Meghan: Hey, Katie! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. It is so nice to have you here today. What is YOUR favorite part of Halloween?

Katie: I love Halloween, it’s really difficult to pick a favorite part! I love so much about the holiday, I love decorating the house, I love the events around Halloween, especially the rise (at least in the UK) of live action events with actors, etc. I love the excuse to eat too much sugar and to dress up.

But if I had to pick a favorite thing, it would be the coziness. I love spending Halloween night curled up on the sofa in some kind of cozy costume (I was a shark last year) with my partner, the lights down low, lots of tasty snacks, the cats curled up dozing and something blood curdling on the TV. The only interruption being the doorbell every so often as we’re invaded by tiny monsters come to partake of our snacks.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Katie: This entirely depends.

I’m unbothered by hyper violence, I very much enjoy a good psychological horror but rarely find them overly frightening but when it comes to certain types of horror, I’m a bit of a wimp. I suppose supernatural horror is most likely to scare me.

So, if you show me people being scary, I’m less likely to be bothered, show me something inhuman and I scare easily.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Katie: I found the movie Paranormal Activity (the first one) terrifying. The idea of something threatening being in the house but you couldn’t perceive it. You couldn’t see, smell or touch it but it could touch you and had malicious intent. Burrrr. The level of vulnerability I felt for the characters really got under my skin.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Katie: The ending of Eden Lake. I was cheering for Jenny and when she got away from the woods and you thought she was out of danger only for that to happen to her… ugh, makes my skin want to crawl off and hide.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Katie: Can’t say there ever was, the more freaked out I am by a trailer the more likely I’m going to want to see the film.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Katie: It’s not a movie but I’d choose the Netflix Haunting of Hill House Series. I’d totally fix up a super Haunted House that eats people.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Katie: I’d be Tree Gelbman from Happy Death Day, hunting a murderer in a ground hog day like scenario. Each day full of new opportunities to kick the villains head in.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Katie: Probably a ghost.

I love the mystery element behind most ghost stories, I also feel most afraid when I can’t see or touch the threat but I can see or touch me. Most of my favorite horror films are ghost stories. Ever since I was young and watched the Lady in White a 1988 horror film about the murder of a young girl.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Katie: Decorating the house with all the spooky decorations. I put my decorations up probably a week earlier than I should and even then, it’s only through epic self-control that keeps me waiting that long. I love making my house look like somewhere Winifred, Sarah, and Mary from Hocus Pocus would feel at home.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Katie: It’s a tie between ‘This is Halloween’ from The Nightmare Before Christmas and Thriller by Michel Jackson.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Katie: When I was young my mum used to read to me before I went to bed. Sometimes she would make up stories, sometimes she’d read children books and fairytales to me. Then one day she came into my bedroom with a copy of The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.

It was my first experience of horror and I remember feeling super unsettled but also utterly captivated. I was gutted when the book finished and went on my own little crusade to find horror books that my mum would let me read.

Even now when I occasionally re-read this book, I feel the way I did when I was little.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Katie: My partner and I were on our first holiday together. We went to Boscastle in Cornwall, an absolutely beautiful village in a glorious part of the country. We stayed in an old fisherman’s cottage down in the harbor. One evening I was upstairs, in the bedroom, faffing about while my partner was downstairs. I heard the tap in the bathroom turn on.

This tap was the kind where to turn the water on you lift a lever and to turn it off you push the lever down. So, it turning itself on was bloody odd. I went and turned it off. I went back into the bedroom and continued my faffing. The tap turned itself back on.

This happened multiple times during the holiday, I’d wake up during the night to the sound of water running. It got to the point where I just left it alone. If spooky ghosts want to wash their hands, who was I to stop them.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Katie: Oh, this is an easy one, mass disappearances.

The Roman 9th Legion, Aztalan Indians, Moche Civilization, ghost ships, there’s too many to list. But cases where large numbers of people vanish up in smoke. Usually suddenly.

If you enjoy those kinds of mysteries as well, I would recommend the book and film Phantoms by Dean Koontz, the video game Man of Medan and the very recent film directed by Jordan Peele, Nope.

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Katie: I love Creepy Pasta for this kind of thing. It’s impossible to name just one, but the No Sleep Podcast and Reddit pages are an absolute goldmine for great ghost stories.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Katie: I really struggle with this.

A shotgun would be great but bullets are not infinite. So, some kind of melee weapon, maybe an axe, something heavy and weighted because I’m not particularly strong so if I need something to give weight to my attacks.

The downside with a melee weapon is that I’m also pretty short and I don’t have much in the way of reach.

