If you're anything like me, you like the idea of reading horror & watching scary movies more than you like actually doing it. I want to be scared but not so much that I lay awake at night, waiting for a demon to snatch me out of my bed.
When it comes to reading horror, therefore, I stick to reading those books written for a slightly younger crowd - I've realized that scary books written for teens & young adults are just what I wanted.
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is a zombie book, & the most telling review I've seen is by Publishers' Weekly, describing it as "The Breakfast Club, George Romero style". Truer words have never been spoken, & there's hardly more I can say about the content of the book to prepare you for this page-turning story. There's not much zombie-fighting violence, it's mostly a look at how six teenagers would handle being cooped up together in a closed space for weeks, scared for their lives, mourning the loss of their loved ones & the life they once knew, surrounded by people who aren't their friends. Yet somehow, it's a heart-pounding read. I needed to keep reading, I needed to know how these young people were going to survive.
Despite my next horror pick being another zombie book, I'm not normally a reader of this genre, but Ashes by Ilsa Bick is not a book I can skip mentioning. It's quite a different story from This is Not a Test, & the first moment that a flesh-eating human makes an appearance took me by surprise & kept me on edge for the rest of the book. Any unexpected movement or noise from another person in the room made me jump or yelp out loud while I was reading, & if you're a fan of a cliffhanger ending, you can't get much better than Ashes. The sequel - Shadows - comes out in late September this year.
Last year's Lone Star reading list had quite a horror gem on it - The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey. After finishing it, I told people I didn't like it; it was just so gruesome. But it was one that stuck with me, & the more I thought about it & the more I talked about it with other people, I found myself defending it & then I had to admit to myself - The Monstrumologist is an awesome book. Yancey has an interesting way to make you afraid in this story of man-eating monsters & monster hunting, & it's to tell you exactly what's going to happen next & then take his time drawing out the details.
When it comes to scary movies, I don't like seeing people tortured & I don't want extremely realistic violence. I like the scary stuff to be off-screen because whatever scary thing I'm imagining in my head is probably a lot scarier than something a director can conjure up. Rosemary's Baby & the first Paranormal Activity are great examples.
Conversely, I like special effects that aren't purely CGI; the practical special effects in 80s movies are really fun like in Ghostbusters (I remember being scared senseless watching it as a kid. It's a wonder I was willing to become a librarian after watching the first few scenes in that movie so many times). I'm a fairly recent convert to watching cult-horror films thanks mostly to Terror Tuesday at Alamo Drafthouse & the podcast Junk Food Dinner, & many of the movies they feature have those wonderful special effects I find so delightful. (For one of my favorite episodes of Junk Food Dinner, click the image below.)
I wasn't allowed to watch scary movies as a kid (Ghostbusters was pretty much it for me), so I missed out on all of the early slasher movies, but I've been told that the movie Scream is an excellent homage to those predecessors, & it's one that has inspired me to go back & watch some of the classics from this genre.
And then I like funny movies parading around as scary movies, especially in Shaun of the Dead. (My other favorite scary movie spoofs are the Halloween episodes from the television show Community.)
So now you have a great starting place for a really wimpy but really fun Friday the 13th!