The Keep" was pretty damned good. F. Paul Wilson, I believe. All his books were very enjoyable.

You know, Britton, I thought the "The Keep" was pretty lame when I read it long ago and since wrote-off F. Paul Wilson. But recently, I started picking up his Repairman Jack books and have found them to be a lot of fun.

Ultimately, I like horror fiction (also not Koontz), but I have never been scared by it. What scare's me -- and happens to be my favorite beach reading -- are accounts of disaster at sea. Really, anything involving being eaten by sharks or desperate castaways. Creeps me the fuck out.

Lovecraft is fun, in that it shows what the genre was like before King and Koontz revved it up with more blood and gore. The Dunwich Horror is my favorite story, although The Thing on the Doorstep and Cool Air are also fun.

If you wind up liking Lovecraft, Derleth carried on the tradition with some pretty good stuff of his own.

Additional point: many years ago, an episode of The Night Gallery was made spoofing the Lovecraft/Derleth genre; Professor Peabody's Last Lecture. It was both funny and thrilling at the same. N.B.: I had to Google to come up with the name of the episode, and in doing so it looks like it might be coming out on DVD. Yay!

"Summer of night" - Dan Simmons
"Toady" - Mark Morris
"Bane", or "Stone" or "The Shee" - All by Joe Donnelly

Ooh! this is fun, I'm going to go make a list.

Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami. Think a really twisted form of Ender's Game meets Lord of the Flies, and you're halfway there. Very, very good. The author later rewrote the scripts to adapt them to manga, which is also very, very good, but avoid the movies like the plague. They suck hard.

Actually, Battle Royale is one of my favorite movies ever.

From the duo who brought you The Relic, try The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Or, try Hunted Past Reason by Richard Matheson, one of my favorite authors (author of THE CLASSIC I Am Legend)

I've decided to become reacquainted with Shirley Jackson... I'm expecting "The Haunting of Hill House" in the mail tomorrow and I want to see if it can still scare me years and years after I first read it.

It has to have, regardless of genre, the best opening paragraph ever written in fiction.

Gotta second "The Haunting of Hill House."

If you're like me (and I know I am), that book will scare you even if you've read it before. And don't, repeat DON'T watch the movie* all alone at night in the middle of the nastiest thunderstorm central Florida has seen in a long time. I still haven't made up the sleep I lost Monday night.

Anyone here read "The House Next Door" or "Ghost Story"? I just got copies and haven't read them yet, but I've been repeatedly told they're good. Opinions, anyone?

*The Original, not the lame 90s remake.

I read Ghost Story and vouch for it's awesomeness.

The remake of House on Haunted Hill was asstastic, with ass frosting.

The remake of House on Haunted Hill was asstastic, with ass frosting.

You've got that right, although it is good for a MST3K-type bad movie night. Apparently the phrase "tone it down!" never occurred to the director.

That's the thing I love about the original. You never see a ghost. You're imagination takes the freakish sounds and events and fills in whatever scares you the most, which makes the movie so much better. You basically scare yourself.


I love the original "House" movie and I'll third the thumbs down on the remake. yeech

When "The Exorcist" was re-released with new scenes, I still enjoyed it. It really is a great movie to cover one in gooseflesh on many levels.

Really good book too.

Not really in the "horror" genre, because it's not fiction, but another book for a scare is "Helter Skelter" about the Charles Manson murders.

I could not read that at night without getting up and checking the locks on all the doors and windows. My sister refused to finish the book or even have it in her room.

If you're talking about Anne Rivers Siddons's "House Next Door", it is indeed awesome. I need to get myself another copy.

I second the recommendation for Preston and Child's novels; they're billed as thrillers, but their books have some of the most horrifying scenes I've ever read. There are still bits of "Riptide" that make my skin crawl, and "Thunderhead" scared my mother so badly she's still spooked by petroglyphs. I'll also second the rec for Richard Matheson.

Also, try James Herbert. He's a classic writer of your very basic horror story, and several of his books have been made into movies. (Including the Peter Jackson classic "Fog", with Adrienne Barbeau. I love that one.) I just watched "Haunted", another of his books that made it to the big screen, and it actually gave me nightmares. It's been YEARS since that happened.

There's always Ray Bradbury. He doesn't write horror often, but when he does it's usually good for the cold breath down your neck on a summer afternoon.

I have to agree with Pax on Peter Straub's Shadowlands. Loved it a long time ago, and just re-read it.

Also, as someone who hs read every Stephen King book ever, I totally agree on both the Tailsman and eyes of the Dragon. I also really liked Hearts in atlantis, but it probably wouldn't technically be classified as a horror. Jerusalem's Lot was kind of freaky, too.

Finally, I third the opinion on Ghost Story.

And to be fair, it could very easily be that I read the book first - the first movie is much better than the second, but for both I was expecting the book. The books are almost always better than the films, as they say, and this is no exception to that rule.

But there were so many scenes that could have lent so much more to the movie's impact that were cut, for time or for budget or for whatever reason, that it was a phenomenal let-down after reading the book. Wheras the manga allowed the author to expand on the scenes, add more emotional depth to the characters, and make some of the most horrific scenes even more so (and turn Shinji Mimura into even more of a badass when he and Kazuo Kiriyama go at each other).

Ah well, just my 0.02. I glad you enjoyed the movies, even if they weren't for me. Had you read the book when you saw it? Or have you read it at all?

I am a loyal Stephen King fan . I have read almost all his books and many more than once but to me the dark tower series is his greatest masterpiece . They are scary , funny, heartfelt and ominious at the same time.