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Autumn Of Terror: Classic Horror Novels

By @hmsbeefnuts

Autumn of Terror keeps on trucking like that big truck from Duel,down the highway of October. Only stopping once a day to deposit a blog and then ever onwards to November. Todays blog takes us back before there was electronic entertainment, before movies, before video games, when people had to read books in order to be transported to different worlds, that, or visit the local Opium Den. Anyway, this intro has become mired in awkward metaphor and strange references. Today, I hope you will enjoy my list of Classic Horror novels that have thrilled and inspired readers for hundreds of years, so lets get our book on shall we?

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I guess this would be the big one, the one most people will know, but it was not the first, and for my money, not the best on this list. Dracula is however, a fantastic read. I have read this book a few times and it always draws me in. If you have never read it, but have seen the numerous movies etc. I would definitely recommend reading the original, as it might be quite different to what you are expecting. Written as a series of journal entries and letters, from different perspectives, the story of the Transylvanian Vampire, who seeks a new home in Britain, and runs afoul of his greatest nemesis Professor Van Helsing, is a stone cold classic gothic horror novel. Sexy, scary, exciting, this book runs at a breakneck pace, particularly at the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it, and why not read it again, if you already have, it’s almost Halloween after all.

Frankenstein; Or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Written during a ghost story contest whilst on holiday with her husband and Lord Byron, Mary Shelley clearly beat both men hands down when it came to hugely successful gothic horror behemoths. The tale of a scientist who wants to create life in his own unique style, Frankenstein is a classic of the horror genre. I will be honest and say that I didn’t initially like this book on the first read, but I gave it another chance, and it clicked for me. I think what I found off-putting at first was it was quite a bit different to what I had imagined it would be from all the films based on the book, I had watched. In the novel, Adam, or the monster, is not a shuffling moaning monster, as in the Universal films, but a scheming and intelligent threat to his creator. The novel may be seen as quite tame now, but must have been very controversial at the time. There are few novels more gothic-y than Frankenstein, and as such, it should be enjoyed on a cold, dark autumn night, whilst the wind blows and the rain pours, next to a roaring fire, in a grand drawing-room.

(The) Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This was the first novel on this list that I read, when I was around 9 I think. It scared me, especially the cover of my copy which I could not find, but the painting of a simian looking man, in top hat and cane spotlighted in moonlight. The book itself is the tale of a good scientist who wants to release mans potential, but ends up unleashing mans animalistic murderous side. I suppose the scariest aspect of this novel is the suggestion that everyone has the potential to unleash the scary brutish nature that normally we keep to ourselves, just look at Dr Bruce Banner.

The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My personal favourite book on this list, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been read and re-read by me countless times. There is just something about this story that I can’t get enough of. The story concerns the recent death of a Devonshire Lord, seemingly at the hands of a spectral hound, when the new Lord of the manor arrives to take up residence in Baskerville Hall, Sherlock Holmes is called in to offer advice and protection from the hell hound, or other evil forces. I do love detective fiction, and Holmes is the top guy in the field. When Conan Doyle added his love of the paranormal to his most beloved character, it was quite simply dynamite. Nothing would be scarier than being on a moor in the middle of the night and hearing that long mournful howl.

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

This book was influenced by the Jack the Ripper murders and concerns a similar serial killer dubbed The Avenger. A strange man moves into a lodging house, who’s owners are down on their luck. He pays his way and suddenly their fortunes turn around, but he keeps odd hours, and acts very strangely. Meanwhile, a series of ghastly murders takes place, who could be responsible for said crimes? Well, obvious really isn’t it? But that does not detract from the greatness of this novel, which is gripping to the last. As I am fascinated by the whole Jack the Ripper mystery, I loved this novel, but I think even if you knew nothing about the Ripper murders, this book is still well worth checking out.

My Top 20 Movies

By @hmsbeefnuts

All Geek To Me has been running for almost 6 months now, and I thought it was about time that I sat down and tried to write something about my Top 20 Films. I think that an individuals Top 20 Films gives you an insight into that persons personality. It is a quick, but largely useless way admittedly, to decide whether or not that person is your kind of person. I have chosen a Top 20, simply because, a Top 10 didn’t seem appropriate, I love Movies way more than that. Also, these films are in no particular order, I consider them all excellent, and I love them in different ways, perhaps not all equally, but I could watch all of them, and have, numerous times, and still feel the same way about them. This is going to be a bit of a long one, so with out further ado….

JAWS

I have loved JAWS for as long as I can remember. I never really found it scary, but always found it fascinating. The film is perfectly cast, wonderfully acted, beautifully shot, and surely in the top 2 adventure films of all time. The music, the story, the USS Indianapolis speech, Quint. I can watch this film endlessly, although I probably wouldn’t take it to a dessert island, it would certainly put me off swimming. The Father of the modern blockbuster, this film, and the next choice, are, for me perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

It is a hard choice for me to choose between Raiders and JAWS as my favourite film of all time. For me, they are the finest examples of action cinema available. Raiders is responsible for certain decisions I made in my life. Along with another film on this list, Raiders began my love of ancient history, which I went on to study at University. Raiders cheers me up when I’m down, makes me forget about shitty things, or just takes me away for 2 hours for. No matter how much I watch it, it’s still perfect. I wanted to be Indy, I still do, he is the greatest action hero ever created. Spielberg really knocked it out of the park here, in fact I want to watch it now…

KING KONG (1933)

I can remember watching this when I was very young on TV. The black and white perfectly capturing a fairytale nightmare world of Skull Island, and the amazing stop motion work of Willis Obrian. Fay Wray is beautiful, who could fault Kong for falling in love with her? So sad, so exciting, hard to believe it was made in 1933. The Peter Jackson remake is good, but this is better. If you haven’t checked it out, you need to.

