By Nadira Wicaksana
We all love a good cult fave, but what about our fave cults?
Forget “Midsommar” and “Hereditary.” Instead, consider Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” a short story first published in “The New Yorker” magazine in 1948 by the same author who penned “The Haunting of Hill House,” which served as the basis for a bone-chilling 10-episode Netflix original released last year.
I first read “The Lottery” in eighth grade, but it sends chills down my spine every time I even remember it exists. It’s that dark – just as black as the spot that a not-so-lucky member of a 300-person village will receive on their piece of paper.
Every single resident gets one during the village’s annual pre-harvest ritual – man and woman, young and old. The story is written with harrowing tension and increasing suspense – this is one lottery you may not want to win.
It’s perfect for a spooky Halloween horror story roundtable, or perhaps as an anecdote for your sociology or psychology class. Maybe afterward, you’ll look at your friends and family a little bit differently.
By Tom Maye
Exhilaration isn’t far from fear, and pop princess Kim Petras relishes that heart-pounding excitement in “Turn Off the Light Vol. 2,” her follow-up to last year’s “Turn Off the Light Vol. 1.”
A loving homage to candy-coated, horror-flick kitsch, the rising queen of camp doesn’t disappoint with this new experimental romp of an album. It’s a whirling, twirling haunted house ride you’ll want to go on again and again.
Songs such as “There Will Be Blood” and “Wrong Turn” show that high-energy Halloween bops can resurrect once more in a post-“Thriller” era. Petras has the vocals to carry the songs forward, the synthetic sensibilities to make them danceable, and spirited lyrics and delivery to keep them fierce and fun.
Autotune snobs may want to sit this one out. “Vol. 2” is a sugar rush of an album, and from the vocals to the beats, nothing in it has been spared from heavy processing.
But isn’t Petras’ unrestrained revelry what Halloween is all about? “Vol. 2” has all three in spades. Go on – if you dare follow the things that bump in the night, this album will surely have you in for a treat.
By Lizzy Stocks
Halloween’s quickly approaching, and it has come to my attention that many self-proclaimed horror buffs have never seen “Scream,” Wes Craven’s iconic ’90s slasher film.
Craven utilizes the horror genre’s typical plot structure, as the movie is set in a small town plagued by a knife-wielding serial killer disguised in a ghostface mask.
Lead actor Neve Campbell stars as Sidney Prescott, the movie’s heroine. Prescott must come to terms with her mother’s homicide from a year earlier, while also battling the deranged killer stalking her.
Craven transcends the stereotypical scary movie, as various characters wittily acknowledge classic slasher cliches occurring within the film, and Prescott’s predictable choices do not lead to an untimely demise.
The plot twist at the film’s conclusion will have audiences reassessing their suspicions of the murderer.
With the perfect blend of gore and humor, this flick transformed the horror genre as comedic relief and dramatic irony became slasher staples.
For any true horror buff, “Scream” will surely stand the test of time and is bound to leave you dead – with laughter, that is.
By Lauren Paolini
We’ve all read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven,” but this Halloween season, I urge you to dive a little deeper into the mind of Edgar Allen Poe. Considered by many to be the “father of horror,” Poe brought much attention to this genre with his famous poems and short stories.
Although most people who have read Poe can “quoth the raven,” the author’s dedication to spooky stories does not end there.
Of course, there is an array of Halloween-appropriate material by Poe. One of my favorite pieces is “Annabel Lee.”
The six-stanza poem begins as a love story that reels in the reader, then takes an unexpected turn. The rhyme scheme and repetition give this poem the songlike qualities that would be expected in a romance.
The content, however, goes far beyond a simple love letter.
Some readers may interpret the twist in the story as just a sad circumstance, but the speaker’s response and actions that follow give “Annabel Lee” that creepy factor that anyone celebrating Halloween would love to experience.
By Brennan Atkins
Arts & Features Editor
“The Witch” is a 2016 horror flick directed by Roger Eggers that brings the viewer to a horrific time period in New England’s history – the 1600s.