So, with that in mind, I’d probably go with my car. My car is big, heavy and I can squish things with it with very little effort on my part. If I had unlimited resources I’d trip my car out with window armor, big spikes and junk. I’d probably also have an axe and a shot gun on the passenger seat.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
Katie: Vampire. I don’t need fleas on top of everything else. Also, I’m pale and have red hair so I’m used to avoiding the sun.
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Katie: Zombies, aliens would be smarter than me. Zombies I think I’d be on a more even keel with.
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
Katie: Grim. I guess eat dead bodies, provided they’ve not been embalmed cause that’s toxic.
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
Katie: Poltergeist house, it was a great film with a strong sequel. Though I’d get annoyed that the ghosties like moving my furniture. I’m particular about things being tidy.
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
Katie: I’m intolerant of spicy food, it literally makes me sick. Whereas I like cheese, so I guess I’m eating maggots.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
Katie: I’ll have the witches brew please, hopefully she’s put some kind of adult beverage in there.

Katie Marie is a horror enthusiast and writer from Norfolk, England.

She has been published in several anthologies and magazines, and her Novella, A Man in Winter, was recently released by Brigids Gate Press.

Katie started writing while studying for her Law Degree at Aberystwyth University in the early 2000’s and several years and stories later she received her Masters Degree and published her first novel.


Arthur, whose life was devastated by the brutal murder of his wife, must come to terms with his diagnosis of dementia. He moves into a new home at a retirement community, and shortly after, has his life turned upside down again when his wife’s ghost visits him and sends him on a quest to find her killer so her spirit can move on. With his family and his doctor concerned that his dementia is advancing, will he be able to solve the murder before his independence is permanently restricted?

A Man in Winter examines the horrors of isolation, dementia, loss, and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.

GUEST POST: Matthew R. Davis

13 Fun Fright Flicks for Halloween

Halloween is as much about fun as it is frights, so here’s a list of films to get you cackling through the chaos. I’ve avoided the obvious choices, so no Shaun of the Dead, Scream, Trick ‘r Treat, etc. (even if Shaun is one of the best films of all time, hands down). Here, you’ll find a baker’s dozen of rollicking romps and silly shocks, all dressed in the finest Halloween regalia, and I’ve even included some streaming options if that’s your thing… but I should warn you, Halloween itself plays almost no part in these films. Themes are hard, man! Here’s your effing lot.

DEMONS (1985)
Lamberto Bava’s Demons lays on the cheese thick and fast, taking everything we’d come to expect from producer/co-writer Dario Argento’s oeuvre and amping the ridiculous action up to 11. A group of unsuspecting folk enter the Metropol for a free screening of a new horror flick, only to find the nightmare bursting off the celluloid to run amok in the theatre. Cue special effects that range from laughably daft to outright eerie, a soundtrack that cuts between a very ‘80s synth score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti and rockers like Mötley Crüe’s “Save Our Souls” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, and outlandish elements such as a working dirt bike in the cinema lobby and an unexplained final-act helicopter crash in the amphitheatre. A perfect beer and pizza flick!

Stream Demons on Shudder

Featuring a standout turn from Tom Atkins as the endlessly quotable Detective Ray Cameron, Night of the Creeps delivers a fun 1980s update of 1950s SF/horror larks that never knowingly takes itself seriously. A college hazing prank gone wrong looses alien brain parasites upon a small town, turning the infected into murderous zombies whose rampage leads to college girls accessorising their prom dresses with flamethrowers. Writer/director Fred Dekker channels youthful joy into an enjoyable romp that throws in B&W ‘50s flashbacks, Hawaiian dream sequences, a disabled best friend who brings both laughs and pathos, and exploding heads by the dozen. If you don’t answer the phone with the words “thrill me” after watching this, you’re doing it all wrong.

Stream Night of the Creeps on Shudder

We’ll be moving on from the ‘80s in due course, but first, here’s a treat (or trick) for fans of cheesy heavy metal. Sneering hairspray rocker Sammi Curr dies before the release of his new album Songs in the Key of Death, but his biggest fan soon realises the gig he had planned for the local high school’s Halloween dance will be going ahead regardless – and Curr’s set is going to kill. Featuring cameos from Gene Simmons as rock DJ Nuke and Ozzy Osbourne as a fundamentalist preacher set on abolishing rock n’ roll, Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat brings a knowing wit to its cheap pyrotechnics as it follows many a disgruntled teen’s arc from investing whole-heartedly in rebel music to eventually discarding it for the trappings of maturity. Don’t believe that hype, though – metal is forever!

