Terrifying Books That Aren’t Horror

You all know me as a horror writer. That being said, I naturally read horror—a lot of it. But I love other genres just as much. Good horror is full of as much intellectual value as any other respectable genre, and I’ve argued this point before; there are people out there who write off horror as pulp for the gore-loving masses.

But in this post I’m going to talk about some other great and interesting reads that have had an impact on me as a writer and influenced my work. Words that have touched my soul. Stories that have birthed my muse and continue to shape it still.

If you’ve not read these already, I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell

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Although not in the horror genre, this book is quite terrifying. I know 1984 is a book most people know about, and it’s an obvious choice, but I have a personal relationship with it. Anything dystopian, whether it be books, movies, or video games, always grabs my interest. And I can’t think of many dystopian future’s worse than this.

  1. The Trial by Franz Kafka

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This book builds anxiety and never stops. A truly realistic and terrifying concept. A man is put on trial for a crime, but isn’t allowed to be told what the crime is. The story just goes deeper and deeper into the psyche like a drill.

  1. The Plague by Albert Camus

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A story of isolation set in the background of a plague. The city is quarantined and completely cut off from the rest of the world. The story is told through the eyes of a doctor trapped with the rest of the city. I can’t think of any real situation that would bring unrelenting misery and fear the way this does.

  1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

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I’m not even sure what genre this qualifies as. It’s a book of madness, written in a perplexing and often frustrating way. Many pages have text written upside down or sideways, or even in squares and triangles. Some pages have little more than one word. It’s a long read but it has some truly terrifying moments.

  1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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This book is included primarily for his description of Hell and eternity. It’s terrifying in the way it makes you understand how long eternity actually is, and in a place of unimaginable suffering which he paints almost too well.

6. In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka

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I know I already mentioned Kafka in this list, but I have to mention him again for this piece. Although not a full novel, this story is absolutely horrifying. It’s about a machine that inflicts punishment for crimes. It’s one of the most graphic depictions of torture and death I’ve ever read.

  1. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

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This science fiction classic starts with first contact. Alien ships descend and take control of the Earth with seemingly peaceful intentions, but refuse to reveal themselves. This one keeps you suspicious of their true intentions the whole way through.

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10 Best B-Movies to watch this Halloween

10 Best B-Movies for Halloween

  1. The Return of the Living Dead

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This 1985 spoof of George A. Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead, takes the elements that make up a great zombie flick and puts a hilariously 80’s bad movie spin on them. Starring Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, and the infamous Linea Quigley, this film expands the story, adding its own elements to the original zombie masterpiece. A group of 80’s punks, conveniently named Trash and Suicide decide to break into the local cemetery for a night of fun. In a hardly believable mishap by the army, some of the zombies from the original outbreak in Night of the Living Dead have been sitting undisturbed in the basement of a medical supply warehouse located next to the cemetery. In a freak accident, one gets lose, and let’s just say it keeps getting better from there.

  1. Night of the Demons

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Released in 1988 and directed by Kevin Tenney, this film is another 80’s masterpiece perfect for your Halloween viewing pleasure. Linea Quigley stars in this film as well, including Amelia Kinkade, Hal Havins, and Phillip Tanzini, and many others. In this cult classic, a group of friends decide to have a party at an abandoned funeral home on Halloween night. You can only guess the fun that awaits them…

3.  976-Evil

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This 1988 cult classic directed by Robert Englund and starring Stephen Geoffreys, Patrick O’Brian, and Sandy Dennis, is sure to offer some great fun for your night of Halloween horror. In this fun film dialing a mysterious phone number results in receiving supernatural powers, for better or worse.

  1. Chopping Mall

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Chopping Mall, directed by Jim Wynorski stars legendary Kelli Maroni, Tony O’Dell, and Russel Todd, was released in 1986. It features a group of mall employees who decide to stay after hours for a party (never seems like a good idea in a horror flick but they do it anyway). But the mall just implemented a new security system that features three robots as the guards. Let’s just say things don’t go as planned, and the kill-bots do their job a little too well.

  1. Fright Night

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In this 1985 vampire flick directed by Tom Holland, a vampire named ‘Jerry’ moves in next door to a teenager named Charlie. Charlie sees what looks like some suspicious activity outside his window and when no one believes him that a vampire lives next door, he goes and pleads his case to local TV host, Peter Vincent, Vampire Hunter, played by Roddy McDowall. This movie is full of cheesy fun and filled with memorable moments! The film also stars Stephen Geoffreys (also in 976-Evil), Chris Sarandon as “Jerry”, and William Ragsdale as Charlie.

  1. Troll 2

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This classic B-movie, released in 1990 and directed by Claudio Fragasso is an absolute hit when it comes to cheesy horror. As bad as it is, the whole movie maintains a creepy vibe that resonates with you long after watching. Starring Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, and Margo Prey, it starts with a family doing a house swap for a vacation that takes them to a little town called Nilbog, which incidentally is full of Trolls. Nice place to visit, just don’t drink the Nilbog Milk! Or eat any of that weird green food for that matter…

  1. Night of the Creeps

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This amazingly produced hit contains everything you’d want from any B-movie. Monsters, zombies, serial killers, a psychologically damaged homicide detective, and plenty of boobies. Released in 1986, directed by Fred Dekker; and starring Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, and Steve Marshall, this film delivers with every topping on your horror menu.

  1. Night of the Comet

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In this 1984 classic directed by Thom Eberhardt a comet passes by Earth and wipes out most of the population. Two valley girls are left and must face the horrors that await them in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Starring Kelli Maroni and Mary Woronov who are both in Chopping Mall, this fun film is sure to entertain in all its B-movie glory.

  1. Motel Hell

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Released in 1980 and directed by Kevin Connor, this classic stars Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons, playing a twisted brother and sister who run a small motel. They capture and harvest guests and well…I don’t want to give away any spoilers! Give it a watch and you’ll have some good laughs as well as experience the creepy tone the entire film takes, finishing with a brutal ending fit for the best of B-movies.

  1. Re-Animator

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This 1985 classic based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale, directed by Stuart Gordon, stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and David Gale. This awesomely gruesome flick features a mad-scientist bent on his own experiments—bringing the dead back to life. The results aren’t what he expected, and with no moral compass to speak of, things go terribly wrong…