Was thinking of horror/scary stuff that's stuck in my mind over the years. Some of these are just fun, some of them are outright ridiculous, but all are ones that were memorable to me. Warning, there are probably some spoilers.
Scary books and movies that stuck in my mind or otherwise affected me:
Scary books:The Shining by Stephen King- the ultimate horror novel. It is my favorite book by King. I love the characters and feel so bad for all of them as they draw closer to their destruction…the one scene on the stairwell I remember reading for the first time and my heart was just pounding, couldn't flip pages fast enough. His best work in my opinion, genuinely scary.Come Closer by Sara Gran- another one that I couldn't put down. The story of a very normal young woman who is slowly becoming possessed by a demon called Naamah- and not entirely reluctant to it. It seems very realistic and slow paced, very tense, and some of the visual images are very creepy and unsettling. Particularly the part where Amanda is being directed to envision Naamah in her mind but the cord binding them is thick and greasy and when she tries to cut it with her rusty knife, the cord cuts the knife and Naamah is laughing…the parts where Amanda is imagining Naamah embracing her until they are one on the beach too.Beware the Night by Ralph Sarchie- this is a true story, written by a cop who has helped out in several exorcisms in New York. Some of the people portrayed in this and some of the things that happened to them are so horrifying to think they could possibly be true and happening in these times. Not only that, but while reading this book, I had several strange things occur in my life to the point that I actually took the book and recycled it. Definitely creepy, though the guy's writing style was a little annoying. He's definitely a cop and not a writer. The strangest one to me was the demon possessing a phone line…that one was odd.The Ruins by Scott Smith- this book is almost 500 pages long and I read it in ONE day over the summer a few years ago. It's that intense. The movie does it no justice. The whole time I was literally cringing reading what is happening to those poor people and knowing how hopeless it was for them, but still hoping they would have a way out. Having a killer vine sounds ridiculous but it really is a good horror story. The absolute worst is poor guy with broken back, such torture.The haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson- the first time I read this I was 11 and unimpressed. I reread it as a late teenager and got so much more out of it. Jackson has a gift for writing unbalanced characters doing strange, unsettling things, foolish conversations, and yet if you look at the story in multiple ways there is so much subtext and atmosphere, and so many ways to interpret what is going on. Personally I think the idea of a person having a kinship and love affair with a haunted house until it destroys her already fragile mind is a very creepy idea. The faint innuendo between the women, what Theodora tells Eleanor and partly seems to understand, and the question of whether Eleanor is causing it all is interesting too.The Bad Seed by William March- one of the earliest stories of a child with antisocial personality disorder. What gets me about this one is it was written in the 50s and the child, Rhoda, is still a very accurate portrayal of a child with conduct disorder. It's not really the events of the story themselves so much as her weak mother's refusal to do anything final about it and how Rhoda so unconcernedly admits to her murders that is unsettling. Imagine an eight year old beating a child to death with a shoe. I could see that in the headlines today.The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver- the idea of this guy, so obsessed with people's bones, and the way he kills them is so horrifying. Tying someone in front of a steam valve, having a girl practically eaten by rats, asking a woman if he can cut off her foot…and one character, who is claustrophobic, buried alive. The characters of Lincoln and Amelia are great too, very likeable with their own demons.Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi- another true story, the prosecutor of the Manson trial wrote this. The fact that all of this is entirely true makes this one of the most horrific things I've ever read. Seeing how these people thought and acted and were controlled, and how a seemingly nice girl like Linda Kasabian could end up involved in all this and be the only one showing any remorse at the time, is very disturbing.Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- This isn't technically a horror book I guess but the first book of the series is very exciting and well written. And it is a horrific thought. Sticking a bunch of teenagers together and forcing to kill themselves one by one? It's not an original idea but she portrays it well. I was flipping pages fast wanting to see how Katniss would survive.1984 by George Orwell- this isn't technically a horror book either but it's definitely stuck with me over the years. The idea of Big Brother literally spying on your every move, you can't have any freedom or individuality or even a thought of your own that isn't loving the government…and especially Winston's torture with the rats. As a rat phobic I could barely stand to read that part.Wire Mesh Mothers by Elizabeth Massie- this was one of my more recent reads, it really stuck with me too. All the characters are victims of abuse and one has become a sadistic abuser, and yet I felt sorry for her too and kept flipping pages hoping that she wouldn't keep killing, she would do something to help them all not have the horrific outcome that was inevitable. I