Halloween 2020 must have acquired its true essence, considering the havoc caused by COVID-19 pandemic since the initiation of the year. That which is unknown and invisible makes us more scared than ghosts or monsters or apparitions. Even surpassing true horror lies within misleading mazes of human brain and its crooked crannies shrouded in impenetrable darkness. Coincidentally, such horror in news (Hathras case) at the time of writing; similar such references of cruelty towards animal or its own species proved human as the most significant propagator of horror. Let’s not travel long on this grim lane of thoughts as this blog is related to Halloween.
Halloween is celebration of fictional horror. And let me take this opportunity to guide wandering lost souls of the netherworld towards some personally experienced horror “take-on” this Halloween.
I have not felt genuine fright in words. But readers around the world have different mileage and more potent imagination. There are staggering number of options available when it comes to books of horror-fiction. Following are few suggestions in no particular classification.
From Hell by Alan Moore: This daunting graphic-novel is result of painstaking research and contemplation on most famous killer of all time; “Jack-the-reaper”. Don’t expect mystery of who’s the killer. Alan Moore has revealed the fact at the start of the novel itself. But the geopsychology presented along with escalation of human subconscious in crime with occult motive, has almost achieved cult status here. I have to name Eddie Campbell as most appropriate vision to Moore’s words.
The Ring, The Spiral and The Loop by Koji Suzuki: Everyone knows the Ring. Though Hollywood movie adaptation of the first book and its Japanese movie adaptation, “The ring” was well made, novel itself has some Japanese horror that makes it nice fireside read. Its sequel “Spiral” is also well written. Complete the trilogy with mind-numbing “The Loop”.
Uzumaki by Junji Ito: Anything from master of horror Junji Ito can make you awake late at night due to its weirdest imaginary; whether its homage to H. P. Lovecraft in the name of “Gyo” or teen fantasy-horror Tomie. But core horror element of Uzumaki is something which one can encounter in day to day life and simplicity of its existence itself. Go for this manga for solid one night read.
Concept of old school horror done well like ” The Conjuring” have made its stay longer then expected and beginning to wear out due to similar movies trying to cash out the success on wispy plot. Welcome to movies that propagate horror like a IV drip; one small drip on time. But after-effects might be sickening.
The Lighthouse(2019): Be ready to get blown by some explicit imaginary with underlying mythical concept. Anything on the plot will not do any justice to the movie. Do not forget to get into the interpretation, easily available on net, to truly understand the horror. (Available on Amazon Prime)
Susperia(2018): Remake to 1977 Italian film, movie has also envisioned old concept in new brutal way. Its bold and gory. Horror lies in something that is not revealed till end. (Available on Amazon Prime)
Hereditary(2018): This one takes its own sweet scary time to get into grooves. But it will be best to go for it unaware and be ready to dig deeper once its over. Be brace yourself for couple of final “shut-your-eyes” or “Skip-the-heartbeat” level of frightening moments.
Apostle (2018): Any horror movie opening with protagonist arriving at unknown island/location unbeknownst to occult happenings, has to be the most “piercing” hook for me. And apostle starts with just that. And than much more. Not as deep as above mentioned list, it still has some genuine scary imagery to make it good candidate for Halloween. (Available at Netflix)
The Audition (1999 Japanese film): Much different than other popular Japanese horrors such as The Ring, The Grudge or Dark Waters. Audition sometimes could be straightforward movie until you want to know more about it. It just blends some of the weird horror elements with very ordinary story telling. Be aware of the climax though.
Most acute form of getting scared is playing any survival-horror game with you headphones on. Such is the quality of horror games nowadays that it could be fatal enough for your weak heart to skip the beats. Revival of aging Resident Evil franchise in its HD glory along with new reboot of old games proved that survival-horror genre has been all time favorite of gamers. Again, lots of options available. Try below few suggestions with utmost caution.
The Evil within: Game started off with true survival horror and veered off on action horror path. But still it has increased my heartbeat on more occasions than any other horror game I played.
SOMA: This techno-horror gem from the same developer of Amnesia have some decent plot also. In its true survival-horror sense, you won’t be having any weapons and darkness is your ally for hiding from bizarre monstrosities. Well designed and very well conceived.
Condemned: Criminal Origins : Every time I think of horror, I had to mention this gem of an old game. May be its my early gaming memory; kind of nostalgia, but I still believe that game’s burned library and abandoned mall (with lots of mannequins) section could make anyone jump out of its chair with fright and vow never to touch the controller (or keyboard/mouse) again.
If you belong to rare “red-listed” species who has already imbibed horror in all its above forms and never bated an eye, then here’s special treat of a small list that surpasses the above in its extreme sense. Be warned- you can not undo something that you experienced and hence only attempt to read/watch/play below list once you are completely sure of your “(in)sanity”.
Lock up below suggestions in secured safe rather than fleshing library of your home to restrict access to kids (and adults with kids perspective against such books/graphic novels)
Crossed series by Garth Ennis and others: Writer of the original graphic novel series “The Boys” upon which the superhit Amazone Prime series is based upon, Garth Ennis has authored many popular graphic novels. One of them is “Crossed”- a zombie apocalypse. But it is not exactly that. “The walking dead” could be felt as decomposing rotten meat as compared to ultraviolent, ultra-demented and truly horrific “Crossed”. It’s been collected in many volumes and even legendary Alan Moore has taken its own view with “Crossed 100+”.
Neonomicon by Alan Moore: Brutal homage to H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Its moody, dark and extremely graphic with roots firmly placed in Cthulhu mythology.
Following suggestions might muddle your brain forever. And if you survive the onslaught, might get “converted” to your ghoulish self and seek out similar movies to the path of the damned. So be warned.
The Human Centipede 1 and 2: If you have not heard about Human centipede movies than let it be that way. Its best to go to this movie only knowing that its extremely weird and “indigestible” (literally). There is also 3rd movie as part of trilogy but its forgettable as compared to horror depicted in first two.
Martyrs (The original French version): American remake of original French movie was ineffectively toned down. So try to get original French version that is far more horrific. Not spoiling anything on plot, just brace yourself for the absolutely dark climax.
Most of the action-horror games could well be categorized as extreme horror due its violent content but I don’t want to sound like Jack Thompson (lawyer who is always ready to debase games) and hence can think of very few games that could really be truly horrific in acute sense.
Manhunt: World-known phenomena called GTA developers Rockstar has proved what it could do if given full reign and freedom. Manhunt is not horror game at its core but premise is much more horrific; man-to-man violence. And best (horrific?) part is you as a player are responsible for executing the violence in its most brutal form. Your conscience is saved by the fact that it will always be criminals whom you murder most viciously in this cult game.
So enjoy your “healthy” doze of horror and Happy Halloween 2020.