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Bibliography for GURPS Horror
Even more than most bibliographies, this one can only scratch the surface of the available material. Thus, any selection – mine emphatically included – becomes a reflection of personal taste. I have made some effort to include undisputed classics in all media, but have fallen back, in the final analysis, on what scares me. That said, check out the nonfiction works below, and look in their bibliographies and filmographies, for more directions.
Titles of works are given in the format most familiar to English speakers, to make finding them easier. In the case of manga or anime, this is usually (but not always) an English-language title. In the case of Japanese film, this is usually (but not always) a transliterated Japanese title.
Horror and books just seem to go together somehow, from the Necronomicon to Vampirella. Never underestimate the allure of cold, dead print . . .
Brier, Bob. The Encyclopedia of Mummies (Facts on File, 1998). Complete survey of the topic.
Briggs, Katharine Mary. An Encyclopedia of Fairies (Pantheon, 1976). An excellent starting place for putting the "Un" into "Unseelie."
Carroll, Noël. The Philosophy of Horror (Routledge, 1990). A formal, academic study of the aesthetics of horror.
Coleman, Loren and Clark, Jerome. Cryptozoology A to Z (Simon & Schuster, 1999). A handy first guide to cryptids.
Davenport-Hines, Richard. Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil, and Ruin (Fourth Estate, 1998). The subtitle says it all.
Davis, Wade. The Serpent and the Rainbow (Simon & Schuster, 1985). Ethnobotanical investigation into Haitian zombies, with much interesting information on Voudun as well.
Douglas, Adam. The Beast Within (Chapmans, 1992). A vital and intriguing exploration of the werewolf myth.
Fort, Charles. The Book of the Damned (Boni and Liveright, 1919). Possible, probable, and highly unlikely nonfiction. Collected with its three sequels in The Books of Charles Fort (Henry Holt, 1941). These vastly readable books make excellent weirdness mines. The great collector of frogs-from-the-sky stories, Fort raises important questions about the way we dictate "reality."
Garrett, Laurie. The Coming Plague (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994). The scary truth about diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, and their ilk.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits (Facts on File, 1992). A decent reference.
Hardy, Phil (editor). The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Horror (Overlook, 1994). The cinephile's reference work on horror, with entries on over 2,000 films.
Harms, Daniel. The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia (Elder Signs Press, 2008). A complete overview of Lovecraft's cosmic horrors, and those of his emulators.
Jones, Stephen and Newman, Kim (editors). Horror: The 100 Best Books (Carroll & Graf, 1988) and Horror: Another 100 Best Books (Running Press, 2005). A hundred horror writers and critics each pick a book; browser's paradises.
Joshi, S.T. and Dziemianowicz, Stefan (editors). Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2005). Now the standard reference work. Joshi's H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (Necronomicon Press, 1996) is the standard biography.
Kendrick, Walter M. The Thrill of Fear (Grove Weidenfeld, 1991). A history of horror entertainment since the Gothic novel.
King, Stephen. Danse Macabre (Everest House, 1981). King's addictively readable nonfiction examination of four decades of horror books and movies.
Lovecraft, H.P. Supernatural Horror in Literature (Dover, 1973). Accessible book version of Lovecraft's seminal 1936 essay.
McNally, Raymond T. and Florescu, Radu. In Search of Dracula (Houghton Mifflin, 1994). Biography of Vlad the Impaler discusses his role in the Dracula legend.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (Visible Ink, 1999). The single best reference work on the subject; indispensable.
Newman, Paul. A History of Terror (Sutton, 2000). A necessarily shallow overview and primer dealing with what actually scared people from classical times to today.
Peebles, Curtis. Watch The Skies! (Smithsonian, 1994). Excellent history of the modern UFO legend.
Purkiss, Diane. At the Bottom of the Garden (New York University Press, 2001). The horrific folklore of fairies, lilitu, and kindred horrors from an anthropological and psychological perspective.
Schechter, Harold. The Serial Killer Files (Ballantine, 2003). Deftly combining ghoulishness and scholarship, this is probably the best current one-stop reference work.
Skal, David J. The Monster Show (W.W. Norton, 1993). Social history and criticism of horror films.
Stanley, John. Creature Features (Berkley Boulevard, 2000). Subtitled "The science fiction, fantasy, and horror movie guide," it has close to 4,000 entries! Stanley, who used to host a Bay Area late-night movie show, provides useful critiques of all the films. No horror buff's library should be without it.
Taylor, Troy. Ghost Hunter's Guidebook (Whitechapel Productions, 2007). Updated edition of the best book on the topic.
There's so much good horror fiction out there that any list must perforce be arbitrary. The problem metastasizes further when one considers that even mediocre horror fiction often makes a great model for horror gaming – if only by spawning ideas of the "Well, if I were writing this . . ." variety. That said, the material below is for the most part good stuff, somewhat culled for gameability or game inspiration. Of course, some of it is there simply because it will scare you out of a year's growth.
Barker, Clive. Books of Blood 1-3 and Books of Blood 4-6. Six aptly named short-story anthologies established Barker as a first-rank horrorist (Books of Blood 4-6 had alternate US titles see here for details). His The Damnation Game (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985) and Cabal (Poseidon, 1988) explore increasingly secret horrors. With The Great and Secret Show (Collins, 1989) and Imajica (HarperCollins, 1991), he moves further into dark fantasy and romance. Everything Barker writes is worth reading.
Barron, Laird. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories (Night Shade Books, 2007). Superb recapitulation of the horror tradition; a contemporary classic.
Bear, Greg. Blood Music (Arbor House, 1985). Intelligent viruses transform living things from within; non-supernatural horror at its most terrifying.
Bellairs, John. The House With a Clock in Its Walls (Dial, 1973), The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (Dial, 1983), The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (Dial, 1984), The Dark Secret of Weatherend (Dial, 1984), and many more are excellent sources for kid-character roleplaying, as well as being great "juvenile" horror novels.
Bierce, Ambrose. Can Such Things Be? (Cassell, 1893). Bleak, savagely ironic short horror fiction.
Blackwood, Algernon. The Willows and Other Queer Tales (Collins, 1932). These short stories provide an education in building and using narrative atmosphere. John Silence: Physician Extraordinary (Eveleigh Nash, 1908) collects the adventures of his "occult detective."
Blaylock, James P. Homunculus (Ace, 1986). Necromantic shenanigans in Victorian London, featuring morbid humor and memorable characters. With Night Relics (Ace, 1994) and All the Bells on Earth (Ace, 1995), Blaylock finds just the right mix of dreamy California regionalism and horror.
Blish, James. Black Easter (Doubleday, 1968). The definitive novel of demons and black magic in the modern world. The main character is an amoral black magician who is truly neither good nor evil – a terrific NPC.
Bradbury, Ray. The October Country (Ballantine, 1955), A Medicine for Melancholy (Doubleday, 1959), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (Simon & Schuster, 1962). Two collections and a novel; Bradbury's small-town personal horrors prefigure Stephen King, but his lyrical prose is all his own.
