A Top Ten to Terrify: Halloween Preview

The Best things to watch, read, hear and play to get in the Halloween Spirit

Even a Beta Fish needs attention among Halloween decorations

Even a Beta Fish needs attention among Halloween decorations

Caleb Steindel, Contributor

All Hallow’s Eve approaches, and with all the entertainment options at our fingertips these days, the options can be overwhelming.

What is the best way to get in a macabre mood in the spirit of Halloween?

Don’t trust Buzzfeed to recommend a quality dose of all things terrifying. Join me, HawkEye’s resident spooky superfan, as we navigate the best frightening forms of entertainment. We’ll explore classic and modern options, and we’ll discuss everything from books and games to movies and TV shows. Let the nightmares begin!

  1. See The Spooky, The Spectacular, And The Supernatural 

 

We begin our countdown with a classic that every horror fan, however casual, is likely aware of. The Conjuring franchise is now nearly a decade old, but it has yet to lose its quintessential petrifying and chillingly creepy vibes that have propelled it to success. With a historical framework and a plot based that follows real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and their search for demonic activity. With no shortage of possession stories or accounts of exorcisms gone wrong, the fanbase has grown exponentially over the years since the first movie in 2013, with viewers finding the supernatural and real-life elements both mystifyingly compelling and uniquely fear-inducing. Now an octology following the 2021 release of The Devil Made Me Do It, this Halloween is a perfect time to sit down and rewatch all eight films, catch up on those you’ve missed, or perhaps dive into the murderously miraculous world of the occult for the first time. Streaming on Netflix and other streaming services, this series is sure to make even the bravest of viewers question reality. 

  1. Say His Name Three Times

 

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! The 1988 black comedy film by Tim Burton is a timeless classic about ghosts and spirits that starred acting legends like Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder. But this Halloween, don’t limit yourself to just the movie. A brand new Beetlejuice musical hit the Broadway stage in 2019, and while performances aren’t resuming until April of next year, the spooky and hilarious cast recording is calling your name! The dulcet tones of Alex Brightman and Sofia Anne Caruso will captivate you, and once you listen once, you’ll never get the songs out of your brain. The ghostly, deathly Halloween theme coupled with the brilliant comedic timing makes it easy to listen to on repeat. Watch the classic movie and spend some time listening to the cast recording of a fantastic musical. Be honest; did you even know that show tunes could be spooky? Now is the time to dive into the unique genre of theatrical terror in this revival of a classic movie. 

  1. Open The Door To The Disturbed Part Of YouTube

YouTube is not all fun and games, people. Beyond the music videos, influencer vlogs, and viral fails lies a sinister subculture perfect for any lover of haunts and horror. The social media platform is certainly a haven for some wholesome content, but when creators have the ability to post anything with very little repercussion, there are some creepy consequences. In 2009, the Marble Hornets series was created as an alternate reality game following the cultural myth of Slenderman. The realistic plotline and unsettling imagery made for a series that most consider the father of YouTube horror. There’s no denying that the genre has exploded in popularity over the 21st century. Series such as Salad Fingers, a story about a mentally troubled individual in a barren wasteland, and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, a Sesame Street-like kids show that takes a dark turn at the end of each episode, boast hundreds of millions of views per episode. Audiences love content that thrill, terrify, and elicit deep thought, and fans of these series have been trying to crack their meanings for years now. Time for you to throw your hat in the ring! YouTube horror is a personal favorite genre of mine, so I hope you’ll join me in exploring some  psychological terror this Halloween. Brace yourself, though; things get unsettling pretty quickly. 

  1. Read From The King

 

Whether or not you’re a fan of the horror genre, there is no denying that Stephen King is a phenomenal writer, wordsmith, world builder. His complex, relatable characters and skillfully crafted moral dilemmas are unique in the horror genre. But King doesn’t sacrifice scares in order to send his readers a message. His words jump off the page and terrify just as easily as a television jumpscare. If you’re looking to dive deep into one of King’s massive novels infused with history and religion, try It or The Stand. Pet Sematary and Misery are much shorter and easier to read, but they are much more gruesome, dark, and depressing if that’s your preferred tone. Billy Summers and 11/22/63 aren’t horror novels, but the thriller and suspense contained in their pages provide for an excellent entry into this author’s mind. Stop by your local library or a nearby bookstore and grab a book by “The King,” as he’s known by his fans. Curl up by the fire and let him transport you to a fantastical realm where scares abound. You might even encounter  a character you identify with. 

  1. Binge The Ultimate Horror Anthology

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are truly masters of their craft. There will never be a television show quite like American Horror Story, and there will never be a better day to binge all 10 seasons than on Halloween. As the title suggests, each season of this show is a different story that stands on its own, and each season features various unique social critiques set against a backdrop of unsettling, unpredictable scenes, disturbing imagery, and some well-timed humor. Race, sexuality, disability, mental illness, abortion – no issue is safe from Murphy’s and Falchuk’s minds. The plots are wickedly intriguing, but even more impressively, the cast is phenomenal. Starring the likes of Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Jessica Lange, the actors change roles across the various season, portraying everyone from a possessed nun to a killer clown with equal intensity, passion, and fervor. American Horror Story incorporates classic tropes of the genre in witty ways, but it doesn’t hold back from the cultural themes, either. The brilliant illumination of our worst fears makes American Horror Story transcend mere campy horror. Truly, this show has no rival. Dive into the various worlds of AHS and enter an insane asylum, a circus of oddities, and a coven of witches. This show is ripe for bingeing! Be prepared, though; these characters will haunt your dreams. 