Ken Russell’s delirious adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1911 novel is as outrageous and enjoyable as you’d expect, contrasting venomous visions of Romans ravishing nuns amidst blood and fire with the bucolic sleepiness of a small English village. When a giant serpentine skull is unearthed at an archaeological gig, the appetites of ancient worm deity Dionin accelerate to envelop humble innkeeper and rich gentry alike. A fresh-faced Peter Capaldi (twenty-five years away from headlining Doctor Who) brings the modest heroism, Hugh Grant plays his charming, dapper-but-practical toff to the hilt, and Amanda Donohoe is having such a blast as the seductive villainess Miss Marsh that her sharp turns into sheer snake-eyed terror are all the more disturbing. The Lair of the White Worm is a fever dream from which you’ll wake laughing… in a pool of cold sweat.

Stream The Lair of the White Worm on Shudder

You won’t find any frights here, but you will laugh your head off – and if you’re unlucky, someone will come along to sew it back on the wrong body. After an horrific lawnmower accident leaves his fiancée in pieces, a backyard scientist resolves to build her a new body, and what follows is an orgy of homemade super-crack, exploding sex workers, relaxation techniques involving trepanation by power drill, and a patchwork prostitute tottering around on stacked heels looking for fatal “dates”. Frank Henenlotter’s ludicrous body-horror is a welcome shock of lightning for those seeking bad-taste titillation on Halloween. Also, I just can’t help myself, so here’s a crap joke: Frankenhooker; or, the Modern Promiscuous.

Stream Frankenhooker on Shudder

If you’re only familiar with Peter Jackson through his epic Tolkien adaptations, watching his early films must be like discovering your favourite classical composer used to be in a smutty grindcore band. After she’s bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey, downtrodden Lionel finds his nasty mother taking a turn for the worse and must go to extreme lengths to keep her and her ever-increasing horde of zombie victims under wraps, even if it means strapping a lawnmower to his chest to cut swathes through the undead or stabbing his way free from a monstrous womb. Jackson masterfully steers this flick from a comedy of manners set in 1950s New Zealand to a hilariously over-the-top rampage that soaks the screen in more red stuff than any movie before or since. This is splatter that matters.

Stream Dead Alive (aka Braindead) on Vudu

When it comes to spooky fun, how can you go past the family-animation gateway to horror that is Scooby-Doo? The gang reunite to shoot some footage for Daphne’s TV show in New Orleans, only to find themselves up against a threat that, for once, proves to be much more than a small business owner trying to scare off competition by skulking around in a monster suit – this time, the creeps are real. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is highly regarded amongst fans for its (slightly) darker tone, which prefigures the show’s future exploration of more layered and “adult” plots in the excellent Mystery Incorporated. Jeepers, jinkies, and zoinks, oh my!

Stream Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island on Roku

CUT (2000)
Time for some tongue-in-cheek slasher hijinks, and you can keep your Scream franchise and subsequent knock-offs – Cut may not be better, but it’s at least a flavour you might not have tried before. An Australian film crew decides to finish shooting the incomplete horror feature Hot Blooded!, which has long been regarded as cursed, and naturally, slaughter ensues as the movie’s masked killer returns to wreak havoc on the set. If you’re not sufficiently intrigued by the casting of Molly Ringwald as a bullish diva looking to reignite her career, perhaps you’d be interested in watching Kylie Minogue meet a gruesome death – and this was all shot by Kimble Rendall here in my home state of South Australia. Frights, camera – slashin’!

Stream Cut on Vimeo

That’s right, my friends, we’re going there – I consider Ghosts of Mars to be an underrated and highly enjoyable horror flick, not a patch on John Carpenter’s prior classics but easily worth ninety minutes of your time. When a mining crew unleashes a horde of ravenous spirits on Mars, it’s up to Natasha Henstridge’s team to save the day, and if nothing else, it’s a whole lot of fun watching Pam Grier, Ice Cube, and a pre-fame Jason Statham chew the scenery like catering had taken the day off. Carpenter throws a bunch of intriguing ideas at the screen – a subtly matriarchal society, the use of illegal narcotics providing unexpected salvation for one character – as well as a whole lot of severed heads and tribal scarification. If you’ve heard about the toxic reception but haven’t tried it yourself, you might find that, like me, you disagree with the critical consensus.

