TTT: If You Like Horror

TTTThis week has been the first topic in a good long while that has actually appealed to me. However, that didn’t make it easy. In fact, this was pretty difficult. I don’t think I read enough “super popular books” to have a base to recommend from. Nor do read enough in any genre to really have enough books to recommend. Well, with the exception of maybe one…

Lo, I present to you my top ten books to read if you like “super popular author” Stephen King, or the horror genre in general. There is a range of horror represented here, but all kinds of horror Stephen King has dabbled in (because really, what type of horror hasn’t he dabbled in?)

The Haunting of Hill House – A classic haunted house horror story with a psychological twist. This is possibly my very favourite horror novel, ever.

Haunted – Erring on the graphic line of the horror genre, but being no less creepy for it.

I Am Legend – Science fiction meets creature feature. The true horror in this book is its tense psychological terror.

Apartment 16 – Very reminiscent of Stephen King, generally. Demons and ghosts and creepy happening in this flat.

Prince of Thorns – A true horror in that this book deals with violent murder, rape and war in a post-apocalyptic Middle Age-like setting.

Pandaemonium – More of a horror comedy, i’m sure Christopher Brookmyre doesn’t know how to make his readers not laugh, even in the midst of, well, pandemonium.

The Midwich Cuckoos – Everyone in a small town falls asleep, during which time all the women become pregnant. Creepy horror at its very best.

Tiny Deaths – This as a book of short stories, all written around the theme of death. Some are more horrifying than others, but what’s more horrifying than facing your own mortality?

Party Monster – Is outrageous horror a thing? This book makes it a thing. Sex, drugs, murder and dismemberment with the Club Kids!

Florence and Giles – Starting off as a quiet and unassuming creepy house horror, this book evolves into something supernatural before dealing an altogether different twist.

TTT: Film and TV

TTTThis was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. I love books, and I love films and TV shows, so imagining some of my favourite books in that media should be loads of fun. Right? Except it wasn’t so much. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it’s just that, actually, there are a lot of books i’ve read that I don’t think would translate well to the screen. That a lot of the things I loved about the books would be lost. Some subtly, or a character’s inner conflict, or the underlying meaning of the entire book. So, it ended up being quite difficult to choose 10 books, to be honest.

This entire list also comes with a proviso: I would want to see these books made into films or TV shows that I would have creative control over. I would want them on the screen like they are in my head. I would get to decide what parts got left out and any details that would be changed. So often film adaptations let me down, but if this is my top ten—it’s my top ten.

American Gods – This is already getting a pilot for a TV series, but as far as i’m aware there is no cast, no date, and no guarantee of a full series. But yes, i’d have a lot of fun making this into a TV show. Actually seeing Wednesday and his merry band of ancient gods.

The Night Circus – The rights have been bought to adapt this into a film, but it doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere. I would be more than happy to be brought on as director. The visuals in this book are extraordinary, and I can imagine them working for the screen incredibly well.

The Girl with all the Gifts – This kind of plot is exactly what the horror/zombie film genre needs. Also that ending. Yes. It’s not even this specific book that i’d (necessarily) love to see on the big screen, but a film that takes the well-worn genre and adds some twists, approaches it from a new angle and generally does something different.

Apathy and Other Small Victories – Although this adaptation would need a voice over, I wouldn’t mind, because it would be hilarious. I’d even allow the narrator to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. It would be cliché, but clichéd perfection.

The Vesuvius Club – Considering Mark Gatiss has written for both film and TV, it’s not a big surprise to find his book on this list. It’s just… perfectly set up to be a film (film series, even, with the two sequels). Imagine an Edwardian debonair James Bond-esque character with questionable morals and an even more questionable sexuality. Add hijinks, a sex club and an potential apocalypse.

All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye – I picked this book because it’s my favourite, but really, any Brookmyre book. He has about 18 of them, you could close your eyes and blindly grasp at them and you’d snag a good one. The characters, the action, the plot… it’s all so larger than life, it’s so easy to image watching it on screen.

Tiny Deaths – I’d love to see these short stories adapted into a series of TV programmes. They all focus on death as the subject, but are so wide-ranging and interesting. It’s also something I can see going beyond the book, with more writers and more stories.

