Spooktober Recs (Dark Tales, Black Comedy, and Good ol’ Murder)

It’s the middle of October and, yet again, I’ve almost forgotten all about this blog. And I was doing so well last month too. Four posts! I was on a roll! But then stuff happened, I got distracted, and kind of just… forgot. Almost.

Originally, I wanted my obligatory October spooky post to be about all the ghost/creepy experiences I’ve had in the past. But then I remembered that my life’s obscenely boring and I’ve yet to actually seen (or think I’ve seen) anything remotely paranormal. So even though it’s pretty derivative, I’m just gonna recommend some books, movies, and shows that are perfect for this spooky month. My tastes have always leaned more to the creepy and weird so this kind of post will suit me better, I think.

So if you’re like me and love the world of ghouls, creatures, fairies, and acceptably interesting murderers, keep on reading.

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Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo

Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo (comics)

It recently dawned on me that I have yet to actually recommend the Trese series here on my blog. For that, I’m deeply ashamed. Trese is the series that opened my eyes to the incredible the myths and folkore of my home country. I mean, sure, I grew up hearing tales of kapres and aswangs but I’ve always considered them kinda dull compared to more popular creatures (read: international ones). Trese reimagines my childhood monsters as modern supernatural beasts that just want to live their lives (which unfortunately often involves wrecking havoc on ours)

The series stars the badass Alexandra Trese, the protector of Manila. She keeps the underworld creatures from causing too much trouble and ensures that humans stay ignorant (and respectful) of the mythical world. It’s mostly an episodic series, each chapter focusing on a particular supernatural crime of some kind. But in recent volumes there’s this underlying threat of a Big Bad on the rise but the creators are still working on the next volume (as well as making Trese available for international release), so it’s all still a mystery.

The Child Thief by Brom

The Child Thief by Brom (novel)

I finished this behemoth of a novel more than a year ago and  I still haven’t completely recovered from it. To say that it disturbed me is an understatement. Even just thinking about The Child Thief again is sending shivers down my spine. It was that good and that unsettling.

Basically, The Child Thief is a dark retelling of the Peter Pan story. Yes, I know that dark retellings of fairy tales have been done to death but, my dude, this one elevates gore and creepiness to an art form. Homicidal Lost Kids, half-dead-and-mostly-mad pirates, dangerous fairies, and gratuitous violence – that’s what you get with this novel. Brom paints such a bleak and eerie world that’s equal parts terrifying and beautiful. My only real complaint is that it’s too long and could have been better with some chapters cut or reduced.

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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (Short story)

Speaking of bleak, here’s what many consider to be the bleakest dystopian fiction ever written. Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a science fiction short story that’s been disturbing people since the late sixties. It imagines a post-apocalyptic world run by a sadistic, brutal, omnipotent and omniscient supercomputer that wiped out humanity save for a handful of unlucky souls. What really sets this dystopian fiction apart is the sheer hopelessness in the story. The protagonists are so powerless against the supercomputer that they can do nothing but play along the sadistic games, craving for death the entire time.

You can read the short story or listen to its audiobook read by the author himself. It is haunting.

Petshop of Horrors
Pet Shop of Horrors

Pet Shop of Horrors (4-episode Anime)

This is a pretty old and largely obscure short anime that I think is perfectly binge-able on a nice and spooky night. The art style might be outdated and the episodic stories a little over the top but it’s still quite a fun mysterious show with lots of mythological references. The premise of this old show is that there is a mysterious pet shop where the owner sells rare “pets” to a very select group of people. The thing is though, these “pets” often turn out to be creatures of the paranormal and, although Count D (the caretaker of the shop) clearly outlines the contract, the buyer almost always breaks it, leading to tragic results.

Each episode is a stand-alone story, with a detective snooping around the shop to tie them all together, but ultimately each episode focuses on the buyers. The manga this show was adapted from has completed 10 volumes so if you’re interested in more of Count D’s story, you can go from there.

Kisaragi (2007)

Kisaragi (Movie)

To lighten up the mood, here’s a nice Japanese black comedy about a teen idol’s death. Kisaragi is a surprisingly heartfelt movie about a group of different men coming together to commemorate the one year death anniversary of C-list idol Kisaragi Miki. Initially, everyone assumed that Kisaragi committed suicide the year before but as her little fan club discuss their beloved idol, they realize that her death may not have been what it seemed. And one of them might have had a hand in it.

What I particularly loved about this movie was how dialogue driven the story was. Besides brief artistic renditions of Kisaragi’s “alleged” final moments, the whole movie unravels in one claustrophobic room with five very eccentric men. The plot twists seem contrived but, ultimately, the movie’s too fun to really care about such matters.

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My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (Podcast)

And finally, I can’t possibly end this recommendations list without mentioning one of the best murder-comedy podcasts out there, My Favorite Murder. Basically, it’s these two cool ladies talking about their favorite murder of the week. With such a gloomy topic, you’d think it’d be all gloom and doom but, nope, it’s far from it. Karen and Georgia are the sweetest, funniest, most empathetic murder aficionados out there. Tuning into the podcast is like hanging out with your friends who just so happen to share your love for murder.

If you haven’t tried listening to a podcast, give My Favorite Murder a chance. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to lose yourself in the conversation.

[Also, in an earlier episode, Karen talked about a string of murders in the Philippines, the My Way murders. Of course we’re known for our love for karaoke. Even our murders… Of course!]

I guess that about wraps it up. I meant to write more on this list but then I figured that I probably didn’t have the energy or focus to do more than one per medium. I’ve been writing a lot lately. I’ll probably talk about that more in a separate blog post. If I still remember this blog of mine though.

But anyway, out of curiosity, what’s your must-watch or must-read this spooky month? I’d love to hear your recommendations. I do love all things horror and creepy.

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