October 21st, 2011, 9:35 am

Tis the Season to be Spooky: Recommend Halloween Reading and Watching

For me, Halloween is tied with Christmas as my all-time favorite holiday. I don't get any presents (other than candy . . . lots and lots of candy), but I love the sights, sounds and scents. Whether its the leave crackling under my feet or the taste of warm apple cider while watching a scary movie, Halloween is my kind of holiday.

Here is a checklist of things of books and movies which I enjoy each year to supplement the spooky season.

Halloween Movies. Every year, I love watching the scary movie marathons on places like SyFy and AMC. But that's never enough, so I supplement my Halloween movie tastes with plenty of seasonal flicks, whether they are for kids (Ernest Scared Stupid), adults (Halloween - the original) or somewhere in-between (Monster Squad). Here is what's on my list for this Halloween.

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein - Arguably the first scary movie I ever watched, and one which still makes me laugh while containing more than a couple thrills (CHECK).

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night - I saw the trailer when it came out last spring and thought it would make a decent Halloween. It ended up being a mildly enjoyable B-Movie, though apparently its only loosely based on the Italian comic of the same name (CHECK).

Trick-r-Treat - Think of "Love Actually" meets "Creepshow". Written and directed by X2 screenwriter Michael Dougherty, the flick features several interconnected tales of terror all occurring simultaneously in a small town on Halloween night, with characters from one tale weaving seamlessly into a next. Slick story telling and tight continuity make it the perfect horror film for a comic book junkie like me. ( )

A Hammer Film - Not a film per se, but rather, a whole period of films, and arguably, a whole genre. Ever since watching Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee duke it out during high school, I have to watch at least one Hammer flick during the Halloween season. It might be "Horror of Dracula" or it might be "Taste the Blood of Dracula" or it might not involve Count Dooku . . . I mean Count Dracula . . . at all. But somewhere over my Halloween season, it's Hammer time ( )

Scary Books. Is there a better season to read thrillers or chillers? Not surprisingly, I do most my Stephen King reading during the month of October. Here's what I've read so far...

Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - Though not as straight paranormal as "The Relic" or "Cemetery Dance", this latest Pendergast thriller was the right amount of mystery and suspense to get me into the season of mysteries. Of course, it all ended on a cliffhanger, meaning I'll likely have to wait a whole year to see what happens next. (CHECK)

Imminent Darkness by E.M. Lacey - This self-published thriller by E.M. Lacey really took me by surprise. Rooted in Nigerian folklore, the thriller finds spiritual forces at work in a rash of homicides and disappearances. The end result reads like Neil Gaiman meets Clive Barker. My only complaint is the story ended a little too soon. (CHECK)

Great Lakes Ghost Stories: Haunted Tales Past & Present by Wes Oleszewski - My dad picked this up for me on a motorcycle trip to the Great Lakes area with my brother. It has some very well-researched accounts of ghost stories and urban legends that have been circulating the area. Unfortunately, the "well-researched" part sometimes buries the lead altogether. Still, it's an interesting book for anyone into ghosts, history or boats. (CHECK).

The Shining by Stephen King - You know, I've read a lot of Stephen King, but I honestly haven't read much of his early stuff, aside from "Salem's Lot". When I heard he was doing a sequel to "The Shining", I knew this was the perfect time to read it. I'm only a 100 pages in and I haven't got to the axe crazy yet, but REDRUM has appeared more than a couple times. ( )

The Night Eternal by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro - This book has one of my favorite directors, "Pan's Labyrinth" director Del Toro, teaming up with "The Town" writer Chuck Hogan to envision a vampire apocalypse of "I Am Legend" proportions. This book supposedly opens up with the world in nuclear winter, making it a playground for the vampires. The characters have been a little flat in the trilogy so far, but the amount of detail - ranging from NYC bureaucracy to vampire biology - never ceases to amaze me from these two.

(That's it for this week's rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder next week!)

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