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Spooky September Challenge

    Spooky September Challenge: Day Six – Why I Love To Be Scared

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    It’s the final day of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge and the topic for today is an interesting one. In some ways it’s kind of easy to answer. In others it is kind of challenging.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY SIX: Why Do You Love To Be Scared?

    Even though it is the last day, if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    Why I Love To Be Scared

    First let me say that I don’t like to be scared about real life things. I am not a thrill-seeker who loves the rush of fear that comes from doing something terrifying, death-defying, or with a slim chance of survival. I won’t be climbing Mt. Everest or leaping from helicopters to the top of very tall mountains with only a snowboard beneath me.

    I don’t like being afraid for someone I care about, either. If I never have to be scared, wondering if someone I love is going to live or die, for the rest of my life I will consider myself the luckiest person in the world. There is nothing at all good about that kind of fear. Nothing.

    But I do love the small ripple of fear that comes from watching a scary movie or reading a particularly chilling book. It doesn’t come from true crime – I find that more disturbing than frightening. It doesn’t come from gore films like Saw. But when tension builds and that shock moment or “boo” moment comes, where I jump in my seat, or scream just a little, that’s the kind of fear I love.

    When I’m reading a book that makes me too afraid to stop reading or turn out the lights, where the images the author describes are dark and disturbing, chilling, thrilling, where the creatures they’ve created are the stuff of my worst nightmares, I love it. I love getting chill bumps. I love having that same rush of fear that I got as a child when I would go down into my dark and creepy basement at night, wondering if something demonic was going to jump out of the shadows.

    Being afraid of something not real is exhilarating. It’s something you can laugh about later. It’s something that you know is ridiculous but is so much better than having something real to be afraid of. Being afraid of Jason or Freddy or Michael or zombies or vampires or haunted houses beats being afraid of the kind of villains that shoot up a movie theatre, the kind of monsters that harm or destroy innocents, illnesses or diseases that destroy slowly but surely, accidents that could have been avoided, global epidemics, natural disasters, war.

    Yeah, I love being afraid, but only when the thing I’m most afraid of is something that’s not in the least bit real… though I kind of hope that most of the types of vampires I’ve watched in films are real.

    Why do you love being afraid?

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    Spooky September Challenge: Day Five – Top Ten Spookiest Movies

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    Well it’s almost over, but that’s not such a bad thing, because it means we are that much closer to Halloween. (Yay!)

    Anyway…

    It’s now DAY FIVE of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge and the biggest challenge for today’s prompt is choosing only ten spooky films. Because there are so many, with all different kinds of things that make them terrifying.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY FIVE: Top Ten Spookiest Movies

    Anyway… if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    My Top 10 Favorite Spooky Films

    Yesterday I listed six of my favorite vampire films in honor of that creature of the night. But none of them, aside from Nosferatu, was particularly spooky.

    So here, in no particular order, are ten films that managed to scare the heck out of me at one point in time in my life or another.

    #1

    Night of the Living Dead dir. by George Romero – the black and white just made this film super creepy awesome

    #2

    The Shining dir. by Stanley Kubrick – the isolated setting, the descent into madness, the echo-y old time-y music, Jack-freaking-Nicholson

    #3

    Session 9 dir. by Brad Anderson – the setting. And every time I watch it I find it so unbelievably disturbing I’m afraid to turn out the lights after

    #4

    The Changeling dir. by Peter Medak – I saw this when I was very young and had nightmares about it for ages. The creepy bathtub scene still haunts me

    #5

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dir. by Tobe Hooper – only the original creeps the heck out of me. Because those actors looked like the real deal. Because the story is based on a real guy. Sometimes low budget does it best

    #6

    Hostel dir. by Eli Roth – I’m not a fan of gore films. I actually get kind of bored by them. Shock value but little scare value. But this film spooked me because it made me think about how twisted people really are and that in real life someone was probably paying big bucks to do exactly what the villains in this film were doing

    #7

    The Descent dir. by Neil Marshall – it’s more haunting than spooky. There’s this quietness to it. And it’s kind of sad and depressing, too. But it’s definitely chilling

    #8

    A Nightmare on Elm Street dir. by Wes Craven – the music, the rhyme, the glove. OMG I am already getting spooked. “One, two Freddy’s coming for you”

    #9

    Halloween dir. by John Carpenter – the quiet, the tension, the build-up, the score, the screams

    #10

    Jeepers Creepers dir. by Victor Salva – so only the first half and the very last moments spooked me. It had all the makings of a classic horror film before it got a touch ridic. But that ending, with that song, and that thing right there in those very last moments. Haunts me. Still

    ***

    I mean of course there are all the classics – Nosferatu, The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Omen, Psycho, The Birds, anything Hitchcock really, The Bad Seed, Friday the 13th, Evil Dead, The Burning, The Thing (the original), Dawn of the Dead, Hellraiser, Rosemary’s Baby, and on and on and on….

