The arrival of warm pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and eerie spider webs decorating doors indicate that Halloween is in the air. In order to get into the spirit for this long-anticipated holiday, here is the list of my favorite Halloween-themed books, movies, and songs.
If you are in the mood to be spooked, wrap yourself in blankets with a bowl overflowing with your favorite Halloween treats and watch one of these classic movies:
The Shining (1980)
The Shining is arguably one of the best Halloween films of all time. It’s an ’80s horror classic about author Jack Torrance, who tries to overcome his writer’s block at a haunted mountain lodge. But no work gets done as he disturbingly spirals into an inescapable labyrinth of insanity. As the famous line goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
The Shining is an incredibly eerie film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel by the same name. The movie pulls elements from the novel in which ghostly twins plague minds with murderous phantasms and supernatural forces direct malicious acts of evil in the isolated Overlook Hotel.
A Quiet Place I & II
A Quiet Place is a brilliant fusion of the post-apocalyptic dystopia and horror genres. The plot centers around a family struggling to survive in silence among the ruins of a city plagued with monsters. Although blind, these monstrous creatures have an acute sense of hearing that forces the Abbott family to communicate with each other solely through sign language.
With an action-packed plot reminiscent of The Maze Runner and Stranger Things, the film encapsulates the intense thriller mood through the horrifying, Demogorgon-like creatures that lurk within the woodlands.
Way before Edward Cullen pioneered the glamorized vampire trope, Nosferatu became the first vampire, as well as one of the first horror films in history. Nosferatu is a German Expressionist adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.
Although it is a silent film, the devious crescendos of suspenseful background music conjure an utterly sinister mood throughout the story. Nosferatu transports you into the realm of early supernatural cinema.
Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, invites his audience to step into the enthralling narrative of the earliest slasher film in history with his movie Psycho.
Along with Vertigo and The Birds, Psycho embodies the critical essence of the horror genre as it gradually paints the terrifying events that take place at the Bates Motel. Hidden behind the initial impression of a creepy murder mystery, Hitchcock’s Psycho ascends beyond horror in exploring the intricacies of abnormal psychology in Norman Bates’ dual personality.
You will definitely be afraid next time you step in the shower—as if dorm showers aren’t scary enough.
If you are a voracious reader and rush to the bookstore in search of the perfect eerie novels to pair with this beloved season, check out these recommendations:
Stalking Jack the Ripper Series by Kerri Maniscalco
Inspired by the real Jack the Ripper murders in London in 1888, the novel follows a young woman, Audrey Rose Wadsworth, who practices forensic medicine in secret. This fast-paced, suspenseful murder mystery darkens the aesthetic of Victorian high-class society, characterized by tea parties and elegant ballrooms.
This series is one of my all-time favorites, featuring malicious villains—Vlad the Impaler, an evil Harry Houdini, and White City Devil—all exuding a deeply sinister aura. The Stalking Jack the Ripper series is perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and other diabolical thrillers. Against the gothic backdrop of Victorian London, the author perfectly ensnares the malevolent essence of Halloween.
The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe’s collection of gothic and haunting short stories features a wide range of eerily captivating narratives, including everything from a guilty conscience and an obsession with the “beating of a hideous heart” to a talking raven facilitating a man’s descent into madness.
If you are in search of other spooky Poe stories, check out The Cask of Amontillado, Berenice, and The Fall of the House of Usher. These immortal tales—especially when read in a dim room lit by battery-powered tea lights—have the distinctive power to produce the same sense of fear as watching horror movies.
Carrie by Stephen King
Carrie is a spine-chilling 1974 novel centered around a telekinetic high school girl who is alienated among her peers, causing her to be pushed past the brink of insanity. Famous for depicting prom as a subject of supernatural horrors, Carrie reinvents the tragedy genre by electrifying it with a crave for merciless vengeance.
The plotline is inherently creepy with the almost unbearable build of suspense throughout as a result of knowing that Carrie is doomed to unleash terror upon her small hometown.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
In one of Agatha Christie’s creepiest novels, eight strangers are lured onto a remote island on which each individual reveals a guilt-ridden secret. What could go wrong?
Based on a macabre nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldiers,” one by one, the people on the island are brutally murdered per the instructions of the horrifying verses. And Then There Were None is an unnervingly crafted, classic mystery novel that was even adapted into a television series.
Crafting the perfect playlist for Halloween vibes is a necessity. These tunes are perfect to blast in your dorm room or listen to while crunching through the fall leaves on campus:
Classic songs including “Monster Mash” and “Somebody’s Watching Me” are always perfect to revisit each year. They could be reminiscent of Halloween parties from your childhood or the anthem of your past trick-or-treating excursions through your hometown.
Yet, the perfect Halloween playlist would be incomplete without songs actually featured in horror cinema and shows, from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Stranger Things, and Halloween. The last song, “Heads Will Roll,” is for fans of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.