All Hallow's Eve is quickly approaching, and you just can't figure out what to do with yourself when the lights go out this Saturday. You could go out trick-or-treating and have everybody ask (a) why you're asking for candy when you're 25 and have a full neckbeard and (b) why you're dressed as Sailor Moon again, to which you can respond with righteous indignance (and an explanation of the subtle color scheme differences between your Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus costumes).
Or you can read Ani-Gamers' list of the scariest stuff in the geek world. Whether you're looking for an anime or a live action movie, a video game or a manga, our five illustrious staff writers have got you covered, with nothing less than the very best that Halloween has to offer. So head beyond the break for some great, hand-picked Halloween frights.
- Ju-on, a.k.a. The Grudge (movie): This movie embodies everything creepy about J-horror: setting, audio, visuals, characters... and the American remake scared me enough to keep the lights on for three months straight (no exaggeration) by taking away everything "safe" one's mind could possibly cling to when absorbed in a film. The premise: a gruesome murder/suicide stains the house with its angry/vengeful presence, which will hunt down anyone who dares enter.
- When They Cry ~ Higurashi (anime): Quite possibly one of the most disturbingly creepy and well-executed anime I've ever had the pleasure to be addicted to. Take four innocent-looking girls in a rural village paranoid about a curse, add a stranger, add some Hitchcock, and then put it all in a blender and repeat five times. This had me guessing as to the linear nature of the stories until the very end, and the visuals/voice acting (great dub!) are chilling. How chilling? One of my friends looked at the back of the DVD case, saw a picture of one of the girls laughing, and promptly turned down any possibility of watching it.
- Fatal Frame / Fatal Frame 2 (PS2): While they stand alone, honestly, they're better in succession. Good horror's sneaky like that. The basis for both games: find out what happened to a missing loved one while not succumbing to the ill will of the myriad traumatized ghosts that inhabit the house/village. Your only weapon is an exorcimsal camera. Personal drama and a dramatic history (for both character and setting) make these games engrossing enough to get the blood pumping, elicit a startled jump, or provoke a scream of surprise.
- Cowboy Bebop - the Movie (anime): This is my number one choice for good reason. It's a movie that brings the hilarious scenes, dramatic fights, and everything else a person could ask for from a Cowboy Bebop movie and blends it perfectly with the mystery and drama of Halloween. To sum up the story, Faye, en route to catch a low-level target, witnesses the explosion of the tanker truck that she was following, thus releasing a deadly cloud of some mysterious disease into the air that kills hundreds of people. Now it's up to Spike and company to get to the bottom of whatever is going on.
- Kakurenbo - Hide and Seek (anime): This is my hardcore Halloween pick of the three. In an abandoned city in Neo-Japan, children play a game called "Otokoyo." It's basically hide and seek, but there is a twist: all of the children who have played the game have mysteriously disappeared. The absolutely beautiful cell shading, sound effects, and background music used throughout the story really lend themselves to the dark and mysterious city in which Otokoyo takes place. For people on a bit of the squeamish side, this OVA will provide a good psychological thrill ride without all the blood and gore of typical horror.
- Battle Royale (movie): Here's a movie and it's sequel that might be one of the biggest cult classic movies out of Japan since Godzilla. The plot is simple: a random Japanese class from a random school is chosen by lottery. The 30 to 40 kids in the class must then partake in the event know as Battle Royale, essentially a timed death match on a deserted island, with only one winner. It's much more than a bunch of kids killing each other though. The amount of mind games and political propaganda in this movie really get a person thinking about what can really happen when the government has all the control.
- I Luv Halloween (manga): Tokyopop's OEL manga program shows off its gruesomely dark side in this hilarious take on a sadistic suburbia haunted by the sickest creatures imaginable: children in search of candy. With uniquely disturbed, violently apathetic characters and magnificent detail from the artist, this three-book series is great for a brutal laugh or just some other-worldy nostalgia.
- Blood - The Last Vampire (anime): This is NOT Blood+; this is shorter and faaaaar more ambiguious. It's also violent as hell and just as scary. (The bishōjo-tone of the series is butchered here for the sake of making the monsters as menacing as possible.) This was the only anime to ever have a fight scene to a brass band playing in the background, and I'm sad that the trend never caught on. Begins with blood and ends with fire; what else is going to pump you up for wandering the neighborhood after dark?
- Silent Hill (PS1): The classic start to the deeply disturbing series of video games about a Lovecraftian world that haunts and torments the people inside with the reincarnated demons from their own twisted lives. Unlike Resident Evil (that glorious horror-survivor), Silent Hill is about helpless believable people with few clues and even fewer weapons. The gloomy, cold fog, the iron gates, the fire rising from below, and mutha-f*&%ing Pyramid Head. Halloween is only complete once you've survived the demons that inhabit Silent Hill.
- Clive Barker's Jericho (Xbox 360): I always believed that something was very wrong with Clive Barker, and with this game's release I found out that I was totally correct. Only "The Barker" could come up with a storyline filled with evil and religion, all intertwined to blur the line between good and evil while making us think, "could even God make a mistake?" The A.I. is about as intuitive as being shown around the Alaskan wilderness by a dumb, deaf, & blind man, but the atmosphere is dark, brooding, and bloody.
- The Suffering 1 & 2 (PS2): The Suffering follows a character named Torque, whose twisted fate is primarily shaped by decisions that the player actually makes. These games were one of my first introductions to good vs. evil decision-making, as they present players with moral choices between killing and helping other people. Again, the atmosphere a strange prison swallowed by hate and evil really made this game worth it for me.
- Candyman Trilogy (movies): Starting to see a pattern here? Yes, I love Clive Barker. He has a twisted mind that he manages to show us in vivid detail through his written word. The transition from book (in this case it was a short story) to movie tends to dilute the original's flavor, but with Candyman, this was not the case. They couldn't have picked a better Candyman; Tony Todd's voice and build are perfect for the character. The line "Believe in me.. Be my victim.." Fantastic! I always thought that staring into a mirror and saying some name a certain amount of times was all B.S., but after Candyman I seriously didn't look in a mirror again for 6 months.
- Boogiepop Phantom (anime): When people think Japanese horror, live-action films like Ringu and Ju-on jump to mind, but Boogiepop Phantom is one of the many under-appreciated gems in the anime horror genre. The first few episodes revolve around people with subtle mental problems and their encounters with the mysterious entity Boogiepop. As the show goes on, its vision into the blackest heart of humanity manages to terrify without gruesome monsters or ageless curses.
- The Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask (N64): Alright, so maybe it's not overtly scary, but Majora's Mask is easily the darkest Zelda game ever made, with its theme of imminent, moon-induced destruction and its disturbing, childishly sinister villain. And what's more, it's got a whole slew of masks for Link to wear! So if you're not up for dressing up yourself this Saturday, why not play dress up with everybody's favorite sword-toting Nintendo hero?
- Vampire Hunter D (novel): Hideyuki Kikuchi's original novel is all about one of the most terrifying of the night's creatures: vampires. The titular protagonist D is a half-vampire hired by a young woman to protect her and kill the vampire who bit her, thereby freeing her from his curse. The story is filled with tense fantasy storytelling and some surprisingly high-octane action scenes. Kevin Leahy's translation is a little awkward, but it's still a fun, quick read.
That's it for us! What are your favorite Halloween anime, games, movies, and books?