Stephen King’s It was at the top of my list for a long time. Then I read Jeff VanderMeer’s Authority. That freaked me out, especially that one scene with Whitby.
I was lucky (in a way): the first time I read Pet Semetary, I had never heard of The Wendigo. That sequence scared me out of my mind. Because fresh.
For me, the succession was this: I first saw the movie “Pet Semetary”, some years later I read the book, and only three of four years ago I read “The Wendigo”. So I worked my way back from the weakest to the strongest account of that motive.
IT scared me so much the summer I read it. I think it was the same year the miniseries came out and we had moved to a new house and all read it/watched it and were terrified of the creepy new house’s basement bathroom.
I was new to King and was reading them in release order and while some of the earlier ones scared me pretty good, IT made me sleep with the lights on and still freaks me the fuck out.
The scariest thing ever to happen to me that wasn’t actual danger: I was driving to work years later. It was 5, 6am on a lonely country road and I was the only one out and about. A single balloon came out of nowhere and wafted across the road into the woods. Noped the fuck out of there as fast as my shitty car would take me.
I remembered the name of the side dish that that the killer bought: “Num-numo”, and googling it brought up the author and title, Lord Dunsany and “The Two Bottles of Relish”.
I was going to say “Pet Semetary” as so many of you did, but then I remembered “Rosemary’s Baby”.
Non-fiction: “The Stranger Beside Me” or almost anything by Ann Rule.
That reminds me that I read this in the summer of 2016, and almost couldn’t finish it at the time.
“Dead Mountain” is a fantastic book! Their conclusion about “what happened” Karman vortex street, a derangement of wind currents has also allegedly been debunked, but to me, it makes more sense than an avalanche.
Well, this was about 1963. As a farm kid, I definitely had no preconceptions. That book definitely had an impression on innocent me.
Oh I disagree. In my personal opinion, I don’t think anyone’s come up with an adequate explanation of what happened.
The fact that the tent was found upright with the contents undisturbed, combined with the fact that the campsite is not one in which avalanches are known to occur, does make the explanation of an avalanche far-fetched.
But the theory Eichar put forth in his book struck me as even more unlikely. The sound of an impending avalanche would, at the very least, be a legitimate reason for a group of hikers to go bursting out of a tent barefoot and undressed for the elements. I just don’t think infrasound waves would inspire that extreme a level of panic in every one of the people present. Not to mention that, just as there has not been an avalanche in any of the hundreds of expeditions that have come by since then, there have not been any hikers going mad because of some sound that they heard.
Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” that I read, living in suburban Detroit while Ronald Reagan and the Moral Majority pranced around downtown Detroit. (Of course, that was years before Trump used those same folks to do even more damage to the country, but I did not read any similar books during Trump’s grab for power.)
Yep. I remember yelling while reading it. “NO! DON’T GO IN!” or whatever. What a horrible movie they made from it, too.
It was the first of many instances in which I realized that a movie from a Stephen King book would never hold a candle to the book.
Non-fiction: Helter Skelter. I have to say though that I feel betrayed by it.
As I recall, the edition of the book I read had photos of the crime scenes. They whited out the victims—no gory details, but you could see what position they were in, what was around them. Bugliosi said Abigail Folger had been stabbed so many times that police thought her nightgown was red instead of white.
One day a few years ago I was googling random stuff and I found an un-whited out version of the photo of her on the lawn. Sure looks mostly white from the waist up to me. But even the website linked below says:
The nightgown she was wearing was so soaked in blood that it was nearly impossible to tell the now-crimson garment had originally been white.
My point being, I wondered how many other characterizations were accurate.
Novel: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Short Story Collection: A collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous ones. “The Tell-Tale Heart”, especially.
Honorary mentions (all short stories, since I rarely read horror novels): “Wide O-” by Elsin Ann Graffam, “It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby, and “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs.
It’s A Good Life is a great story! It’s even better than the classic Twilight Zone episode based on it. Non Spoiler- In the original story, the kid is NOT evil. He iis just trying to make people happy. There’s a reference to some of the townsfolk trying to get him to do useful things with his powers. He was happy to oblige. No details are given other than the amount of people killed.
For all of you who read SK’s “Salem’s Lot” (or other works of his), a question. How many of you have read his short story “Jerusalem’s Lot”, and what did you think of it? The basement scenes and church scenes gave me the willies more than anything else I’ve read by SK save for “Pet Semetary”. Which is saying a lot, because SK knows what scares me.
I read it but I do not remember it. It was in Night Shift, which I remember because of Graveyard Shift, The Mangler and Quitters, Inc. Probably because 14 year old me was too cool to be scared by vampires but working my very first job as a cashier really primed me for bad jobs, bosses and social contracts.
Oh, I remember “Quitters, Inc.” That was…bizarre…
Jerusalem’s Lot is a well-done (and deliberate) homage to HP Lovecraft. Definitely scary; it’s so sedate, it just gives you the creeps. As I get older, I gravitate more to the short stories and there’s no way I could pick a favorite; I love 'em all – as Steve-o says, a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger as opposed to a (good) novel being like a long, satisfying affair. Jeez, the things I remember!
Is there a good Stephen King short stories anthology anyone can recommend? I’ve only read seven or eight of his novels, and I found them hit and miss. But I think I read some of the bad ones… And I love short horror stories.
Night Shift is good. It has the aforementioned Jerusalem’s Lot, which has tenuous ties to the novel 'Salem’s Lot. It also has Night Surf, which relates to The Stand, and it has The Bogeyman which seems to me like an early form of IT. There’s also Trucks (which became the movie Maximum Overdrive), as well as Children of the Corn and Sometimes They Come Back (which were later turned into movies).
Grey Matter and I Am the Doorway will creep you out. The Woman in the Room and The Last Rung on the Ladder will break your heart.