September 30, 2021
Hey there horror fans, this is Kimi and I’ll be sharing some spooky materials to chill your bones all the way through October!
I don’t know about you, but horror has always been my grisly cup of tea. Ever since I was a kid, I grew up watching horror films (Chucky was my favorite movie as a child. I swear I’m now a mostly sane individual.) I would frequent the school library shelves searching for chapter books about ghosts, vampires, and werewolves (totally before Twilight was cool by the way.)
No joke, I was called voodoo girl by some rather gruesome peers. So to say I have been to hell and back on my quest for horror would be oddly fitting. Dante was lucky enough to have a guide on his journey through the circles of the Inferno, so let me be your guide through the newest that horror has to offer, and of course some of my personal favorites.
PSA: This is not my full list of recommendations. Otherwise you’d be here forever!
Release Date: 1991
First up on the list is Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. I read this one in high school as part of my English class, and this book has stuck with me since then.
The novel takes place in the South in the 60’s and it focuses on twelve-year-old Cory Mackenson who sees a car careen off the road and slowly sink into Saxon’s Lake. His father dives into the icy water to rescue the driver, but finds a beaten corpse, naked and handcuffed to the steering wheel—a copper wire tightened around the stranger’s neck. In time, the townsfolk seem to forget all about the unsolved murder. But Cory and his father can’t.
Their search for the truth is a journey into a world where innocence and evil collide. What lies before them is the stuff of fear and awe, magic and madness, fantasy and reality.
There’s a reason this book stuck with me for so long. The summary does not do this book justice, and I implore you to pick up a copy and just keep reading. It can be slow to start, but I promise you that it will be worth it when you reach the end.
Release Date: 2021
Here’s a new read for all those who are fans of retro-horror! I haven’t had a chance to pick this one up yet, but the summary has me itching to grab a copy.
Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw is a love letter to the 90’s vampire craze. 17-year-old Mina travels from England to New Orleans to visit her estranged sister Libby, but Mina gets more than she bargained for when she becomes embroiled in a series of violent murders that all seem to point to Libby.
I will note that technically, Mina and the Undead has only been released in the UK, but you can still order a copy through Book Depository
Release Date: 1991
Richie Tankersley Cusick’s novel Vampire is as campy as it gets. If you couldn’t tell from the cheesy cover, this book came out in the 90’s. Although not really scary, I recommend adding it to your list. It keeps you guessing who the culprit is, and if he or she is really a vampire or just deranged.
It’s Darcy Thomas’ summer home: the Dungeon of Horrors, owned by Jake, the gorgeous green-eyed uncle she’s just met. But the gory fun turns to terror when real bodies are found with the mark of a vampire on their throats–and Darcy is targeted as the next victim. Vampire is a quick read that features a bunch of young beautiful people working at the Dungeon of Horrors. Think Dawson’s Creek but darker.
Release Date: 2021
Here’s a recent release that I want to read strictly because of the cover. Mary, Will I Die? by Shawn Sarles is a YA novel about the urban legend Bloody Mary and what happens when a group of friends attempts to summon her.
Did you ever try to summon Bloody Mary? I was always too cowardly to try but my sister called her name in a mirror, and then got scared and hid her mirror under her bed for the longest time.
Even if you haven’t tried to summon her, the characters in Mary, Will I Die? will summon her for you. Each character sees something different in the mirror after they call her name, and they stop being friends. Five years later after one character tries to destroy the mirror, a new girl shows up at school and her name is Mary. Is it merely coincidence or are the characters about to find out the real price of summoning Bloody Mary?
Release Date: 2020
I can say for a fact that one good thing to come out of 2020 was the adaptation of The Silver Eyes into a graphic novel. Fans of the game Five Nights at Freddy’s will enjoy some new information about the franchise in this graphic novel. (I recommend being at least a little familiar with the franchise and its lore before diving in because otherwise it might not make a lot of sense.)
For those not familiar with the games just think of the old 90’s Chuck E Cheese animatronic gone mad and throw in some missing children and you get one heck of a horror nostalgia run. Was it a perfect graphic novel? Nah, but it’s a quick read and a fun one for fans of Scott Cawthon’s games.
Release Date: 2021
Speaking of wild and crazed animatronics, Willy’s Wonderland is essentially Five Night’s at Freddy’s just with humor and Nicolas Cage. I will admit that the start of this film did not have me believing this was going to be a good movie. However, I’m glad I couldn’t tear my eyes from it because this movie pleasantly surprised me.
Nicolas Cage is stoic and silent through most of the movie, and it’s hilarious to see his blank reactions to killer animatronics. If you like horror comedy, then give Willy’s Wonderland a try. Also, the ending theme song slaps.
Release Date: 2019
Ready or Not is the ultimate “eat the rich” horror comedy. I saw this movie on the plane ride back from Ireland in early 2020 before Covid hit, and it is now by far my favorite film.
An ancestor of the Le Domas family made a deal with a man named Le Bail that if he could win a game against Le Bail, then his family would be wealthy board game inventors (think Milton-Bradley) but there’s a catch. When there is a new marriage into the family, the new addition must draw a game card from Le Bail’s puzzle box. If they draw the hide-and-seek card, then the family must hunt down the newest member and kill them before dawn or the family dies. Orphan Grace is excited to finally have a family to call her own, until they try to mercilessly hunt her down.
