Welcome back, my Nasties! It’s time to dim the lights, cozy up with the corpse of your dreams, and spice the cider as we discuss more terrifying tales to titillate your tinglers this Halloween!
In my previous post, there was a definite lack of Stephen King’s wide variety of grizzly works. Nearly every book he’s written has gone on to become a certain masterpiece in the field of horror and his career has given nightmares to generations since his first published work.
Dedicating time to discuss each of his books would be a miniseries of reviews in of itself, and, admittedly, almost all of his books in their own way can be enjoyed for Halloween, I’ve selected those paranormal powerhouses that I tend to re-read this time of year.
This was the book that introduced me to King’s work and I’ve been hooked ever since. Upon a first read – back in my teens – I would have told you the book is primarily about vampires, and, to be fair, it is teeming with legions of undead fiends of the night. The vampires here are ruthless, uncaring, and bestial with blood-lust. King envelops the reader with a phantasmagorical atmosphere much like how the quiet town of ‘Salem’s Lot is slowly engulfed by creeping vampires. It sets a malignant mood for eerie spooks and chills that’s required for Halloween.
Upon re-reading the book last year though I was struck by a new revelation. Something I somehow missed in my youth. This is an exceptional haunted house story. It all has to do with that old corpse of a house looming gravely atop the hill.
Yes, there are the vampires, but the center of the story, the rotted and tacky black core all has to do with that old accursed house where bad things happen and worse things are drawn towards. It’s the demonic heart of the story. In one book King does something very difficult and he does it very, very well. He reinvents gothic horror by utilizing universally established vampire lore set within the shadows of the old haunted (dark) house legend. Bravo, sir. This is a must-read for horror fans.
The book opens upon a dark and rainy day when innocents is taken by the reawakening of an eldritch evil lingering deep in the roots of Derry, Maine. Given the movie’s (both of them now) global success everyone knows who Pennywise the Dancing Clown is. IT’s become a household name now. I picked this one not just because it’s my favorite Stephen King book but because if you like monsters for your Halloween – especially the classic ones – you’ll not want to miss out on reading this book!
Stephen King wrote IT because he wanted a book where he could include all those wonderful Universal guys like Mummy, Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s monster. Plus Rodan just for the Hell of it. Pennywise was his chance to use these monsters he grew up loving. Pennywise takes on the face and image of what people fear, and if children fear monsters they’ve seen in movies that’s precisely what he, IT, will become. This is a macabre terror train monster extravaganza and boasts some truly chilling moments.
You grow to love the main cast of characters and come to fear for their safety. Something that marks the work of a great writer. And King was in his element with this book. The story also allows us to step back in time for a glimpse back to the happier days of childhood. Along the way are monsters, Lovecraftian sized terror, and a Killer Clown. No wonder this is my favorite one!
Often overlooked by its big brothers, this book is an underrated horror gem for fans! For one thing it just screams Autumn to me. Fallen leaves, crisp air, long nights and a haunting presence lurking in unnatural shadows.
As is his favored way of approaching stories, a sleepy little town in Maine finds itself in the center of a hellacious onslaught once a humble emporium opens up. Needful Things, it reads in the window and inside the kindly Mr. Gaunt awaits you with a warm smile and cheerful eyes.
His shop also just happens to have exactly what you’ve wanted your whole life. Can you believe your luck? Your holy grail here in your hometown! The coveted treasure of your heart’s desire. And Gaunt offers you one Hell of a deal. You just have to do him a little favor and it’s all yours. You just have to pull a little prank for him. A trick for your treat.
What starts out as seemingly innocent pranks pulled on local neighbors quickly escalate to harsh offenses. Those deeply buried little irritations that have piled up over the years are like dried corn husks in the mind. Gaunt simply hands every customer a match. He doesn’t make them set the flame. But he does encourage it.
Once again proving how dangerous everyday people are Needful Things establishes the worst kind of monsters are those who wear human faces. And if you want a bit of Devil for Halloween you won’t want to miss out on this one.
Sometimes devoting so much time to a larger book like IT can feel a bit overwhelming. So there’s Night Shift for those of us who want to read a microwave version of King’s horrific imagination. Night Shift is a collection of King’s earlier short stories and includes classics like Children of the Corn, Sometimes They Come Back, and Graveyard Shift among the gruesome tales.
Another of his books that just screams Halloween to me. What’s considered to be his very best work by many fans, Pet Sematary is a ghoulish tale of loss, of the sanctity of the grave, and those who would defy the natural course of life. At least on the surface, and that already is a great stuff! But Stephen King always has something wicked underneath it all. And in this case it’s the Wendigo.
Rising out of the dark of night is the demon of starvation, of famine, and of unrelenting desire. The Natives of the land knew of it, became wise to its evil presence once it settled down in those parts, and wisely feared the thing of evil. The ground – the one far beyond the solemn little child-built cemetery – went sour ages ago by the substance of that thing’s evil and the very woods themselves try to keep curious men from ever discovering the accursed grounds dedicated to the Wendigo. It’s a place where things refuse to stay buried.
Who doesn’t love seeing the dead rising from their restless graves? It fits in with Halloween tradition! And this book has plenty of it, but, the book’s primary concern is the evil spirit, Wendigo, who has soured the land and – much like how Pennywise works Derry – pulls the strings to feed its vile needs.
If you’ve only watched the movies you’ve missed half the story. I was hoping with the remake they might feature the Wendigo in a more prominent role but the filmmakers wussed out and left the monster out of the movie. That’s real smart ain’t it? Make a monster movie without the monster. Yes, those buried in the old forsaken Micmac Burial Ground are cursed with unwholesome existence and rise with the stink of the unholy earth on them. But what both films missed is what the power behind the Micmac Burial Ground is.
In the remake we see those creepy kids acting out the ritual to bury their dead pets while they play drums and wear creepy masks. Like some pagan tradition. A tradition revolving around some ancient spirit…like, oh fuck I don’t know, the Wendigo? The movie teased at the presence of the Wendigo and mention it but that’s where it stopped. The evil spirit is active in the book and gives the story a more sinister vibe. Like you know the poor Creed family was doomed the moment they moved into that new house. The Wendigo already stretched out its hand to claim them.
Knowing that the reader can only sit back and read about the doom that befell them.