Book Review: The Ruins

Worst. Vacation. Ever.

Good afternoon, friends and foes! I’m back again with another book review. It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these because… it’s been a while since I finished a book. Between a string of DNF’s and a brief obsession with trying to finish my current work in progress (spoiler alert: I did not finish it), I just wasn’t in the reading mood.

Did The Ruins improve my reading mood? …The short answer is no. Let me explain!

Scott Smith has only written two novels; 1993’s A Simple Plan and 2006’s The Ruins. He’s also written a handful of short stories and screenplays (including the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Ruins!) and he’s the showrunner of Amazon TV’s The Peripheral. But enough about him.

Let’s talk about The Ruins. I picked up this book because I was going to watch the film version around Halloween and, as a serial enjoyer of the novel more than the film, I wanted to read the book first. As it turns out, I never even watched the film because I didn’t care to see an adaptation of this book. Not because it was bad. Just because I’m too squeamish and I didn’t feel like trying not to barf for an hour and a half.

What’s interesting about the film adaptation is that Smith sold the film rights before he even finished the novel! According to The Miami Herald, “Smith was two-thirds done with the book when Ben Stiller’s production company, Red Hour Films, bought the screen rights based on an outline. ‘They told me they wanted me to write the screenplay, too,’ Smith says. ‘So while I was writing the last third of the book, I already knew I’d be adapting it for the movies.'” It currently has a 48% on rotten tomatoes and has several reviews citing too much gore, not enough plot.

The novel follows a group of four friends on a vacation to Mexico with intentions of lounging on the beach and getting drunk. Eventually they befriend some fellow travelers and all seems right in the world. Until one of their new friends goes missing. They make the keynote horror mistake of venturing into the Mexico wilderness to look for him and… well, it’s all downhill from there. Actually, uphill. Literally. They get stuck on a hill.

Basically, there’s a hill covered in gorgeous green vines that is (allegedly) the site of an archaeological dig where the missing traveler is said to have gone. But when the tourists step onto the hill, the indigenous people make sure they do not escape. Threatened with arrows and guns, the tourists have no choice but to climb the hill. They don’t know why the indigenous population is so keen on making sure they don’t leave the hill, but they’re about to find out.

No spoilers! But I will say this; if you are not a fan of gore, this book is not for you. It’s a slow start (slow all the way through, actually), but when the evil of the hill starts to have its way with the tourists it’s just a disgusting mess.

My thoughts on The Ruins are pretty simple. I’ve summed them up with the below points:

Stephen King blurbed it (and Smith’s other novel) and sang its praises. This is not surprising, as The Ruins reads super similar to a Stephen King book. Which, of course, is not a bad thing per-say. It’s just (in my HUMBLE opinion) an unmistakable similarity).

There are no chapters, just separated passages as the tourists’ POV’s cycle through. I found this pretty disorienting and a little hard to keep track of each tourist’s distinct personality, but it also made the book a faster read than I anticipated. I was tricked into waiting for the next chapter break to stop reading when – SURPRISE!- there wasn’t one.

There are too many mentions of (pardon my language) peeing! It became so distracting while reading. There were upwards of a dozen mentions of going to the bathroom in the first 50 pages alone. And it just keeps coming up again and again and again. I guess there are two ways to write survival horror in regard to bathrooms; either address the fact that characters have to do it and add to the discomfort / disgusting atmosphere, OR not mention it at all or in passing (i.e. “they dug a latrine” and that’s the last you hear of it). It was actually distracting. Which reminds me a lot of Stephen King.

All in all, I thought the book was a gross survival horror read that has pretty well stood the test of time since its publication over fifteen years ago. I can see why horror fans appreciate Smith’s slow-burn (like, super slow-burn…) horror. He paints such a dour and hopeless picture of these clueless tourists that asks the impossible question; would you venture into the Mexico jungle to search for a traveler you’ve only known for a few days, having only minimal supplies and no idea how to navigate or speak the language? And, once in the jungle, would you drink your own pee?

2 stars overall, 3 stars on the scare scale.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

Rodriguez, Rene (4 April 2008). “The Ruins: Scott Smith’s Novel Comes to the Big Screen”. The Miami Herald. Miami: The McClatchy Company. p. G6.

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Book Review: The Perfect Place to Die

A teen takes on America’s first serial killer!

Hello, friends and foes! I’m back at it again with another book review. This one isn’t unlike the last (Check out The Corpse Queen book review here) as it’s a YA historical horror, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite sub-genres.

Bryce Moore released The Perfect Place to Die in 2021 and just recently published another YA historical horror (this time about the axe-man of New Orleans), Don’t Go to Sleep. The covers are pretty similar and they’re both about 17 year old girls fighting against a historical bad-guy. If this is Moore’s brand moving forward, I won’t complain.

This book follows 17 year old Zuretta of rural Utah. She and her sister live at the hands of their abusive father and, in the middle of one fateful night, her younger sister Ruby escapes. Ruby sends letters about her new life in Chicago, and the sights and sounds of the incredible World’s Fair. She even met a man- a man she plans to marry! When Ruby’s letters stop coming, Zuretta decides to pack up and go to the big city to find her. Even if it means facing a monster on her own.

Zuretta takes a job as a maid in a questionable hotel called The Castle, where girls are said to be disappearing. It was Ruby’s last place of employment. Perhaps the last place she was seen alive. If Zuretta can survive her harrowing job and three (or four?) bosses, she might just solve the murder of what happened to her sister. Even if the Pinkerton Guard won’t help her.