    What about you?

    What are a few of your favorite spooky movies? Do they involve serial killers, ghosts, ghouls, zombies, animals that attack, the undead, aliens, those from beyond? What films give you the biggest thrills and chills? What films feature in your nightmares?

    Which scary films round out your top 10?

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    Spooky September Challenge: Day Four – A Tribute to My Favorite Spooky Creature

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    It’s Day Four of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge and today’s challenge was much more difficult than it appeared on first glance. I immediately wracked my brain for various spooky creatures and came up with all sorts of possibilities – but none I thought deserved an entire tribute post.

    And so I thought perhaps I’d opt to go with beings versus what I considered to be creatures. Because there are plenty of spooky supernatural or paranormal beings that I might like to honor. But when I actually thought about it there was really only one I’d pay tribute to. And, yeah, it’s not exactly original or much of a surprise, but what can I say, I love the fanged undead and always will.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY FOUR: Tribute to Your Favorite Spooky Creature

    Anyway… if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    My Favorite Spooky Creature

    It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s visited my blog over the years that I love the vampire. Though it may come as somewhat of a surprise that the vamps I love aren’t always those that sparkle, are vegetarians, are high school hotties, are sexy, or nice. I am equally fascinated by the terrifying, grotesque, evil vampires, many of whom are spooky as hell.

    In fact, some of my favorite reads and films are ones where the vampires are the stuff of nightmares. Be they decrepit, preternaturally still and silent, ruthless and vicious, I still find myself drawn to them. And so to pay tribute to them – though not in the Renfield kind of way – I thought I’d share ten of my favorite spooky vampire books and films.

    • DRACULA by Bram Stoker (obviously)
    • ‘SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King – chilling
    • THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice – okay so maybe not exactly horrifying or grotesque but definitely ruthless
    • I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson – awesome and so much better than the film
    • Nosferatu dir. by F.W. Murnau – creepy as hell
    • Night Watch dir. by Timur Bekmambetov – totally kick-ass but I would not want to encounter any of those vamps
    • Dracula dir. by Francis Ford Coppola – Gary Oldman does one heck of a creeptacular job
    • 30 Days of Night dir. by David Slade – the teeth, the screeching, chilling
    • The Lost Boys dir. by Joel Schumacher – dude, Kiefer Sutherland with fangs. Epic
    • Let the Right One In dir. by Tomas Alfredson – disturbing

    The original Fright Night film was pretty awesome, too. As was Daybreakers.

    What about you?

    What is your favorite spooky creature? Is it fanged? Is it furred? Does it live, is it undead, is it dead? Does it travel by land, sea or air? Does it haunt, bite, gnaw, or shred? Does it come wrapped in a pretty package or is it gruesome? Is it real or fictional?

    Which creature do you pay tribute to?

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    Spooky September Challenge: Day Three – Spookiest Campfire Story

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    It’s Day Three of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge and let me warn you right now I’m horrible at retelling stories. Especially since the stories told around the campfire weren’t original ones in the first place. There’s this phrase people use when synopsizing – “long story short” – well I when it comes to retelling, for me the opposite applies – “short story long” – so I apologize in advance.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY THREE: Spookiest Campfire Scary Story You’ve Ever Heard

    Anyway… if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    My Favorite Scary Campfire Story

    I never went to camp but as a family we did a lot of camping when I was a kid. Enough that I had no interest as an adult. So it has been awhile. And most of those spooky stories have drifted from my memory as the years passed.

    But there was this one story, which wasn’t so much a story but an audio play-by-play of a film, that counts as my favorite campfire story.

    I must have been six or seven, as my brother was still living with us and so was my dad. We had gone up to this lake in New Jersey we often visited, which wasn’t too far from civilization but was remote enough that you had to walk past a large grouping of derelict bungalows to find it. We usually went there during the day and left by nightfall, giving us a chance to walk around the lake, exploring the nature trails. But this time we were there at night.

    And while my parents were there, I was hanging with my much older brother and his friends. Who decided it was the perfect time to try and scare one another. (Actually I think they were trying to scare their girlfriends, but it was me that was left with nightmares.)

    Some brainiac decided it would be a great idea to head out on a canoe into the middle of the lake to tell their tale. I, of course, decided to hop aboard – at six or seven I was a bit of an idiot, clearly. So it was in the middle of this lake, in the dark, where the moon, stars and the faint glow of the distant campfire provided enough light to outline the ominous-looking trees and the black surface of the snake-filled lake, that the story was told. (Yes, there were snakes in the water. Not the best lake. Definitely starting to wonder about my family.)