Brite, Poppy Z. Lost Souls (Delacorte Abyss, 1992). Vampires, the Southern Gothic, and sexuality have been Brite trademarks ever since this assured first novel.
Brooks, Max. World War Z (Crown, 2006). Thriller-style "oral history" of the zombie apocalypse and what comes after.
Campbell, Ramsey. The Darkest Part of the Woods (Tor, 2003). Masterpiece of mood combining psychological and cosmic horror. Campbell has written many other excellent horror novels, and his short-story collection Alone with the Horrors (Arkham House, 1993) is definitive. His Cthulhu Mythos stories have a grimy, urban feel to them; they are collected in Cold Print (Tor, 1987).
Chambers, Robert W. The King in Yellow (Neely, 1895). Required reading for steampunk Gothics; a major influence on Lovecraft. Reprinted (along with the rest of Chambers' weird fiction) in an omnibus volume, The Yellow Sign and Other Stories (Chaosium, 2000).
Collins, Nancy A. Sunglasses After Dark (Onyx/NAL, 1989). Postmodern vampires and other horrors haunt a surreal night world tailor-made for roleplaying.
Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves (Pantheon, 2000). Postmodern constructed-reality novel disguised as haunted house, or vice versa.
Dean, Pamela. Tam Lin (Tor, 1991). Excellent atmospheric horror-fantasy novel set on a small college campus in the 1970s, and centering on ghosts, faerie, and the power of the stage.
Drake, David. From the Heart of Darkness (Tor, 1983). Drake's narrative gifts turn to pure horror in this short-story collection, later expanded and reprinted as Night & Demons (Baen, 2012). Vettius and His Friends (Baen, 1989) collects Drake's excellent Roman-era horror-fantasy stories.
Feist, Raymond E. Faerie Tale (Doubleday, 1988). Splendidly evoked evil faeries in upstate New York.
Finney, Jack. The Body Snatchers (Dell, 1955). Inspired the classic movie; an excellent exercise in literary paranoia in its own right.
Fraser, Phyllis and Wise, Herbert A. (editors). Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (Modern Library, 1944). Landmark horror anthology containing 52 undisputed classic tales.
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008). An updating of Kipling's Jungle Book, with ghosts instead of panthers and bears. You know, for kids.
Goldstein, Lisa. The Red Magician (Timescape/Pocket, 1982). A powerful, quiet story of Jewish magic in Nazi-occupied Europe. Goldstein mixes ancient magic and modern horror into a truly moving book. A versatile author, in Dark Cities Underground (Tor, 1999), she presents the secret-magical horror of subway construction.
Gran, Sara. Come Closer (Soho, 2003). A novel of unease, suspense, and (maybe) possession.
Hambly, Barbara. Those Who Hunt the Night (Del Rey, 1988). A very gameable Edwardian vampire murder mystery. The sequel is Traveling with the Dead (Del Rey, 1995).
Hammett, Dashiell (editor). Creeps by Night (John Day, 1931). One of the first horror anthologies, and still one of the best.
Harris, Thomas. Red Dragon (Putnam, 1981), The Silence of the Lambs (St. Martin's, 1988), Hannibal (Delta, 2005) and Hannibal Rising (Dell reprint, 2007). Psychological horror pitting the FBI against one of horror's great villains, Dr. Hannibal ("the Cannibal") Lecter: demonic genius, psychoanalyst, and serial killer.
Hartwell, David G. (editor). The Dark Descent (St. Martin's, 1987). Magisterial, historical-minded anthology of horrific short fiction, not all of it conventional "horror."
Herbert, James. The Fog (NEL, 1975), The Magic Cottage (Hodder & Stoughton, 1986), and many others. Reliably bleak British horrorist. Sepulchre (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987) blends psychic powers, industrial espionage, and pulp thrills.
Hill, Joe. Heart-Shaped Box (William Morrow, 2007). Aging rocker, meet haunted suit; a swell contemporary ghost story.
Hodgson, William Hope. The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" (Chapman and Hall, 1907), The House on the Borderland (Chapman and Hall, 1908), and Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder (Eveleigh Nash, 1913). Terrifying sea story, the ultimate "invaded house" novel, and crackling steampunk "occult detective" story collection – Hodgson's range is amazing.
Howard, Robert E. The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (Del Rey, 2008). Though best known for fantasy, Howard wrote stirring horror tales during his brief career (1925-1936). Nameless Cults (Chaosium, 2001) collects Howard's Cthulhu Mythos stories, among them the terrific novel Skull-Face (Weird Tales serial, 1929).
Jackson, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House (Viking, 1959). A modern masterpiece of psychological horror, one of the most quietly terrifying novels ever written.
James, M.R. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (Edward Arnold, 1904). James is the greatest ghost-story writer in the English language: literate, rich in detail, and perfectly toned. Get an omnibus collection such as Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford, 1999).
Kiernan, Caitlín R. Threshold (Roc, 2001). Vertiginous use of paleontological "deep time" as horror.
King, Stephen. 'Salem's Lot (Doubleday, 1975), The Shining (Doubleday, 1977), Night Shift (Doubleday, 1978), The Stand (Doubleday, 1978), The Dead Zone (Viking, 1979), It (Viking, 1986), Bag of Bones (Scribner, 1998), and Dreamcatcher (Scribner, 2001), to hit only the high points. King's strength lies in his characterizations and his ability to bring the supernatural into our familiar world.
Klein, T.E.D. The Ceremonies (Viking, 1984). Amazing, literate updating of Arthur Machen's horrors to rural New Jersey. Klein's 1980 short story "Children of the Kingdom" updates Machen's Unseelie to modern New York City.
Lackey, Mercedes. Burning Water (Tor, 1989). Aztec cults, possession, and human sacrifice in modern-day Dallas, Texas. This is an excellent horror story with a delightful neopagan magical heroine. The sequels, Children of the Night (Tor, 1990) and Jinx High (Tor, 1991) are also good.
Laidlaw, Marc. The 37th Mandala (St. Martin's, 1996). A New Age charlatan accidentally unleashes Things Man Was Not Meant To Know as "spirit guides."
Langan, Sarah. The Missing (HarperCollins, 2007). Small-town virus outbreak drives apocalyptic horror.
Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan. In a Glass Darkly (Richard Bentley, 1872). Anthology containing the novelette "Carmilla," the first great erotic vampire story, and many other minor masterpieces. Carmilla and 12 Other Classic Tales of Mystery (Penguin, 1996) is an excellent modern collection of Le Fanu.
Lebbon, Tim. As the Sun Goes Down (Night Shade Books, 2000). Short story collection by a new British talent.
Lee, Tanith. Red as Blood (DAW, 1983). This beautifully perverse collection of short stories takes Grimm's classic fairy tales and turns them into atmospheric and grisly tales of fantasy and horror. A perfect example of how to make the familiar horrific.
Leiber, Fritz. Conjure Wife (Twayne, 1953). A haunting novel of secret witchcraft in a 1950s university. Our Lady of Darkness (Berkley, 1977) is a luminous, literary urban horror fantasy (a genre Leiber invented in 1941 with the short story "Smoke Ghost").
Ligotti, Thomas. The Nightmare Factory (Carroll & Graf, 1996). Assembles Ligotti's three main collections into an omnibus. Ligotti is the premier writer of short horror alive today. Madness, puppets, and more.
Lindholm, Megan. Wizard of the Pigeons (Ace, 1986). Truly superb urban fantasy featuring supernatural menace among the street people of Seattle. A fine example of how magic can be all around us, yet unnoticed except by those who choose to look for it.
Lovecraft, H.P. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin, 1999), The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (Penguin, 2001), and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories (Penguin, 2004). These three omnibus volumes contain the corrected, original texts of Lovecraft's fiction (first published in the pulps between 1924 and 1941). Lovecraft is the greatest American horror author since Poe, in terms of vision, literary skill, and influence.
Maberry, Jonathan. Patient Zero (St. Martin's, 2009). Technothriller pits action hero against zombie menace. Pure, delirious pulp-horror sequel The Dragon Factory (St. Martin's, 2010) features genemod monsters and bioterror.
Machen, Arthur. The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light (John Lane, 1894). The linked story collection introducing Machen's "hidden race" Unseelie. The standard collection of Machen's best work is Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (Knopf, 1948). Chaosium publishes corrected, complete versions of the linked stories (2000-2005).
Matheson, Richard. Hell House (Viking, 1971). One of the best haunted-house stories ever penned. Matheson's short stories are also reliable shockers, and his novel I Am Legend (Fawcett, 1954) combines a great "scientific vampire" with post-apocalyptic psychological horror.
McCammon, Robert R. They Thirst (Avon, 1981). A vampiric apocalypse. Usher's Passing (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984) is a Southern Gothic family drama sequel to Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher." The Wolf's Hour (Pocket, 1989) is WWII werewolf action. All are compulsive page-turners.
Newman, Kim. Anno Dracula (Simon & Schuster, 1992). Alternate-historical horror in a world where Dracula won. The sequel The Bloody Red Baron (Carroll & Graf, 1995) is WWI as Grand Guignol. Dracula Cha Cha Cha (Carroll & Graf, 1998) and Johnny Alucard (Titan, 2013) continue the story.
Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Doubleday, 1966). Poe remains horror's greatest literary practitioner. His stories are as searing today as they were when first published (between 1827 and 1846). Vital.
Powers, Tim. The Anubis Gates (Ace, 1983), On Stranger Tides (Ace, 1987), The Stress of Her Regard (Ace, 1989), and Declare (HarperCollins, 2001). Ingenious blends of history and macabre fantasy, filled with body-snatchers, Voudun, vampires, and djinn. Excellent resource material on running historical horror. Powers' modern-day secret-magic series – Last Call (William Morrow, 1992), Expiration Date (Tor, 1996), and Earthquake Weather (Tor, 1997) – is just as good, and adds possession, ghosts, and ritual magic.
Priest, Cherie. Fathom (Tor, 2008) and Those Who Went Remain There Still (Subterranean, 2008). Two fine American monster stories, featuring Leviathan and a horrible bird-thing almost killed by Daniel Boone.
Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire (Knopf, 1976). The novel that revamped the legend for the post-moral world, emphasizing the psychological horror, guilt, and loneliness of vampiric immortality. Along with its many sequels, the reference for a turnabout campaign in which the heroes are vampires.
Roszak, Theodore. Flicker (Summit, 1991). Deeply creepy conspiratorial history of early horror film.
Saberhagen, Fred. The Dracula Tape (Warner, 1975), The Holmes-Dracula File (Ace, 1978), and An Old Friend of the Family (Ace, 1979). Inverts the Dracula story, portraying the Count as a misunderstood defender of his homeland.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus (Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, 1818). The original mad scientist/construct novel.
Shepard, Lucius. Green Eyes (Ace, 1984). Pseudoscience zombies and a genuinely creepy tropical atmosphere. Louisiana Breakdown (Golden Gryphon, 2003) is a Frazerian fertility-cult novel steeped in Southern Gothic.
Simmons, Dan. Song of Kali (Bluejay, 1985), Carrion Comfort (Dark Harvest, 1989), Children of the Night (Putnam, 1992), and The Terror (Little, Brown, 2007). Excellent, stark horrors of (respectively) Calcutta cultists, psionic vampires, AIDS (and Dracula), and Arctic exploration.
Smith, Clark Ashton. Out of Space and Time (Arkham House, 1942). Smith's first collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories, which have a lush, lyrical cruelty all their own. A Rendezvous in Averoigne (Arkham House, 1988) is the best current omnibus of Smith, although The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies (Penguin, 2014) shows promise.
Smith, Thorne. Topper (McBride, 1926). The first "friendly ghost" story. It has given birth to countless film and video imitations, but the funny, sexy, irreverent original remains unsurpassed.
Stableford, Brian. The Empire of Fear (Simon & Schuster, 1988). Alternate-historical viral-vampire novel. The Werewolves of London (Simon & Schuster, 1990) begins an increasingly complex, mystical saga of cruel angels and family tragedy.
Steakley, John. Vampire$ (Roc, 1990). Plain-and-simple vampire-hunting adrenaline. Absolutely perfect model for fearless vampire-killer campaigns.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886). A horror classic. Stevenson wrote other tales of horror and adventure, especially Thrawn Janet (1881) and The Body Snatcher (1884). The latter is about a grave robber, and has nothing to do with any movie invasion.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula (Constable, 1897). Still the greatest vampire novel of them all. Stoker's lesser works can be enjoyably pulpy, such as The Jewel of Seven Stars (Heinemann, 1903), which provided the basic inspiration for the 1932 film The Mummy; Lair of the White Worm (William Rider & Son, 1911), which became a gloriously weird Ken Russell film in 1988; and Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories (George Routledge, 1914).
Straub, Peter. Ghost Story (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979). A surprisingly successful attempt to Americanize and novelize the classic English ghost story form.
Strieber, Whitley. The Wolfen (William Morrow, 1978). Somehow believable novel of a hidden race of wolf-men living in New York City.
Weinberg, Robert. The Devil's Auction (Leisure, 1990) and The Armageddon Box (Leisure, 1991). Modern pulp horror in slam-bang style, with plenty of occult name-dropping.
Wellman, Manly Wade. Who Fears the Devil? (Paizo, 2010). These beautiful stories, written between 1951 and 1987, are set in rural America and give a perspective on Things Man Was Not Meant To Know (and on rural America) remarkably different from Lovecraft's. Worse Things Waiting (Carcosa House, 1973) collects more great horror stories.
Wheatley, Dennis. The Devil Rides Out (Hutchinson, 1934), Strange Conflict (Hutchinson, 1941), The Haunting of Toby Jugg (Hutchinson, 1948), To the Devil – a Daughter (Hutchinson, 1953), The Ka of Gifford Hillary (Hutchinson, 1956), and The Satanist (Hutchinson, 1960). Spies, Satanists, and tough-guy action; Wheatley's "Black Magic" series has everything a horror game could want.
