So I really enjoy horror themes in my fantasy to the point that reading more of it might help me with my writing. Currently my main horror fix comes from one podcast, so… Any suggestions?
i don’t really read horror books, but i can recommend a bunch of other kinds of media! (also, is the podcast the magnus archives? it’s so good!)
these are all over the map wrt subgenre. i haven’t read/watched/etc all of them recently, so i can’t do detailed content warnings for everything, but if you have a particular thing you’re worried about let me know and i can comb through and let you know which things you might want a heads up for!
stuff to read online
a good wick
the terrible secret of animal crossing
ted’s caving page
bogleech’s creepypasta cookoff archives (bogleech also has a spooky webcomic and reviews a lot of horror stuff and also is generally a fun and interesting dude!)
the enigma of amigara fault
pet shop of horrors
junji ito collection
higurashi no naku koro ni
serial experiments lain
the autopsy of jane doe
cabin in the woods [horror-comedy]
happy death day [horror-comedy]
silent hill 1 through 4
amnesia: the dark descent
aaand “creeped out”, a tv show that’s a horror anthology for kids, is good! it’s on netflix.
It IS The Magnus Archives! Johnny Sims is a fantastic writer, and the acting is just so so choice. Plus, you know, the meta. And just everything about Gertrude and The Distortion.
ANYWAYS. I’ll have to check these out, thanks! As for content I’m not a big fan of extended gruesome torture scenes or whatever, but it’s something I can look out for on my own.
aw yeaaaa. i love the distortion so much! the spiral and the stranger are my favorite entities for sure. hope you enjoy the recs! :))
I’d probably be part of the Web, honestly ;;;; )
@apricots has a great list – I especially second Emily Carroll’s comics, Skelehime’s comics, Ted’s Caving Page, The Enigma of Amigara Fault, Yamishibai (especially the first season), Get Out, Us, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Bloodborne – and I’d like to add a few things myself!
Books & Short Stories
- Pet Sematary by Stephen King
- “The Jaunt” by Stephen King
- Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
- The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
- “Details” by China Mieville
- “Geldman’s Pharmacy” by Anne M. Pillsworth
- “The Crowd” by Ray Bradbury
- “Alice’s Last Adventure” by Thomas Ligotti
- “Tell Mommy What Happened” by Alan Ryan
- “Moving Out” by Nicholas Royle
- “An Invasion of Angels” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- Candle Cove
- Anansi’s Goatman Story
- I’m a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service (10 parts total)
- The Left/Right Game (also 10 parts total)
- Trevor Henderson’s “found footage” art, along with their descriptions (example)
- “What House Are You In?” (a lot of Something Scary’s stories are pretty great, actually!)
- Uzumaki by Junji Ito (3 volumes)
- “The Hanging Balloons” by Junji Ito (short story)
- “The Window Next Door” by Junji Ito (short story)
- “Gravetown” by Junji Ito (short story)
- Hanako and the Terror of Allegory by Sakae Esuno (4 volumes, alternates between fantasy and horror but the horror bits are real good)
- Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek
- Ju-on (the original Japanese)
- Black Christmas
- IT (2017)
- Trick 'r Treat
- The Ritual
- It Follows
- Lake Mungo
- Channel Zero
Short Horror Films
- This House Has People In It
- Unedited Footage of a Bear
- Lights Out
- The 15 Experience (it’s actually not available anymore from what I can tell, but absolutely check out Night Mind’s delve into it because it’s got some incredibly creepy stuff)
- The Birch
- Under the Stairs
- Daisy Brown
- Ash Vlogs (the first part of it, at least; this time the delve into it is by ReignBot and is imo better than what it eventually turned into)
- Fatal Frame 1-4 (I haven’t played 5 yet, but I bet it’s just as good)
- Detention (by Red Candle Games)
- Devotion (also by Red Candle Games)
- Layers of Fear
- Until Dawn
- Close Your Eyes
Aaand all of the old illustrations for Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Also, “Are You Afraid of the Dark” might be worth a watch/rewatch!
Uzumaki is DOPE
Are you looking for a particular type of horror, or just any and all? There are all sorts of horror books out there which range from silly to slasher to drama and so on. (Personally, I’m a fan of campy horror.)
In any case though, I’ll come up with a list for you!
More… Idk I like the Eldritch horror vibe the best, but I feel like the execution is a lot more important than the genre. I also enjoy interesting concepts/twists on common tropes, solid characters (of course), and deep dives into why something is scary.
Also, just want to say a collective thanks to everyone taking the time to make recommendations. You’re lovely people.
Ooh, if you like things like this, I can make a few nonfiction recommendations too!