    So why am I telling you all about the setting and not the story? Because it was the setting that made the story so much scarier. As is usually the situation with campfire stories – you’re out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a million different hiding places for the things that go bump in the night.

    Anyway… the story they decided to tell was of a film that took place at a camp. In the woods. In which a lake played a role. Yeah, I’m sure you know exactly what movie I’m talking about – Friday the 13th. And if you have seen that movie you know exactly what happens right there at the end. Which just so happened to be what was recreated by one of my brother’s friends.

    So it was after this story – told in hushed tones, about a lake very similar to the one we were on (maybe it was even the one we were on, we were told), with campers not so different from ourselves, staying at a cabin not so different from the one at the side of the lake, in which a deranged slasher picked them off one-by-one in the dark, until only one remained who took refuge on a canoe very much like the one we were on, in the center of the lake, just like us – when someone rose silently from the dark surface of the lake and reached out and grabbed one of the girls on the canoe, causing her and everyone aboard who wasn’t in on the prank, to scream bloody murder into the silence.

    It was a great and terrifying reenactment of the dream sequence at the end of the film. It made a scary story a horrifying nightmare and kept me from sleep for weeks, kept me from wanting to ever watch a scary movie – yeah, that lasted until I was 11 and finally got the courage to watch every single horror film with a camp setting from the safety of my living room to try to shake the fear I got every time I turned out the light and closed my eyes and dreamt about that night.

    As a teenager I probably would have laughed my ass off. One of my friends would have probably pissed themselves – either from laughing or fear. But at six (or possibly just-turned-seven) it was probably the scariest effing thing I ever experienced. And to this day that first film in the long, long franchise creeps me out in ways that no other horror film does.

    So I told you I’d make a short story long. I apologized in advance, but I’ll say sorry again now.

    Oh, and yes my brother was grounded for quite some time, even if it wasn’t his idea to let me into the canoe. He was, after all, the one that told the story. But he swears, to this day, that he never arranged to have the unsuspecting girl from the canoe dragged into the lake. And that he didn’t know who did it. Because, you see, all his friends were on the canoe with us when landed ashore.

    What about you?

    Have you sat around a campfire telling or listening to spooky stories? What kinds of stories make you look over your shoulder, stare into the dark forest, wondering what threats are lurking there? Are they tales of slashers and other deranged killers? Are they stories of imaginary and terrible beings that hide in the shadows? Or are they tales of paranormal entities that seek vengeance and wreak havoc?

    What is your favorite spooky campfire tale?

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    Spooky September Challenge: Day Two – A Tribute To My Favorite Horror Writer

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    It’s Day Two of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge and I’m so excited for today’s challenge.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY TWO: Tribute to Your Favorite Horror Writer

    While I’m not a graphic artist and can’t design all sorts of wonderful images to honor my favorite horror writer, I figured I could list ten of my favorite books by said favorite author and list why they are favorites. Although I suppose it might have been easier to list my Top Ten Reasons Why They Are My Favorite Horror Writer, but sticking with My Top Ten Favorite Books seems more tribute-ish.

    Anyway… if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    My Favorite Horror Writer

    My Favorite Horror Writer also happens to be my favorite writer of all time. And that’s Mr. Stephen King, of course. He has written so many of my all-time favorite books and has such an incredible imagination that I can’t imagine anyone coming close to the awesomeness that is him.

    In tribute I’m sharing my Top Ten Favorite Stephen King Books. And they are…

    1. WIZARD AND GLASS (The Dark Tower #4) – Not only is this my favorite book of Stephen King’s, it’s my favorite read of all-time. This was such a phenomenal book in the series. And standing on its own it has everything I could possibly want in a read.
    2. THE LONG WALK – I re-read this book every single year. And I discover something new about it every single time. And I feel a little bit differently every single time. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. It’s so unbelievably sad. It’s incredible.
    3. THE STAND – This is Stephen King at his best. It’s epic, it’s weird, it’s a story you can get lost in forever.
    4. IT – As I mentioned yesterday, it’s spooky as hell. But it’s also so very sad. It talks about the loss of the kind of imagination that comes with being young.
    5. LISEY’S STORY – I wasn’t sure I’d love the modern King novels as much as I did his older works. And then came Lisey’s Story. Which proved his crazy talented mind is still very much still here.
    6. THE SHINING – I also listed this as a spooky favorite yesterday. But I can’t leave it off here. It is the perfect introduction to Mr. King’s work. And shows just how much of a range this author has. Brilliant stuff.
    7. THE TALISMAN – (co-authored with Peter Straub) This was such an amazing two-book series. And while I loved book two a bit more than book one, you have to read this first book first. The world, the character, the writing, the story – abso-freaking-lutely amazing.
    8. PET SEMATARY – I know, I know, it is not considered one of his best works. But it so creeped me out while I at the same time totally related to wanting to bring back a lost pet. I also have a fondness for this book, because it mysteriously disappeared from my room one day, never to be seen again. And when I replaced it years later, it disappeared again. I wonder if it’s still in my Kindle library….
    9. DESPERATION – This duo of stories was so awesome. Though I think I might love THE REGULATORS just a bit more as I kind of like Mr. King’s darker side – Richard Bachman. It was so interesting to see this town from the “two” authors’ POVs. Crazy good.
    10. THE EYES OF THE DRAGON – This, among many others, proves that Stephen King is not just the master of horror. He’s an amazingly talented fantasy writer too. Wizards, dragons, princes and princesses and tons of adventure. Love, love, love.

