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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 27, 2008 @ 11:44 am

    Horror, and the week that’s in it

    Fiona McCann

    It’s that scary time of year again, and I’m musing on my favourite horror stories and films. What is it that makes fiction frightening? Personal bookish favourites include Frankenstein (not for the horror factor, but for its compelling human sympathy) and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (the terror of the uncontrollable within). A course in university on Gothic fiction taught us to read it from a psychoanalytical perspective, which was a fascinating process that only served to augment and internalise the fright therein.

    When it comes to fictional fear-merchants, I should point out that I have always been embarrassingly easily scared, and was forbidden to watch even the Incredible Hulk due to the post-TV show nightmares induced even when my own younger sister found it perfectly palatable. I’ve been petrified by The 39 Steps, King Kong and even the Boys from Brazil over the course of my youth, so eschewed a lot of the grimmer stuff that was terrifying my peers (Poltergeist etc). As an adult, however, I’m about ready to push the fear boundaries again and, while I’ve been freaked by the Red Rumming kid in the Shining, I did manage a full night’s sleep afterwards.

    With this in mind, I’d appreciate any recommendations of scarey fiction – on the page or screen – to get me in the Hallowe’en spirit.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      William Peter Blatty’s Legion the story is quite unnerving (I foolishly read it in a single sitting on a winter’s Saturday in a cold student house alone, finishing it about 4am. Not good) and though in retrospect for the scary bits it would seem to hint at a scientific reconciliation with religion.

      The film version is called Exorcist III. It’s not at all like most modern horror as it’s primarily about atmosphere and sparkling, prickly dialogue. And it has George C. Scott providing a template for grumpy old cops the world over. He also comes to hate a carp. Yep, carp.

    • I am also v easily scared. Can’t watch anything violent or horror filled. I read one Stephen King novel and still can’t sleep over it (20 years later). Pet Cemetary. Urgh…

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