Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top Nine Horror Books

In order to write, one must first read.  To write in any genre, one should read who they consider to be the masters of their craft.  But why nine, you ask?  Why not ten?  That tenth place is saved for the next book that wow's me.  Everyone has a list like the one that follows, and everyone's is different, but what follows are the top nine works of horror fiction that inspired, and continue to inspire, me to write.

  • Hell House, Richard Matheson - To me, the greatest haunted house book of all time.  This one managed to scare the hell out of me. 
  • Cabal, Clive Barker - the first book I read by Barker, and still one of my favorites.  Twisted and wonderful all at once, it's about a race of monsters. 
  • The Shining, Stephen King - Like I could leave him off the list...Scary as hell, the master of slow-burn horror, this book is, in my opinion, King at his finest.
  • The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty - If you haven't read this book, you're missing out.  The movie is scary, but the book is terrifying. 
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux - Old-school horror where the phantom wasn't some bare-chested, half-mask wearing nancy-boy.  This Phantom was a psychotic menace. 
  • Psycho, Robert Bloch - Who doesn't love Norman Bates?  
  • Frankenstien, Mary Shelly - The first, the best, the truest form of horror.  Written by a teen-aged girl during a thunderstorm, this book captivated the world.  
  • The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, H.P. Lovecraft - Easily the Godfather of modern horror, the man who was Providence still resonates today because no one does dread better. 
  • Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, E.A. Poe - No list of horror greats would be complete without Poe.  Without him, none of us would be writing horror.  
So that's it...My top nine.  Tune in next time when I reveal who I believe to be the future of horror literature, and who to watch.  Until then...

Write on!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top Ten Halloween Movies

Every year, people ask me what my favorite Halloween movies are.  And while my tastes in film do change from time to time, there are a few that I just can't do without.  So here (with links) are my favorite Halloween movies of all time.  Perfect for a dark night when the streets outside are filled with ghouls and goblins.  In no particular order:

  1. Trick 'r Treat - It just came out, I know, but I'm completely head-over-heels for this movie.  It makes no bones about it...This movie was designed to be a Halloween classic. 
  2. The Legend of Hell House - By now, everyone knows that Richard Matheson is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writers of the modern age.  The book upon which this movie is based made me want to be a writer.  The movie scared the hell out of me as a kid.  Brooding and atmospheric horror at its best. 
  3. The Exorcist  - Slow to start, but truly one of the most horrifying movies of all time. 
  4. An American Werewolf in London - One of the greatest horror-comedies of all time, with Academy Award-winning special effects by Rick Baker.  
  5. Ghost Story - Peter Straub wrote one of the great ghost stories of all time, and this is the movie upon which it is based.  
  6. Hellraiser - Like I could leave this one off.  C'mon, really?  Pinhead is one of my favorite movie monsters of all time!
  7. The House on Haunted Hill - First off, it's Vincent Price.  That's really all that needs to be said.  Second, the original, not the classic POS.  This movie rocked hard in the day.  Cheesy gothic goodness!
  8. The Haunting - Again, the original...Not the remake.  This movie is creepy as all hell. 
  9. Night of the Living Dead - The one that started it all.  George A. Romero's classic.  If  you haven't seen this, go stand in a corner and watch it.  
  10. Halloween - It had to be here.  I mean, c'mon...Look at the friggin' title!
There are lots of others, but this was my "Top Ten" list.  Other movies that just didn't quite make the cut-off point were Evil Dead, Candyman, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the ones listed above are my absolute favorites.  Feel free to list your own.  I'm always looking for good stuff to watch on my favorite night of the year!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  It's the time when the air turns cooler, the leaves change colors (in places where such things actually happen), and the smile on my face gets bigger.  October has always been, and will always be, my favorite month of the year.  And why?  Because it contains my favorite holiday of all time:  Samhain, Sow-een, All Hallow's Eve, Hallow'een.  Or, as it's more commonly known, HALLOWEEN.  It is the one time of year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and when the dead can return to the land of the living.  Well, that's what people say now.  I've also heard a few ignorant people say it's the "devil's holiday" and call it "happy dead day..."  I've actually been called a Satanist because I decorate my house for Halloween.  Not true, I say.  My house looks like that year-round.  So what exactly is Halloween?  Sure, kids dress up and go begging for candy, but what was it originally?

Samhain was, as was most celebrations of the time, an agricultural festival.  It was the time of the last harvest, when the world "died" for the winter months.  Many Pagans still celebrate it this way.  But it became more than that.  It became a way to honor those who came before, a way to pay tribute to the dead, and to acknowledge their importance in our lives.  Now, granted, when the dead return, that means all sorts of other nasty things can return, which is why offerings of food were left out:  So these nasties could be placated into doing no harm (Trick or Treat, get it?).  In the meantime, children sought to confuse the long-legged beasties by dressing like them.  Hence the Halloween costumes.  The whole event became such a celebration in the pre-Christian communities that when the Christians encountered it, they knew it was one holiday they couldn't even hope to get rid of.  So they created a new one, All Saint's Day, for the day after All Hallows.

While you're out this Halloween, collecting your candy and driving yourself into a sugar-coma, take a few minutes to reflect on everyone who is no longer with us.  Think about how they touched your life, and remember them during this very special day.

And then go scare the hell out of someone. ;-)