was invested in the action. At one point I literally gasped and cringed, I was that into it.Julia by Peter Straub- this is actually something I feel was poorly written, and slow paced, and I hated the main character. But the plot itself was creepy and interesting to the point it sparked several story ideas for me to write myself. The idea of a sadistic little girl who controlled other children and was murdered by her mother, then came back to haunt the mother of her half sister, who had accidentally killed her own child, is a good one, but I hate how Peter Straub writes.Ghost Story by Peter Straub- another like that. The first chapter, where a man has kidnapped an odd little girl and keeps thinking of killing her, and asks her all these questions where her answers keep changing until she tells him "I am you," is very interesting and creepy. It's another book where the IDEA is good but it was painfully slow in execution and I didn't like the characters. But that first chapter and the idea of a ghost that reflects your own self is one that was memorable to me over the years.Night Shift by Stephen King- I actually prefer King's short stories to his novels usually, and this early collection is one of his best. It has "Children of the Corn," which was ten thousand times better and creepier than the movies, "Boogeyman," which has great creepy imagery, "I know what you need," which was unsettling in its own right- what if a guy really did know everything you needed? And "The Last Rung on the Ladder," which technically isn't horror but is very, very sad and impacted me more than any of the stories in the book.Borderlands collection- another short story collection. My favorites are the one about the guy who has a piece of the face of Jesus and gives it away, a mother who killed her newborn child and now has the child follow her around as an invisible daughter, the creepy little girl that an abused teenager accidentally killed, which was odd and vague enough to spark an idea for a story for me, and the one about the father whose daughter was "the human wound" at the circus, due to him.I am Legend by Richard Matheson- the book is a billion times better than the movie. I cannot imagine living alone in my house, every day working to keep it safe, having to guard yourself against vampires every night to the point a dog is the center of your life when it shows up. The ending is so sad and awful.Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike- this is a teen book but I still remember the plot, was creeped by it at the time. A teenage witch has recently killed herself, and she manages to bring several of her classmates who had connection with her into a private parallel world of her own making, where they discover stories she has written about them that show how they will die. Pretty strange idea with a dark ending.Dracula by Bram Stoker- I remember reading this for the first time and being astonished by how something so old could be so explicit and gory in its implications. Of course it's a pretty sexist story (they all refer to Mina as a "child" despite the fact that she's married) but it's a classic.Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems- Love this guy. Love the atmosphere and morbidity of his stories, the rhythm of his wording, the dark images it brings, all very appropriate Halloween. "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," "The Haunted Palace," "Red Masque of Death," "Ligeia," "Fall of the House of Usher" are among my favorites. They are pretty repetitive and the guy OBVIOUSLY had extreme issues but they're still fun and creepy to read.Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews – I think now I'm more horrified at the fact that I read this at nine years old than by its content, but it did highly influence me at the time and I still remember it now. To me then, the thought of a mom who would lock her children in an attic and let them be starved and beaten outweighed the stupidity of the kids and the shall we say "inappropriate" relationship they developed. At the time I thought this was the scariest book ever.Halloween Tales- various offers, some really good ones. The first one by Robert McCammon I remember reading around age 12 practically in a fetal position. There are some others with great imagery too. One where a dad every year has to wedge pumpkin slices into his eyes just like his mentally retarded son did, one where Nixon put on a Nixon mask and became possessed, a little boy possessed by demon Red John, house that turned into a pumpkin from the inside and shut people in, a guy's dead brother, who always did sick tricks when alive, still doing them after death, stick out to me most."Where are you going, where have you been" by Joyce Carol Oates- not technically a horror story but I read this in school and it still stayed with me. A strange guy who stuffs his shoes and has a silent friend kidnaps a silly teenage girl and you just know she'll never come back alive. There was a line at the end about how he called her his sweet little blue eyed girl and she actually had brown eyes that for some reason was very unsettling.Fear Street saga- read this in third grade, and I am CERTAIN I would now roll my eyes at it, but at the time it sparked multiple fan fic stories from me, lol. I still remember some of it too. It was the story of how Fear Street came to be- the Goodes and Fiers were enemies for centuries because two Goode women were falsely accused of witchcraft by a Fier, and from then on they were all killing each other back and forth for centuries. I particularly remember the little dead ghost girl getting the other little girl to come "play" with her and how the two Fear sisters killed each other. I