Books and Movies for Halloween

Nothing fancy today. Just a recommendation list of novels and movies that would be great to watch on All Hallow’s Eve. I welcome any additional suggestions from you, of course. Feel free to add them in the comments.

Books

  • Cain, by James Byron Huggins — An inventive, action-packed thriller about a supersoldier who gets possessed by the devil. Not only is it scary, it’s just plain cool with all the lovingly described weaponry.
  • The Terror, by Dan Simmons — Fictionalized account of the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition as they look for a trading route near the north pole. I’ve only begun this book, but I’m fascinated by Simmons’s approach of having a supernatural creature stalking the men and picking them off one by one. A perfect book to read on a cold night.
  • Threshold, by Sara Douglass — This fantasy novel is mainly about a servant girl and her master falling in love, but there are truly terrifying episodes of some creature or presence using a pyramid as a gateway into the world. Highly recommended.

Movies

  • The Mummy (1999 remake) — Not particularly unsettling, but it’s still kind of scary, and lots of fun. Plus, Rachel Weisz is one of those actresses whose mere presence can improve a film’s quality.
  • The Invisible Man (1933) — Claude Rains knows how to enrapture and frighten using only his voice. The special effects are way ahead of their time, too.
  • Jurassic Park (1993) — Odds are you see big flesh-eating dinosaurs as either scary or awesome. Either way, it’s a good night to watch this.
  • The Others (2001) — Captivating ghost story that relies less on jump scares and more on sounds and suspense. A masterpiece among haunted house films.
  • Fright Night (2011) — In my honest opinion, the remake is completely awesome and a whole lot smarter than the original. I’m a sucker for remakes, I know. But Colin Farrell excels as the vampire next door, and David Tennant very nearly steals the show
  • The Thing (1982) — A movie about a shapeshifting alien piling up bodies in the isolation of Antarctica? This is just begging to be watched on Halloween.
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999) — In my opinion, this is Tim Burton’s best movie (that I’ve seen so far). Christopher Walken as the horseman? Genius! That alone makes the film worth watching.
  • Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) — Let’s face it, any night is a good night for this astounding trilogy.
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The Invisible Man – A Celebration of Claude Rains

The only Universal monster film from the 1930s I saw as a boy was The Invisible Man, with Claude Rains as the title character. (I caught up on The Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein later) But I remember this movie terrified me, perhaps more than any other movie I watched back then. Of course, there was the fact that an invisible man could be anywhere, even in my room or at the dining table. But what scared me even more was Rains’ incredible performance (no small task for a man who isn’t onscreen until the last frame). You have no problem believing that he really is a madman, willing to kill to demonstrate his power. The special effects, which truly were astounding for the time, merely add to what the actor provided.

And it’s sad that Rains is one of Universal’s least-celebrated “monsters” from that decade. H.G. Wells’ character is fully realized onscreen simply because Rains uses a versatile tone of voice, calm and collected when he is not raging or proclaiming his grandiose dreams. In short, I was as mesmerized as I was frightened.

I’m posting the first part of the movie below. It’s just over an hour long, but in my estimation The Invisible Man tells a great story in so few minutes. If you have time, check it out.