Things That Go Bump In The Night

This month we talk all about books & other media that truly frighten us!


laurenIn general, I am not one who enjoys being scared; however, these two books came with such phenomenal recommendations that I had no choice but to get thoroughly freaked out.  My first pick is Libba Bray’s The Diviners.  This story involves a series of murders and a supernatural presence in New York City during the roaring twenties.  If you really want to push yourself over the edge, definitely listen to the audio book.  You will hear the eerie call of “Naughty John” for days…

My second pick is The Nest by Kenneth Oppel.  Oppel is a masterful storyteller and this shorter tale packs a serious punch as dreams and reality overlap into one psychological thriller.  If you are afraid of wasps, this book is not for you.


JennyTwo books that kept me up late reading in high school were The Shining by Stephen King and The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.  I remember very little about The Shining (though I was disappointed in the movie – I didn’t think it was nearly as scary as the book, Jack Nicholson notwithstanding), but the Ebola virus as described in The Hot Zone, and the speed with which it spread, turned out to be somewhat prescient. The most frightening fiction is often based in truth…


RobIt by Stephen King is the book that stands out for me as the most scary.  I had vivid nightmares every single night for the week it took me to read it.  I remember staying up extra late that last night because I wanted to be done with both the book & the bad dreams that accompanied it.  I also remember being incredibly scared of the movie when I accidentally saw a part of it on TV as a child.  Thanks for scaring my pants off Mr. King!

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a Gamecube game that also sticks in my mind for being incredibly scary.  (We don’t own a copy in the Minuteman Network, but you can try requesting a copy through interlibrary loan!)  You play the game as Alexandra Roivas, a woman investigating the recent murder of her grandfather.  While exploring his creepy Rhode Island mansion, she finds a book bound in skin & bone that allows her to relive the lives of the book’s former owners.  As the game progresses it’s unclear whether she is losing her mind or being drawn into a Lovecraftian power struggle between ancient entities.  If that’s not scary enough, the game attempts to mimic the experience of Alexandra’s dwindling connection to reality for the player with a sanity meter that, if not kept full, unleashes mind-warping events that randomly trigger throughout the game.  When you enter a room, you may find your character walking on the ceiling.  The screen sometimes skews and voices whisper in the background.  Statues’ heads turn to follow your character as they walk through the hallways.  The game creates what appear to be technical malfunctions or makes it look like your TV is turning the volume down, all to make the player question their own sanity.  This game is best played at night, in the dark, with few or no other people around.


AimeeUnwind by Neal Shusterman has the scariest moment in a book EVER. I read it years ago and it still haunts me. The book itself isn’t conventionally scary, there is just one part that is truly disturbing.

For movies, Rosemary’s Baby is what sticks in my mind the most. The ending of that movie is horrifying. A more recent film I thought was terrifying was The Babadook. It is a great horror movie for fans of books because a picture book plays a major roll.


LindaThe most terrifying movie I’ve seen is The Ring and the original Japanese version, Ringu, is equally as scary. I grew up reading Stephen King and I remember finding Pet Sematary especially creepy. My favorite recent scary book is Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, which is like a nightmare version of Little House on the Prairie. She has a new book out this fall called The Women in the Walls, which I’m really looking forward to reading!


willowGoing with a classic here, but I am still frightened by some of the stories in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.  They are slightly less scary in the new edition, with different illustrations, but I like the old ones better, even if I won’t read them in the dark.

For movies, anything with well-done ghosts.  If they get that flicker effect, and popping in at the edge of sight, I can’t sleep that night.

annaSeveral movies have scared me, including Requiem for a Dream (I very much wish I had never seen this), two movies by Lars von Trier: Dancer in the Dark, which features Bjork and is deeply, deeply upsetting, and The Idiots, which was just beyond disturbing (a group of people pretending to have intellectual disabilities?!) – speaking of Lars Von Trier, if you want to really scare yourself, watch his TV series The Kingdom – bizarre things happening in a hospital ward.  Just the cover image is terrifying.
The Hiding Place – My dad took me to see this in the theater and I was way too young for it! It tells the true story of a Dutch family hiding a Jewish family during the Nazi invasion of Holland. All I remember is being horrified, and my dad whispering in my ear “it’s just ketchup! It’s just a movie, they use ketchup!” during a scene when someone’s hand is cut off by a Nazi soldier. Because of our Dutch ancestry, it was important to my parents that we learned about the Dutch Resistance during World War II. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know about the Nazis or the holocaust before I walked into the theater. On the other hand, the role of the Dutch during the war is seared into my memory, so that worked out well. The movie is based on the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
The Serpent and the Rainbow – This is a scary movie about Haitian vodou!  I was too young when I saw this! Why did my parents let us take it home from the movie store? (Sorry millennials: a “movie store” was a small store with empty VHS boxes displayed along the walls. You walked around looking at the boxes, eventually talked your brothers out of getting Airwolf AGAIN, chose something better, and brought it up to a counter to rent it.)  Anyway, this movie terrified me! Turns out it was directed by Wes Craven, and based on a non-fiction book by a Harvard ethnobotanist‘s experiences in Haiti. Although it scared me, I was fascinated; it was probably my first exposure to a non-Eurocentric culture with its own rituals and belief systems. It was definitely my first encounter with the shamans, dark magic, hallucinogens, and zombies. I bet the book is great!

What the scariest thing you’ve read or watched?  Let us know in the comments!

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