think the first Fears out of the Fiers were Simon and Angelica? Crazy I remember this.The Cuckoo Clock of Doom- the only Goosebumps Book I remember, which also sparked a fan fic when I was seven. I remember being fascinated by the idea of time erasing where you could get to the point of no longer even existing.Interview with a vampire by Anne Rice- it was the character of Claudia in this that interested me at the time. What would it be like to be stuck a child for all eternity, never being able to grow up in body even if you did in mind?False Memory by Dean Koontz- I hate Koontz but I read this around age 12 or so and was creeped out by the thought of a therapist who could hypnotize people into believing all sort of terrible things, or even of being afraid of themselves. It is an interesting thought but I hate Koontz as an author now.The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen- the killer in this one got to me because it was so mentally cruel. A guy who meets women on an online support group for rape survivors, just so he can stake them out and rape and kill them? It's so horrific. Some of the violence of this was also unsettling- the poor woman killed in the hospital after having almost been killed before, and what happens to Jane at the end.Spellbound by Christopher Pike- I remember this from when I was a kid, the idea of a girl who was also a killer vulture seems silly in retrospect, but I thought it was very original and scary at the time.The Long Walk by Stephen King- the first that I am aware of, of the reality TV show killing novels. King wrote this when he was just a kid, he beat everyone. I think it's scarier today because it was so ahead of its time. Everyone is forced to walk 4 miles an hour pace until only one person is left walking. I still think it's a pretty intense book.Blood Crazy by Simon Clark – this one sparked a story too. Imagine if you woke up one day and all the adults in the world had started killing all the children in the world. And then once you and some others have survived and banned together, the older, more brutal kids start their own brutal society. A very disturbing book.
Scary movies (both actually scary and campy fun):The Exorcist- this is the only scary movie I've ever seen that ever since, I have had no interest in watching again because I have such a vivid memory of the first time I saw it. At the time I was twelve, and it is still very clear in my mind how I watched it with a friend in her bed, covers pulled up to our chins, and how we sat there with huge eyes after already having been warned by her mother that she saw it at sixteen and slept in her mother's bed afterward. I remember in particular the crabwalk up the stairs, and all the particularly blasphemous actions and sayings and how horrified I was. I had never seen anything like that in my life, and to this day remember being so shocked by it that I haven't seen it since.The Last Exorcism- this one I don't think I would have been quite as shocked by except for the fact that it was PG-13. I remember sitting in the theater with some friends and actually gasping out loud when they killed the cat and threw "somebody" into a fire, "THIS SHOULD NOT BE PG 13!" Lol. The way that Nell twisted her body in such horrible, cringe-worthy ways gets to me because I hate bones and bones popping and unnatural looking poses, and the movie made me jump in several places. It was pretty tense, and the documentary to prove the harm of exorcisms is a new idea for the found footage genre. I felt sorry for Nell and thought the acting was good. But I did hate the ending.Scream trilogy- I find this series fairly hysterical to watch now, but from ages 9-12 or so I looooved it. I didn't understand half of it, of course, but it was my intro into the horror field pretty much (I think Scream 3 was the second horror movie I ever watched). I wrote several fan fics and parodies based off it in middle school and I remember genuinely being spooked by the garage door scene and the scene where they're trying to escape the cop car in the second one. I even cut my hair like Neve Campbell. The fourth one isn't even worth including because I saw it as an adult and laughed through its unintentional hilarity.The Cell- another one I saw in the theaters at age 11, I went with my older brother and his friend and declared that I would sit alone in the front row. About the time that the serial killer had the detective stringing out his own guts on a spit, I got up and went to sit with them after all, lol. I remember being strongly affected by this and having nightmares, at the time it scared me as much as Exorcist and I declared I'd never watch it again. I did end up enjoying it when I was considerably older though, and now I think it's pretty visually striking but not that scary (and also not suitable for 11 year olds).Paranormal Activity (first ONLY)- There seems to be a pattern here of me being more struck by horror movies I saw in theaters, lol. Something about being able to zone in better and forget the rest of life, maybe? This one I also saw with friends, and I remember my friend sitting beside me whispering horrified comments like "THAT JUST MOVED!" lol. At the time I thought it was a very original idea, the characters seemed real (though very stupid) and the slow progression made it more suspenseful. I had not seen any previews so I had no scares spoiled for me, I jumped several times and had a feeling of intensity the whole way through. At the end the entire audience screamed, and I remember standing outside laughing sort of nervously with the group I was with…and checking the back seat of my car. Of course, the sequels ruined it as sequels always do.The Blair Witch Project- the first