With the weather turning colder and the days getting darker, there’s nothing more delicious than snuggling up with a spooky book or movie to while away a chilly evening.
I love a good spooky story, but I really hate blood and gore. Give me a ghost story or a tale of suspense any day, but slasher films full of gratuitous violence? No thanks! Luckily, there are lots of great books and movies that’ll fit the bill for an October evening in. Here are a few suggestions.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux
Yes, you read that right, this one belongs in the books (not the movies) category. Before Phantom was ever a fabulously over-the-top stage production (and even before it first graced the silver screen back in 1925), it was a book. A wildly entertaining, deliciously spooky book. It bears very little resemblance to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version, which ought to be a strike against it (that version is glorious), but is a must-read nonetheless.
Rather than a Gothic romance, this book is a Gothic whodunnit complete with a detective and a disappearance under mysterious circumstances. Even though it was written in 1909, the book is incredibly readable and has just the perfect blend of suspense, Gothic ambiance, and romance. It’s a great October read.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The suspense in this book is so thick you could cut it with a knife. It’s one of those books where it seems like very little is happening, except you’re gripping the book with white knuckles turning the pages at a fevered pace. The plot follows a young bride who marries a much older man she hardly knows and goes with him back to his country estate. There she learns of her husband’s late wife, Rebecca, who died under mysterious circumstances and whose memory seems to permeate the very walls of the house.
The book is Gothic with an atmosphere of impending doom that’s so oppressive you may have to take a break, but it’s an excellent read and great for a cool autumn night snuggled under the covers.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Okay, so yes, this is technically a children’s book, but it’ll raise the hairs on the back of your neck all the same. Neil Gaiman’s signature ethereal style is on full display in this book about a girl who discovers a secret door to a world where she finds her “other mother” and “other father.”
These sinister “other” parents have buttons sewn over their eyes and seem to want Coraline to stay with them forever. The book is eerie and weird in all the best ways, with a cast of very strange characters, like Coraline’s neighbor, who trains mice for his mouse circus. You’ll definitely want to lock all the doors before you read this spooky story.
This movie is literally the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, and there isn’t a drop of bloodshed. The feeling of suspense builds and builds until you’re not really sure if you can take it (in the best way possible). The movie was huge when it came out in 2002, but it’s been a little while, so, in case you’ve never heard of it, it’s about a video that causes you to die seven days after you watch it.
It’s full of beautifully eerie locations and imagery and creates an atmosphere of tension that will have you on the edge of your seat. There’s absolutely no gore, but I warn you, this movie is not for the faint of heart.
This one is much (much) lighter but still a great film to watch in October. It’s a comedy, but there’s definitely a spooky vibe and a few scenes that’ll give you goosebumps. The movie’s from 1993, so it’s possibly a little dated, but in a fun, nostalgic way. The movie is about a group of kids who accidentally bring three 17th century witches back from the dead. The witches are played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, and they’re delightfully campy and silly. If you’re not into being scared but still want something spooky to watch in October, this is the film for you!
I know most people go straight to Psycho or Vertigo (or maybe even The Birds) when looking for an Alfred Hitchcock movie to watch, but I personally think Rear Window is his best. It’s not scary, per se, but it’s incredibly suspenseful and has a dynamite final sequence. The movie’s about a man confined to his home while recovering from an accident. He’s bored so he spends his days looking out the window, and he thinks he witnesses a murder – but he’s not sure. The suspense builds as we try to figure out if he’s just becoming obsessively paranoid, or if something truly awful is really happening. Plus it’s got Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly so, what’s not to love?
A spooky book or movie is just the thing for a chilly night in. So make a pot of tea or cocoa, snuggle under the covers, and enjoy!