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Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

by Dani Johnson

October 26, 2013

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Donate It's my favorite time of year, again. I've been listening to my "Spooky Symphonies" radio station on Pandora and wearing my favorite glow-in-the-dark nail polish all month long. I just went and saw the new Carrie movie, and I plan on dressing up (again) at work on the 31st.

One of my most favorite things to do this time of year is stay up late and read ghost stories by myself. Even though I don't believe in ghosts and ghoulies, I still get scared when the circumstances are right if I'm reading the right kind of stories. I think it's an important exercise to scare one's self by reading ghost stories. The human mind can be tricked by many things, and one of the best ways to understand some of the things that can make you believe things that aren't real is to jump right in and experience it first hand.

I don't get scared by blood and gore, although it definitely makes my skin crawl. What scares me is a suspenseful ghost story, or a sadistic story about a serial killer trying to trick his victims. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, I am particularly scared by stories depicting things that happen in the bedroom, in the dark, or in the shower. Maybe because those are times when I am at my most vulnerable.

One of my most favorite scary movies is Nightmare on Elm Street. One of the scariest moments in the movie (that still tries to prevent me from sleeping, sometimes) is when Nancy is laying in bed, and as soon as she falls asleep Freddy's knife-fingers rip through from the inside of the mattress and start ripping the fabric in the direction of Nancy. But, that's nothing compared to the one movie that scared me more than any other movie I've seen in my entire life (and that still scares me a little today): Candyman. The movie is sort of a mixture between the urban legends of Bloody Mary and the man with a hook for a hand. Candyman's victims hear about a killer that strikes only when you enter the bathroom and repeat his name 3 times while looking in the mirror. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Then, he appears behind the victim and...well, you know the rest.

I first watched the movie when I was at the tender age of 7. My mother has been a die-hard fan of horror movies since she was a child, so I was introduced to them pretty early. She had thought that Candyman would be a little too scary for me, but I begged her until she finally gave in. She warned me, though, and I can't help but think that maybe her warnings had something to do with the effect the movie had on me. Nothing else has ever scared me so bad. I remember it was me, my brother and a girl that lived right down the street that watched it, and we loved the movie so much that we watched it 2 or 3 times in a row. Not the best idea, if you hadn't guessed already. I spent the next few days begging my brother to accompany me to the bathroom so he could be the one to turn on the light and make sure Candyman wasn't waiting for me, and the next few years being absolutely petrified of mirrors. All the while, though, I still loved to watch scary movies...just not Candyman, or anything about mirrors or killers with hooks (Remember Scream?).

Just for fun, I have compiled a list of my most favorite scary movies. Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments! I feel like it's worth mentioning that I usually am not a huge fan of movies that have a bunch of sequels, but I find that horror movies don't matter as much because I don't take them as seriously. So, I haven't included the sequels in this list, but only because it would take up too much room - I still love them. Also, this list includes movies that aren't actually scary, but are still Halloween favorites - and this is just a list of my personal favorites and is not meant to be a complete list by any means. (Not familiar with a title and want to learn more? is a great place to start!)
  • Candyman

  • Nightmare on Elm Street (Colloquially referred to as "Freddy Krueger" by my family)

  • Halloween (Colloquially referred to as "Michael Meyers")

  • Friday the 13th (Colloquially referred to as "Jason")

  • Wish Master

  • Puppet Master

  • Hellraiser

  • Jeepers Creepers

  • Trick 'r Treat

  • 13th Ghost

  • Children of the Corn

  • Pet Sematary

  • Psycho

  • Scream

  • The Fog

  • It (Colloquially referred to as "Pennywise")

  • Poltergeist

  • The Amytiville Horror

  • The Omen

  • The Exorcist

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

  • Carrie

  • Child's Play (colloquially referred to as "Chucky")

  • Cabin Fever

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show

  • Beetlejuice

  • Corpse Bride

  • Hocus Pocus

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

...I'm sure I could keep going...

Have I missed any movies that you absolutely have to watch during the Halloween season? What are your most favorites, scary or not? I'd love to read your favorites in the comments below.

I also love reading about urban legends, though to me the best part is learning how the legend got started. The urban legend that I think is the spookiest is the one about the baby sitter and the clown statue. To paraphrase, the baby sitter has already put the kids to bed and is watching TV in the living room and is creeped out by a life-like clown statue in the corner of the room. She calls the parents and asks if she can cover it up and they instruct her to leave the house immediately and call the cops because they don't have a clown statue. In some versions of the legend the parents inform the baby sitter that their children have complained about a clown watching them before, but the parents didn't take it seriously. This legend is scary to me because I think the idea of someone watching me without me even knowing it is super creepy. Especially if they're in plain sight! Here is a list of the 20 Scariest Urban Legends by David Emery that I feel lists most of the ones that always scared me the most. What is your favorite urban legend and what scared you the most about it?

Here's another really cool list of scary stories.

Check out these really cool Halloween videos:

The Thinking Atheist just released a really cool Halloween episode called Ghost Stories 2013 that I really enjoyed. Thank you, Seth!

I also recently found some really cool podcasts that broadcast spooky stories.

Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide.

Pseudopod You've found the world’s premier horror fiction podcast. Pseudopod brings you the best short horror in audio form, to take with you anywhere.

WARNING: This is a podcast of horror fiction. The stories presented here are intended to disturb. They are likely to contain death, graphic violence, explicit sex (including sexual violence), hate crimes, blasphemy, or other themes and images that hook deep into your psyche. We do not provide ratings or content warnings. We assume by your listening that you wish to be disturbed for your entertainment. If there are any themes that you cannot deal with in fiction, that are too strongly personal to you, please do not listen.

Pseudopod is for mature audiences only. Hardly any story on Pseudopod is suitable for children. We mean this very seriously.

Strange Tales: tales of the strange and bizarre, the weird and the wicked. Stories not necessarily of the supernatural, but of the unnatural. Join us for Strange Tales, featuring radio drama at its most mysterious and unusual. Abnormal old time radio!

We're Alive For Army Reserve Soldier Michael Cross, the world as he knew it ended in an instant. One minute, he’s in college, and in the next, rioters are roaming the highway around him, breaking into cars, and literally tearing people apart. This is the day the dead walk. This is the world of We’re Alive.

We’re Alive Features chapters packing performances and sound effects that rival movies and prove that modern audio drama is undead and well. Join our survivors as they band together, struggle to fortify a safe haven known as the Tower, and discovers that zombies are far from the worst thing in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles where the rules of human decency no longer apply.

Little food. Little water. Little hope. Who is lucky enough to say “We’re Alive?”

I know it's a little late for this year's season, but I also found this really cool article called 16 Awesome Homemade Halloween Decorations that I will definitely be implementing for Halloween 2014!

What are your plans this Halloween? Are you dressing up with the kids? Going to a costume party? Have a scary story to tell? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Happy Trick or Treating!!

by Dani Johnson

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