Monday, October 31, 2016

THE TURN OF THE SCREW

Is it harder to scare people on the page than on the screen? I think so.  Especially if the screen is one in the dark theater. I can't recall ever jumping at something I read. More like a shiver down the back than a jump or scream.

What is the scariest book or story you ever read? I would choose TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James. It scared me as a kid. I like the ambiguity of the story. James wasn't fond of the typical ghost apparently.  Runnerup would be CUJO but I am scared of dogs anyway.

24 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

I think you have a point, Patti. You can't use the visual to scare people in novels the way you van in film. So you have to choose your words carefully.

George said...

I loved TURN OF THE SCREW! The Hitcockean element (ghosts? delusions?) makes the story scary and memorable. As an early reader, plenty of Poe stories scared me. Who wants to be buried alive??? And, when he's really on his game, Stephen King can be very scary like in SALEM'S LOT.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I adore SALEM'S LOT

Jerry House said...

The scariest thing I've ever read might be two pages inserted into Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novel GHOSTS. It's a chilly throwaway scene in an otherwise realistic police procedural, but it has stuck with me for years. Anyone who has read the book should know the scene I'm referring to.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Darn, now I will have to track it down.

Bill Crider said...

'SALEM'S LOT scared me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No horror novel is as scary as this election though.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Hated, hated, hated CUJO.

Scary? The scariest book I've read wasn't a horror novel or even fiction. It was HELTER SKELTER. I remember reading it late at night when Jackie was asleep and getting totally freaked out.

Actual "scary" fiction? Hmm. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD (because it was the first Lovecraft I read), SUMMER OF NIGHT (Dan Simmons), maybe some Richard Laymon.

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't read Turn of the Screw until I was an adult so it didn't have a great impact on me. Ghost story and The Haunting of Hill House are two that creeped me out.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE LOTTERY may be the scariest short story I ever read. Hill House is great too.

SteveHL said...

Would newspapers count? If so, coverage of this year's election.

SteveHL said...

Would newspapers count? If so, coverage of this year's election.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That would certainly rank as one of the scariest real life stories of all time.

J F Norris said...

AN ANCIENT EVIL by Paul Doherty, the only vampire novel that scared the bejesus out of me. I think because it's so callous. Many of the victims are children. The book gave me nightmares. I can count on the fingers of one hand the total number of books AND movies that have resulted in that dire (and rare) after effect.

Also, the stories I just read last week in THE LISTENER are some of the creepiest ghost stories I've read in a very long time. Want creepy monsters and frightening ghosts? Algernon Blackwood is for you.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have a collection from AB and it sits gathering dust. Maybe next year when the world is not so bleak. Or perhaps bleaker still.

Richard Robinson said...

It's easier to scare someone in the movies, because they can do a jump scare, which seems impossible to do in words on the page. But the building of anticipation and anxiety can be done on the page very well indeed. Shirley Jackson did it very well, as does Stephen King (some of the time), and others. One of the scariest things I've ever read is "The Father-Thing", a 1954 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick.

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

My 1st choice would be Mary Shelley's _Frankenstein_. The book beats the hell out of the movie versions. The terrible potential of science in the wrong hands is a morality tale that should scare every one of us.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Jeff-Agree with you on Helter Skelter which I have read multiple times.
Scariest fiction-The Terror by Dan Simmons
Richard-The Father Thing is a story that has stuck with me since I first read it in my teens.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Just thought of another book-A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan.

neer said...

Among short stories, I'll go for THE MONKEY'S PAW by W.W. JACOBS and THE FACE IN THE DARK by RUSKIN BOND. Thinking of them, ages after I read them, still gives me the shivers. As for novels, I think one of the scariest was ROSEMARY'S BABY by IRA LEVIN. It really is something.

neer said...

I love TURN OF THE SCREW because you can read it as one thing and then read it as completely another.

Rick said...

Another vote for 'Salem's Lot".
The book's scene with Hubie Marsten's body hanging in the room in Marsten House still scares me when I re-read it..
Also King's connected short story about a car breaking down in the now abandoned 'Salem's Lot, "One For The Road", scared me when I first read the scene of the little girl in the road who was "so cold".

Anonymous said...

I love THE TURN OF THE SCREW, but I don't think it "scared" me. On the other hand, the 1960 film adaptation, "The Innocents", is very scary indeed--in part because of the ambiguity: are there really evil ghosts trying to lure the children away or is it all in the governess's head?

I don't read much horror, but a short story by Peter Straub titled MR. CLUBB AND MR. CUFF gave me nightmares (it's very gory--nothing ambiguous there). And when I read THE EXORCIST in my teens, I had to sleep with the light on for a while.

Deb

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't read much either. I love a good ghost story but do not like gore. Hard to find that.