Wilson, F. Paul. The Keep (William Morrow, 1981). A morally tangled story of a demonic vampire preying on the SS. The Tomb (Berkley, 1984) is a remarkably successful update of the old Sax Rohmer-style "weird menace" pulp horror to the modern day; its sequels paint a long-form cosmic horror story amid the thrills.
Wilson, Robert Charles. The Perseids and Other Stories (Tor, 2000). SF author Wilson takes on horror in this astonishing anthology that echoes M.R. James, Lovecraft, and Barker.
Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn. Hôtel Transylvania (St. Martin's, 1978). The first in a long series of historical romance novels starring the heroic, gyneolatrous vampire, the Comte de Saint-Germain.
Zelazny, Roger. A Night in the Lonesome October (AvoNova/William Morrow, 1993). Humorous horror novel of a Halloween night where the world might or might not perish forever; narrated by Jack the Ripper's dog, Snuff.
Comics and Manga
Akino, Matsuri. Pet Shop of Horrors (Asahi Sonorama, 1995-1998). Cursed L.A. Chinatown pet shop deals rightful horrors to its customers. The sequel is Pet Shop of Horrors – Tokyo (Asahi Sonorama, 2005-present).
Bissette, Steve (editor). Taboo (SpiderBaby Grafix/Tundra/Kitchen Sink, 1989-1995). A semi-regular anthology notable for the stellar quality of its contributors. Works hard to live up to its name.
Brereton, Dan. Nocturnals: Black Planet (Malibu, 1995). The first in an irregular series featuring supernatural protagonists battling worse horrors, the real draw is Brereton's lush, Gothic painted art.
Brown, Chester. Yummy Fur (Vortex, 1986-1994). While not exactly a horror story, it remains a genuinely frightening landmark of the comics medium. Particularly gut-wrenching is the fiercely ironic "Ed the Happy Clown" serial running in the first 20 issues of the book. Definitely requires a mature sensibility.
Burns, Charles. Black Hole (Kitchen Sink/Fantagraphics 1995-2005). Haunting art anchors a tale of sexually transmitted mutation.
Conway, Gerry, et al. Werewolf by Night (Marvel, 1972-1977). Reliable and workmanlike werewolf comic.
Delano, Jamie, et al. Hellblazer (DC/Vertigo, 1988-present). Ongoing flagship horror title centers on a British sorcerer and the shambles surrounding him. Garth Ennis' and Mike Carey's runs are particularly good.
DeMatteis, J. M. I . . . Vampire (DC, 1981-1983). This suspenseful vampire drama was the main feature in House of Mystery from #290 to #319.
Ellis, Warren. Gravel (Avatar, 1999-present). The adventures of British "combat magician" William Gravel began in Strange Kiss. Now a regular series.
Feldstein, Al, et al. Tales from the Crypt (EC Comics, 1950-1955). This dime comic and its EC stable-mates The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror "corrupted" an entire generation, changing the face of American horror forever by combining stories of remarkable psychological and social insight with genuinely disturbing gore by some of the greatest comics artists who ever lived.
Fleisher, Michael, et al. Wrath of the Spectre (DC, 1988). Reprints the classic Jim Aparo-illustrated horrific-vengeance run of DC's ghostly superhero from Adventure #431 to #440. John Ostrander's run on the Spectre title from 1992 to 1998 is also worth reading.
Gerber, Steve, et al. Vampire Tales (Marvel, 1973-1975). This anthology series is best known for showcasing Roy Thomas' creation Morbius, the Living Vampire, the first vampire in comics since the CCA ban of 1954, and a unique techno-vampire for a superhero cosmos.
Ito, Junji. Tomie (Shogakukan, 1987). The story of a lust-inspiring revenant. Ito's Uzumaki (Shogakukan, 1998) presents geometric spirals as foci of horror, while his Gyo (Shogakukan, 2001-2002) brings up a marine nightmare from the deeps.
Iwaaki, Hitoshi. Parasyte (Kodansha, 1990-1995). SF-horror features an alien parasite invasion, complete with sentient hand!
Kirkman, Robert. The Walking Dead (Image, 2003-present). Fine, uncompromising serial follows survivors through a zombie post-apocalypse.
Kubert, Joe (editor), et al. Weird War Tales (DC, 1971-1983). Occasionally brilliant war-horror anthology series became the spawning ground for the Creature Commandos. Another signature feature, The Haunted Tank, first appeared in G.I. Combat.
Lash, Batton. Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (Exhibit A Press, 1979-present). Humorous look at the legal troubles of the supernatural. Continues under the title Supernatural Law.
Mignola, Mike. Hellboy (Dark Horse, 1993-present). Larger-than-life pulp horror alternates with surprisingly delicate spectral folklore. Companion title B.P.R.D. introduces serial soap operatics to the mix.
Miura, Kentaro. Berserk (Hakusensha, 1990-present). Dark fantasy manga set against a surreal version of medieval Europe.
Moore, Alan. From Hell (Borderlands, 1995). With Eddie Campbell's intricate black-and-white art, Moore tells a story of Jack the Ripper, sacred geometry, and the conspiratorial horror at the heart of the 20th century.
Moore, Alan; Wein, Len; et al. Swamp Thing (DC/Vertigo; 1972-1976, 1982-1996, 2001-2002, 2004-2006). This Gothic monster comic has had some remarkably wretched periods, but its first run, by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson, raised the genre to new heights. Then in the 1980s, under writer Alan Moore and artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben, Swamp Thing unexpectedly became arguably the best mass-market comic of all time. More recent runs by writers Rick Veitch and Doug Wheeler are also exemplary. Don't let the two campy movies scare you off.
Morrison, Grant. Doom Patrol (DC/Vertigo, 1989-1993). Surrealistic superhero book with genuine moments of horror throughout. The Invisibles (DC/Vertigo, 1994-2000) is high-flying conspiracy without a net.
Niles, Steve (editor). Fly In My Eye (Eclipse/Arcane, 1988-1992). Consistently excellent, inconsistently published trade-paperback-sized anthology. Niles' 30 Days of Night (IDW, 2002) is a raw, primal story of vampires invading Barrow, Alaska.
Ôtsuka, Eiji. The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Kadokawa Shoten, 2002-present). The eponymous service carries out the wishes of the dead.
Rennie, Gordon. Caballistics, Inc. (Rebellion, 2002-present). This intense tale of black magic and black ops runs in 2000 AD.
Sala, Richard. Black Cat Crossing (Kitchen Sink, 1993), The Chuckling Whatsit (Fantagraphics, 1997), Peculia (Fantagraphics, 2002), Mad Night (Fantagraphics, 2005), and The Grave-Robber's Daughter (Fantagraphics, 2006). The comics version of German expressionist film. Brilliant images and a storyline that always threatens to become camp horror, but never quite does. Everything by Sala is excellent.
Sclavi, Tiziano, et al. Dylan Dog (Sergio Bonelli Editore, 1986-present). Offbeat, layered Italian comic about a London-based occult investigator.
