It’s almost that time of year again. To celebrate, we’ve reached out to members of the Bolthole and asked for their take on great scary fiction, be it games, movies or stories. We’ve emphasized shorter material, but here’s some reading music.
He2etic: If you’re looking for a great horror movie to check out, it’s got to be Stephen King’s The Mist. The story involves a number of survivors trapped in a grocery store, their town covered by a thick fog that hides predator monsters. But only half the hero’s problems come from outside, as fear gives a zealot antagonist undeserving power.
The film deserves high marks in every aspect. The special effects and variety of monsters are intriguing to admire. The actors and actresses fill their roles with rewarding efforts.
The plot explores its themes well and moves at the right pace, giving the characters time to reflect and react. Perhaps best of all, even King admired the changed ending. As King said, “The ending is such a jolt—wham! It’s frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don’t necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending.”
The Mist isn’t just a good horror movie, it’s a good movie in its own right. However, if you’re looking for something more traditional with monsters, check out Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
LordLucan: For classic haunted house kinds of horror stories, I found The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, and The Woman in Black to be quite well accomplished movies, that are great atmospheric films that build the tension and sense of bleak desolation and isolation of their characters well, and they don’t make the cardinal sin of overusing their ghouls.
I feel the best horror stories are actually unnerving and work best when a reader or viewer does not realise until later than something is terribly wrong. Too many lazy horror movies recently rely upon either excessive gore, or on the jump scare chord. Such films aren’t scary, they are startling, which is very different.
On youtube, there is a series called Marble Hornets, which I recommend folks check out if they haven’t all ready. Sometimes it falls back on the jump scare, but I find this series is scariest in the videos you have to re-watch. Then you start noticing somethig going on in the background. Something the characters in the videos don’t seem to realise is there… (gotta love the Slender Man, the greatest of the creepy internet memes)
The most horrifying film I’ve seen though, I would say, is Threads. However, don’t go into that film expecting to be entertained. Harrowing, relentlessly bleak and it gave me restless nights when I first saw it, I can tell you.
While I don’t recommend it for its actual quality of the story itself, folks should read Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, as it is one of the earliest examples of a Gothic Horror story, the ancestor to later horror staples like Dracula, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde*, and Frankenstein.
*(Incidentally, it bums me out that Doctor Jekyll and mister Hyde’s has been permanently and culturally spoiled for every single person in the world. When I read this book, it didn’t really work for me, but in the day, when nobody actually knew who Hyde was, it would have made for a brilliant mystery story, with the mother of all twists.)
Vivia: Great finds on iTunes: The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas app! It has the well-known opening sequence and actors of all kinds. It looks awesome and what is not to like about radio dramas? Not cheap though.
The H.P Lovecraft’ Collection for 22 SEK! As usual the Swedish rating is totally bonkers: 4+. Yeah, I’m sure of that, because children of that age can read and want to read horror stories.
The Year Walk, a game based on Swedish folklore in the 19th century, the worst type of century. I’m so tempted to buy it, the graphics look nice and I read all about the beings in the game (Scandinavian type of faeries). But reading from the reviews it’s a horror game with supernatural elements and better played with ear phones. Snow, red cottages and things, I know all about and it frightens me. It’s a unique game play experience, art mixed with story. The indie game The Path comes to mind, another creep game I recommend.
House on Haunted Hill, with the wonderful Vincent Price. He is a must-see on film and TV. Watching his films were big entertainment during Friday evenings when we were children (not entirely healthy for small kids I admit). His films are on YT so go there to take a look.
He is also on ITunes. Classic BBC Radio Horror: The Price Of Fear among many.
Corrigan Phoenix: For a game, try Slenderman: The Eight Pages. You can generally get it for free with the right google search, and for scares its perfect.
You are a lone man, deposited over a razor-wire topped wire fence into a compound. Your goal is to find and collect the eight pages that all hold facts on the legendary slenderman. The trick is, as you collect more pages, the man himself begins to follow you – the more pages you collect, the less time you can spend standing still.
The creepy setting coupled with a fantastic score and decent lighting graphics make this my top-scariest game ever. Give it a try, let me know what you thought – even better, film your own reaction whilst playing it and share – give us all a laugh!
Mossy Toes: “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” is an anthropomorphized animal tale retelling of the Pied Piper tale. It appears to be a work in progress, so it isn’t complete yet, but is an almost wholly new use of the medium of webcomic-ery. Dynamic, shifting page environment, redolent with symbolism and layered imagery; heavy and cynical political allegory/disenchantment; the best use of music in an interactive medium since Bastion; I could go on, but I’ll let you explore it for yourself.
The Passenger, a short animated film about the perils of goldfish, the listening to of music, etc.
The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello, the real coup de resistance. Half an hour of steampunk silhouette joy. With floating islands that have volcanoes on them (don’t ask how it works), floating balloon buoys that stay stationary without being anchored (don’t ask how it works), mad scientists, horrific creatures, virulent plagues, airships… and so on.