THE WOLF MAN (1945)

About 10 years ago I got into the Universal Monsters Classics. I had always liked monsters etc. but had never seen the old classics. My favourite has always been The Wolfman. I loved the look of the Jack Pierce make-up. When I finally saw the film, I fell in love. It’s brilliant, tragic and once more we have a monster doomed by a pretty blonde, is their a pattern emerging here? All the old classic monster films are worth watching, but The Wolfman is my favourite. I liked the recent remake by the way, few others did.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

This is another film I happened to see when I was younger. Peter Cushion as Holmes is perfect, the story is slightly racier than other adaptations as this is a Hammer film. I love the black and white Basil Rathbone Holmes too, but Cushion in this role will always be my favourite. Very atmospheric, perfect rainy Sunday afternoon movie.

13TH WARRIOR

I love Vikings. This is my favourite Viking Movie. Based on a Michael Crichton book, Eaters of the Dead, itself a reinterpretation of Beowulf, 13th Warrior perhaps should be considered a guilty pleasure. No way, why feel guilty about a film this exciting and fun. Vikings vs cannibals? Why aren’t you watching this now?

BATMAN BEGINS

Many people would pick The Dark Knight alone as the best Batman movie, I disagree. The Dark Knight is an amazing movie, but for me, Batman Begins is where it’s at. I couldn’t believe how right Christopher Nolan got this film. After years of Tim Burton weirdness and campy rubbish, Batman Begins was the perfect antidote. Bale is THE Batman, a stellar cast, and great action, and the best teaser for a sequel ever.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

This is the other film that forged my love of ancient history. I have loved this film since before I could talk, and would watch it on a loop. It is in my opinion the finest example of stop motion work ever created, and by the master Ray Harryhausen. It is testament to his skill that he could make you care about, or fear the creatures he created, something the modern remake of Clash of the Titans was so poor at. JATA is a fine adventure film, and wow, that skeleton fight scene.

GOODFELLAS

Goodfellas is, in my opinion, the best crime drama ever made. Great performances, a great story and fantastic music, it is Scorsese at his best. All the casts career best performances. Goodfellas has never been bettered in the mob film genre.

ANCHORMAN

The funniest film I have ever seen. It stands up to repeat viewings and the cast is once again spot on. So good, many of the lines are cliché, how amazing the most of the film was improvised. Can’t wait for the sequel.

HOTROD

Have you seen Hotrod? You really must. It is the other film on this list that I can watch endlessly, and it makes me laugh every time.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN

When I was 15, this film was the coolest film ever made. Clooney was the fucking man in this, and I don’t think he has ever been better. Two films in one, this is a cool crime thriller and a vampire horror all in one tasty package.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY

I know it’s cheating to pick all three, but you can’t really separate the greatest achievement in cinematic history. If I was forced to pick just one, it would be Fellowship of the Ring, but they are all triple A classics. I was a fan of the books since I was 11, and was very worried that the films wouldn’t live up to my high expectations. I needn’t have worried. Peter Jackson created a masterpiece of fantasy cinema. This is the best trilogy ever made, and I can’t wait till December to see The Hobbit.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE

I always mention this film to friends etc. as one of the greatest of all time, and I always get funny looks. They obviously don’t understand. The greatest sword fight ever, Andre The Giant, pirates, monsters, true love, death, resurrection, evil, good, and friendship? As you wish. One of the best films ever made… that is defiantly not inconceivable.

GLADIATOR

Russell Crowe is immense as Maximus. I love Ridley Scott, and here I believe he delivers his greatest film. I’m fascinated by The Romans, and Gladiator is a great look into ancient Rome, although it is perhaps not 100% accurate. The return to the swords and sandle epic was well over due when this came out, and for me, this eclipsed all other ancient world films that had been made before it.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF

Based on a true story of the beast of Gevuedan, this French film is an amazing cocktail of monster film, period drama, kung fu epic and thriller. I love love love this film. Take a pinch of Last of the Mohicans, a spoonful of Hound of The Baskervilles and pour in a large drop of Enter the Dragon, and you have a great, unexpected epic about a real life event, that remains unexplained.

300

I am very much aware that this film is style over content, and I don’t care at all. Based on a Frank Miller Comic, which is based on one of histories greatest events, 300 is a comic come to life. Bloody, violent, homoerotic? Awesome. I happen to love Zack Snyder, and I think this film showcases his style perfectly. This is SPARTA.

THE AVENGERS

I know this only came out recently, but I just bloody love it. For me, it is the greatest, purely comic book movie ever made. This was so much fun and the end result of a 5 year plan that seemed impossible at the time. To bring 5 films and their characters together in one giant superhero slugfest was a huge risk, but Joss Whedon and Marvel managed it perfectly. I can’t wait to own this on Bluray. It needs to be in my collection.

THE DARK KNIGHT

Yes I preferred Batman Begins, but The Dark Knight was almost it’s equal. Ledgers Joker blew Nicholson out of the water, we had a great plot, great sequences, Two Face!! Perhaps 20 mins too long, but when a film is this accomplished and excellent, who cares. Surely The Dark Knight Rises will be as good, I do hope so.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN

I love Arnie. This is my favourite Arnie role. Conan isn’t a perfect representation of the Cimmerian conqueror, in fact, the recent Jason Mamoa film was closer to the Robert E Howard stories, but I love Arnie’s take. This, along with The Princess Bride, was my favourite classic fantasy film, until The Lord of the Rings. Crom!!

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