While there’s no shortage of spooky tales from Stephen King these days, consider revisiting the vampire classic ’Salem’s Lot this October. ’Salem’s Lot was King’s second novel of the 93 books he eventually went on to pen, and has all the hallmarks of classic King: small Maine towns, writers as main characters, spooky old houses and – of course – some wonderfully wicked vampires.
’Salem’s Lot centers on a writer named Ben Mears who returns to his tiny hometown to write about a creepy old house that looms over the town of ’Salem’s Lot. Coincidentally, just as Mears begins his project, an evil (and vaguely European) vampire moves into the old house. It’s not long before children begin to go missing, townspeople start dying, and it becomes less and less likely that our heroes are going to make it out alive. The book is compulsively readable, and has just the right amount of campy fun and gasp-inducing horror. — Kaitlin Jennrich
The music of Dead Man’s Bones is the distilled spirit of All Hallows Eve in America, haltingly moaned by the wounded ghost of some 1950s doo-wop crooner and carved into the rigid flesh of a vinyl record by a yearning undead prom queen. The duo’s debut is perhaps the greatest Halloween album ever, but there will probably never be a follow-up.
The band’s backstory sounds like a Halloween trick: Actor Ryan Gosling and his buddy Zach Shields bonded over their shared fascination with Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and other creepy pop culture. When Gosling’s star began to rise in 2009, the two decided to make a Halloween album – despite the fact that neither man was an experienced musician. Then they added a bunch of complicating factors, such as limiting their use of modern equipment and incorporating a children’s choir across the entire album.
The project should have been a horror show worthy of its own film trilogy. Instead, somehow, a spooky low-fi masterpiece was spawned, with Gosling doing a pretty fair Vincent Price homage as frontman.
Dead Man’s Bones played a few (reportedly great) live shows, then went silent. Eight years later, the band appears to be dead and buried. But some say, if you visit YouTube at the stroke of midnight on Halloween eve, you can catch a glimpse of a zombie indie rocker who looks a heck of a lot like the dude from “La La Land.” — Matt Farley
This seven-episode documentary is a troubling but fascinating effort to learn who murdered a beloved Catholic high school teacher and nun in 1969.
What makes it truly riveting is that the investigators who take on this decades-old mystery are Sister Cathy Cesnik’s former students. Both retired and still haunted by their teacher’s murder, the two join forces as amazingly effective, amateur investigators. Other former students, all of whom share a lifelong sense of injustice over the unsolved murder, join them in their effort.
Their investigation reveals not only a labyrinth of questionable characters and conduct, but the power a few determined individuals can have.
What makes this scary? Perhaps more than the long-ago murder is the evidence of a potential cover-up, and the failure of traditional organizations – from the Catholic Church to law enforcement – to uphold their responsibilities.
The women’s suspicion centers on a now-deceased priest, suspected of sexually abusing other students at the school. What they unearth points to issues that extend beyond Sister Cathy to problems that bedevils the Catholic Church to this day.
Spoiler alert: The series doesn’t crack the case, but the questions it raises likely will haunt viewers as much as Freddie Krueger ever did. — Jane Reuter