Schuppel’s Scoop: horror favorites for Halloween


Claire Schuppel/Alamy Stock Photo

Claire Schuppel writes about her favorite entries in the horror genre.

Claire Schuppel, Arts & Life Editor

For most of my life, I took few risks with the media I consumed. Some switches in my brain flipped in recent years and I made a monumental discovery: horror rules! I’m not talking gimmicky, jump-scare-ridden movies – I go to the classics. So, in honor of Halloween approaching, here are some of my favorite entries across the horror genre.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I was raised by two massive Stephen King fans, yet I had not read any of his novels until this year when I picked up “‘Salem’s Lot.” I was hooked from the start.

“‘Salem’s Lot” is a classic in the horror genre. It follows Ben Mears, a young author briefly residing in a town he spent a few childhood years living in, Jerusalem’s Lot. He seeks to write about the Marsten House, which has a rich, disturbing history that has haunted him for life. Upon investigation, Mears discovers a supernatural force is slowly taking over the town: vampires.

Like all of King’s work, each detail of the story is fully fleshed out and the reader feels like a resident of Jerusalem’s Lot by the end. Considering this was only his second novel (following “Carrie”), “‘Salem’s Lot” is beyond impressive in its creativity, establishing King as one of the greats so early in his career. Like many of his works, the density of the story makes it hard to adapt into a film or television show, so reading it is the optimal – and scariest – experience. 

Donnie Darko (2001)

“Donnie Darko” graced my life for the first time early in high school and it was fundamental in my early movie adventuring days. More recently, I had the pleasure of viewing the film in theaters with Campus Editor, Grace Sherban, and it felt like a wonderful full-circle moment. Some categorize the movie as sci-fi, some psychological thriller, some horror, but I think it touches on each area well.

Donnie is a troubled teenager with a mix of behavioral problems and what his therapist believes is schizophrenia. As the story unravels and we learn more about Donnie’s fascination with time travel, the jumbled puzzle starts to make more sense. It is just as humorous as it is thrilling and frightening. 

The excellent story is complimented by its superb talent featuring a young Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character. He is supported by Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Katharine Ross and many others. Plus, this has my all-time favorite soundtrack to a movie, featuring Tears For Fears, Echo & the Bunnymen and more. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

The poster for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” (Wikipedia)

If you want to experience an absolutely wild ride of horrific imagery, look no further than “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” a remake of a 1956 film of the same name. For those who enjoy John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” this is another stellar movie with gruesome special effects that send a chill down your spine.

A plague spreads around a town, slowly replacing human bodies with an identical copy; they become shells, with all previous personality gone and their original bodies disposed of. The main characters discover one of their own has been replaced, so they attempt to fend for themselves against the otherworldly invaders. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has one of the best endings ever, so that is reason enough to watch the movie.

The cast stars Donald Sutherland, who is always an exceptional leading man, alongside a very young Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nimoy. The story is complex and existential; they were all able to match the dynamic shifts well.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

Netflix’s limited series “The Haunting of Hill House” is simultaneously horrifying and quite profound in its themes. It is a loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name. This is a show that I cannot praise enough as it has had a lasting impact on me since I watched it.

The story is centered around the Crain family’s individual experiences growing up in an ominous mansion similar to that of “‘Salem’s Lot.” We see flashbacks of the four children in the home as their grown-up selves tell the stories of the past. The audience learns alongside the family as they piece together the unusual aspects of the home. The central theme of how a family handles grief is poignant and can resonate with audiences universally.

While the show does use a few jumpscares, the real horror comes from the background ghosts that linger in many of the scenes. It is exhilarating for some to spot them in a quick sweeping glance and is similar to films like “Hereditary” with its easter eggs. If you are anything like me, looking through your fingers is the ideal viewing method.

Creator Mike Flanagan has become a leader in the modern horror genre with “Hill House,” along with “Midnight Mass,” “The Haunting of Bly Manner,” “Hush” and the highly anticipated adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” His body of work is perfect for the Halloween season, just make sure you have a box of tissues at arm’s length.

These are just a few of the stand-out pieces I have seen in my horror journey thus far. Some honorable mentions are “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” by Iain Reed, “The Wolf Man” (1941), “The Omen” (1976) and “The Exorcist” (1973). There is no better time to indulge in horror than the Halloween season, so turn off the lights (or turn them all on in my case) and enjoy!