Empty Pages Halloween Bonus Episode
The first ever Holiday bonus episode. I discuss my top 5 favorite horror novels and movies.
Hello and Welcome to the first Empty Pages Halloween Special.
Initially, I had planned to talk about Samhain, which most people incorrectly pronounce as Sam Hain, and the genesis of Halloween, but I’ll save that for another time. Instead, I have decided to go more simple and list the top five horror novels and movies that I would recommend to anyone looking for a good horror movie or read. So without further adieu, here they are.
My top 5 horror novels and why (in no particular order, and no spoilers):
Seed, by Ania Ahlborn, published in 2012. This was actually a toss up between this novel and her novel “Brother”, but this one ultimately won out because it’s one of the few novels I’ve ever read that made me actually reach out to the author to tell them how much I enjoyed it. The twist at the end was messed up, and I mean that in a good way. It was her first novel, which I didn’t know at the time until she told me. In the interest of transparency, I don’t know her personally, we’ve only had that one interaction. The book is about a guy named Michael who flees from his home in rural Georgia as a boy to escape an evil entity. He grows up believing that he has left the thing behind, until one fateful night it shows up, and is really angry that Michael got away. I won’t say more at the risk of spoiling it, and no, I don’t do this novel justice. Just trust me on this, you will want to read it.
Necroscope by Brian Lumley, published in 1986. I could honestly put the whole series on this list, but I’m keeping it to one author per entry. The book is about a man named Harry Keogh, who can talk to the dead and the dead willingly talk to him. He’s able to travel through time and space to kill vampires (which is not nearly as hokey as I’m making it sound). In this first novel, he discovers that he’s not the only one with mental powers, and that Britain and the Soviet Union maintain secret espionage organizations using psychically powered agents. Harry, though, is the only one who discovers the existence of vampires, and he has to work with Britain’s E-Branch to destroy them before they can become a threat to the world. Whenever I have tried to describe this novel, I always say “think James Bond meets Dracula”, and that is nowhere near close. I will say that everyone that I have recommended this book to that actually read it, has become a fan.
The Hellbound Heart, by Clive Barker, published in 1986. Much like Necroscope, I could fill the list with just his work alone. However, I have decided to narrow it down to this one choice. I discovered Clive Barker with his collection of short stories known as “The Books of Blood”, and one of my all time favorite quotes comes from that series. The reason I didn’t go with those was because I’m keeping this list to novels, but I highly recommend that you read those short stories, as they are some of the best stories you will ever read. That said, this is the novel that was the basis of the movie “Hellraiser”. In this novel, Frank Cotton’s insatiable lusts and appetites eventually lead him to the Lemarchand puzzle box, and to death and eternal torment. However, his brother’s wife, who is madly in love with him, has a plan to bring him back from the dead and it’s all downhill from there. This novel also had a huge impact on me in several ways, that I won’t go into, but it also spawned what is probably the one horror movie icon that genuinely creeps me out.
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. We all know this one, but so few have actually read it. When we think of Dracula, we think Bela Lugosi, or perhaps Gary Oldman. Not much to say other than this is a classic for good reason, and the story is much better than many of the movies that are based on it.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury, published in 1962. This one is probably less horror and more dark fantasy. The story centers around two boys, Jim Nightshade and William Holloway, and their encounter with a nightmarish carnival that comes to their town. The carnival leader is someone named Mr. Dark, and he has the ability to grant people anything they wish, although with disastrous consequences. The ending is one of good triumphing over evil, and is another story that has stuck with me all these years.
And now, my top 5 horror movies, and why (in no particular order, and with no spoilers):Hellraiser. Directed by Clive Barker, it’s based on his own novel The Hellbound Heart, and follows the story in the novel fairly close. There are some differences, of course, but Pinhead genuinely creeped me out. He didn’t run around like a maniac or anything, in fact, he didn’t run at all, but you knew you weren’t going to outrun him. I would recommend this and Hellraiser 2 in the series, and I wouldn’t bother watching any of the rest, as the quality goes downhill fast.
Candyman. This is another movie based on Clive Barker’s work, from his story “The Forbidden”. Instead of revolving around the theme of the British class system in modern Liverpool, the movie makes the thematic change to race and social status in the inner cities of the United States. In addition to linking it to the real world horror of racism and poverty, Tony Todd’s eponymous Candyman comes across as a threat that could be real, at least to my young mind. I always laughed at the urban legend of Bloody Mary, and never believed for a moment that chanting her name in front of a mirror would summon her. I’m pretty sure you can’t chant Candyman’s name five times to summon him either, but Todd’s performance is such that I will never chance it (much the same way I will never touch a replica Lemarchand puzzle box).
Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is one of the classic monsters from Universal Studios, along with Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. The story is about a group of scientists who discover an amphibious humanoid in the Amazon. Despite being a bit cheesy in parts (this was made in the 1950s after all), it still holds up surprisingly well even after all these years. This movie is also what inspired Guillermo de Torro’s excellent movie, “The Shape of Water”.
An American Werewolf in London. This list would probably be questionable if I didn’t include at least one werewolf movie on it. I enjoy several werewolf movies, including Silver Bullet, The Howling, and more recently, Dog Soldiers. That said, An American Werewolf has an amazing transformation scene, it has interesting ideas, and I enjoy both the horror and comedy elements. It stands as the movie that made me want to be a werewolf, despite all the horrible things that happen in it, in much the same way JAWS inspired me to want to go diving with great white sharks as a kid, something I eventually fulfilled as an adult (and yes, the boat was plenty big enough).
Evil Dead 2. While Evil Dead was gory and full of horror, Evil Dead 2 ramped that up and added the comedy that the series became known for. That said, it’s not the comedy that does it for me in this one. Evil Dead 2 is one of the few movies that I don’t like watching in the dark, because it still freaks me out to this day. Also, it adds another horror movie prop I will never read out of, because why take the chance?
So now we come to the end of my top 5 favorite horror novels and movies. What are your favorites? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and Instagram and share, as I’m always up to discovering new horror movies and novels.
Happy Halloween! Stay Classy and write those stories!
© Copyright 2021 Ian MacTire, All Rights Reserved, except where otherwise noted.
2 thoughts on “Empty Pages Halloween Bonus Episode”
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Thank you for your kind words, I greatly appreciate it! I hope that you continue to enjoy the content that I create. If you have any suggestions for things you would like me to discuss, please feel free to let me know.