For Further Reading

For albeit 1.1 we asked our contributors to submit their “favorite horror” and a brief reason why.

Clare Braun:

One of my favorite horror films is The Wicker Man (1974), which follows an outsider investigating a possible crime in the insulated Scottish community of Summerisle.  The film explores the repressed terrors lurking beneath quaint, small town life, but what frightened me the most was how the milieu of the film doubled the situation in which I first watched it: in the darkened, empty common room of a youth hostel owned by a woman named Morag, somewhere in an isolated town in the Scottish Highlands.

Alissa Burger:

While I love a good supernatural tale as much as the next fan, the horror that really gets to me are those stories that are reality-based, that could actually happen. For example, when I read and teach King, it’s those realistic stories that stick with me the most, like the violence against women in Big Driver, “The Gingerbread Girl,” and Dolores Claiborne, or the tragedy of a good dog infected with rabies in Cujo. Those things that could actually happen – and even more terrifying, that we may be powerless to prevent! – are the most chilling to me. I also find stories of madness very striking, where we are taken into the mind of an unreliable, deteriorating narrator, unable to be completely sure what’s “real” and what’s filtered through the psychological perspective of madness, like in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, where the madness itself can be more unsettling than the purportedly supernatural horrors the narrator or characters face.

Michael J. Dalpe, Jr.:

One of my favorite horror stories is the 2002 movie May. A story about a loner girl whose mother tells her, “If you can’t find a friend, make one,” May plays on psychological horror while also giving the audience some gory moments. More than just a slasher flick, May reinforces the idea of the female social outcast, showing what happens when someone who is on the edges of society demands to be taken seriously.

Amanda Jean Denman:

Classic horror films that I love include: 1920’s The Penalty, starring Lon Chaney; anything produced by Val Lewton; and 1961’s Mr. Sardonicus, in which the audience chooses from two different endings if the protagonist will be punished or redeemed. These films are effective not only through their plots and subject matter but through the atmosphere that they create. They stay with you long after the final credits.

Jason N. Fischedick:

As a kid, growing up, I loved the horror novels of Stephen King. I read Misery in sixth grade, after getting it from the library, and my life was changed. Though I didn’t understand everything that was going on, I was engrossed by the horrific idea of a famous writer held captive by an obsessed fan. I soon began an obsession of my own, reading every piece of work King put out. I idolized him and fantasized that he was my father (my real father dying when I was very young), and it wasn’t long until I began writing my own Stephen King rip-off horror stories. Though I no longer write horror stories, I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for randomly picking up Misery, and falling in love with the genre, I never would’ve begun my lifelong passion of writing.

Elizabeth Goldhammer:

My favorite horror is in the gothic tradition: from the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to more contemporary films like Alien and Sweetie, gothic best exemplifies what is socially determined as strange, unnerving, even terrifying. It is in the marginal spaces of gender, sexuality, race, and class where we can identify the Other as a horrific reflection of our own selves.

Rob Shepherd:

This was a tricky choice to make, but I think that ultimately I’d go with Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond. The film is full of the usual violence and narrative incoherence that bedevil many Italian exploitation and horror films, but in this particular instance these add to the films impact creating a distinctly oneiric and nightmarish ambiance. Also, and surprisingly for an Italian film concerned with the opening of one of the seven doors to hell, the way in which the hellish slowly engulfs the real world is handled with a great deal of subtlety, foregrounding the insidious and holding back from over the top special effects. The soundtrack is also fantastic.

Andrew Sydlik:

My favorite print-world horror is the longer short stories/novellas by H. P. Lovecraft. Among those, “At the Mountains of Madness” (written 1931, published 1936) would be my favorite. Lovecraft’s work continues to be so effective–despite its many problems and limitations–because he sought to inspire horror not only by forces antagonistic toward his protagonists, but by beings largely beyond the concerns and comprehension of humanity. Characters or creatures driven by the old standbys–greed, jealousy, hatred, hunger–are so overdone that it is hard to inspire fear in fresh ways through such motivations. But the idea of a being so far beyond our understanding that it would drive you insane simply to think about it? That’s scary.

My favorite horror film is George Romero’s 1968 The Night of the Living Dead. There are many reasons for this, including my appreciation for its low-budget DIY ethic, the almost unbearable tension between the human characters, and the haunting menace of the living dead. Despite being so limited in funds, Romero & crew made maximum use of everything from lighting, music, diegetic sound (the radio & TV reports), silence, eerie setting, dialogue, etc. It’s a very simple story, though it has many layers, which is why so many people have been able to wrestle numerous social critiques from it. And there’s just something so creepy in those slow, shambling zombies, who just keep coming at you; and when you kill one, ten others spring up. They’re also us, which only adds to the movie’s uncanny unease. It’s the only film that ever gave me nightmares (yes, nightmares, plural).

Ashley Szanter:

My favorite “horror” book would be Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. The characters Rice creates embody the essence (and duality) of the vampire that modern audiences know and love. In that same vein, I would have to mention the cinematic adaptations of Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned. Aside from those, my favorite horror show on television today is Sleepy HollowThe narrative so new and original while still being able to generate fear in their audience with a combination of biblical, mythological, historical, and literary elements.

Editors:

The editors love a good horror story, as long as there’s a quilt nearby to hide under. Here we’ve listed but a few of our favorites in categories that could work as course units.

Literature and Film Comparison:

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In (Swedish film)

Let Me In (American film)

Literature and Television Comparison:

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead (AMC series)

Literature, Music, and Film Comparison:

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Bob Dylan

Smooth Talk (American film)

When Characters from the Page Are Made Flesh on the Screen” by Joyce Carol Oates

A Scientific-ish Pairing:

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan 

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Kid’s and Old School YA horror:

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Don’t Look Behind You by Lois Duncan

The Babysitter by R.L. Stine

Gimme a Kiss by Christopher Pike

The Classics:

Brockden Brown, Gilman, Poe, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Shelley, Stoker, Jackson, et al