Umezu, Kazuo. Reptilia (Kadokawa Shoten, 1965). The "Father of Horror Manga" presents a shape-shifting snake-girl. His Cat-Eyed Boy (Asahi Sonorama, 1967-1968) is EC-style horror anthology. The Drifting Classroom (Shogakukan, 1972-1974), about a time-lost elementary school slowly succumbing to madness, is often considered the greatest work of the genre.
Wolfman, Marv. Tomb of Dracula (Marvel, 1972-1979). A slam-bang scare-fest backed by some of the best artistic talent of the 1970s. The strong characterization of Dracula is memorable.
Movies have given us our most graphic images of horror. Those listed below are all suggested viewing, albeit sometimes as story mines rather than as fine cinema. Most are classics, must-sees for horror gamers – but some are obscure masterpieces, unlikely to show up on late-night television. Many are available on DVD; check Netflix or your local dealer.
28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002). Riveting reinvention of the zombie film features virus-infected "fast zombies" and apocalyptic urban vistas. There is a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, but the original is the superior film.
Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (Robert Fuest, 1971). A campy variation on the "evil genius" model, Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes is a mad musician who kills his enemies by using the Ten Plagues of Egypt.
Abominable Snowman, The (Val Guest, 1957). This low-budget, black-and-white feature – a very early release from Britain's legendary Hammer Films – presents a curiously low-key but exciting cryptid hunt.
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979). Neo-Lovecraftian SF horror brought the creature-from-outer-space film to new heights of terror and believability simultaneously. Also presents a very gameable story. The first sequel, Aliens (James Cameron, 1986) is action rather than suspense, but still quite gameable in a different way.
Alien Raiders (Ben Rock, 2008). Fearless Monster Hunt becomes hostage-taking screw-up, or vice versa: a horror gaming session given terse, tense filmic life.
American Werewolf in London, An (John Landis, 1981). An excellent study of the genesis of a werewolf, both startling and funny. The dream sequences are the most terrifying part of the movie, inspirational for oneiric horrors.
Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasuku, 2000). Paranoid horror about a nightmarish school competition.
Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988). The best modern haunted-house comedy. Of special interest for its creepy-yet-funny view of the afterlife, which one could easily port to a campaign where everyone is a ghost.
Believers, The (John Schlesinger, 1987). Excellent suspense movie about a man's battle with a malevolent Santería cult.
Birds, The (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963). Nature goes mad; a bravura course in using any common element to build terror.
Black Sunday (Mario Bava, 1960). Black and white so rich you'd swear it was color, an undead witch, and a haunted castle give this Italian film style to spare.
Blair Witch Project, The (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, 1999). Low-fi horror builds nearly perfect atmosphere of suspense, terror, and dread with verité style.
Cabin Fever (Eli Roth, 2002). Uses flesh-eating bacteria to drive non-supernatural survival horror to the brink.
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The (Robert Wiene, 1920). The first horror film masterpiece; its surrealistic sets, camera angles, and storyline remain unmatched today.
Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992). Chicago urban legend manifests as spectral horror in this gritty, powerful evocation of a Clive Barker short story.
Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942). Produced by horror maestro Val Lewton, the film that saved RKO is subtle, brilliant, and breathtakingly terrifying. That said, Paul Schrader's 1982 remake has a nude Nastassja Kinski.
Cemetery Man (Michele Soavi, 1994). Existential zombie love story about a gravedigger and his undead girlfriend. And then it just gets weird.
Chinese Ghost Story, A (Ching Siu-Tung, 1987). Martial arts, comedy, romance, and tree-vampires with extensible tongues!
Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008). Daikaiju film shot from the victims' perspective; encapsulates the horror of powerlessness in the new millennium.
Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972). A non-supernatural horror classic of civilization against savagery, the epitome of the Gauntlet story.
Descent, The (Neil Marshall, 2005). Women on a spelunking trip encounter troglodyte monsters; pitch-perfect suspense and terror.
Devil's Backbone, The (Guillermo del Toro, 2001). A nigh-perfect 20-minute ghost story nestles in this otherwise predictable two-hour film. Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006) succeeds with dark fantastic imagery and disintegrating narrative, although its underlying message remains confused.
Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002). British troops vs. werewolves in the best werewolf film of the millennium . . . so far.
Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973). Art-house tale of bereavement plays with perception and faith when Julie Christie trusts a psychic and Donald Sutherland thinks he sees his daughter's ghost.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Rouben Mamoulian, 1931). Fredric March received a well-deserved Oscar for his dual lead in this creepy, gas-lit horror film.
Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958). Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing square off in the best film version of the novel, epitomizing the lush, sensual, almost operatic tradition of Hammer Films. Known as The Horror of Dracula in America. Tod Browning's 1931 version – the classic starring Bela Lugosi – is brilliantly shot, but badly marred by an abysmal script.
Event Horizon (Paul W.S. Anderson, 1997). "Haunted spaceship" SF film builds cosmic horror magnificently for the first three acts. Then, the producers ruin it.
Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987). This excessive movie careens wildly between gore, slapstick, and genuine fright; loads of fun and lots of good ideas. Raimi's The Evil Dead (1981) was essentially the same film with a fraction of the special-effects budget. Army of Darkness (1992), nominally Evil Dead 3, is a swell fantasy-adventure roller coaster with little true horror. The 2013 remake of the first film discards the humor and changes enough of the plot to be familiar while keeping everyone on their toes.
Exorcist, The (William Friedkin, 1973). This movie about a little girl tormented by demons, and the battle for her soul, is an atmospheric must-see, and a brilliant example of the power of the prosaic scale.
Five Million Years to Earth (Roy Ward Baker, 1967, aka Quatermass and the Pit). Sensational British SF horror story about psionic monsters buried beneath London.
Flatliners (Joel Schumacher, 1990). Intensely gameable setup and rich atmospherics save this disorganized film about a team of would-be thanatologists exploring the afterlife by dying repeatedly.
Fly, The (Kurt Neumann, 1958). Silly but unsettling, thanks to Neumann's direction. The remake (David Cronenberg, 1986) is gorier and less effective, but more "realistic." Both are worth seeing.
Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935), and Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee, 1939). The prototypical mad scientist/construct films, worth seeing for their insight into the man-as-God issue as well as their chills. None of the hundred-plus Frankenstein sequels and remakes measure up to these originals, although The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1957) comes close.
Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932). A respectful-but-grim study of the fear of mutilation and of the dangers of betraying an insular, marginalized community not unlike the Unseelie.
Fright Night (Tom Holland, 1985). Affectionate look at vampire-hunting movies that slowly becomes a truly tense chiller.
Frighteners, The (Peter Jackson, 1996). Excellent story about a ghost-hunter; moves smoothly from light comedy to dark horror at a rapid clip.
From Dusk Till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez, 1996). Action-camp horror full of violence, vampires, and attitude. Scary and thrill-packed, but not terrifying.
Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984). A tightly plotted group-of-adventurers-encounter-the-supernatural movie, this time played for laughs. Modern setting, great special effects, and a textbook example of how to create supernatural adventures.
Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000). Mordant, clever film ties lycanthropy to female puberty.
Gojira (Ishirô Honda, 1954). Though followed by an infinite series of ultra-campy sequels, the original film (without Raymond Burr) is bleak, powerful, and very, very scary. Godzilla is nobody's big monster buddy here; he's a literally unstoppable force of nature, a walking embodiment of nuclear terror.
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978). The first and best movie of the slasher-flick boom of the 1970s and 1980s. The sequels are all forgettable; Rob Zombie's 2007 remake is barely forgivable.
Haunting, The (Robert Wise, 1963). Quiet, tense ghost story, or a subtle tale of psychological disintegration? Either way, an often-overlooked horror masterpiece with useful roleplaying applications. Addresses the interaction of psychological and psychic pressures in a supernatural situation. Avoid the 1999 remake at all costs!
Haute Tension (Alexandre Aja, 2003). French grindhouse-style psycho-killer movie with a hellacious twist.
Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987). Gory, fetishistic horror directed by a noted horror author. Not for the squeamish, but Barker's vision is truly hellish; plenty of roleplaying potential for those with a taste for Grand Guignol.
Hills Have Eyes, The (Wes Craven, 1977). Inspired update of the "Sawney Beane" cannibal clan combined with the grindhouse revenge-horror plot. Ignore the 2006 remake.
Host, The (Bong Joon-ho, 2006). Marvelous South Korean kaiju film combines fear of government, environmental terror, fast action, and clever family dynamics.
Hostel (Eli Roth, 2005). The slyest and most effective of the new generation of so-called "torture porn"; updates the faerie seduction myth with grim effect.
House (Steve Miner, 1986). Suffers from jokiness, but the essential concept of the haunted hypergeometrical house makes a great game element. The sequel is even sillier, but rings further changes on the setting.
House of Wax (André de Toth, 1953). Vincent Price gives one of his richest performances, as the wax-museum curator who turns victims into sculptures for his Chamber of Horrors. Highly evocative, and a great Victorian atmosphere throughout.
Howling, The (Joe Dante, 1981). The other great 1981 werewolf movie.
Hunger, The (Tony Scott, 1983). Ancient, decadent vampires live the life of the idle rich. Short of substance, but scary and very sexy with leads Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and David Bowie.
I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943). Ignore the title. This Val Lewton-produced psychological chiller is a transposition of Jane Eyre to the Caribbean, and a respectful, haunting look at Voudun.
In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter, 1995). Surreal Lovecraftian tale of a missing horror writer whose books are changing reality.
Invaders from Mars (William Cameron Menzies, 1953). A minor alien-invasion classic that set the pattern for the 1950s' science-fiction horrors.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956). A paranoiac horror thriller without monsters, special effects, or even death, and all the more terrifying for it. The 1978 remake is rather antique now; the 1993 remake is still worth seeing; the 2007 remake has its moments but ultimately fails.
Jacob's Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990). Hallucinogenic psychological horror surrounds a Vietnam vet. Surrealism at its horrific finest.
Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975). A prime example of the fear of nature. This pure, elemental battle against a great white shark demonstrates that horror easily transcends the supernatural.
Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva, 2001). A wonderful monster, shocking pacing, and believably random folklore make this teens-in-peril psycho-killer movie a triumph.
Legend of Hell House, The (John Hough, 1973). This film, about a group of people promised big money for proving or disproving the existence of an afterlife in the granddaddy of all haunted houses, makes a grand adventure premise. Lots of detail on the use of psychic abilities.
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008). Flawless Swedish vampire film is the single best – perhaps the best possible – exploration of the "Renfield" character type. Remade in English as Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010).
Lost Boys, The (Joel Schumacher, 1987). New Wave update and vampirization of the Peter Pan story, set in 1980s California. Light, but lots of fun.
Mist, The (Frank Darabont, 2007). Atmospheric adaptation of a Stephen King novella combines psychological and cosmic horror with superb monsters.
Mummy, The (Karl Freund, 1932). Short on shocks, but maintains a horrific mood throughout. Gave us the "forbidden reincarnated love" and "human guise of the mummy" reused by later films. The loose remake (Stephen Sommers, 1999) is great, gameable pulp adventure.
Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987). An intelligent, very scary vampire film in which the word "vampire" never appears. Set in the modern-day West, the vampires here are monsters of social upheaval – the ones your mother warned you about.
Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957). Demon-summoning scrolls and Satanic cults in England. A visible demon, added at the producer's insistence, mars but doesn't ruin this masterpiece of suggestion.
Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968). Combines stomach-turning walking-dead action with bleak social commentary. Only equaled by its sequel, Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978), set in a besieged shopping mall, which the remake (Zack Snyder, 2004) surprisingly complements.
Night Watch (Timur Bekmambetov, 2004). Trippy film of dueling supernaturals in grimy modern Moscow plays with scope continuously. Day Watch (2006) is the worthy sequel.
Nightmare on Elm Street, A (Wes Craven, 1984). After its countless sequels, it's easy to forget just how unsettling this film can be, due largely to its brilliant central concept and imaginative and surreal special effects.
Nomads (John McTiernan, 1986). Dreamlike, increasingly paranoid tale of nomadic spirits haunting a modern anthropologist in Los Angeles.
Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922). Murnau's silent masterpiece is a surrealist Gothic. The remake (Werner Herzog, 1979) presents the nosferatu as the eruption of fatal reality into comfortable bourgeois life.
Onibaba (Kaneto Shindô, 1964). Brutal realism combines with hints of demonic power in this Japanese film about desperate peasants trapped by poverty and war.
Others, The (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001). Assured mood piece harkens back to old-school ghost-story films; Nicole Kidman gives one of the great nervous horror performances.
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960). Riveting film about a camera-buff and sex-killer indicts the audience for voyeurism.
Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982). A flashy ghost story about an average suburban family. The most impressive aspect of this movie is Hooper's ability to make everyday objects – TV sets, stuffed toys, steaks – seem alive and malevolent.
Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2008). Canadian low-budget indie presents zombies as a semantic threat – contagion spreads by word of mouth.
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). The first modern psycho-killer movie. There's no gore, just suspense, misdirection, and a creepy atmosphere. Even if you've heard the plot, see the movie.
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985) and From Beyond (Stuart Gordon, 1986). Among the best feature-film adaptations of Lovecraft's work, but based on third-rate stories. Still, full of supremely good-humored awfulness.
Resident Evil (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2002). Thrilling horror-actioner based on the video game gleefully combines anti-capitalist paranoia with zombie face-chewing.
Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998). A Japanese suspense masterpiece, borrowing from many other horror movies but blending them into its own tense story of a deadly videotape. American remake The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002) actually lives up to the original!
Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968). Witchcraft and Satanism among the uptown New York affluent. Polanski masterfully builds the ominous, paranoid atmosphere.
Ruins, The (Carter Smith, 2008). Nail-biting survival horror traps Western tourists atop an enigmatic Mayan pyramid in a sly inversion of Lovecraftian tropes.
