I really don’t care much for Halloween. It stopped being exciting for me around age 12. The goth aesthetic never appealed to me, The Nightmare Before Christmas barely moves the needle, I find death neither scary nor fascinating, and I’m not big into bleak, depressing, nihilistic horror films.
I’m not a witch, and I think witchcraft is silly. Salem, Massachusetts becomes an absolute freakshow this time of year, vampires and zombies don’t exist, and Halloween parties are an excuse to get drunk, like any other kind of party, just with more opportunity to offend people via costume choice because this is 2018 and NPCs gotta Jane something to keep them occupied.
But I do love fall. And candy. So that’s something.
Basically, Halloween is for little kids and little kids only. I’m not sorry.
Still, my friend PC Bushi has been talking about Halloween books on his blog lately, so that got me thinking of a few of my favorite books and whatnot that could be considered “horror.” Most of these are obvious as hell, but I guess I have to write something about Halloween, and better early than never.
Dracula by Bram Stoker:
Yeah, super basic, but the granddaddy of vampire novels is still the best. Watch the creepy, cunning count manipulate London realtor John Harker so he can get to Harker’s beloved, Mina. . . a dead ringer for the count’s own lost love. Told in an epistolary fashion, Dracula bases the titular count on the actual Vlad Dracul, and introduces characters and tropes that are still staples in the vampire genre, including Van Helsing, Renfield, and John Morris. The 1990 movie version is pretty decent, too.
The Castlevania series:
Speaking of Dracula, without Bram Stoker’s novel, there’d be no Castlevania series of video games from Konami. I prefer the original NES trilogy myself, but the Belmont family’s never-ending battle against the evil count and his mysteriously reappearing castle across the generations has several great iterations across all console generations. The series is a loving homage to all monster movies and tropes, but Dracula looms over all. The visuals, subject matter, and especially music, all set a memorable mood fit for any horror fan, or non-horror fan like me.
Stephen King’s The Shining:
There was a time when Stephen King wasn’t a punchline, when his worst literary excesses hasn’t been unleashed by endless torrents of money, cocaine, and smug self-satisfaction, when the man could write tight, taught, and viscerally scary self-contained thrillers, and none to me are as effective as The Shining . . . and I’ve read a lot of the man’s work. You are probably familiar with the tale of the haunted Overlook hotel and the sinister ghosts that drive a writer mad. Trapped with his wife and young son in a blizzard, Jack tries to murder them . . . leading to the scariest aspect of The Shining–a father trying to murder his six-year-old son, chasing him through the Overlook’s empty halls, is the most chilling thing King has ever written.
The Silent Hill series:
I tapped out on this series after game four, but man, those first three games are scary as hell. The Silent Hill series was Konami’s answer to Capcom’s more action-oriented Resident Evil series of survival-horror games. Konami went the opposite route, creating slow-burning games that rely on atmosphere and psychological terror to ratchet up the tension, using system limitations like clunky controls and limited visibility to create a fog-shrouded, haunted town that your average Joe or Jane characters had to survive. No special forces operatives here! Silent Hill doles our the scares and monsters on a steadily increasing drip, relying on blares of static to indicate when nasties are near . . . and all you’ve got is a tiny flashlight with rapidly draining batteries and a two-by-four and you’re stuck in this creepy abandoned hospital . . .
So there ya go, my obligatory “celebration” of Halloween or whatever. To me, it’s a speed bump on the road to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I care about Halloween only because I have kids, and I love seeing the neighborhood children in their costumes because they’re so damn cute. Otherwise, meh.
Meh, I say! I’m a real Halloween Scrooge! But I still give good greats, like the full-size candy bars, because screw Twizzlers and Smarties, that’s why.