Okay. So I’ve been sitting on this review for a while because I wanted to be fair. I don’t like to give negative reviews (if the book was really terrible, I usually just leave a goodreads star rating and move on with my life), but I felt like I had to get something off my chest with this one.

If you know who H.H. Holmes is, then there’s honestly no point in reading this book. Let me explain.

Evan Peters as James March in American Horror Story: Hotel

Maybe it’s because I’m kind of a history nerd (or maybe I just watch too much History Channel in general), but I’ve been hearing about H.H. Holmes and his death-trap of a hotel for YEARS. Hell, American Horror Story even had Evan Peters play a caricature of him in Season 5, AHS: Hotel. We follow Zuretta on her quest to find her sister which leads her directly to H.H. Holmes’ doorstep. Like, literally, H.H. Holmes. No fake name for the man proclaimed to be America’s first serial killer.

Then we’re made to question who the killer is out of multiple people. Zuretta doesn’t know which of the several strange men who work at The Castle is the killer but she presumes it’s one of them. And she shouldn’t know, because Holmes hasn’t been ousted as a murderer yet in American History.

But the reader knows. At least, some readers will know.

So the whole plot of Zuretta trying to solve the mystery of the strange hotel and the strange owner and trying to figure out who killed her sister is a moot point. You’re sitting there after the first quarter of the book already knowing who killed Ruby, and who will try to kill Zuretta next. There are some smaller plot “twists” in between but all in all, if you know who H.H. Holmes is in real life, you know who the murderer is in the book.

I think Moore made the choice to use Holmes’ real name rather than making up a new name because the book is supposed to be an alternate version of true history. And if you didn’t know who Holmes’ actually was in real life, then the plot twist and finding out who the murderer is would probably a much more thrilling experience.

I wonder what if it would have been more interesting for the story to be told with a different goal: so the goal isn’t to discover who the murderer is (as in, is it Holmes or one of his henchmen) but perhaps who he’s trying to kill next? Or trying to stop him before he’ll kill again? If the entire plot wasn’t centered around discovering WHO the murderer was, it would have been a more exciting read.

Also, the back of the book made me think the World’s Fair would be more of a part of the plot but Zuretta only visits it one time. It could have been the perfect backdrop for a dramatic chase or some spooky scene but… it kind of fell flat in my opinion.

All in all I feel like the book was entertaining and a quick read. I just wish I didn’t already know the story of H.H. Holmes and have the entire plot ruined for me by real life (I hate when real life does stuff like this).

2 stars overall, 1 star on the scare scale

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison

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Book Review: The Corpse Queen

A different brand of body snatchers…

Hello, friends and foes! It’s time for another book review! I post about one of these a month because I read about one book a month. At least, one spooky book that’s fit for the blog. Shockingly, I do have other literary interests outside the macabre.

I finished Heather M. Herrman’s sophomore novel The Corpse Queen in about a day and a half. One of those, “if I put this book down right now it’s all I’m going to think about for the next few hours so I might as well just not put it down” type of reads. It was fast-paced, witty, topical (who knew we would still be facing the same sexism in modern day as we were in 1855!!), and just the right amount of gritty and gory. I’m a sucker for a period piece, and this book about an 1850’s orphan in Philadelphia was exactly what I needed to quench my thirst for something I could only comp as Jack the Ripper x Body Snatchers x grave robbers.

We meet down on her luck orphan Molly at a strange time in her life. Her best friend Kitty has just been murdered, presumably by the young doctor-in-training with whom she had recently fallen in love. Molly doesn’t think she has any family left to claim her – but she’s wrong. A long-lost aunt brings Molly to her rich, gated estate in high-society Philadelphia. Molly is shocked at a member of her family having so much wealth when all she has ever known is poverty. How could someone from the same roots as her family be so rich??

By robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical schools. That’s how.

Molly joins the family business and does her best to collect the bodies alongside practiced grave-robber Thomas. But she learns more from her strange aunt than just how to steal. Molly learns the true value of a corpse, and in turn the value of the person they were when they were living. Every body gives the medical students a chance to make impressive scientific and medical discoveries. Every day they come closer to uncovering the great biological secrets of mankind. It wouldn’t be possible without the work of Molly’s aunt and her system of grave robbery.

But Molly’s aunt isn’t the only person in Philadelphia with a liking for the dead. There’s a killer on the loose, somehow connected to Molly’s family business. There’s a menacing figure called the Tooth Fairy who, you guessed it, takes only the teeth from found cadavers. There’s love and drama and intrigue and a mystery that culminates into a final grave being dug, once and for all – and if Molly can outsmart all those who told her she was worthless, the grave won’t be her own.

I loved 99% of my reading experience with this book. I found Molly’s character to be a bit stand-offish (in the best way – like how would you act if you found out your long lost aunt made a fortune scavenging dead bodies?) but very intelligent. It was rewarding to watch Molly grow from a grief-stricken and penniless orphan into a confident young woman who wants to break free of the grave-robbing business and study to become a doctor – an incredible feat for American women of the time.

The plot had some super interesting twists and turns that held my attention from beginning to end. No spoilers (because we don’t do spoilers here) but the BIG REVEAL was, like, HUGE. And very well executed, in my humble opinion.

I don’t tend to write negative reviews (if I don’t like a book I just don’t review it but I will still mention it in my Twitter thread here ). I actually don’t even tend to mention the negative qualities of books I’ve read because, overall, I really really liked them. I’m pretty quick to DNF a book I’m not into.

