Do you want horror for Halloween? Critics choose music, books, games and more to help Culture

Movie

Forget slasher movies – the essential Halloween movie is Frank Capra’s 1944 comedy Arsenic and Old Blonde, which takes place on a Halloween night in Brooklyn in a spooky old house next to a cemetery. Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic who on his wedding day discovers that his sweet old virgin aunts are in fact serial killers with corpses stacked up in their basement. Then his long-lost brother appears – also a serial killer, with the same body number as the old ladies, and who to avoid capture has had a plastic surgery, which makes him look like the horror icon Boris Karloff (played by Raymond Massey – Karloff played the role of the Broadway version). It has to be the most meta-event in Hollywood history. A pretty creepy October 31st. Peter Bradshaw


Television

American Horror Story: Double Feature.
Something Bad … American Horror Story: Double Feature. Photo: FX

Nothing is as intimidating as intimacy, easily twisted. American Horror Story: Double Feature (Disney +), Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s latest in their anthology series embrace this principle, extracting horror from generic 20th century American mythologies via separate but gradually intertwined story lines. The first part is about a writer who fights a block of writers who tries to free his muse while staying in a coastal town, where a picturesque veneer hides an unspeakable evil. The other dives into a world of aliens and American politics – certainly the most frightening world of all. The great thing about drawing on events that have been marinated in conspiracy theories is that they have already acquired an almost fictional quality: This year’s Halloween horror is knowing that horror is all around you. Phil Harrison


Game

Quest costume.
Child fendly… Costume Quest. Photo: Midnight City

There are hundreds of great horror games out there, and you can see amplified teens screaming over any of them on YouTube, but none of them remind you of what it was like to be a kid for Halloween. Costume Quest plays a bunch of little kids who put on costumes to fight horror, collect candy and rescue a kidnapped sibling. Likewise MacDonald


Books

Shirley Jacksons The Haunting of Hill House

Is there a more deliciously frightening moment in all literature than this, in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House? Eleanor lies in bed in the “black darkness” and hugs her friend Theodora’s hand while they listen to crazy, wild panic cries at night – and then the light comes on, and Eleanor sees Theodora across the room: “Good God – whose hand I held ? ” This 1959 novel is the ultimate ghost story that has never gotten better, and tells the story of anthropologist Dr. Montague as he examines an allegedly haunted house – “somehow transformed an insane juxtaposition, a badly twisted angle, a random encounter between roof and sky, Hill House to a place of despair ”- together with three recruits. As Jackson shows with a cool sheen, people can be as haunted as the house. Alison Flood


music

She wolf… Shakira.
Hungry as the wolf … Shakira. Photo: Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Although not specifically written for Halloween, She Wolf sees Colombian legend Shakira thrive and writhe in immaculate synth pop form, her vocals dancing with the spirit of all the big randomly spooky tunes – campy, vaguely ridiculous, but undisputedly throbbing in the right openness- minded party environment. Has the word “lycanthropy” ever been used better in a pop song? Has it ever been used at all? With the theme of big genre-adjacent Halloween hits, this dedication to one’s inner wild side can be archived alongside Nelly Furtados Maneater and Kelis’ Trick Me – emblems from a time when pop production began to fully embrace the fun of all the dark. Jenessa Williams

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