by Steve Guntli
Embrace your dark side this Halloween with a creepy book, CD and movie that may not have been on your radar.
“The Girl With All the Gifts” (2014)
By M.R. Carey
With “The Girl With All the Gifts,” author M.R. Carey pulls off something I thought was impossible at this point: He found a fresh and original way to tell a zombie story.
The story is a bold retelling of the Greek myth of Pandora, the story of the curious girl who unwittingly released all of the evil into the world.
The novel incorporates tried-and-true genre elements (post-apocalyptic bunkers, roving hoards of undead, creepy monster children), but assembles them into something that feels dangerous, exciting and new.
It’s a smart and genuinely scary read, but Carey is also able to generate real empathy for his characters. There’s a vital, beating human heart at the center of all the horror.
“Let the Right One In” (2008)
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Spare, simple and elegant, this Swedish import is the perfect vampire movie for people who are sick to death of vampire movies.
The film does away with all but the very basic tenets of vampire mythology, instead focusing on the burgeoning friendship between Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a shy, bullied 12-year-old boy, and Eli (Lina Leandersson), a mysterious, centuries-old vampire girl.
The logistical problems of an enduring friendship between a human boy and an immortal creature form the tragic core of the story. It’s a nuanced, heartbreaking exploration of loneliness that happens to function as an exceptional horror film; perhaps the best of the last decade. (“Let Me In,” the 2010 American remake, is surprisingly good, as well.)
By Tom Waits
This may be a bit of a cheat, because this album isn’t really scary in a traditional sense, but no other songwriter in American history has portrayed the grotesque as beautifully as Tom Waits.
Waits has always excelled at celebrating people on the fringe, who find love and hope and beauty in the weirdest and most desperate of places. Some of the tracks on “Mule Variations” lean into the weirdness to absurd, infectious levels (“Eyeball Kid” and “Filipino Box Spring Hog”), while others find a melancholy edge that cuts right to the core (“Pony,” “Hold On” and “Georgia Lee”).
The best track on the album is “What’s He Building In There,” a vivid, unsettling portrayal of creeping paranoia and dread that only Waits could pull off. The spoken-word song makes effective use of Waits’ signature, 10-pack-a-day growl, and depicts a voyeur obsessing over his neighbor’s suspicious activities that may all be in the narrator’s head.
Each of these titles is available through the Blaine Public Library. To reserve a copy, visit the local branch or go online to wcls.org.