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Spooky Books & TV for Halloween

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With life starting to look less like a 1970’s dystopian Science fiction film Halloween 2021 might not be entirely off the cards.

Whilst there might not be too much trick-or-treating going on it doesn't mean people won't be in the mood for a good scare, so we’ve done our research and looked for the spookiest books and TV out there so you don't have to!

What are the spookiest books?

There is a bit of an art to scaring people through writing - you can't rely on jump scares and gore (like some TV programmes we’ll mention!), scary book relies on something a bit more insidious which is hard to put your finger on.

No list of scary books would be complete without a Stephen King novel and after a bit of research the one that consistently came up as being the scariest is Geralds Game.

For many the most frightening tales are set in bedrooms (Maybe that's because when most people are going to be reading them!) and this one is no different exploring what happens when the husband dies during a "50 shades of grey” style seduction.

Slightly less racy is Peter Straub’s Ghost Story - a good old fashioned story of ageing men being terrorised by repercussions of something they did in their youth.

Published back in 1989 this book has consistently been on the list of scariest novels- Stephen King himself has even said it is one of the best horror novels of the 20th century. High praise indeed!

The last book on our list is one of my favourites, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.

It's a period piece set in the 1930s following a young mans Journey to the Arctic on an expedition that turns very spooky!

Stationed on an uninhabited artic bay in as the Arctic summer is about to turn to six months of night, and as his companions are forced to leave our hero, now alone, increasingly gets the impression something is there with him.

What are the spookiest TV programmes?

Ever since the enormous success of The Walking Dead series, Horror seems to be having a renaissance in TV and film - but not all scary programmes and films have to be gory!

Starting with one of the oldest spooky TV series many of the original Twilight Zone episodes still hold up as genuinely unsettling.

The one that always stuck in my mind was “Long Distance Call”

about a boy who talks to his dead grandma on a toy telephone through which she keeps encouraging him to come and join granny in the afterlife!

It’s all done incredibly economically in black white, but the actors really sell it in the last few scenes!

576px -The _Twilight _Zone _Lili _Darvas _Billy _Mumy _1961

(image credit: Lili Darvas and Billy Mumy promoting their guest-starring roles on the CBS television series The Twilight Zone for the episode Long Distance Call.)

Another highly rated episode is “A Stop at Willoughby” in which a commuting advertising executive who keeps falling asleep on his train journey finds himself travelling back in time to the town of Willoughby.

Each time he awakes to return to his normal life which gradually gets worse and worse until the story reaches it’s deadly conclusion!

That episode is also notable for apparently inspiring Matthew Weiner, the writer of Mad Men, to create that series main character Don Draper!

Bringing it more up to date probably the spookiest thing we’ve seen on TV in the last few years if Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and, to a lesser degree, it’s sequel The Haunting of Bly Manor.

Despite taking inspiration from the identically titled novel by Shirley Jackson which at least 2 films have previously been made (most notably Robert Wise’s excellent 1963 film The Haunting) this retelling manages to do something new and very scary with the subject matter!

The series opens up with some great jump scares, calms down a bit towards the middle (building character and tone) only to scare you out of your skin again at the finale just when you’ve got complacent!

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or views on the scariest books or TV programmes?

Are there any you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.

By Stuart Paterson at 20 Sep 2021, 00:00 AM