  1. Decipher The Game That Launched A Thousand Screams

By now the story is ancient history in the gaming universe. You are placed in an old pizzeria with a murderous past as a nightguard, tasked with the jobs of caring for the building, keeping various animatronics at bay, and staying alive. Survive for five nights and you’ve won! Or have you? With bonus nights galore and a total of eight games from the mind of creator Scott Cawthon, the Five Nights At Freddy’s Franchise has come a long way since its conception in 2014. Perhaps the jump scares don’t frighten like they used to, and maybe some have grown tired of the game’s seemingly simple premise. But the fact of the matter is that FNAF is a gaming classic, a breakthrough for indie horror games, and a story with a lore so deep that you’ll need an inner tube just to stay afloat. If you’ve never experienced the point-and-click survival game, what better time than Halloween? And if you’re already familiar with the lore, refresh your memory with one of the various FNAF theories on YouTube. My personal favorites come from MatPat’s Film Theory channel. Good luck in your attempts to survive the night.  

 

  1. Stream King Adaptations On The Big Screen

 

Once you’ve finished perusing Stephen King’s masterful pages, the obvious next step is their cinematic counterparts. Most horror fans will agree that there are few more terrifyingly enjoyable activities than a Stephen King binge session. Admittedly, not every adaptation has captured the hearts and minds of audiences, but his plots and characters are so conducive to the big screen that it’s hard to go wrong with a story that came from the master’s mind. Start with The Shining, a classic Stanley Kubrick adaptation that has stood the test of time. King himself didn’t especially like the adaptation, but his fans sure did. Jack Nicholson’s haunting performance of a man slowly going crazy in a spirit-filled hotel is a wonder to behold. Continue with the telekinetic tale of Carrie and Kathy Bates’ riveting portrayal of a psychotic fan in Misery. For some newer movies, check out It and It: Chapter II, based on one of King’s most beloved novels. Don’t miss his television show adaptations like The Outsider and The Stand. Grab some popcorn and make sure to set aside plenty of time, because once you sit down in front of Stephen King on screen, you’ll be there a while. 

  1. Discover The Legends of Dark Literature

 

Take a break from the screens this Halloween and stimulate your mind with some old-fashioned reading of legendary authors who essentially created the horror genre. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Darcy Coates may dominate the 21st-century horror landscape, but the 18th and 19th centuries saw the unprecedented rise of psychologically dark poets and novelists and an increased infatuation amongst readers with dark themes. Pick up the classic gothic tale of Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker, read about the demented experiments in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and dive into the duality of man with Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. All three of these books were published in the 1800s, and all three authors helped create Gothic fiction, a genre that blossomed throughout the centuries and gave rise to some of the most classically renowned characters of all time. Pick up a collection of Edgar Alan Poe, king of the mysterious, strange, and macabre, and the greatest Dark Romantic poet of all time. H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories are filled with bizarre science fiction and terrifying mythological tales. These authors are some of the best, but the list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of psychological fiction. Read at your own peril, and be prepared for sleepless nights. 

 

  1. Enter The Terrifying World Of Disney

 

When you wish upon a star, you might just discover that Disney is full of more than just magical realms and happily ever afters. Spooks and scares abound in the happiest place on earth, and there are plenty of reasons to get your mouse on this Halloween. Hocus Pocus follows a trio of friends exploring an abandoned house in Salem, Massachusetts in which they accidentally free a coven of witches and must prevent them from becoming immortal. The Nightmare Before Christmas, my personal favorite spooky Disney tale, tells the charming story of a skeleton who seeks to bring the magic of Christmas to his hometown. Halloweentown, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Into the Woods, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Return to Oz all offer equally endearing and frightening fun that can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike. The hybrid of Disney charm and time-honored Halloween tropes makes for a perfect seasonal entertainment choice for families as well. Buried beneath the princess plots are some thrilling, dramatic storylines. After all, when you “witch” upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. 

And finally …

 

  1. Enjoy The Modern Cinematic Horror Master: Jordan Peele

 

Take some time this Halloween to thank whatever deities you may worship that you happen to exist at the same time that Jordan Peele is creating terrifying television masterpieces. At the top of our list is the man who began his career in comedy but has since established his reputation alongside Alfred Hitchcock and Wes Craven as one of the greatest horror directors of all time. Peele is reinventing the genre, and while his movies provide plenty of classic nods to horror icons and pop culture references that casual fans and diehard obsessives alike can appreciate, his skillfully woven blend of humor, horror, and social commentary is unparalleled. Jordan Peele doesn’t attempt to elicit screams from viewers but instead tackles tough topics like racial injustice and the dangers of materialism through a brilliant filter of psychological dread. Now that he has completed a trilogy of terror, take some time to appreciate his genius this Halloween. Us and Get Out are available to stream on Hulu right now, and his latest box office smash, The Candyman, is on its way, and Rotten Tomatoes sings the praises of all three with certified fresh ratings. Enjoy the dark humor, ponder the weighty themes and appreciate the genius of the greatest horror director of the 21st century.