Scream (Wes Craven, 1996). The ultimate in postmodern slasher flicks. The characters' attempt to play by the horror-movie "rules" lifts this far above the run-of-the-mill psycho-killer flick, as does Craven's assured direction. The first two sequels are decent as well, and Scream 4 was released in 2011.
Seventh Victim, The (Mark Robson, 1943). Another Val Lewton-produced psychological horror film with complex characters, it deals with disillusionment and suicide. Interesting to GMs for its handling of a Satanic cult, mysterious and unknown throughout the movie.
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004). Walks the tricky line between hilarious send-up and gross-out thriller while emphasizing the zombie film's role as cultural critique.
Shining, The (Stanley Kubrick, 1980). Not much of an adaptation of the novel, but a brilliant movie. Superb direction, an eerie score, and a memorable performance by Jack Nicholson contribute to a terrifying atmosphere.
Silence of the Lambs, The (Jonathan Demme, 1991). The most mature and polished psychological horror-thriller of recent decades. The film's combination of gothic imagery and seeming realism works on many levels.
Sixth Sense, The (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999). A luminous combination of ghost story and psychological horror tale.
Strangers, The (Bryan Bertino, 2008). Invaded house horror at its purest and most arbitrary.
Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007). Implacable SF horror film goes badly off the rails plot-wise but remains compellingly watchable.
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977). Witchcraft, gore, and nigh-hallucinogenic scenery make this Italian film eminently watchable, if no more sensible.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (Tobe Hooper, 1974). This no-budget tour-de-force redefines the psycho killer as modern werewolf. Point to notice: the horrors in this film take place entirely in broad daylight.
Thing from Another World, The (Christian Nyby, 1951). Notable for the conflict between the scientists, who want to capture or communicate with the Thing, and the soldiers, who want to kill it. John Carpenter's remake, The Thing (1982), more than gains in visceral terror and isolation what it loses in cosmic scope.
Thir13en Ghosts (Steve Beck, 2001). The most successful of the William Castle remake series has a great introductory scene and the wildest, most postmodern haunted house ever.
This Is Not a Love Song (Bille Eltringham, 2002). Two thieves get trapped in the remote British countryside in a merciless survival horror tale with no supernatural elements.
Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990). A seamless, brilliant updating of the 1950s B-movie to the modern era pits a small desert town against giant, malevolent sandworms. The first movie is so much better than it deserves to be that the viewer makes it halfway through the sequel without realizing how inferior it is.
Uninvited, The (Lewis Allen, 1944). Superb, atmospheric ghost story in the spirit of Val Lewton.
Uzumaki (Higuchinsky, 2000). Vertiginous, occasionally discordant adaptation of the manga conveys "the uncanny" better than almost any other film.
Vanishing, The (George Sluizer, 1988). Psychological horror cripples a man when his wife suddenly – vanishes. Avoid the mediocre U.S. remake of this Dutch gem.
Wicker Man, The (Robin Hardy, 1973). Set in modern-day Great Britain, this movie concerns a small offshore island where the inhabitants still keep an interest in the "old religion." Celtic mythology in a modern setting, done with thriller-movie flair and a sense of humor. Neil LaBute's 2006 version may be the worst remake ever filmed.
Wolf Man, The (George Waggner, 1941). Not the first werewolf picture, but the one that set the rules for the Hollywood wolf-man as tragic victim-monster.
Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974). Uproarious send-up of the whole horror film genre.
Television series can have as many directors as they have episodes. Thus, credits are omitted for brevity, although some annotations name the creative masterminds involved.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). Possibly the best continuing horror TV series ever, and a model of story-arc development. Easy on the eyes, too.
Criminal Minds (2005-present). Procedural drama about FBI serial-killer profilers.
Dark Shadows (1966-1971, 1991). This no-budget 1960s Gothic soap opera still commands a fanatically loyal audience today, due to a memorable ensemble of ghoulish protagonists.
Forever Knight (1992-1996). Vampire police drama with a cult following.
Fringe (2008-present). Pseudoscience becomes mysticism in this stylish conspiracy thriller series.
Ghost Hunters (2004-present). SyFy Channel "reality" show offers low-fi thrills and chills.
Invaders, The (1967-1968). Alien-invasion paranoia with a 1960s twist of low-key excellence.
Kingdom, The (1994, 1997). Two very unsettling four-episode series about a ghost-filled hospital, created by Danish director Lars von Trier. Stephen King retooled this for an American audience as Kingdom Hospital.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975). This campy show had a sleazy but intrepid reporter chasing down a different monster every week, over the objections of the obsessively skeptical authorities. Followed two hit pilot films (1972 and 1973, both available as a double feature).
Masters of Horror (2005-2007). Generally excellent Showtime series of original films by acclaimed horror directors.
Night Gallery (1969-1973). Rod Serling's worthy successor to The Twilight Zone.
Supernatural (2005-present). Blue-collar haunt-stompers battle ghosts, demons, and monsters in America's "flyover country." Relentlessly clever writing and excellent production backstop this increasingly compelling show.
Tales from the Darkside (1984-1988). Produced by George A. Romero, this is probably the best of the 1980s horror anthology series (including Freddy's Nightmares [Region 2 DVD] and Monsters), despite cheesy special effects.
Torchwood (2006-present). British government operatives battle the Outside and sleep with each other in this wild Doctor Who spinoff.
True Blood (2008-present). Puts an HBO spin on the "sexy vampire" in the post-Twilight era.
Twilight Zone, The (1959-1964). Rod Serling's groundbreaking series defined and perfected TV horror storytelling. Essential. Reincarnated several times (1985-1989, 2002-2003) with varying degrees of success.
Twin Peaks (1990-1991). Atmospheric horror mystery created by David Lynch goes rapidly downhill after the central mystery is solved in the second season.
Ultraviolet (1998). Superb six-episode British series about a covert death squad's war against vampires.
War of the Worlds (1988-1990). 1950s alien paranoia updated to the George H.W. Bush era with lively gusto, if little coherence.
X-Files, The (1993-2002). At its peak (circa season 5), the best horror on television. Conspiracies, UFOs, and monsters all blend with excellent camerawork and production for an atmospheric triumph.
Some of these titles are feature films, while others are TV or OVA (original video animation) series. Feature films list a director; series don't.
Ayakashi (2006). Horror anthology includes a version of the classic Yotsuya Kaidan.
Boogiepop Phantom (2000). Nonlinear horror mystery set in a Japanese high school.
Demon City Shinjuku (Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 1988). Evil fate destroys a Tokyo neighborhood, turning it into a haunted urban wasteland.
Hellsing (2001-2002, 2006-present). A secret society battles monsters in Britain; adapted from the manga by Kouta Hirano (1997-2008).
Mononoke (2007). Wandering medicine seller battles unnatural spirits. Spinoff of Ayakashi.
Nightmare Before Christmas, The (Henry Selick, 1993). Giddy animated musical with much worthwhile Tim Burton-driven surreal imagery.
Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1998). Philip K. Dick-style thriller of psychological disintegration and identity centers on a former J-pop starlet.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1972). The great silly horror show, despite the total absence of actual horror. Consider it a warning: The average player group behaves far too much like the Scooby gang.
Serial Experiments Lain (1998). Deeply philosophical and subtly terrifying story of conspiracy, perception, and reality.
Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geronimi, 1959). Yes, the Walt Disney feature. Seriously. Watch it again in the dark.
Vampire Hunter D (Toyoo Ashida, 1985). Dark-future SF romance features a split-personality vampire-slayer who battles a blood-drinking aristocracy in the year 12,090 A.D.
Witch Hunter Robin (2002-2003). Secret society battles witches, who have a weird genetic angle.
You didn't think we'd forget about horror games, did you?
Horror games are among the most popular, long-lived, and artistically important in the history of RPGs. Here are only a few of the absolute best.
Craig, Malcolm. Cold City (Contested Ground Studios, 2006). Game of betrayal and trust – and monster-hunting – in Cold War Berlin.
Czege, Paul. My Life with Master (Half Meme Press, 2003). Innovative narrative pulls players through the emotional crisis of every Gothic villain's "Igor."
Dansky, Richard, et al. Wraith: The Oblivion Second Edition (White Wolf, 1996). Bleak, personal roleplaying: You play a ghost, and the dark shadow of another player's ghost.
Hindmarch, Will, et al. Requiem Chronicler's Guide (White Wolf, 2006). Brilliant anthology of ways to deconstruct and rebuild the classic Vampire setting, rules, and feel. A must-read for GMs, even if you don't play Vampire.
Jonsson, Gunilla and Petersén, Michael. Kult (Metropolis Ltd., 1993). Gnostic horror at its most uncompromising.
Laws, Robin D. Fear Itself (Pelgrane Press, 2007). Laws' GUMSHOE System, designed for investigative horror, demonstrates that it can handle survival horror, too.
Nesmith, Bruce, et al. Ravenloft (TSR, 1990). This AD&D supplement combines classic fantasy with classic horror in a near-perfect setting book.
Petersen, Sandy. Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium, 1981). Brilliantly adapts Lovecraft's cosmic horror to the RPG form; an incomparable success of design, setting, and feel that spawned decades of astonishing supplements and adventures.
Tynes, John. Puppetland (Hogshead, 1996). Minimalist, experimental horror in a world where the Puppetmaster is dead.
Tynes, John, et al. Delta Green (Pagan Publishing, 1997). Call of Cthulhu supplement that melds the Cthulhu Mythos into 1990s UFO-conspiracy paranoia with perfect pitch.
Tynes, John and Stolze, Greg. Unknown Armies (Atlas Games, 1999). Ruthlessly human-centered, brilliantly original game of the "occult underground," and the choices you make to survive there.
Wendig, Chuck, et al. Hunter: The Vigil (White Wolf, 2008). The Compleat Monster-Hunter Game, playable at almost any scope.
GURPS Third Edition
Many GURPS Third Edition supplements contain horror material. Much of this is usable with any system, and most of the rest is easily adapted to Fourth Edition. Almost every historical or fantasy GURPS book has monsters or details that can inspire horror; the following supplements focus on specific horrors and provide terrifying information.
Carella, C.J. GURPS Voodoo. Secret war of ritual magicians serves as the entry for an in-depth look at Voudun. GURPS Thaumatology adapts the magic system to Fourth Edition as "Path/Book magic."
Elliott, Paul and McCubbin, Chris. GURPS Atomic Horror. Cinematic SF horrors of the 1950s, and the historical background on that decade.
Findley, Nigel. GURPS Illuminati. Conspiratorial everything, including horror.
Grate, Lane. GURPS Blood Types. In-depth discussion of vampires, as PCs and foes alike.
Hite, Kenneth. GURPS Cabal. Secret-historical horror setting featuring lots of monsters and a Hermetic magic system (the latter adapted to Fourth Edition in GURPS Thaumatology). Hite covers "ghost-breaking" in detail in GURPS All-Star Jam 2004, and (with William H. Stoddard) discusses the horrors of World War II in GURPS WWII: Weird War II.
Johnson, Hunter (compiler). GURPS Monsters. Details 48 monsters, both classic and original, from the Minotaur to Shub-Internet.
Kenson, Stephen. GURPS Spirits. Ghosts, demons, faerie, and other (usually) immaterial troublemakers. Graeme Davis' GURPS Faerie focuses on the fae.
Koke, Jeff and Ross, S. John. GURPS Black Ops. Tongue-in-cheek action-conspiracy featuring a lot of very dangerous monsters.
Maykrantz, Scott Paul. GURPS Creatures of the Night. Speaking of "very dangerous monsters, a lot of" . . . Spawned a continuing series of Fourth Edition PDFs.
McCubbin, Chris. GURPS CthulhuPunk. Adapts the Cthulhu Mythos to the 21st century of GURPS Cyberworld for cosmic cyberpunk horror.
Pulver, David. GURPS Reign of Steel. Post-apocalyptic horror setting featuring malevolent AIs and killer robots. GURPS Technomancer is an alternate-history setting where magic spells – and lots of monsters – work.
Punch, Sean. GURPS Undead. Exhaustive examination of the undead from all angles, including the "cut 'em up with a chainsaw" angle. His compilation GURPS Y2K discusses apocalypse in many forms, including the one that didn't happen in 2000.
Ramsay, Jo. GURPS Screampunk. Covers Gothic horror roleplaying in depth.
Ross, S. John. GURPS Warehouse 23. Weird things, including monsters, cursed artifacts, and other horror inspirations.
Schroeck, Robert M. GURPS Shapeshifters. Werewolves and their ilk, as PCs or targets – or both!
Video and Computer Games
Digital games are designed by large teams, so credits here are by publisher.
BioShock (2K Games, 2007). Survival horror – and powerful story – set in a ruined undersea colony of Objectivists.
Dead Space (Electronic Arts, 2008). SF zombies ("Necromorphs") on a doomed spaceship; the game wears its cinematic influences (Stalker, Event Horizon) on its sleeve.
Doom (id Software, 1993). Fighting demons on Mars; a classic.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Nintendo, 2002). Lovecraftian adventure RPG featuring unique "sanity effects" that interfere with the player's perceptions.
Half-Life (Valve, 1998). First-person shooter pits Dr. Gordon Freeman against horrid monsters pouring through an extradimensional rift – and against the conspiracy to cover up the incident.
Left 4 Dead (Valve, 2008). A "cinematic" game AI keeps tension and thrills taut in this survival-horror game of killing the "infected" (zombies).
Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996). Highly influential (and successful) survival-horror game.
Silent Hill (Konami, 1999). Creepy goings-on in a foggy, monster-filled town.
Thief: Deadly Shadows (Eidos Interactive, 2004). Quasi-Gothic horror stealth game set in an alternate-historical mishmash.
When Cicadas Cry (07th Expansion, 2002). Strange Japanese computer game ("sound novel") about a series of ritual killings; also known as Higurashi When They Cry.