All this is to say that there was only one aspect of The Corpse Queen that threw me off – the mad dash rush to the end. Maybe it’s a YA thing, maybe it’s a me thing, but I felt like there was such a massive push to explain everything and get as much last minute action as possible in the last four or five chapters that just left a weird taste in my mouth. The Epilogue set that taste right again, however!!! It was very good and, in my opinion, very necessary and satisfying. Maybe I have to do some of my own soul-searching and think about why I just don’t like the rushed and dramatic endings of some of my recent reads.

In any case, I’m 100% happy I read this book and would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for an eerie and bloody read about a girl, her family, and some dead bodies. And a deranged doctor, some guy named the Tooth Fairy, and a Vaudeville performer/prostitute with a pet duck.

4 stars overall, 3 stars on the scare scale

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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Book Review: Clown in a Cornfield

As if being the new girl in town isn’t hard enough already!

Two scary subjects are the backbone of this blog. If you’ve been around for a little while, you’ll know how much I love a good exorcism/possession story. What you might not know (because I haven’t finished my History of Clowns post yet) is that I LOVE clowns. They’re funny, they’re scary, they’re a symbol of the vaudeville days of yore. If you also love clowns- and slashers and mysteries and cornfields, all wrapped up in entertaining YA prose- then this is the book for you.

Adam Cesare is no stranger to the horror space. He boasts a long list of shorts and novellas along with several acclaimed horror novels, perhaps most notably 2014’s The Summer Job. Cesare is a Bram Stoker Award winner, graduate of Boston University, and (certainly least notably) my mutual on Twitter. Clown in a Cornfield has been praised by the likes of Clive Barker (yeah, that Clive Barker), Paul Tremblay (!!!!!!!), and Madeleine Roux (author of the Asylum series). And I can see why. This book was such an unsettling and deeply entertaining read that I couldn’t put down.

The novel follows plucky main character Quinn Maybrook as she navigates being the new girl in a small town, new friends (and new enemies), and potential new crushes. Oh, yeah, and a deranged factory mascot named Frendo. Quinn and her father moved to Kettle Springs at an odd time in the town’s strange life. The teens of the town are blamed for everything; vandalism, arson, the death of big-shot Arthur Hill’s daughter. The adults of the town are fighting to keep their beloved traditions in tact; Make Kettle Springs Great Again, if you will. Frendo’s homicidal return from obscurity is just confetti compared to the turmoil that’s already brewing.

Quinn and her newfound clique (think Breakfast Club but with cell phones) are quickly wrapped up in the whirlwind of Frendo’s return. Strange happenings culminate on the night of a major party in the cornfield where the deadly truth is eventually revealed.

We don’t do spoilers on the blog (for the most part) so that’s all you get for now. Except for my trademark vague praise, that is.

And I have a lot of vague praise for this book. It’s a funny and bloody high school slasher- like a movie in a book. It was like reading Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, or like a really scary Mean Girls where Pennywise is the new girl in town. Rumor has it (I actually got this information from Wikipedia) Clown in a Cornfield has been optioned onto the silver screen! Someday we’ll have an actual film version of this dope slasher book and, personally, I can’t wait.

The beginning of the book is like every classic horror flick- we watch Quinn and her dad move into their new house. We watch Quinn meet her new clique of friends. Then, slowly, things start to get weird. A clown sighting here, an ominous adults-only town hall meeting there, and suddenly WHAM!: a murder. The pacing was on par with a film experience (in my unprofessional opinion) and, I think, that’s what I appreciated the most. A lot of horror books I’ve read lately really relish in the slow, slow, SLOW build up. A lot of atmosphere, a lot of suspense. Clown in a Cornfield has a different kind of suspense. A special, fast-paced suspense that comes from characters being hunted (like, literally) by a homicidal maniac clown.

And it was scary, sure, but in a really enjoyable way. The gore was… actually kind of surprising. You can get away with some crazy stuff in YA, apparently! But it fit the narrative and really drove home the fear- for Quinn et. al and for the reader.

It wasn’t all just fun and scares, though. There’s an undercurrent of politics between the blossoming friendships and killer clowns. That hostility between teens and adults isn’t just manufactured for good dialogue and tension. It’s a mirror image of what’s going on in the world today. Tradition vs modernity. Town hall meetings vs livestreams. Boomers vs Gen Z. And, most importantly, a homicidal clown vs gun-wielding teens.

All in all, I’ll be recommending Clown in a Cornfield to anyone who asks for a read-in-one-sitting, can’t-put-it-down, bloody-good YA horror book.

I’ll also be waiting for a casting call for extras in the movie. 27 is the new 17, right guys?? … Right guys?

5 stars overall, 3 stars on the scare scale.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison

Spoiler Alert: Frendo Lives! Clown in a Cornfield 2 coming August 23rd!

Buy Adam Cesare’s books here !


Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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Book Review: Hide

Hide and seek like you’ve never seen it before!

Abandoned fairground? Check. Game of hide and seek with fourteen strangers competing for a cash prize? Check. Ominous feeling that this game isn’t as innocent as it seemed in the beginning? Check.

Why the actual hell have I never read anything by Kiersten White? She’s a New York Times best seller and Bram Stoker Award winner and, according to her website, has a pet tortoise named Kimberly (which is all I need to know, everything else is just confetti).