time I watched this I was probably a young teen and had the attention span of a gnat, and because it had no blood and gore, dismissed it. I watched again as an older teen and this time I had a much higher appreciation for it. It does seem like real people in a real situation, and is original and genuinely scary if you think about it as if it were real rather than waiting for gore. It also helps that I LIVE in an area just like the Blair Witch so I could see it happening to me, lol.Books of Shadows: Blair Witch 2- this one I remember being very freaked out about only one scene, really, the scene where all the kids are being lead into destroying their own campsite and acting possessed by one of their own friends. I remember staring as she conducts them and sort of shrinking into myself. I'm thinking around 12 again, I remember how the girl is staring into the camera unblinking and creepy until it cuts off and sort of shuddering. The basic idea of this movie is good, but it has one of those dreaded ambiguous endings and some of the acting was just terrible. I truly hope whoever played the sheriff has never "acted" ever again.Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original only)- I think I was about 15 first time I saw this, and short as it was, it seemed to last FOREVER to me because there was very little let up once the killings started. It seemed to me to be five minutes before there was only one person left alive, and then the rest of the movie I was just sitting there trying to figure out HOW she was possibly going to survive- or if she would at all. The scene at the killers' house where they all howled and mocked Sally and then tried to get Grandpa to chop her head off, but he kept missing again and again, has definitely stuck with me. Oh and the meathook! Poor girl whose name I forgot.The Hamiltons- this one didn't strike me as scary so much as intense, again, and I was invested in the characters and what would happen with them. What is so odd about this is they seem like a real family, if a highly dysfunctional one, and I was sort of rooting for them even though I also wanted Francis to let Samantha go and be able to get away from his family and find peace. I also didn't guess the ending with Francis even though in hindsight it seems obvious. I like how it does seem to have a deeper meaning to it, with the definition of family and happiness and a family struggling to find its place in the world and with each other in the death of their parents, even as it's also a typical horror movie- with a "brutal" Twilight brand of vamps, lol. Also gave me a girl crush towards Mackenzie Firgens.Orphan- this didn't scare me, it just sort of impressed me because of the amazing acting ability of little Isabelle Furhman. She was very believable as a psychotic, manipulative little girl, and I think she deserved an award for it. I can't believe the kid was 10 or 11 years old when she shot this film, she's very talented. The little deaf girl was adorable and memorable as well but everyone else was an eyeroll character.Cube- this also didn't scare me but the idea really caught my interest and even sparked a novel out of me. Imagine waking up in a series of rooms that could kill you and you don't know how or why or how to get out, how terrifying and frustrating that would be, would you go insane? It was the idea and concept rather than the characters or movies itself that stayed with me.Saw- first time I ever saw this I was dumbfounded by the brutality of the traps, I had never seen anything so vicious in horror movies before. I also was somewhat intrigued by the idea of having to really hurt yourself or someone else to show how much you want to stay alive.Baby Blues – this is the only movie on the list I never finished. I couldn't bring myself to. It was so disturbing to me that I just did not want to see how it would finish up. A mother with postpartum psychosis ends up trying to stalk and kill all three of her children. She had killed the baby and was coming after the older two, and the little girl had just wet her pants as her mother approached when I stopped. I just didn't want those images of little kids being terrorized and killed in my mind.Frailty- on a similar note, this one stuck with me because little children are being made to kill by their deluded (or is he?) father. Very disturbing idea, not sure I like the ending.The Shining- the book is infinitely better, but who is ever going to forget the scenes where Nicholson has totally lost it and comes after his wife with an ax through the bedroom door, or when he's talking to the dead caretaker? Who's going to forget seeing his "novel" with one sentence typed over and over, or even the little dead girls standing in the hall asking Danny to come play?The Fear- I remember exactly four things about this undoubtedly crappy movie, probably the third horror movie I ever saw. The STUPID wooden guy who kills people based off their fears, a girl dressed like a clown because she hates clowns and is facing her fears (BAD IDEA), a girl having her head bashed against a toilet so she sees blood reflected in the water (stupid), and that a guy is eaten alive by rats in an attic…and that last bit, that's the scene that gave me severe rat phobia for the rest of my life. So this has to make the cut.The children- the children in this were so expressionless and creepy. I saw this movie once and I still remember what the children looked like. The idea is creepy too- a virus makes a family Christmas go wrong when all the children start to turn murderous as a result.The Silence of the lambs- Hannibal Lecter is THE horror movie killer. Anthony Hopkins wins hands down for creepiest villain, and what's great about this movie