Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Stories Scared You?



Daguerrotype of Andrew Jackson
What book scared you the worst? And what did it? Was it the voice? Was it a particular scene? Was it the premise of a monster coming after you in your dreams, a killer lurking until you took a shower, or just a hero rendered vulnerable in a way you’d never seen before?


It doesn’t have to be Horror. For some, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft were the masters. But Brave New World’s vision of the future might have disturbed you more than any story about mummies and werewolves, and Tom Robinson’s situation in To Kill a Mockingbird sent shivers through plenty of people. I’m saving mine for later this month, but I guarantee it’s an unusual pick, even though it's the only book to ever drive me to try to hide under a bed.

With luck, we’ll gather a whole list of unusual ones and share them on All Hallow’s Eve. You have until October 29th to write up a brief explanation of whatever book or short story scared you the worst (or the best), and I’ll post them on the 30th. That way anyone looking for one last scary read in October can hit the library on Halloween with a healthy list.



18 comments:

  1. Macbeth scared me quite a bit actually. That bit where Lady Macbeth asks night to "pall in the dunnest smoke of hell" so heaven can't "peep through the blanket of the dark" to stop her. *shiver* When Macbeth keeps seeing the knife in front of him is creepy. And when Lady Macbeth can't get the blood off her hands it just brings up all this icky scary feeling inside me.

    Jai

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  2. I didn't read a lot as a kid, but in high school and junior high I read a lot of Poe and even a little King, but neither ever gave me nightmares. A lot of movies have, but the first book that did was actually Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. There was something about being stalked through the jungle and then when they found out the T-Rex could swim, it was all down hill from there. As far as I can remember, there have only been two other books to ever give me nightmares and those two I read in the last three years.

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    1. I remember that t-rex swimming. I think it filled me with awe rather than fear, but it was still a heck of a scene. I can appreciate it playing the role of nightmare-fuel.

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  3. Feast by Graham Masterton freaked me out and scared me the most. People chopping off their own body parts, then cooking them and eating them... That novel pops into my head frequently.

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    1. Self-cannibalism? Now that might shake me up. I've never read Masterton - will have to look this up. Thanks!

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  4. I really like And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Both are wonderfully creepy. Lots of Michael Crichton for scary parts (Sphere, Congo, Jurassic Park). The basement scene in The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The final story in Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes.

    The one that used to give me nightmares as a child was Tailypo. My mother had to ban the librarian from letting me check it out every few weeks.

    And, of course, the Scary Stories trilogy for the pictures.

    (As an aside, I was so disgusted by one of the first stories in Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, that it is one of the only books I've ever abandoned.)

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    1. Oh, and Fear Street! R. L. Stine was so great for kids.

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  5. This may sound weird, but the ending of Shirley Jackson's, "The Haunting of Hill House," freaked me out, one of those punch-like endings. More obvious though, was "The Relic," by Preston and Child and Dean Koontz's "Phantoms." The build-up in some of those scenes was intense.
    Can't wait to find out what scares you.

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    1. What's creepy is I just started The Haunting of Hill House on the very day you posted this, Erin. And it is an incredibly affecting novella. She was such a writer.

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  6. This is terrible, because I remember the story very vividly, but don't know the title or character names (never mind the author). Okay: I was about eight, and my dad would let me pick out a comic book to get if he was in the smoke shop getting cigarettes (they had an amazing, rotating rack of comic books near the counter. I became a Stan Lee fan in that shop. But I digress.).

    I never followed series properly, just got whatever had the coolest cover that month. So I wound up with some stuff that would probably be very rare and esoteric if I had been allowed to keep any of it.

    And there was this one: the heroine, the title character of the comic, was on this SF world that was sort of like Earth's Dark Ages, in that she was an outlaw and it was a dangerous, backwards place to live. So her and her band of outlaws are always on the move. Apparently she always had a different outfit every issue. In the one I had, she wore a skintight camo catsuit with only one sleeve and one leg (yeah, totally practical).

    They came upon this castle run by a beautiful and autocratic queen who always wore a golden mask over half her face. They are welcomed, but in the course of the stay the heroine and the queen come into conflict... in the end the heroine throws the queen over a staircase or something, and the mask comes off...

    The artwork of the queen's burned, destroyed face gave me nightmares for weeks, yet I couldn't stop looking at it. The story had built her up so credibly as this regal-yet-cruel character, and the anguish the injury must have caused her was so palpable for me. It was so, so haunting, and all the more horrifying to have all this sympathy for this not-so-nice dictator.

    The following issue the heroine was wearing this pure white disco outfit (remember, outlaw on Dark Ages-ish science fiction world -- totally impractical). Even though it looked cool, I stuck to the X-Men or something, because I didn't want to get that freaked out again.

    Sorry, wrote you a very long answer to a short question. Hope that's okay.

    Wish I could find out what the comic was!

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    1. Well, we have to figure out what this comic is.

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  7. Books I could cope with. The early Dr Who with the Dalects terrified me. Exterminate. Now I think that expression has real charm. I read 'We have always lived in the Castle' recently. Not a comfortable read.

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  8. "Harold" from the Scary Stories trilogy scared the ever-loving bejesus out of me, and still does, if I think about it hard enough. The illustrations in those books were scary enough, but something about the way this scarecrow came to life slowly with nothing but hatred and malice inside of him... and then what he does to the farmers... ugh, I totally won't sleep tonight. THE WORST.

    Sphere by Michael Crichton actually freaked my shit out pretty badly, but I can't remember why (I think it may have been the jellyfish scene, actually). And the raptors in Jurassic Park (the book)... when they're besieging the compound towards the end of the book and EVERYONE is getting eaten... their intelligence... I dunno, that scene was about a thousand times scarier to me than the kitchen scene in the movie.

    Movies... heh, John, you know I have a whole slew of movies that I can't watch without wanting to sleep on your floor afterwards. ^_~

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    1. I never expected Crichton to be the first author to repeat on this assignment. Very interesting. I remember loving Sphere in middle school. And Scary Stories! That takes me back.

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  10. I can't honestly say that I've read anything that really has scared me, but then my creep meter is set rather high ^_^

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  11. I have no idea. Brave New World was creepy, yeah. Very creepy.

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