Hide is White’s brand new Adult horror debut that I bought on a whim (and because creepy carnivals/fairs/clowns are my favorite) but she has a crazy impressive bibliography to back it up: the MG Sinister Summer series, right now with one installment aptly titled Wretched Waterpark (anyone else getting Edgar & Ellen vibes?), the wildly successful YA Camelot Rising trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (which is apparently being made into a TV series!), and so many more.

I read this book in two days. It would have been one day but I got too scared to read it before bed. Hide made my skin crawl, it made me check around shadowed corners, it made me feel like I was being watched. Sought. Hunted.

The novel follows a troubled young woman named Mack into a game of hide-and-seek. Mack doesn’t have much to lose; lost and sort of hopeless, haunted by a horrific and violent childhood, and self-admittedly really, really good at hiding. Like her life depends on it. Mack and thirteen strangers- a wounded veteran, an FLDS castaway, a failed social media influencer, etc.- are brought to an old amusement park that was abandoned after the tragic disappearance of a child decades earlier. Some competitors are in it for the money, some are in it for the fame that could come from vlogging their success, and some have no idea why they agreed to take part in the competition at all. They were all invited, individually. Like they were all meant to be there. Like they were all, in some way, important to the game.

The objective is simple- hide for seven days among the rusted and dangerous amusement park rides. Two competitors get out each day until only one remains. The competitors ask questions; like, who’s seeking? why don’t our cell phones work? why two people per day? why is this amusement park set up in such a maze? what’s with the giant fence and scary-looking gate? They don’t get any answers. Not really, anyway.

And that’s it. We get to watch the game unfold. We get to watch as competitors are taken from the competition. Tensions rise. Alliances are forged and betrayed. Bonds are made and severed. Blood is shed.

It’s hard to dive any further without spoilers and- as seasoned readers of this space know- I don’t do the spoiler thing. Not usually. And definitely not with this book. You just have to BE there. You have to read it. You have to neglect all your other responsibilities to turn the page and cover your eyes and sit on the edge of your seat and gasp for breath when each new chapter brings a new horror and new answer to the competitor’s questions. It’s hard to describe the book other than creepy, tingly, whip-smart, socially relevant, and just damn scary. It’s not about the creepy amusement park. Not really. It’s about the horror of people, capitalism, entitlement, family secrets. …and a little about the amusement park. I mean, it was built for a reason, right?

If my vague praise isn’t enough to get you excited for this book, the dope cover art and inside-cover art should do the trick. The map of the amusement park is such a cool feature, and chock full of Easter eggs and hints and strange declarations.

In the end, I guess, Hide is about the games we play to get through life. Social climbing, social media, the bonds we make with family and friends. The horrific things people will do to get ahead, in life or in a simple game of hide and seek. What would you do for a cash prize? What would you do if you couldn’t afford to lose?

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Five stars overall, four stars on the scare scale.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison

Buy Kiersten White’s books here !


Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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Book Review: The Boatman’s Daughter

The Devil All the Time Feat. Baba Yaga

Do you love southern gothic? Do you love Baba Yaga? Do you love being inexplicably spellbound by a book with as many twists and turns as a Texas swamp? Then this is the book for you! Andy Davidson has created a dreadful, sticky, muddy atmosphere so demanding of attention you won’t be able to put it down. The Boatman’s Daughter is a masterpiece of southern gothic horror and the dark magic of Slavic folklore.

Not much is known about author Andy Davidson (or I need to brush up on my investigative skills). He resides in Georgia with his wife and a bunch of cats (the real question here is- how many cats make up a bunch?)

His debut novel In the Valley of the Sun (2017) was a finalist for the Bram Stoker award for superior achievement in a first novel. Davidson has been hailed for his writing chops by the likes of Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and fellow renowned horror writer Stephen Graham Jones.

The Boatman’s Daughter, too, has been drowned in praise since its 2020 release. Paul Tremblay said the novel “…put an arrow through my head and heart.” Same.

For all its twists and turns and dripping sweat, this book is… weird. At its core, it’s a wild ride down the river on a little metal boat, trying to outrun some great and vaguely biblical evil. A weird and wild and wonderful ride. Oh yeah, and like really, really scary. That creeping dread scary, that something-lurking-in-the-shadows scary, that can’t-see-in-the-murky-water-of-the-bayou scary. The heat of the bog suffocates you, the greatness of the earth and its ancient magic overwhelms you, the journey of Miranda Crabtree and the family she finds along the way tears your heart in two and stitches it back together with a needle and thread.

Many POV’s run through this book – Miranda Crabtree, a strange boy named Littlefish, a Slavic witch named Iskra who has ties to the land older than time itself.

Miranda Crabtree is the boatman’s daughter (they said the name of the book in the book!!!!!) and she runs illegal errands for a corrupt police officer and a mad preacher. The bog is her river Styx and she – after the bizarre death of her father – is Charon. Well… so to speak. Her father’s death, left behind in fractured memories seen through a child’s eyes, has haunted Miranda for all the years she has lived in the bog on Iskra’s secluded island.

An errand must be run that Miranda can’t complete, and thus begins (or rather, continues) this strange tale through time and dreams and fractured beliefs. It’s tough to dig deeper without spoiling anything, but just know the pieces may seem tattered… until they come together in a tangled web of sins and death and southern heat.

I clung to this book for two days, reading as fast as I could because I literally had to know what Miranda was going to do to vanquish her foes of Slavic folklore, biblical proportions, and evil, gun-wielding men. She finds family and love despite the gloom of the bayou, and this, I propose, is the heart of the book. Family ties, blood running thicker than murky swamp water, secrets tying strangers together in ways they can’t fathom until they’re brought into the burning light of day.

