Recommendations to Boost the Halloween Spirit!

Following from my previous post of top ten disturbing books for this Halloween season, here is my post of some recommendations to soak up and enjoy that spooky atmosphere surrounding Halloween, my favourite time in the whole year. I am presenting four sections (short stories, films, music and ambience videos) that include four recommendations each:

  • SHORT STORIES: (i) Don’t Look Now and Other Stories [1971] by Daphne du Maurier In this collection, Don’t Look Now is a particularly eerie story about a couple John and Laura on their trip to Venice. In my review, I said that du Maurier makes “Venice claustrophobic, day-to-day reality – enigmatic, the mind – paranoiac, and ordinary people – full of threatening agendas“; (ii) Murder in the Age of Enlightenment (and other Stories) [1918] by Ryunosuke Akutagawa This collection of short stories by Japanese author Akutagawa includes his unforgettable horror story Hell Screen; (iii) The Signal-Man [1866] by Charles Dickens is an incredible, frightening ghost story which has its own unique atmosphere (see also the short film adaptation (1976) of the story here); and (iv) Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery [1948] (my review).
  • FILMS: (i) A Matter of Life and Death [1946] This gorgeous film has a very supernatural atmosphere, telling of the beginning of a romance between a RAF pilot and a radio operator at the end of the WWII. British directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were masters of cinema and vividly recreate the otherworld; (ii) What Happened to Baby Jane? [1962] This film stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and though it does not quite reach the high standard of Hitchcockian suspense, it is still a good thriller with great acting work and thought-provoking themes; (iii) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir [1947] is a wonderful film about a bothersome ghost of one Captain (Rex Harrison) who decides to help out his new home-owner (Gene Tierney) by writing his book through her; and (iv) Eyes Without a Face [1960]This classic French horror film is about a scientist who will go to any length (including murdering people) to ensure his daughter has a face which is as beautiful as she had before her accident.
  • MUSIC: (i) Danny Elfman’s score for the film Sleepy Hollow, (ii) Bernard Hermann’s score for the film Psycho; (iii) James Newton Howard’s score to the film The Village, one of the most criminally-underappreciated musical works; andthe best coming last – (iv) Camille Saint-Saëns’s Aquarium (as part of The Carnival of the Animals suite) a magnificent, eerie composition which was used in many other works and inspired numerous film and TV scores, including Danny Elfman’s score for Tim Burton’s film Batman Returns [1992]; hear also Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre.

What do you read, watch or listen to (or generally do) during the Halloween season?


19 thoughts on “Recommendations to Boost the Halloween Spirit!

  1. I agree that “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” is a wonderful film. I’ve watched it multiple times. I’ve also watched “What Happened to Baby Jane” multiple times. It’s a bit on the campy side, and it’s great fun to watch the two divas try to out-diva each other.

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