is you sort of root for him. His voice, his unblinking eyes, even the way he's so twisted yet so "polite" about his kill preferences, he's a great character. Jodie Foster is a likeable protagonist and the idea of a guy who kidnaps women to take their skin is pretty creepy all on its own.The hole- I have a thing for movies where people are trapped together with no way out, and this one had an interesting twist of who is the cause of their predicament that intrigued me. I predict I will have a story idea based off this in the future.Wicker Man (original)- this didn't scare me at all, the only think that stuck out to me with this is the one scene where the naked woman is dancing and singing and enticing the protagonist, because I died laughing. Especially when she slapped herself. I literally rewound it so I could watch and laugh all over again.Vacancy- considering that there are only two protagonists/potential victims, this really held my interest and made me worry for them and how they'd get out. The ending is highly unlikely but this was pretty decent, though no scenes in particular really stick out other than when the couple first figures out that the VHSs they are watching are of murders committed in their motel room.Silent Fall- not a scary movie, but I saw part of this on TV when I was maybe ten and 13 years later I still remembered a scene where a teenage girl is dragging a body over an iced over pond, and a creepy little autistic boy who kept quoting the words of people who had been killed. I guess they made a big impression on me because I still remembered those scenes years later, though I had no idea what movie they were from, and ended up doing a little research and finding this movie and watching it again. It was just average on second viewing.Urban Legend- my first horror movie ever. I don't think I was very scared even the first time around, the very first scene where the girl gets her head cut off in her car while singing "Total eclipse of the heart" is what sticks out in my memory. Also the dog being microwaved and the Goth girl getting killed with her blood making a sentence on the walls. Probably would make me laugh now.Pagemaster-not a horror movie of course, but when I was very young my brother and I would be terrified of the scene where Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. I remember us both waiting in dread for the part where he goes "My name is Mr. HYDE!" and the little books scream, lol. We would hide our faces in the pillows of the couch until it was past that.Saw III- this was the last Saw movie I ever watched, I stopped enjoying them (if someone can really "enjoy" a Saw movie) after this. The bloody operation on Jigsaw's brain, The horrible crucifixion scene with the guy's bones twisting and breaking (and I HATE breaking bones), and the disgusting pig guts scene made this one beyond my level of wanting to watch more Saw movies. Not to mention that both the killers died so the other four sequels seemed ridiculous to me.Wrong Turn- campy fun more than anything, but some of the gore stuck out as particularly memorable. The part where Eliza Dushku and her guy are laying under the bed in the cabin as their butchered friend is thrown down an inch away from them was pretty horrific, and the part where the girl is axed in the FACE was way unexpected. Although honestly I was hoping she'd die soon because she was really annoying and slowing them down, lol. This is one of those that's more fun to watch to laugh at though. Can Eliza's guy do ANYTHING without screwing it up?Child's Play- this is another one that's just hysterical to watch. Only a child or someone afraid of dolls could take this seriously, even the first time I watched this I laughed.Halloween- the only part of this that really sticks out to me is the beginning where it seems like it could actually be a scary movie, when you see through Michael's point of view as he kills his sister and her boyfriend and then has his mask taken off by a parent. A six year old killing is a creepy idea but the movie is too old to really be scary.Nightmare on Elm Street 3- not at all scary but the kills are imaginative and even somewhat funny- a girl gets her head shoved through a TV six feet in the air and the nurses shake their heads and call it a suicide?! The guy is Freddy's puppet on strings?! I also remember the gross needle death for the heroin girl, and Freddy's strange parentage.Sinister- I think I'll remember the scenes on the found videos for a long time, particularly the one where the people are strapped to lawn chairs and dragged into the pool, and where the four people are hung from a tree kicking slowly as they rise up. Very creepy.Harm's Way- this one isn't scary so much as interesting, and the reveal of the resentful yet needy preteen as the real "wolf" was an interesting twist with many clues, yet I didn't' see it coming at all. I definitely remember her face and tone at the end.Don't Look in the basement- hilarious. It contains the most annoying character ever put in a horror movie, a former playboy bunny as the head actress, and terrible acting all around, really laughable and old movie.House on Haunted Hill (original) This one is also very amusing. The super fake skeleton being manipulated with visible fishing line, the shrunken head so obviously a mask it's laughable, and the shrill continual shrieking every five minutes…classic camp.The Haunting (original) again, not very scary, just amusing. I laughed at all the parts where Eleanor way, way overacts, and of course all the lesbian accusation back and forth and Theodora's extreme jealousy is hysterical in a black and white movie. And the part where the ghost is holding Eleanor's hand, supposedly? Classic.