The family relationships reminded me a lot of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Strange little kids wrapped up in – and in some cases at the center of – the grand, evil schemes of adults. Kids are closer to other worlds, people say. They can see what grown-ups can’t. Creepy little things. My mouth was hanging open when The Boatman’s Daughter revealed the family secrets lurking within its pages. Like, literally, hanging open as I was reading in my garden. I think I swallowed a fly.

At its core, The Boatman’s Daughter is a beating heart of family, love, and loss. Gaping wounds are left behind when our loved ones leave – and even more so when they are ripped away by strange forces beyond our control. How far would you go to heal those wounds? What would you do to fill the metaphorical graves of those you lost along the way? Miranda’s tale – and Iskra’s, and Littlefish’s, and the mad preacher’s, and the dwarf named John Avery’s – is a creeping tale of love growing in the strangest of places. Tangled roots of lies and sins, meeting beneath the ancient earth in a pounding, beating heart.

And also nightmarish beasts of Slavic folklore, drugs, fire, and lots and lots of murder. Not for the faint of heart. But damn, is this book awesome.

Five stars overall, three stars on the scare scale.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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13 Punny ICE NINE KILLS Lyrics

I am very funny and will not be taking feedback

Hello, friends and foes! I’m easing back into blog work by treating myself to an article about something super fun – puns. I’m a big pun fan (see: any previous post, basically) and the metalcore band Ice Nine Kills writes lyrics almost exclusively in puns and wordplay, so… I dig it.

Ice Nine Kills (sometimes stylized as INK) is a metal/heavy metal/metalcore band from Boston, Massachusetts. (We literally cannot escape the horrors of New England on this blog.) They’ve been releasing music since the mid-2000’s but didn’t see commercial success until they signed with Fearless Records in 2015. That success absolutely exploded with the 2018 release of The Silver Scream and then exploded AGAIN with the 2021 release of The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood.

At the band’s helm is Spencer Charnas, devastatingly handsome lead singer and creative director. His vision for the band and their records is crystal clear: horror, horror, horror. They’ve tackled literary greats (i.e. Stephen King, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde) and film giants (Psycho, Saw, Candyman) and they’ve totally killed it. They’re scary good at what they do, from concept to production to merch design, and I’m honored to highlight some of their best (and scariest) lyrics.

Also this served as an excuse to listen to their discography and that was fun for me.

These aren’t in any particular order but I did save my personal favorite for last. Also, check out the end for some honorable mentions. If I didn’t include your favorite track or lyric, let me know in the comments or on Twitter dot com (@AllisonKrebel).

13 ) Hip to Be Scared (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021)

“Casually cleaving without ever grieving / but wait, let me give you my card / “That’s bone!” / there is no real me, just this dark entity / that cannot be redeemed so it’s time to say goodbye”

This track is based on the 2000 film American Psycho (which is based on a book but we’ve been over that already: The song is in the perspective of the main character, literal psychopath Patrick Bateman, as he comes to terms with his emotionless, cold-hearted and let me reiterate- psychopathic, killer tendencies. This line, as do many in the track, references an iconic scene where Bateman and other banking execs are trading business cards. The color of Bateman’s is ‘bone’, and he won’t let you forget it.

Listen Here:

12 ) Enjoy Your Slay (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“Come drain or shine / I’ll hit your whole bloodline / Shall we tell Old Jack what he’s won? / A chopping spree around the family tree / where you can hang once all the work is done”

Our first Stephen King mention on the list, this track is inspired by the 1980 film The Shining (based on King’s 1977 novel of the same name). This song is chock-full of mentions of shining (young Danny’s mysterious supernatural ability) and axes and hotel vacancies. This particular stanza refers to the protagonist Jack’s descent into madness and subsequent attack on his wife and son with an axe. Personally I think the writer-gone-mad trope never gets old. Also, shout out to the chorus: “Welcome to your last resort, don’t overlook the past”. Get it? The Overlook Hotel? Heh…

Fun fact about this song: it features vocals from Sam Kubrick, the grandson of Stanley Kubrick, director of The Shining. The band has also played this track at the real life Overlook Hotel.

Listen Here:

11 ) Assault & Batteries (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021)

“And once he’s planted his seed / you’ll know your life’s been uprooted / ’cause safety’s not guaranteed / assault and batteries included! / Stitched back together it seems / by the evil bride of his dreams / heaven help you if you hear him scream”

The signs are all there: the seed, the bride, the heartless assault of innocent consumers – it’s Good Guy Chucky! This one’s inspired by the classic 1988 horror flick Child’s Play and the CCU (Chucky Cinematic Universe). It was tough to cherry pick a single part of this song because the whole thing is just wicked hilarious. Chucky is an icon and this song totally did him and his killing spree justice.

Shout out to this line, which I quote on the daily: “Hidey-ho, bitch!”

Listen Here:

10 ) Stabbing in the Dark (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“Where blood’s thicker than water / I’ve carved up quite a scene / With your worst fears cast on this white veneer / I’ll change the face of Halloween”

It only takes one mention of Halloween to know this banger is about Michael Meyers and the Halloween franchise, started in 1978 and spanning nearly three decades. Blood is thicker than water as Michael is on the deranged hunt for his sister Laurie through the picturesque town of Haddonfield. On Halloween night he carves up anyone he can get his hands on, all while wearing an emotionless white mask (which was made from a cast of William Shatner’s face???). I think we can all confidently say Michael Meyers’ mask is, without a doubt, the face of Halloween. Honorable mention to: “You can’t kill the boogeyman!”.. I mean, literally. How many sequels is he going to survive?