Stream Ghosts of Mars on Hulu

If you’re in the mood for something crass and entirely lacking in socially redeeming features, look no further than Rob Zombie’s outrageous adventure in animated sleaze. Celebrity luchador lunkhead El Superbeasto follows his lust for super-stripper Velvet Von Black (and anything else with boobs and a pulse) into the path of Doctor Satan’s clumsy quest to gain all the sudsy powers of Hell, with his sexy spy stepsister Suzi-X riding shotgun to pull his irons out of the fire. Packed full of horror references, silly songs, and game-for-anything celebrity voices, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto threatens to throttle good taste at every turn. All together now: “Zombie Nazis, f**kin’ up my day now…”

Stream The Haunted World of El Superbeasto on Roku

Why be just one thing when you can be everything – that seems to be the driving thought behind Detention, Joseph Kahn’s sensory overload of a film. A grotesque serial killer called Cinderhella is on the loose, but that’s merely a distraction from time-travel shenanigans involving a stuffed bear, personality swaps, wardrobe malfunctions, and a character once teasingly nicknamed TV Hand. More of a teen comedy on steroids and hallucinogens than a horror flick, Detention throws so much at the viewer that they might end up wishing they too could time-travel, if only to make sense of the increasingly convoluted plot. Kinetic, crazy, and a whole lot of fun.

Stream Detention on Shudder

Here’s a slasher that proves more interested in character development and even – gasp! – a dash of pathos than outright slaughter. Self-centred college student Tree Gelbman wakes up in a boy’s dorm-room bed and takes a walk of shame that ends in her murder at the hands of a killer in a baby-face mask, only to begin the same deadly day again and again until she works out how to use her knowledge of events to combat her murderer, experiencing some much-needed personal growth along the way. Christopher Landon’s horror-comedy charms more than one expects, and for those who want to know more, there’s a sequel that flips everything on its head. Fun fact: this is one of those rare films that features a bong as a murder weapon.

Stream Happy Death Day on Netflix

SCARE ME (2020)
Telling scary stories is an integral part of Halloween, and here’s a film that builds upon that tradition in a most amusing fashion. When struggling writer/actor Fred finds himself trapped by a thunderstorm in a cabin with successful horror author Fanny, the two try to frighten each other by making up terror tales – but the biggest threat may lie in Fred’s frustration with Fanny’s acerbic nature and his own feelings of failure and entitlement. Writer/director/actor Josh Ruben’s Scare Me relies upon the rapid wordplay of its lead actors, and while he acquits himself well, it’s Aya Cash (Stormfront from The Boys) who carries the film with her vibrant performance of the acidic Fanny. Add an unexpected sting in the tail, and you have a funny and satisfying addition to the horror-comedy canon.

Stream Scare Me on Shudder

This animated segment – one half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad – was something I saw a few times in my childhood, and it never failed to provide me with much amusement and a little healthy fear. Lanky bookworm Ichabod Crane vies for the hand of Katrina von Tassel, so his rival Brom Bones regales him with the tale of the Headless Horseman… and later that night, he discovers for himself just how much truth is held in the tale. The only selection here suitable for a family audience, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes highly recommended for anyone looking to pique their children’s budding interest in spooky fun.

Stream The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad on Disney+

Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia, whose novelette “Heritage Hill” (found in Outback Horrors Down Under: An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors, edited by Steve Dillon, published by Things in the Well Publications) was shortlisted for a 2020 Shirley Jackson Award and the WSFA Small Press Award. His books are the horror collection If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (Things in the Well, 2020) and the novel Midnight in the Chapel of Love (JournalStone, 2021). Find out more at his website.

Midnight in the Chapel of Love
THE MAN: Jonny Trotter has spent the last fifteen years running from tragic memories of the country town where he grew up—but the black envelopes pushed under his door won’t let him forget, and now that his father has died, he can run no more.

THE TOWN: Returning to Waterwich for the funeral and wake with his partner Sloane, Jonny must confront old resentments, his estranged best friends Brendan and Coralie, a strange, veiled woman the locals call the White Widow…and the mystery surrounding the fate of his first lover, Jessica Grzelak.

THE GIRL: A morbid and reckless city girl banished to the country to live with her aunt, Jessica loved to push the limits and explore the shadows—and no one has seen her since the night of her high school formal, the night she and Jonny went looking for the Chapel.

THE CHAPEL: Rumored to be found in the woods outside Waterwich, mentioned in playground rhymes about local lovebirds Billy and Poppy and their killing spree in 1964, the Chapel is said to be an ancient, sacred place that can only be entered by lovers—a test that can only be passed if their bond is pure and true.

THE TRUTH: Before he can move on to a future with Sloane, Jonny must first face the terrible truth of his past—and if he can’t bring it out into the light at last, it might just pull him and everything he loves down into the dark forever.