We asked our staff to contribute their favourite spooky works – from the ones that scare them out of their shoes to the ones that remind them of the thrills of childhood Halloweens. Below you’ll find content ranging from the outright horrendous to the slightly shiver-inducing.
Kylie Warkentin, Editor-in-Chief
As a noted wimp and previously traumatized victim of Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, I am very particular with the type of visual horror I consume – I don’t like to be scared, but I love being horrified. NBC’s Hannibal understands this philosophy at a visceral level. Grotesquely beautiful and unrepentantly pretentious, Bryan Fuller’s criminally underrated prequel to Thomas Harris’s works of the same name ruminates on how horrible it is to know someone so well you forget to know yourself. Though the tasteful depictions of cannibalism don’t necessarily frighten me, I do sometimes wake up in a cold sweat at 1AM with Mads Mikkelsen’s perfectly pleasant delivery of “Nothing happened to me. I happened.” banging around in my head. And, best of all, it’s funny. The amount of cannibal puns is really – it could be said to be – it’s. Hmm. Well you might say it’s delicious.
“Ghost Duet” by Louie Zong
Christie Basson, Managing Editor & Website Co-Editor
While I am not a big proponent of fear-inducing horror films or chilling haunted houses, I can appreciate the opportunity for creativity that sweeps through the American people during Halloween. From dressing their children like pumpkins to transforming their homes into webbed witches’ houses, October is a time for people to let loose and let their inner creative come out to play. This song is one such fun example of cute and “spooky” vibes that show how the season can inspire real joy and creativity, even for those of us who are faint of heart and stomach.
“The Haunted Organ Theme” by Vic Mizzy
Stephanie Pickrell, Co-Website Editor
This is the theme music from the 1966 comedy horror film, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I watched it with my dad once when I was sick and stayed home from school, and he’s never let me off the hook for jumping at the (rather cheesy) jump scare in the middle. Also, what’s better for a spooky story than a haunted organ? And yes, I still jump at the jump scare.
“Hags” by Jenny Zhang
Josephine Yi, Prose Co-Editor
This 17 page lyric essay meanders from personal recollections of childhood (tender and ugly in equal parts) to the socio-political to Asian urban myths in such a way that renders any distinctions between these three things practically nonexistent. An ode to the vengeful, demonized hags which haunt the social imagination and emerge as tropes in our cultural cautionary tales, this essay is a nod to the subtle and cumulative rage of a working class, Chinese American, immigrant, female writer in the U.S. Perhaps, “Hags” isn’t the spookiest work— at least in the traditional sense of the word— but if white male supremacy and capitalism sounds scary to you then this may just make you run and hide.
“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads
Savannah Mahan, Poetry Editor
“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads is not a very scary song, but it does make you jump out of your shoes— to dance! I cherish this song not just because of the groovy baseline, but because it embraces the strange and the unsettling that Halloween truly revolves around. With the refrain of “qu’est-ce que c’est?” reminding us that things just do not often make sense, I find myself joining along in the half-sung and half-screamed vocals. I dare you to listen and not do the same. P.S: Please watch the video if you desire to see jolting dance moves in an oversized suit.
“Wraithe” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Megan Snopik, Website Writer & Prose Board
My favorite spooky creative work is “Wraithe” from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s collection Second April. This poem has the perfect spooky house vibe, and will definitely make you think twice about the rain tapping on your window (it could be something/someone else!). As she says at the end of the poem “wonder what sort of people/ could have had this house before…” you can’t help but wonder about your own house’s ghosts… Read this poem here.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Abdallah Hussein, Website Writer
Being mostly a stranger to the horror genre, my frame of reference regarding it is close to absent. However, I did read Dracula by Bram Stoker over the summer and it was truly a terrifying experience. I’d always tackle the book in the dead of night; all lights off with the exception of a tiny light shining onto the pages of the book. Having the tension build up with sad deaths, insane plots twists, and harrowing descriptions of vampires and settings across the story in a bone-chilling manner while being surrounded by nothing but shadows was truly a gut-wrenching feeling that kept me under the covers for a while and it’s something I’d like to do again, especially in this more appropriate time of year.
Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink
Scotty Villhard, Website Writer & Prose Board
Alice Isn’t Dead is a podcast written by Joseph Fink, co-creator of Welcome to Night Vale, about a woman who drives a truck across a haunted America in search of her missing wife, Alice. The podcast is short, three seasons of 10 episodes each and nothing more, but over the course of these episodes it crafts a world and lore hiding just behind our own, in abandoned truck stops and fading roadside attractions. Fink’s writing veers more heavily into horror here than in Welcome to Night Vale while never losing wit, with each episode offering a chance to tell a special kind of ghost story. With a great performance by Jasika Nicole and some of Disparition’s best music of their career, Alice Isn’t Dead has become a staple of my horror fix.
Pramika Kadari, Website Writer & Marketing Team
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s bone-chilling expressions in Donnie Darko stick with you for days after finishing the film. In addition to the creepiness, Donnie Darko is an amazing movie full of complex storylines and dynamic characters. Hidden behind the lattice of complicated timelines is an emotionally impactful story about love and sacrifice. It’s one of those movies you can’t stop thinking about for days after you watch it, even if you do have to search up articles and YouTube videos to completely understand it.
The Magnus Archives by Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall
Skylar Epstein, Website Writer & Prose Board
The concept of The Magnus Archives, a horror fiction podcast produced by The Rusty Quill, is simple. All of the episodes feature recorded “statements” outlining strange and eerie encounters people have had in their lives that are submitted to the head archivist of the London based Magnus Institute, Jonathan Sims. While the overarching plot of the podcast is slow to boil over, each episode is perfectly disturbing and terrifyingly creative. From an anglerfish monster in the streets of Edinburgh to a pottery class gone terribly wrong, the statements explore all shapes and sizes of fear. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking about these stories and staring too deeply into shadowy corners for days after listening. With its slow paced, creeping narrative, The Magnus Archives asks the question: what are you afraid of…and how close is that fear to consuming you?
The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater
Caitlin Vaille, Poetry Board
My favorite read that gives subtle spooky vibes is The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater. Although I really do want to get more into the thriller/horror genre in the future, I’ve stuck to very minimal levels in the past. So, if you’re like me and might want to feel the Halloween spirit but not jump out of your seat, then this series is wonderful. It’s got paranormal elements laced throughout, from clairvoyance to spirits to ley lines. Not to mention, it has a cast of truly memorable and unique characters.
“Love Potion No. 9” by The Clovers
Emma Allen, Poetry Board
As a kid, whenever Halloween drew closer, it was time to listen to Halloween music for each and every car ride. One of my absolute favorite songs on my family’s Halloween CD, which never fails to put me in the spirit for the season, is Love Potion No. 9 performed by The Clovers. Even though it was not originally intended to be a Halloween song, it features all the essential spooky elements like gold-teethed gypsies, potions, and magic signs. The song is smooth and almost impossible not to sing along to, by virtue of the singers’ smooth voices and the deep saxophone notes. Hearing the song brings back great memories, mostly me and my sister forcing my mother to hit rewind about 15-20 times each car ride, so we could hear Love Potion No. 9 again.
Jaqueline Lugo, Marketing Team
This movie is timeless terrifying. Coraline tells the story of a young girl who has a complicated relationship with her parents and finds an alternate world into which she escapes. I watch it every Halloween with my sisters; even as we grow older it never fails to scare us. The animation and the color scheme is absolutely amazing. I love that how at the beginning of the movie we get so many loose ends. We have so many cryptic scenes that mean nothing, but as we get to the end we see that all the loose ends come together to tell give us the story.
Symphony No. 1 “Lord of The Rings”
Lacee Burr, Prose Board
I’m usually not one for instrumental music — I need to be able to sing along to a song and essentially hold my own private concert — but Meij’s Symphony No.1 Lord of the Rings is definitely the exception. This isn’t the music you hear in the movies (it was composed and performed before we had the pleasure of seeing Orlando Bloom take down an Oliphant), and it’s actually based on literary themes from the original novels. There’s five parts to it, but the Gollum (Smeagol) section is definitely the one to choose for Halloween. The music sounds how Gollum looks and acts, so if this guy has ever unnerved you, open your music app for 10 minutes of spookiness.
“The Raven” adapted by Lord Buckley
Tom Jennings, Poetry Board
My spooky piece for Halloween is Lord Buckley’s rendition of Poe’s “The Raven”. Buckley was known for “translating” classic pieces of literature into hip, jazzy slang in the 1950s, and this is probably the only Halloween-related example. He was a great influence on jazz poets like Bob Kaufman as well as many stand-up comedians with his rapid delivery. One of the very few jazzy takes on Edgar Allen Poe!