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9 ) The American Nightmare (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“They all think it’s just pretend / you’ll never ever sleep again / all your friends are fucking dead / you can’t turn down your own death bed”

If the creepy nursery rhyme didn’t give it away, this one’s based on Wes Craven’s 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The song is written from the perspective of the dream-villain Freddy Krueger as he slashes his way through unsuspecting teens. I love a straight-up pun – all they want to do is sleep, but they can’t close their eyes without Krueger appearing in their dreams to gut them. Death bed, indeed. Poor Johnny Depp!

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8 ) The Jig is Up (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“I saw through the selfish but saw no soul / they saw through skin, they saw through bone / Out on a limb to save my city / They’re all just gears in my machine / I savor every puzzled scream / a piece of them to carry with me”

Lyrical genius has been achieved in this track based on Saw (2004) and it’s decades’ long span of sequels. The song is written (according to my calculations) from the perspective of John Kramer, AKA “Jigsaw”, the villain of the film. Kramer’s initial desire is to simply see if his victims have the will to live, not to kill them on his own. His traps are designed to push the victim to recognize the value of life – even if they have to kill someone else to survive. Puzzled screams, pieces to carry with him, very “Jigsaw” things to say. Also, OUT ON A LIMB? If you know… you know. (Poor Westley. This was surely not as you wished.)

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7 ) Funeral Derangements (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021)

“It all began with a skid on the pavement / it ends here with funeral derangements / The flesh is living but the souls have spoiled / The wrath of God lays beneath this soil”

I’m biased in my affection for this song because Pet Sematary (both the 1989 film and 1983 Stephen King novel) is one of my favorite pieces of media of all time. But you can’t deny the absolute power in these proclamations of God’s abominations, risen from the grave when they should have just stayed buried. Sometimes, dead really is better. The protagonist of this deranged tale is Louis Creed, a young father who discovers an ancient burial ground that brings the dead back to life, as evidenced by the family cat, Church. But the living return… wrong. The souls have spoiled, leaving them nothing more than murderous shells of the people (and cat) they once were. Honorable mention to Louis’s internal debate on whether or not to bury his dead son: “still I can’t escape this struggle / driven when push comes to shovel”. Incredible.

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6 ) Me, Myself & Hyde (Every Trick in the Book, 2015)

“I’m the devil on your shoulder but I’ll always be your better half / we might share one body but the spine is fucking mine”

This track is from an earlier album with songs based on horrific works of literature. This one, if not evidenced by the title and mention of evil other-halves, is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s a classic for a reason; the timeless power struggle between Doctor Henry Jekyll and… himself. The good doctor found a scientific way to transform himself into an evil alter-ego, the sinister Mr. Edward Hyde, in order to indulge in his darkest desires without marring his good reputation. This track is a love-letter not just to Stevenson’s tale, but to our own inner battle between the good in us and the undeniable evil. “I’m waging war on myself / a captive casualty”. So haunting, so beautiful, so metal.

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5 ) Merry Axe-Mas (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“Now Santa’s claws are out / the sinners scream and shout / I made sure the noose was yuletide tight / so much for a silent night”

Christmas and horror! This song is based on the 1984 Christmas/horror flick Silent Night, Deadly Night. Santa’s claws (get it… sandy claws) are out as traumatized, grown-up orphan Billy goes on a killing spree the night before Christmas. The film itself had a rocky start; heavily criticized for painting Santa in a negative (and murderous) light. That didn’t stop it from developing a cult following, however. Looks like Spencer Charnas is among the faithful, because he wrote this killer track about Santa’s not-so-holy night. (Also, yule-tied tight!! I don’t have to explain how amazing that is.)

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4 ) A Rash Decision (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021)

“But the truth hits like a truck / all bottled up / so hard to swallow now that it spreads so quickly”

It was SO HARD to choose a line from this song! It’s inspired by horror icon Eli Roth’s directorial debut Cabin Fever (2002), starring Rider Strong from Boy Meets World (which made it 100x more scary in my opinion.) As so many good horror stories begin, a group of dumb college kids head into the wilderness for a relaxing weekend of sun, booze, and skin-eating blood infection. Turns out, the river (the water supply for the nearby town) has been infected with a disease that turns sufferers into rashy, bloody, flesh-dripping time bombs. The protagonist, Paul, tries in vain to save his friends and, ultimately, himself. This line is in reference to the end of the movie (so, spoiler alert) where a truck full of bottled, infected river water is driving away to be sold, potentially infecting countless others with this terrible disease. The perfect not-so-happy ending for an early 2000’s horror classic.

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3 ) The World in My Hands (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“He made the cut but she deserves a better man / I won’t rust like the liars and letterman / hedge my bets ’cause it can’t hurt to pretend / until the end”

This track is inspired by my favorite Tim Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands (1990). The film is a tragedy at its core – a man who can feel but not touch, an unreachable girl who can never be with him, a town that just doesn’t understand the struggle of being different (having scissors for hands). This song picks apart Edward’s pain, how he feels like he’ll never measure up to Kim’s letterman jacket-wearing boyfriend. Also evidenced here: “It cuts deep ’cause our hearts are still attached / a deadly touch spreads an itch that can’t be scratched”. The yearning, the pain, the horror! I’m not going to explain why “hedge my bets” is so perfect but it really, really is.