It – Okay, this has already been adapted into a film. Both the book and the film were a huge part of my childhood. And guess what? I’ve always preferred the book. There is something in the book that the film just fails to capture (as most book-to-film adaptations do). From my youth i’ve always wanted to write a screenplay for a new adaptation, ergo, it makes my list.

Plugged – This book in another that I can so easily see working well as a film. It’s not got a huge amount of depth to it, it’s a more typical action-driven story with some real characters and some interesting details and settings along the way. A classic action comedy.

Apartment 16 – Really now, I love the horror. This book has some great and varied aspects that could work so well on screen. Such creepy, subtle shiver down the spine moments, as well as some more straightforward gruesome creatures. And an apartment building setting; corridor after corridor, door after door, a slow creaking lift… it’s just perfect.

Apartment 16

APARTMENT 16 PBB.inddTitle: Apartment 16.

Author: Adam Nevill.

Summary: Some doors are better left closed…

In Barrington House, an upmarket block in London, there is an empty apartment. No one goes in and no one comes out, and it’s been that way for fifty years, until the night a watchman hears a disturbance after midnight and is drawn to investigate. What he experiences is enough to change his life forever.

A young American woman, Apryl, arrives at Barrington House. She’s been left an apartment by her mysterious Great Aunt Lillian who died in strange circumstances. Rumors claim Lillian was mad, but her diary suggests she was implicated in a horrific and inexplicable event decades ago.

Determined to learn something of this eccentric woman, Apryl begins to unravel the hidden story of Barrington House. She discovers that a transforming, evil force still inhabits the building, and that the doorway to Apartment 16 is a gateway to something altogether more terrifying…

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: This book had me hooked from the prologue. The setting of an old and fancy apartment block, at night, creepily empty, but never alone. The ominous apartment 16, in which no one lives and no one is allowed to enter, but from which noises can be heard. The atmosphere, the flashes of movement in mirrors and the oppressive darkness. This book delivered chills down my spine in every chapter… of the first third of the book. Too soon it started to drag a little. At first it was all suggestive and atmospheric, and much more effective before explanations started being revealed.

The narrative alternates between two complimentary stories. One of the night porter of the building, who allows himself to be sucked in and taken over by whatever mysteries are inside apartment 16. From this narrative we see the horrors of apartment 16, the afflictions. The second narrative is about a young woman who has inherited one of the apartments. She gets sucked into the mystery through the journals of her great aunt, and develops an irrational need to find out what exactly is happening in the building. In this narrative we find out what lead to the mystery and horror, the history and explanations. We see more of what is really happening than either of these two main characters.

Really, i found that as more of what was happening was explained, the less interested i became; the less thrilling the suspense became. We are told who, when and why… but the true motives and execution are left so vague it left me so uninterested. The owner of apartment 16 was a painter of graphically macabre art, and undoubtedly an unstable mind. He dabbled with “the occult” and opened up a “vortex” in his apartment, and when his neighbours had finally had enough of him, they threw him into it. And since then he’s been a ~presence~ within the building, making a racket, scaring people and making sure they can’t leave.

I liked the ominous empty flat, with its wind and far away voices; the sleep deprived night porter, with his grotesque visions and smoking habit; the American woman, with her inexplicable fear-tinged excitement; and the cranky old residents, with their attitudes and apparent ignorance. I liked what my imagination could do with that and the atmosphere the book evoked.

I did not like the painter-cum-presence, hell bent on revenge by condemning his adversaries to a long yet limited life. The revelation that that was all there was to the mystery was disappointing to me.

At once stage there was a point where everything the two main characters had experienced could have been rationally explained with each having some degree of a psychological condition, and was in fact heavily suggested throughout the book, by the characters themselves and those around them. I think i would have enjoyed the book more overall if this had been left as a possibility; if the end had been left open enough for the reader to decide if the bizarre things the characters experienced had actually happened, or if it was all in their imagination.

The most disappointing thing for me is the knowledge that i don’t want to reread this book. Knowing how it ends, knowing what everything means, i won’t be able to enjoy the chills the first third of this book gave me when i read it—it just won’t be scary any more.