My Halloween Recommendations: Spook Packages

October is here, which means the time is nigh. Halloween has begun to cast its spell, and if you’re like me, your entertainment tastes begin veering toward the spooky. (Okay, even more than usual.) People are always asking me for recommendations – which I love – so I thought I’d put together some “packages” for various tastes. Obviously, these are recommended packages. I’m not actually selling anything. I’m afraid you’ll have to track these down on your own, which is why I’m posting this early. You still have plenty of time to get your claws hands on these before the big night!

Each package includes a novel, movie, short story, and poem. As much as possible, I chose pieces that I personally enjoyed. For a lovely build up to Halloween, I’d suggest starting the novel soon, reading the short story the week of Halloween, and then watching the movie and reading the poem aloud on Halloween night.

Photo by Nomadic Lass.

Mix and match to your liking. Or if you’re really ambitious, try them all!

The Classics Package

Not much of a horror buff? Or maybe you are and are just behind on catching up with the classics? I’ve got you covered.

novel: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

movie: Halloween, 1978 directed by John Carpenter

short story: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

poem: “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

bonus: Psycho (movie), 1960 directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Scary Package, for Dabblers

For those who truly like to be scared but are just starting out.

novel: The Shining by Stephen King

movie: The Exorcist, 1973 directed by William Friedkin

short story: “The Rats in the Walls” by H.P. Lovecraft

poem: “Scarcely Caged” by yours truly

bonus: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (novel)

Scary Package, for Connoisseurs

For those who truly like to be scared and have advanced tastes.

novel: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

movie: Eraserhead, 1977 directed by David Lynch (I’m sorry.)

short story: “Some Pictures in an Album” by Gary McMahon

poem: “The Listeners” by Walter De La Mare

bonus: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (novel)

Family Night Package

Obviously, your mileage may vary based on the age of your kids and how easily they get nightmares. But in general, these are picks that are safe for most. And no kids required! I won’t tell if you won’t. 😉

novel: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

movie: The Adam’s Family, 1991 directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

short story: “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

poem: “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley

bonus: Are You Afraid of the Dark? 1991-2000 created for Nickelodeon (TV show)

Zombie Package

Can’t get enough of the trendiest of undead? Brains galore.

novel: Blood Crazy by Simon Clark

movie: 28 Days Later, 2002 directed by Danny Boyle

short story: “Dead Song” by Jay Wilburn

poem: “To Walk Again” by yours truly

bonus: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (novel)

Vampire Package

Prefer your undead pale and clever? Sink your fangs into these.

novel: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

movie: The Lost Boys, 1987 directed by Joel Schumacher

short story: “The Vampyre” by John Polidori

poem: “Lamia” by John Keats

bonus: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (novel)


There you have it. That should be enough good stuff to keep you looking over your shoulder through the 31st. Have your own recommendation to add? Please share in the comments!

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  • Steven Richards

    Wow! I’m printing this list out. Something for everyone. Now let’s see, what mood am I in this October…

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    You are SO clever, Annie. I’d have to take the “Dabbler” package … though maybe you should have included a “newbie” package as well, as I may fit better there than anywhere. I have to say: you’ve totally piqued my interest. I love this (and your excitement about the season!)

    • Thanks Melissa! The Dabbler kind of is the “newbie” package, so long as you like to be scared. If you’re not into that, then the Family Night pack is another good option for newbies. 🙂

  • Cynthia Robertson

    What a cute idea! (not to mention useful) Great lists.

    What are the novels House of Leaves and The Girl Next Door about, Annie? (Guess I can Google ’em. 🙂 )

    • Thanks Cynthia! House of Leaves is an intellectual beast of a novel. Very literary psychological horror. I have a post about it here: The Girl Next Door is extremely graphic realistic horror based on a true story. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you afraid for the sake of humanity. Both of them are very much so not for everyone, which is why I shelved them under “connoisseurs” instead of “dabblers.” But they’re both excellent in their own ways!

  • Carie Juettner

    Excellent list! It really needs no revisions, but I’ll add a personal favorite to each category. Novel for the kids: Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp, 1969. Short Story: The Landlady by Roald Dahl. Movie: The Fog, 1980, directed by John Carpenter. Some say it’s cheesy, but that creepy music gets me every time.

    • Hi Carie! You know, I’ve never seen The Fog. I loooove old classic movies like that, so it’s definitely on my list, but sometimes they’re tricky to get ahold of. I’m going to bump it up my list this year. Thanks for the recommendations!

      • Carie Juettner

        Yes, they ARE difficult to find! I have started just purchasing the favorites I can’t find on Netflix or Red Box. Want to borrow my DVD of The Fog? Maybe we can start a horror movie exchange program. 😉

        • That’s so sweet, but luckily my local library has it. So I will be watching that one this month! I can’t wait. 🙂 Thanks again for the tip!

        • The Fog was a blast! Thanks so much for that recommendation!!

          • Carie Juettner

            I’m glad you enjoyed it! You’ll never look at a dense fog advisory the same way again.

  • jclementwall

    Think I’m going to do your zombie or vampire package. And… why Eraserhead? (Shudders, and not in a good way.)

    • I don’t know. It’s a weird compulsion. I guess it effected me so deeply that I feel the need to force that trauma onto others? I have no excuse.

      I vote for zombie package! I think you might love The Forest of Hands and Teeth, j! It’s gothic YA zombies, female protag.

  • Julia Munroe Martin

    I had to read this with squinty eyes (yes, I’m a wimp… didn’t see that package, haha), but I always hope around this time of year that I’ll be brave enough to watch, read, listen to spooky stuff. I’m thinking Washington Irving may be my safest bet…and I’ll def. be sharing this list with my braver half!

    • Hehe, that’s cute! I guess a wimp package would have been good; I sort of mixed them in. The Adam’s Family would be a good bet; it’s not scary at all. In fact, it’s very funny. The Lost Boys isn’t really scary either; it’s more campy and fun with an edge of cool. And most of the movies they play on ABC Family are probably pretty un-scary too, I would think!

  • I’ll have to pick and choose between lists, because I’ve literally read or watched something in each of them. I guess I’m a bit more of a connoisseur than I thought? But I’ve somehow never seen Halloween, so I definitely need to fix that this year. Now if I could just get my husband to watch horror movies with me…

    • …then you should tell me what tricks you used, because I can’t get mine to either. He loves zombie movies, but that’s the only horror he’s interested in (besides mine, because he’s sweet like that). The fact that you’ve seen/read so many of these makes my heart happy! Mixing and matching is great. I hope you like Halloween. It’s truly a classic in the slasher genre, and super fun!