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2 ) The Plot Sickens (Every Trick in the Book, 2015)

“Sixteen souls left in the cold / to be alive is a miracle / it all comes down to flesh and bone / it’s hard to swallow the unthinkable”

Okay – judging by this line alone, you might think this song is alluding to the horrors of The Donner Party (book review of Alma Katsu’s The Hunger, coming soon!). It’s actually based on Piers Paul Read’s 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors (or rather, it’s based on the true events that inspired the book). The true horror story, not unlike that of The Donner Party, follows the survivors of a plane crash. Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the middle of the Andes mountains on October 13th, 1972. The flight was chartered by an Uruguayan rugby team. Those who managed to survive the two month ordeal did so by… well, you read the lyric. It’s a fascinating and horrific story of brotherhood and survival, a true terror of the real world. If this type of story interests you, check out Showtime’s original series Yellowjackets (Season One review coming soon!), about a field hockey team that meets a very similar fate.

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1 ) IT is the End (The Silver Scream, 2018)

“You know what makes me smile? / Devoured juveniles / Their innards tangled in my twisted grin / chuckled so hard I choked / call it an inside joke / they say that laughter’s the best medicine”

I mean, come ON. This track is based on Stephen King’s It and the subsequent films. Pennywise, a killer alien that takes the form of a clown, lives in the sewers of Derry, Maine. He terrorizes a group of childhood friends by preying on their greatest fears. 27 years later, guess who’s back, back again? It’s Pennywise, come to scare the (now grown-up) kids all over again. The song itself is a masterpiece of theatrical, big-band metal (which is definitely a thing) that showcases Pennywise the Dancing Clown’s penchant for eating children, piece by piece. “Just like Georgie / it’s all out of hand”. Groovy.

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i love you Bill Skarsgård

Honorable Mentions

“Left to die under the sun / the hive never spared anyone / how ’bout a hand for the honey bees? / hooked on the creed of their colony” Farewell II Flesh (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021). The urban legend of Candyman (1992) follows the story of the son of a slave left to die by a lynch mob, right hand cut off and body smeared with honey that led to his death by bees. This whole track is depressing, lyrical genius.

“Now you’ll choke on your words / swallow this” Ex Mørtis (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021). Ash Williams of The Evil Dead (1981) is known for his killer one-liners, and “swallow this” is no exception.

“‘Cause on this trip there are no survivors / and in this club your life don’t mean Scheiße” Würst Vacation (The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, 2021). We can thank Eli Roth for the Hostel franchise that inspired this gruesome track. A sadistic club of killers who purchase tourists to maim and kill. Upon first listen I thought it was about Human Centipede because of the line “kiss your ass goodbye”… if you know, you know.

“Bitch I’ll leave your body on the cutting room floor / all bets are off / I just buried Drew Barrymore” Your Number’s Up (The Silver Scream, 2018) A gracious nod to Barrymore’s brutal slaying in Wes Craven’s 1996 classic Scream. The line really speaks for itself.

Movies/Shows I Want Ice Nine Kills to Write Songs About

The Blair Witch Project, Apostle, The Haunting of Hill House, Corpse Bride, & Midnight Mass

Where to Find More Ice Nine Kills

Well, there you have it. This piece was so fun to put together and I hope you enjoyed the puns and lyrical mastery of Ice Nine Kills. I’m stoked to be back to blogging and excited to share what’s next!

And, as always… Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


All images are used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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6 Horror Movies You Might Have Overlooked

Alternate title: 6 horror movies with mixed reviews that might actually be good

We all love a good hidden gem. Those movies that haven’t sold out theaters or won Oscars, films that haven’t hit the front page of Netflix, and great scares you can introduce to your friends. Every now and then it’s nice to be the one who saw the movie “before it was cool”.

I’ve compiled a list of 6 movies that I think flew under the radar. They’re weird little diamonds in the rough I found while watching Chiller TV after school (or while I was skipping school) back in the day. Strange films I’ve come across in the darkest recesses of off-brand streaming services. They all deserve a little more time in the sun, and I’m happy to be the one to bring them to the light.

And if you have seen these films, let me know one of your undiscovered favorites in the comments.

1) Death and Cremation (2010)

So many great things to be said for this creepy little movie. One of my favorites discovered via Chiller TV (rest in peace, forever in our hearts) and absolutely worth checking out if you want a story about death and, you guessed it, cremation.

Crematorium owner and operator Stan (played by the horror legend Brad Dourif – you may know him as Chucky from the Child’s Play series, Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or Sheriff Lee Brackett in Rob Zombie’s Halloween) doesn’t care about making money or living a lavish lifestyle. All he wants to do is burn bodies in peace… and if he burns some problematic people along the way, that’s good too. Goth teen outcast Jarod (played by the incredible Jeremy Sumpter of Peter Pan and Friday Night Lights fame) seeks a part time job at Stan’s crematorium. While working together to provide a final service to the dead, they both have a hard time dealing with the pesky living.

It’s a fun watch with a good amount of violence and little gore. It was met with positive reviews upon release but never won any awards. Except my award for favorite movie to watch while skipping school.

2) We Are What We Are (2013)

This is an obscure streaming site favorite. It’s a remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name and certainly worth checking out if you like a slow build-up of atmospheric, small-town vibes and loads of religious trauma.