I mentioned/linked to both Night Mind and ReignBot in my previous list, and how they explain and dig into a few of the horror things I recommended. Their channels are actually very interesting in general; a lot of what they talk about is Youtube horror videos, but there’s stuff in there that could be useful with horror writing too, and some of their topics are about text-based horror if not always books. Night Mind did three videos that are all over 90 minutes talking about House of Leaves, and ReignBot hasn’t done anything about horror novels but has talked about Twitter-based horror such as Dear David, @TheSunVanished, and @gr3gory88, which is largely (though not solely) text-based and usually presented as real – kind of like r/nosleep creepypastas which have escaped containment, lol.
Super Eyepatch Wolf, also on Youtube, talks about a lot of things that have nothing to do with horror, such as anime and video games, but has done some really good videos talking about horror in different mediums. “How Media Scares Us: The Work of Junji Ito” is maybe my favorite of his videos, but “The Junji Ito Collection Is Disappointing Garbage,” “DEVOTION: The Disturbing Horror of Red Candle Games,” “Why The Shining Is Terrifying,” “Why Perfect Blue Is Terrifying,” and “Why You Should Play Silent Hill 2” are also super worth watching. (As is “The Problem With Silent Hill 3: The Fall of Team Silent,” but that one’s less about horror, imo.)
My final Youtuber recommentation, Ryan Hollinger, is one of my favorite people who talks about horror movies, period. His channel also has some non-horror things and talks about some lighter horror shows for kids, such as Scooby Doo, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and specifically “The Haunted Mask” episode of Goosebumps, and a few other non-movie horror things though again, no books, but there’s some valuable stuff here and a lot of what he mentions about horror storytelling isn’t totally tied to the visual medium. (“GREEN ROOM: Why Dumb Decisions Matter” is a good example of this.) Ryan is interesting because even when I don’t agree with him (the reasons why he liked The Mist are why I didn’t like it) or think he missed a major part of the movie and even a major part of the horror (I love his Lake Mungo review but…), I absolutely love his videos and analyses and he talks about a lot of things I might not have thought of or been able to put into words otherwise.
How to Write Horror: Telling Stories That Will Leave a Reader Terrified by T.L. Bodine on Wattpad is probably one of the best “how to write horror” things I’ve ever read, because it talks a lot about why scary things are scary, with examples. “Embracing the Uncanny Valley” is one of my favorite chapters just for how it made me understand why some people are afraid of clowns! The advice on how to make fears and monsters and characters that all tie together is great, and the Case Study/Film Study chapters are all amazing, how so many horror movies follow specific structures and how certain techniques are used super well. And while the Case Studies/Film Studies are from film, the writing advice is from a novelist, so everything is way more generally useful for making horror than just horror film. There’s a lot about different types of horror, different ways to scare people, what makes certain things scary in the first place… It’s really good and one of the most helpful things I’ve read.
Finally, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey. This is a nonfiction book that is less about analyzing why horror stories are scary and more about why horror stories are told. Or, even more specifically, why “totally true” ghost stories get told about certain irl places and where urges to believe in ghosts often come from. Why certain buildings and certain types of buildings get more ghost stories than others, how discomfort with our history makes us feel like someone must want to punish us for it, how blatantly false information about the history of a place or person can start and can continue even past when it’s easy to find out that it’s false. The chapters about the real House of the Seven Gables, about Salem, about “the ghosts of slaves” on plantations and about “Native burial grounds” are some of the most fascinating chapters in the entire book to me.
That last recommendation might seem like the least useful book from a horror writing perspective, but in my opinion it introduces a lot of information that could be used to come up with scary and “believably” haunted settings and describe them in unsettling ways. The introduction to the set of chapters called “After Hours,” for example – about ghost stories that crop up in “bars, restaurants, hotels, and brothels” – is a great example of this, as it talks about how a place being “home”-like but so blatantly not a home makes for an uncanny, uncomfortable feeling. Two of the lines in it – That sense of emptiness is key to a good haunting. Few things are more unsettling than being somewhere emptied out, after everyone else has left. – are very inspiring to me. The book also notes some problems with ghost stories that might be best avoided, such as the aforementioned “slave ghosts” and “Native burial grounds,” and facts about “actual cases” such as the Winchester house that might be good for an author to know if writing anything about or inspired by these well-known oddities.
Anyway, I’ve talked way too much, but I hope you enjoy some of these recommendations and that you have great fun and luck with your writing!
Okay, so I will come up with an entire list for you later, but if you love Eldritch horror, I have the feeling you’ll really like this 1980’s style computer game: http://anchorhead-game.com/
It’s the first thing to pop into my head!
There’s also a free version with no illustrations: https://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=op0uw1gn1tjqmjt7