The 2007 Halloween Buffet

I really enjoyed doing this last year, and my love of Halloween has not died in the slightest.  That said, here’s your halloween recommendations for 2007.

SHORT STORIES

1. “In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker.  Barker set the horror world on fire with his original Books of Blood.  This story, about two lovers who stumble upon a ritual that involves two cities who fight it out by lashing their citizens together into living giants, is a masterpiece of mood and mayhem.  Available in The Books of Blood.

2. “Black Leather Kites” by Norman Partridge.  Norm writes stories that can be hard boiled as hell or so over the top you can’t help but smile.  This story, about vampires, warlocks, and a small town cop who uses nunchuku instead of his standard issue baton, is both.  Available in Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales.

3. “Gray Matter” by Stephen King.  An early work of King’s and one of his best.  A tight, suspensful story about a group of men checking in on a friend of theirs who may or may not have turned into a cat-eating blob after drinking bad beer.  Sounds silly, but this is an incredibly tense reading experience.  Available in Night Shift.

4. “The Pit” By Joe R. Lansdale.  Brutal, unrelenting, and kinda funny.  This story of kidnapped gladiators forced to do battle for a small town’s amusement is one of Champion Joe’s finer tales.  Available in High Cotton.

5. “Menage A Trois” By JF Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is one of the best writers you might not have heard of, and this story is a good old fashioned zombie yarn set in a world where safety and sex don’t always go hand in hand.  Available in When the Darkness Falls.

NOVELS

1. Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.  I didn’t want to repeat authors during this list, but I will make an exception for this incredible book.  One of my favorites, and one I will be reading every year at Halloween.  Partridge creates a tribute to Halloween, B Movies (without giving in to B Movie production values), and the culture of the sixties and small towns.  Breathtaking.

2. Ghoul by Brian Keene.  A love letter to the eighties and childhood, and proof that adults can be worse monsters than anything that lives in a graveyard.  Next to Terminal, this could be Brian’s best work.

3. Pressure by Jeff Strand.  The story of a man running from the obsession of a former friend, a friend with some serious issues.  A masterpiece of terror and suspense.  Strand pulls out all the stops, and he’s never been better.

4. The Store by Bentley Little.  Never has Wal-Mart looked more evil.  Okay, maybe that isn’t true, but this novel by Little is about big box policies taken to there most extreme.  Riveting and frightening on several levels.

5. Succulent Prey by Wrath James White.  White writes horrible, gory prose with the grace of a poet.  It’s really an interesting experience.  This novel, about a man who fears he may have contracted a disease that’s making him a serial killer, is a visceral ride through Hell.

COMICS

1. The Damned by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.  Mystery and shoot ’em ups in a prohibition era populated by humans and demons alike.  An incredible series.

2. Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Temlpesmith.  It may be disguised as a police procedural, but this is a horror comic all the way.

3. Dragon Head by Minetaro Mochizuki.  An earthquake has trapped a commuter train underground, and everything feels far too hot.  And is there something in the darkness?  And what’s happened to the rest of the world?

4. Tales from the Crypt.  The EC classic is back in a archive edition.

5. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. Kirkman’s meandering masterpiece.  Zombie menace with some of the best human characters the comics world has ever seen.  This is what most soap operas should be like.

MOVIES

1. Hard Candy.  Ellen Page gives an incredible performance in this horrifying and riveting film of a pedophile getting his just desserts.  An incredible flick from start to finish.  The director or this film recently helmed 30 Days of Night. 

2. Kontroll. Director Nimrod Antal juggles comedy, drama, romance, and horror in this tale set entire in Budapest’s subway system.  Kontroll officer Bulcsú has become such a part of the underground he hasn’t left it in months.  An incredible movie from start to finish, and one of the best I’ve seen this year.

3. 13 Tzameti. 22 year-old Sébastien takes on a false identity in a quest to gain untold riches, but instead finds himself in a sick game of chance where losing means a bullet in the head.  A study in tension.

4. Prince of Darkness.  The second movie in John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy.” A group of grad student descend on a church to study a strange contraption that just might house the antichrist.  One of Carpenter’s most terrifying.  Once the terror starts, it does not stop.

5. Burnt Offerings. A dose of seventies cheese, but this Oliver Reed/Karen Black-led thriller combines plenty of chills with the creepiest representation of Death I’ve ever seen.