On the 31st of October we celebrate Halloween. Also known as Hallowe'en; All Hallow's Eve; Allhalloween and All Saint's Eve. Although not everybody recognises this contentious holiday, I will celebrate by scaring myself to death with a selection of horror films.
Spooky Halloween Day - Wednesday 31 October 3.30pm to 5pm Christchurch City Libraries is holding Spooky Halloween Day at two library branches- Shirley Library and Linwood Library. Come along dressed in your scariest costume and enjoy a spooky Storytimes, competitions, crafts and more.
Ferrymead's Hall of Doom and Raise the Dead Rave - Further afield, for the Young Adults (over 16) there is the intriguing sounding Hall of Doom and Raise the Dead Rave at Ferrymead Heritage Park, featuring 'DJ Spinal,' if that is your thing.
Ferrymead's Family Trick or Treat - and there is the slightly more family friendly sounding Family Trick or Treat event, also held at Ferrymead Heritage Park in conjunction with Plunket.
I have not always been a Halloween advocate. Growing up in a religious household, I did not have the option of observing Halloween as an event, nor was I allowed to watch anything resembling a horror film. Now that I've flown the nest and am free to make my own traditions, I am pleased to say that Halloween is cemented on my calendar as an important day of the year.
So maybe there is a correlation: for some time now, whenever we dare to discuss our future, my husband has envisioned us buying a lifestyle block somewhere out in the countryside, perhaps halfway to the alps, miles from the neighbours in isolated bliss. I resist this dream fervently. My very legitimate reasons include:
- My penchant for horror films and true crime
- Still being scared of the dark and don't like being home alone as it is
- Nobody would be around to hear me scream should I be being murdered.
His argument is that should I scream for help in the centre of suburbia, it is likely nobody would come to help anyway. Probably true. But it is psychological terror which prevents me from contemplating a life more than a stone's throw away from civilization.
Yet despite being afraid of the dark, of potential murderers and of being home alone, I continue to love and watch horror films of all varieties. I have seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre about five times, and have suffered through all sequences of Paranormal Activity.
The latest horror I have seen was the recent film A Quiet Place directed by John Krasinski (remember Jim Halpert from The Office?). This film is set post-apocalypse and follows a family through their struggle to survive in a landscape featuring monsters who hunt by sound (the slightest of sounds). To avoid being eaten the family are forced to live in silence and communicate through sign language. Unfortunately, I watched A Quiet Place in a cinema full of people munching popcorn and chatting away as though they were in their own living room- did ruin the effect somewhat, but the good news is that the library have acquired a copy.
Keep your goosebumps well activated this Halloween and browse our abundant horror film collection.
Check out Dan's selection of Halloween music.
Sometimes reading about it can be every bit as horrid as watching it. Horror books tend to be atmospheric, tension building page-turners. Just like other genres of fiction, they come in all sorts; gory, gothic, psychological, apocalyptic, supernatural, fantasy/sci-fi based, filled with monsters...the common thread being that they are designed to scare the daylights out of you. In honour of Halloween here are some starter ideas. Just in case you feel you've been getting a bit too much sleep.
And if you need more you can consult our brand new Horror fiction genre guide.
Brutal, gory serial killer novel. If you've seen the film by the same name, you'll know that pop culture loving, suit-and-tie wearing Patrick Bateman is anything but a respectable businessman. Disturbing, violent, and written in the first-person narrative - you really get to go inside the head of this particular sadist.
House of Leaves has inspired a cult-like following, and for good reason. It is based upon an intriguing and original premise; "a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside." The story is intricate and complex, and will appeal if you enjoy a shot of literary fiction with your horror. Reads much like a documentary, and if you like found footage films, may find this to hit the spot.
If you're more into the supernatural, 'Amityville Horror' type (which has thankfully been proven, beyond a doubt, to be a scam), then 'The Haunting of Hill House' is a must read classic. Atmospheric, creepy and menacing, 'The Haunting of House Hill' will have leave you paranoid, wary of lurking ghosts at every turn.
A list of horror books would simply not be complete without a nod to the [Stephen] King of horror. 'It' certainly fits the terrifying bill: child murder and a supernatural killer clown secures that.
This post-apocalyptic horror book is full of suspense and features Medusa like 'look-at-me-and-you-die' creatures. Just do open your eyes, unless you're listening to the audio book version.
Sometimes the horrors that really get under your skin are those which hark to a potential reality. Personally, I've never been excessively freaked by things that I know (hope) don't exist - the undead, ghosts, demons, monsters and the like. Home invasion? That will keep me up at night. 'Endless Night' will turn your nights into exactly that, as you follow the experiences of a sixteen year old girl at a sleepover turned murder-fest. Fast-paced and action packed. On a gore scale from Brother's Grimm to Rob Zombie, this rates closer to the latter.
Ah yes, a Scandinavian horror. The Scandinavians do the darkness and the bleakness extraordinary well, after all. This book, in summation: dark, creepy, vampires. But don't run at the mention of vampires: 'Let the Right One in' would make Stephanie Meyer shake in her pretty boots.
'Something Wicked This Way Comes' marries two of my favourite things to find in a book: fantasy and horror, and is a classic of the genre.
'The Chalk Man.' Children, stick figures and dismembered bodies. No more said. This is one tale sure to traumatise.
For the kids: settle in for a reading marathon of Goosebumps by R.L. Stine.
Fear vs. Phobia
As Halloween approaches, the fake spider phenomena is really setting me on edge. But is my fear really a phobia in disguise, and can it be controlled or even conquered? According to the website of the NHS (UK):
[Phobias] develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.
Although the humble wee jumping spider might not take me down Shelob style, it may certainly send me screaming from the room. And arachnophobic librarians like me will understand that moment of primal terror directly following the unwitting retrieval of a book from the returns bin, whose front cover illustration happens to be the unspeakable, hairy, eight-legged object of mortification. And since we're going there, I can't help but recall the awful, PTSD inducing squashed-whitetail-between-the-cookbooks incident of 2017. Why people.
But life would be a little easier if I didn't have to run from the room every time a spider scurried into my line of sight. Whilst it can be very difficult (and perhaps, folly) to get over your quite rational fears, it is definitely possible to conquer your phobias. Sadly one of the most effective methods is not particularly pleasant, and involves getting ever closer and more personal with the very thing you fear, in a form of therapy known as exposure. Here is a video showing the use of augmented reality as a technique to perform exposure therapy, to treat a spider phobia. This was part of research conducted at the University of Canterbury's Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ), in 2012.
Take that, phobia.
If you would like help getting over your phobia, there are lots of great resources to get you started. Check out:
- Health and Medicine eResources - on our website. For authoritative information, studies and resources on a whole host of health related issues.
- HealthInfo Canterbury - a great website written specifically for Canterbury residents, by nurses and doctors. A good place to go for reliable, regional specific advice, resources and general health info.
- Health Navigator New Zealand - Health Navigator NZ is a New Zealand focused charitable trust endorsed by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners- so you know you're getting reliable information.
- CINCH: Community Information Christchurch - our Christchurch information directory, find health local health related services here.
- Any Questions/Many Answers - a website run by New Zealand librarians. Contains links and guidance on resources with information aimed at New Zealand school-aged students.
Join me and feel the terror. Wishing you a horrendous and hellish Halloween.