If you’ve seen Billy Madison, you might notice a few familiar background scenes.
Release Date: 1997
Fans of Stephen King’s novel The Shining will remember the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. It’s hard to forget the Grady twins and the elevator full of blood gushing into the hallway.
I will be the first to share my unpopular opinion that I very much disliked the Kubrick version of The Shining. I appreciate it for its nostalgia and dark elements, but it is not my favorite. Instead, I offer The Shining: miniseries as my favorite adaptation of King’s novel.
This three part series stays close to the original source material, and it actually allows viewers to see the relationship between Jack and his family before the hotel forces him to lose his mind. The characters are very similar to their novel counterparts, and if you read Doctor Sleep the sequel to the Shining, you will feel a huge sense of heartache mixed with happiness in the sequel if you have this mini series in mind.
The CGI effects were great for its time, but you will notice a huge difference now. It was the middle of the 90’s when this was released, so they are not up to our effect standards in present time. Just keep that in mind with the topiary scenes.
Release Date: 2013
Normally remakes fill me with unsatisfied distaste but the remake for Evil Dead spooked me! I felt it was faithful to the original 80’s classic while still bringing something new to fans of the series. Plus my childhood crush Shiloh Fernandez is in it, so that’s an added bonus. The ending is suspenseful and there was more than a few times, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Give this one a try if you haven’t yet!
Release Date: 2015
Final Girls is a love letter to 80’s slasher films. It even says so on the cover! This film is an interesting take on the final girl trope and it’s refreshing to watch. A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer. For fans of American Horror Story, you’ll notice a familiar face.
Bonus: Spooky Games
If you’re looking for jump scares and panic as you try to escape deadly situations, look no further than a few of these survival horror games!
Release Date: 2015
If you’re a fan of choose your own adventure stories, then you will love Until Dawn.
Eight friends are trapped together on a remote mountain retreat, and they aren’t alone. Gripped by dread, with tensions running high, they must fight through their fear if they all hope to make it through the night in one piece. Are they being stalked by a typical horror movie slasher or is there something more sinister hiding in the frigid mountains?
Play as each of the eight characters and experience fear like you never have before. Your actions alone will decide who survives Until Dawn. Some characters are easily more likeable than others, and this will affect the decisions you make. Until Dawn is one of those games I like to revisit and dissect with a psychological lens. There’s always more to discover with each playthrough.
Release Date: 2015
Dying Light is a game for all the zombie hunting enthusiasts out there. The game’s story follows an undercover agent named Kyle Crane who is sent to infiltrate a quarantine zone. This game features an enemy-infested, open-word city with a dynamic day-night cycle in which zombies are slow and easier to fend off during daytime but at night there are extremely aggressive Volatiles stalking around. It’s a challenge to outrun them even in a fast vehicle.
This game also includes co-op, which is a bonus for me. The sequel, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, is set to be released in February 2022.
Release Date: 2003
Silent Hill 3 stars Heather Mason a teenager who awakens from a nightmare in a shopping mall and tries to return home to her father, while navigating environments that oscillate between reality and the Otherworld, a bloodier, supernatural version of it. If you like monsters, cults, and amazing music, then Silent Hill 3 is a treat waiting to be discovered. This is another psychological based horror game where you will want to revisit it from time to time to discover something new.
Release Date: 2001
Fatal Frame is a unique horror game because your character is not armed with a traditional weapon to fight off ghastly spirits trying to subdue you. Your main weapon is a camera and you have to find film stationed around a haunted mansion or you are powerless.
Set in the year 1986, the story follows siblings Miku and Mafuyu Hinasaki. When Mafuyu disappears while searching for a famous novelist in the haunted Himuro Mansion, his sister Miku goes to find him. During her exploration of the mansion, she discovers clues as to the fate of those who entered, must fight hostile ghosts, and discover the truth behind a dark ritual that took place there. The gameplay focuses on the siblings exploring the mansion, and fighting off hostile ghosts using a special camera.
A PS2 copy is a rare find but you might find a digital copy or watch someone play it on YouTube. It’s a creepy good time and I will admit I screamed quite a lot trying to escape the frightening ghouls.
Release Date: 2021
I’m ending this list with the newest release from the Resident Evil series: Village. Village is a follow up to Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, a game that I was not a huge fan of. Granted, I like it better now than when I first played it because Village made me like the protagonist a lot more.
Initially this game gained a lot of traction due to one of the antagonists large statue and vampire-like seduction, however Village has more than enough enchanting antagonists to offer as well as a plethora of twists and turns. This was one game where I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.
Village’s gameplay is fun and tense, and I promise you will be on the edge of your seat in some instances. Werewolf creatures, demented large babies, and a fish man will keep you entertained for hours.
If you stuck it out ’til the end, you’re a real trooper, and I thank you for taking the time to read my recommendations. It’s been a pleasure sharing my love of horror with you, and I hope you’ll share with me your recommendations as well.
You can find me haunting the reference desk, or spot my spectral form appearing and reappearing in the children’s section. You’ll probably find me well before you find Norman Baker’s ghost… or who knows, maybe he’ll find you first.