Horror movies are great, but sometimes you need to do other things than watch movies (Don’t listen to him, he’s a madman – Ed) so I’ve compiled a list of other media you can explore if you want to get your thrills and scares from somewhere else. But when you’re done go straight back to movie watching.
Book: The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Terror is based on the true story of the Franklin Expedition. The expedition involved two ships trying to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. The two ships, The Terror and The Erebus, quickly became trapped in the ice. The Terror begins the story after the crew have been trapped on the ice for a while and, to make matters worse, there is something out there on the ice, and it’s hunting them. First thing I should tell you about this book is to read it in the summer because it is cold. Simmons’ descriptions of the freezing conditions the crew are facing will have you bundling up and shivering while you’re trying to read. And some of that shivering will be from Simmons’ masterful grasp on atmosphere. He ratchets up tension until it is at breaking point, then ratchets a little more, then a teensy bit more and then lets it all go. This book lingered with me long after I finished it and is one I highly recommend.
If it was a movie: It would be a mix of The Thing, Predator, and Alive, with just a sprinkling of Master & Commander.
Album: Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
It is not often that you encounter a scary album. There are albums that are a scary because they’re awful and yet inexplicably popular, but in this case I mean an album in which each track could itself be a horror movie. Murder Ballads is a concept album about murder, murderers, and the murdered. There are songs from the POV of killers and from their prey. Each song tells a story and each is dripping with blood. The stand outs on this collection are Henry Lee (featuring the incomparable PJ Harvey), The Curse of Milhaven (never has mass murder been so funny) and Stagger Lee (which has to be heard to be believed).
If it was a movie: It would be a mix of Natural Born Killers, Se7en, Zodiac, Heathers, and I Spit on your Grave. Or the worst date movie ever.
TV Show: Inside No. 9
There are a lot of scary TV shows. A lot of intense shows about monsters and murders (Penny Dreadful and True Detective being recent favourites) but for me the scariest show on TV is Inside No. 9, from merry old England. Inside No. 9 is a six part anthology show from the makers of Psychoville, with each episode focusing on a different cast and story. The best part of this show is that each episode is so vastly different that you can never predict the eventual twists. The best episodes (Sardines and The Harrowing) are brilliant because they present to you one idea that in itself is very entertaining and then rip that away from you, revealing the true horror of the situation they have created. And as an added bonus they are also very, very funny.
If it was a movie: It would be a mix of a Hammer Horror movie, a Chaplin sketch, Sightseers and a performance of Macbeth.
Comic: His Face All Red by Emily Carroll.
This one can be read here. It is amazing. There is something about Emily Carroll’s art that is so misleading. Her pictures are beautiful and her faces almost cute. When this is juxtaposed against the horrible subject matter she writes so masterfully about it manages to bore its way into your mind and linger there like an unpaid bill. Like a good bit of Stephen King you are lured in and then marooned within the horror, left to find your own way to the end. I could have picked a variety of different Carroll pieces but for me His Face All Red is her masterpiece.
If it was a movie: It would be absolutely terrifying.