Needless to say, bookshelfbattle.com ‘s month long celebration of Halloweenish Literature would not be complete without adding Steven King, the Master of Modern Horror Fiction, into the mix. In no particular order, here are five of what I believe to be the prolific author’s scariest works:
1) The Shining - Am I wrong or can everyone agree that this is King’s central masterpiece? The movie version, in which a stir-crazy Jack Nicholson shouts, “Here’s Johnny!” as he puts his face up to a hole in a door he just wacked open with an axe has to be one of the scariest scenes Hollywood has ever produced. King recently came out with a sequel, Doctor Sleep. I haven’t read it but reviews have been positive. In conclusion – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Redrum! Redrum!
2) Misery – I put this one high up on the list for a reason. Most of King’s works have a supernatural element. Danny Torrance, the little boy from The Shining, for example, had special powers that saved the day when his father lost his marbles. The plot of Misery on the other hand, has no otherworldly occurrences and though unlikely, could possibly happen. A famous author drives has a car accident due to snowy road conditions. “His number one fan,” Annie the Nurse, finds him, drags him home, and nurses him back to health. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. Turns out Annie’s psychotic and she holds the writer hostage, doing everything she can to keep him from leaving. She drugs him, and at one point even hobbles him. Forget every CGI fake special effects laden movie monster you have ever seen. One of the scariest moments of movie history is when Kathy Bates (who plays Annie in the film version opposite James Caan who plays the writer) hobbles her “guest” by putting a wooden block between his ankles and striking his feet with a sledge hammer. “Cock-a-doody-poopy!”
3) Carrie – Awkward girl abused by crazy mother gets made fun of one too many times. When the cool kids dump a bucket of pigs’ blood on her at the prom, she loses all control of her eerie superpowers and unleashes them. Yeah, I suppose everyone has experienced abuse at the hand of a bully at one point or another while growing up, but maybe Carrie could have just let them off easy and used her powers to give them all wedgies? There have been two remakes as far as I recall but none beats the original film version starring Sissy Spacek.
4) Christine – Car gets possessed by a ghost. Teenage car owner goes crazy. Disturbing shenanigans ensue. Moral of the story- always check the Carfax.
5) Cujo – Again, like Misery, I put this in King’s “scarier because it could potentially happen” column. As scary as Christine may be, it is highly unlikely that your used car is possessed by a ghost. It may be possessed by a million petrified french fries under the back seat, but not a malevolent spirit. The plot of Cujo, on the other hand, is entirely possible – actually, more possible than Misery. The whole story centers around a mechanic’s rabid dog, Cujo. Donna Trenton and her son, Tad, go to the home of local mechanic Joe looking for some car repairs. Cujo, once a mild-mannered St. Bernard, has developed a nasty case of rabies from a bat bite, and much to the Trentons’ chagrin, has killed Joe. Cujo traps Donna and Tad in their car, which fails to start (it was there for repairs, after all!) and the majority of the novel centers around Donna protecting Tad while they are trapped in the car and essentially held hostage by a ravenous canine. Say what you want, but rabid dogs do exist and to me, they’re a hundred times scarier than say, non-existent zombies that drag their feet and go, “Ergh!” and “Argh!”
Did I miss one of your favorite Steven King novels? Feel free to post it below: