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Staff Picks: The Scariest Books & Movies

By Amanda Cleveland • October 23, 2022

Who knows more about books than ThriftBooks? Nobody that's who, and I'll defend that to my grave. Depending on how scary this blog gets, that could come sooner than I'd like and it would be my own fault.

Because it's the spookiest season, I tasked our staff to tell everyone 1) the scariest book they've ever read, and/or 2) the scariest movie they've ever seen, and 3) explain themselves with a quote, so that you all might feast upon our tasty, tasty fear.

Now that you know the method of our madness, I'll let the staff introduce themselves and get to the terror already! Allow me to start us off...

Amanda C. — Production Assistant & Part-Time Doll Hater

Book: The Bad Seed by William March

Usually books don't scare me, even the most gruesome horror, 'cuz I'm totally a tough guy who ain't afraid of nuttin'(see next entry). The Bad Seed really got to me, though. No spoilers, it's a story about a family with a young girl who is, you know, off. She revels in others' pain and misery, and with her age defending her there's little to be done to curb her behaviors. It kind of made me suspicious of every kid I saw for a few weeks like, 'Are you her?'

Movie: Child's Play (1988)

I could have given a good answer, like Suspiria, but it wouldn't be honest. I'm not a tough guy like I said before. I'm a short, tiny girl who couldn't fight a Muppet and I don't like it when dolls move. Chucky in particular gets me because he's so very angry, so weirdly strong, so tiny he could be anywhere (like under my desk right now?!), and he won't die…

Sarah M. — Vintage Lead

Book: The Whisper Man by Alex North

This book captured me immediately and thoroughly…and also made me sleep with the lights on for 3 nights in a row.

Movie: It (1990)

My biggest mistake was watching this miniseries. My second biggest mistake was watching this alone, while staying in the basement of a summer camp building where I was on staff. Clowns terrify me ever since then!

Danielle Tenny — Supply Account Manager & Neighborhood Nightmare Goblin

Book: It by Stephen King

"The kid in you just leaked out, like the air out of a tire. And one day you looked in the mirror and there was a grownup looking back at you." - Richie Tozier

Movie: The Ring

"You start to play it... and it's like somebody's nightmare. Then suddenly, this woman comes on. Smiling at you, right? Seeing you... through the screen. Then when it's over, your phone rings. Someone knows you watched it. And what they say is, 'You will die in seven days.'"

Connie Reagan — Collectibles Receiver

Book: The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand looked at ordinary people and said: let's damage you all. Rather than the threat being ghosts or vampires, it was a sickness. Because it's plausible it affects people in a lasting way.

Ricky R. — IT*

Movie: Creep (2014)

Creep is not perfect, but lives up to its title. It's been a while since I have watched it, but there are actually disturbing moments in this movie.

*Editor's note: He means IT as in Information Technology, to be clear. We didn't hire a Pennywise…at least I don't think. Why would we do that if we did? What does ThriftBooks need one of those for?!

From an Anonymous Kid at Heart — Mom's Incorporated/ThriftBooks

Book: The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Reading this to my children and watching their facial expressions as they sat a little closer was the greatest. It would have been "Scary" to miss such a great memory.

Movie: The Exorcist

OMG! I read the Bible for a week straight after watching that one!

Hugo M. — The Zombie of Customer Service

Book: I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Worldwide apocalypse from disease? Relevance, anyone? Plus, vampires and zombies never really go out of our consciousness, but vampiric zombies??? Book your therapy session here, folks!

Movie: The Omega Man

Which is the second adaptation of I am Legend, the first being The Last Man on Earth from 1964 and the most recent being I am Legend from 2007.

Job 1.a is to fight off the same evermore-resourceful foes every night battling to break into your house and eat you. This is followed by job 1.b - a respite every day, where you scavenge for ever-dwindling resources with which to fight the next night. Can this end well? - That is my Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life.

Yafa A. — Customer Service Lead

Book: The Haunting of the Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is one of the best books to read to get into the Halloween mode, Shirley Jackson paints such a good picture, I don't recommend reading this at night.

Movie: The Others

This is the best scary movie, you don't know who is being haunted until the end, it's really well done, and Nicole Kidman was absolute perfection in that movie.

Adriana S. — Accounting

Book: Annihilation/the whole Southern Reach series by Jeff VanderMeer

"That's how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality."

Movie: The Ring

The idea of dying days from watching a movie is just scary!

Bernardo — Communications Manager

Book: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

Though Chaos by Tom O'Neill casts a lot of this book's assertions in doubt, when I read Helter Skelter as a child, it chilled me to the bone. Claiming to be the true story of Charlie Manson and his "Family" of murderous hippies, I was shocked, disgusted, and horrified by how brutal Manson and his acolytes were. Making matters worse, the TV movie of the book aired right after I read it, and it starred the most terrifying version of Manson to ever appear on the big or small screen, portrayed by Steve Railsback (who was somehow even MORE frightening on camera than Manson himself!).

Movie: Don't Look Now

The film Don't Look Now is equally horrifying as heartbreaking. The twist at the end is shocking and inevitable, the very essence of tragedy. I only saw it once, but it has haunted me for decades. But what do you expect? It's based on a short story by Macabre Maven Daphne du Maurier, who also wrote Rebecca (so she knows a thing or two about haunting...).

Sandi Ristine — Administrative Coordinator/Office Assistant

Book: It by Stephen King

His description in one particular part of the story of voices and blood (spewing) out of the drain and covering the bathroom always gives me chills.

Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I have always had vivid dreams and nightmares and this movie brought to light the worst of my fears: that dreams could really kill me!

Allison — Accounting Specialist

Book: Pickman's Model by H.P. Lovecraft (a short story included in this collection)

Several of Lovecraft's works have scared me, but Pickman's Model is especially horrifying to me. When I got to the end and found out what the model actually was, I had to turn on the tv and watch some cartoons to take my mind off what I had read.

Movie: The Exorcist

To this day, this is the most terrifying movie I have ever watched. Several years ago, I made the mistake of watching it right before bed. I was alone in the house and ended up sleeping with my bedroom light on. I am not embarrassed to admit that I was fully an adult when this took place.

William Shelton — Vintage Program Director

Book: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

It's the slow, mounting horror of the story, as we follow a young girl on her journey into supernatural terror.

Movie: Salem's Lot (1979)

Vampires, with saber-like teeth scratching at your windows at night, drooling as they beg to be let inside to feast upon you at your invitation...

In summary: the exorcist haunts everyone's dreams, my coworkers are still obsessed with Stephen King, and I just remembered that I'm afraid of the girl from The Ring. I need to go do a sweep of my property to check for the Chucky doll and suspicious water wells now, so that's it for this round of Staff Picks!

What about you? Are you brave enough to tell us what scares you the most in the comments?

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