    And if I could have picked one more I’d have mentioned the final book in the Dark Tower series. Because it has the very best and very most excruciating ending to a series that I have ever read in my entire life. It still kills me. Over a decade later.

    What about you?

    Who is your favorite horror author? And what is it about them that makes them a favorite? Is it their ability to surprise and shock you? To scare you and to make you jump at shadows?

    Who do you pay tribute to?

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    Spooky September Challenge: Day One – Top TEN Spookiest Books

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    I am super excited to be participating in Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge for the next six days. While I’m not sure how easy it will be to pick ten spooky stories and movies and creatures each day, I’m going to try.

    Today’s challenge is…

    DAY ONE: Top TEN Spookiest Books

    And it is the hardest challenge of them all. Because I kind of block stories that creep me out from my memory so I don’t get haunted by them night after night after night. So reminding myself about ten of those stories is going to make me wish for a night light.

    Anyway… if you’d like to know more about the challenge, just click the link above or either of the graphics and you’ll be taken to the information post.

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    My Top TEN Spookiest Books

    I am not listing them in any particular order, because they are reads from all different points in time in my life and trying to rank them now would be just too difficult. And I am not listing ONLY Stephen King’s books because that would be too easy. There are just so many. And believe me, it wasn’t easy, but here they are…

    1. MY SWEET AUDRINA by V.C. Andrews. I found this way more creepy than the Dollanganger books. There’s just something so disturbing about Audrina’s secret.
    2. THE SHINING by Stephen King. This was my first introduction to the master of horror. I was just 13, I believe. And the evil hotel, the deadly topiaries, and the descent into madness freaked me out. Badly. I’m still totally creeped out by this book.
    3. ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin. I’m not sure which was more disturbing – the book or the film – but I think I have to say the book. I found a copy at a used bookshop when I was 14 and it was subtle and weird and disturbing.
    4. AUDREY ROSE by Frank De Felitta. I didn’t love this book (or the movie) but it was definitely good for a fright. It’s possible I was more creeped out by the cover. But it was a good spooky story and one definitely makes the list.
    5. BOOKS OF BLOOD by Clive Barker. Perhaps they’re more disturbing and horrifying than spooky. But I was left feeling the creepy crawlies long after I read these stories.
    6. BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE by Katie Alender. Dolls creep me the eff out. I mean seriously scare the bejeezus out of me. And there was this doll… *shudder* so you can imagine why this story made the list.
    7. BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton. This was one of those books that was definitely spooky. But also gorgeous. And very, very haunting.
    8. CRYER’S CROSS by Lisa McMann. I’ll admit that the book’s countdown widget with the “heeelp me” audio freaked me out just a little. But not nearly as much as this book. So good and perfectly spooky.
    9. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR by Jay Anson. So scary, especially because it was one of those based on a true story books. And my friend’s father lived in Amityville. And I saw the movie when I was very, very young and was haunted by it. And because I believe there were crime scene photos in my copy… or maybe I saw those after the fact.
    10. IT by Stephen King. The clown. In the sewer. With the teeth. I read this book the summer before I started college. I was living all alone in a nearly empty dorm. I could not sleep. Every little creak. I kept picturing that damn clown whenever I closed my eyes. Spookiest freaking story I’ve ever read. (Yet I listed this as #10. Funny.)

    And I just have to add…

    • LOCKDOWN by Alexander Gordon Smith. So freaking creepy. Chilling. Disturbing. Awesome. The stuff of nightmares.

    Some runners up would be almost anything by Poe but especially THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO, anything by Lovecraft, quite a few by John Saul, THE FUNHOUSE by Dean Koontz, THE EXORCIST by William Peter Blatty, THE OMEN by David Seltzer, King’s THE BLACKSTONE CHRONICLES, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson.

    And maybe next year, if I finally read Peter Straub’s GHOST STORY which I heard is amazeballs and HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson which King blurbed, those two books will make the list.

    What about you?

    What are some of your favorite spooky stories? THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW? Or something a tad more tame?

    Do you prefer hauntings, psychosis, things that go bump in the night, or just plain evil?

    What’s your spooky?

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