"Hallowe'en." Vintage holiday postcard, late 19th-early 20th century. The New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection.
Halloween is among my favorite holidays, and not because I love to dress up. I have a deep and abiding passion for the monstrous, the creepy, and the outright terrifying. Nothing makes me happier than to spend October curled up with the scariest books and movies I can find.
Previous years’ favorites have included Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” this true life account of a night in a haunted house from Southern Literary Messenger, “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” and “The Wrong Grave” by Kelly Link, John Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, silly/sublime tv show The Vampire Diaries, Neil Gaiman’s “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” and The Graveyard Book, and Guillermo del Toro’s tremendous film El Espinazo del Diablo, just to choose a few.
It’s been rough trying to squeeze in a month’s worth of horror between classes and work, but I’ve still managed to dip into a few things. So what am I loving this year?
The Wolfman, which is an enjoyable remake of the 1941 original that deposits all of our contemporary quirks and weirdnesses on the Victorian setting. I liked it primarily because I always like stories in which the supernatural gets all up in your science and rationality and sends it straight to hell.
Edith Wharton’s After Holbein. Okay, I’m not done reading this yet, but Wharton is big around Skinny House these days, so we’re including it.
The Halloween episode of Community, quite possibly my new favorite episode of the show. Star Trek + zombies = forever win.
(And I will tell you what I did not love: Jennifer’s Body. I was ready for the feminist horror to film to end all horror films, a complete revolution in the genre, and the positing of ultimate female power, finally, at last. Instead I got a lurid display of female jealousy and the same old chicks-are-totally-crazy bullshit. Serious disappointment, to say the least.)
And now that we’ve carved pumpkins and gotten a taste of serious autumn chill, we’re ready for trick-or-treaters and then the rapid descent into winter depression.
But first! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention All Hallows Read, a new tradition in the making, in which we all give each other spooky books on or around October 31. I gave my mom The Graveyard Book this year, but as it’s my signed first edition, I’ll be asking for it back. Still, I think this could be much fun in the years to come. (Don’t know if you could tell, but I can never get enough of sharing scary books.)
Happy Halloween, y’all!