Witchcraft – and punishing innocent people for nothing more than superstition – is nothing new to cinema. Take “Häxan,” a 1922 film that explores similarly wicked topics.
Where “The Witch” shines is in the darkest of places – the woods.
A bleak wooden cabin is surrounded by a forest so dense, it’s almost reminiscent of a city wall. They’re completely cut off and alone from the rest of the world.
It’s seen as a new opportunity – a new home for the family. This quickly changes when the youngest child, an infant, suddenly vanishes under the daughter’s care.
This puts the family through a test of loyalty and morality that is captured flawlessly on screen.
The scenes at night are true nightmare fuel, as the idea of being completely alone with the context of the disappearing relative can’t be comforting.
I may be biased, as I live in Massachusetts, but seeing what looks like my backyard in some of these scenes makes it a tad more unsettling.
I’ll warn you – it’s not for the faint of heart.
By Ashley Wall
Risqué costumes, outlandish characters, and beloved songs compose the soul of this 1975 cult classic, directed by Jim Sharman.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” chronicles the journey of an engaged couple, Brad and Janet, who are stranded in a thunderstorm with a flat tire. As they seek shelter in the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the couple experiences bizarre interactions with characters such as a ghoulish butler, odd party-goers, and Frank-N-Furter’s latest experiment.
Not only can this extravagant film be enjoyed in the comforts of your own home, but it also has an extensive following of theatre companies who produce interactive showings with a live cast. Distinguished rituals for fans attending these shows include dressing as “Rocky Horror” characters, complete audience sing-alongs, and prop bags used to immerse attendees fully into the experience.
Although participation in a film-screening or live-cast experience may change depending on location, the film’s beloved soundtrack, composed of “Science Fiction, Double Feature,” “Time Warp,” and “Sweet Transvestite,” will always stay the same.
This Halloween season, I encourage you to check out a local showing. As Dr. Frank-N-Furter would say, “I see you shiver with antici…pation!”
By Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in Hell or are just interested in the mythology of the punishments that take place there, you owe it to yourself to see Nobuo Nakagawa’s 1960 film, “Jigoku” (“Hell”).
This movie is not for the faint-hearted – people are killed left and right, and lecherous activity creeps throughout Tokyo, where the film is set. There is no shortage of blood, revenge plots, or mercilessness on behalf of Nakagawa – one needs a clear mind and a tough disposition to get through it all, especially the later sections of the film.
“Jigoku” reminds the audience that while there may be monsters in Hell, monsters lurk on the Earth’s surface in the form of man, and the power of guilt and the desires of man can lead to great harm for many people – harm that can, oftentimes, prove itself fatal.
If you’re into watching sinners get burned eternally or into second act-induced mood whiplashes, or if you’re just in it for the gorgeous shots and surreal cinematography, you need to step into “Jigoku.”
By Sara Senesac and Liam Gambon
Before there was “High School Musical,” there was “Hocus Pocus.”
Kenny Ortega brought us this cultural phenomenon in 1993, years before slapping Disney to pieces with Troy Bolton and the East High Wildcats.
The movie follows Max “A Virgin” Dennison, his little sister Dani, and his unattainable crush Allison as they run around Salem after accidentally resurrecting three witches 300 years after they were hanged.
The witches – better known as the Sanderson sisters – have a hard time adjusting to the 20th century when they realize Halloween has become a holiday where children run around in costumes and eat candy.
The sisters remain youthful by stealing the souls of children, so they devise a plot to lure all of Salem’s young to their doorstep through hypnotism.
Max, his posse, and the talking black cat, Thackery Binx, spend their night trying to foil the witches’ plan and destroy them once again.
When “Hocus Pocus” was first released, it was not actually well-liked. Now, it’s hard to imagine a Halloween without watching it six times a day on Freeform.
If you’ve never seen this movie, you probably live under a rock, but you should definitely add it to your spooky movie playlist this Halloween.
It’s funny, scary, and musical gold, but more importantly, it has a very significant takeaway message – even a virgin can still save the day.