The Parkers are a reclusive religious family in what appears to be rural Appalachia. When Mrs. Parker suffers a medical emergency and dies, her daughters Rose and Iris are tasked with handling her less-than-pleasant duties in regard to their religion and the sacrifices made on behalf of their beliefs. When human remains wash up on the banks of the river, the town doctor starts to investigate – could the washed up bones belong to his long-missing daughter? And why did Mrs. Parker really die? The autopsy pointed to Parkinson’s, but now he’s not so sure. Perhaps something in the Parkers’ diet might point him to the answer…

There’s a bit of a slow build up that leads to a great twist. The ending is pretty brutal and tends to get the brunt of negative reviews; like Michael O’Sullivan at The Washington Post calling it, “predictable and gross”. But in that delightful, horror movie way. The film premiered at Sundance in 2013 and features some relatively unknown actors. Head to your local sketchy streaming site to check it out ASAP. Reminds me in many ways of Ania Ahlborn’s horror novel Brother. You can read my review of Ahlborn’s Appalachian horror here:

3) My Soul to Take (2010)

Another Chiller TV gem directed by none other than Wes Craven – you know, just the guy that did Nightmare on Elm Street. This film is generally considered to be Craven’s biggest failure, with no success whatsoever at the box office and poor ratings on several film rating websites. Don’t let the critics fool you, however; there is a lot to love about this strange little film. At least watch the opening sequence of Abel Plenkov – a serial killer dubbed the Riverton Ripper with multiple personalities – killing his pregnant wife and several others before eventually disappearing. Sixteen years later, the Riverton Seven (all born the night Plenkov died and alleged to have pieces of his multiple souls within them) gather for an annual “killing” of a puppet of the Riverton Ripper. Shy outcast Bug (played by Max Thieriot of Bates Motel fame) is selected to complete the “killing” but ultimately fails to destroy the puppet due to police intervention. When the Riverton Seven are killed one by one, they can’t help but blame Bug’s unsuccessful sacrifice. Is the Riverton Ripper at it again? Or is it one of the Seven, possessed by his deadly soul?

You have to admit this sounds like the coolest YA horror novel of all time. If this was made as a Netflix original series it would absolutely blow up. Why did it flop upon release? Well, it came out at the same time as the Facebook biopic The Social Network, so that might have something to do with it. Oh yeah, and it released in the dreaded 2010s 3D. Maybe people were expecting another Elm Street and not this departure lacking in killer dream sequences. Either way, it’s worth checking out for the masterful opening sequence and the turkey vulture scene. If you know, you know.

4) Last Shift (2014)

Unlike the last entry, this film has relatively good reviews across multiple platforms – it even has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! So, what gives? Why hasn’t anyone heard of it?

Rookie police officer Jessica Loren (played by Juliana Harkavy from The Walking Dead and Arrow) takes her first assignment; the last shift at a police station before it is permanently closed. At first, the shift is boring. After all, it’s a desolate police station, mostly empty of contents and completely devoid of other people… right? Strange noises ring through the empty halls and rooms – knocking, screaming, the occasional laughter of a young woman. Furniture appears to be moving on its own, driving Loren to points of frustrated confusion. Eventually Loren learns that a famous cult akin to the Manson Family committed a group suicide in the police station after being apprehended; a fact that was covered up by police, as it was reported the group was killed in their residence. Loren calls her superior and begs to be relieved of her post, but… well, spoilers.

This movie is just so, so good. It’s intimate, filmed on a small set with great emphasis on the sound and scares. The paranormal activity in the station is delightfully demonic and the mystery of the deceased cult unravels into a grisly and unforgettable finale. Tubi is the place to go for this one – or Amazon Prime Video if you’re feeling fancy.

5) Clown (2014)

Everyone’s terrified of clowns. I think we can thank Stephen King for that. This film, produced by a host of big names including horror giant Eli Roth, capitalizes on the horrors of, well, clowns.

Kent McCoy is a real estate agent and family man who just wants to throw a birthday party for his son. The clown he hired can’t make the party, but as luck would have it, Kent finds an old clown costume in the basement of a home he’s selling and takes it upon himself to be the birthday party clown. Note to self: don’t put on the clown costume you find in a creepy basement. McCoy soon realizes that he can’t take the costume off. Not only that, but he’s experiencing strange hungers and urges. He contacts the costume’s previous owner and discovers the skin and hair of the costume are crafted from the flesh of an ancient Icelandic clown demon that has now fused with McCoy’s physical frame. There are ways to get rid of the demon and take off the costume, but none of them are without a little bloodshed. And one of them involves a Chuck E. Cheese’s.

So this is basically a grown up version of R.L. Stine’s The Haunted Mask but with way more murder and clown demons. Eli Roth actually referred to the film as a version of The Fly, which also makes sense, but you know I can’t pass up a Goosebumps reference. It has pretty scattered reviews, with some critics citing strange pacing and boring build-up as downfalls while others praise the humorous elements befitting of a demonic, killer clown. There are some really interesting ideas here that might have been explored a bit strangely but, hey, at least they were explored. Run, don’t walk to your local sketchy streaming site and behold the killer clownery of your dreams.

6) Shelter [Alternative title: 6 Souls] (2010)

This film is the definition of underrated. It’s well-acted, short on the jump scares, and rife with suspense and true psychological torment. It was released in the UK and other countries as Shelter, later taking on the title of 6 Souls when released in the United States for a limited theatrical release in 2013. It features powerhouse performances by well-known actors like Julianne Moore (you don’t need an example because she’s been in dozens upon dozens of films, but I loved her on 30 Rock) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Velvet Goldmine and Vikings).

Dr. Harding (played by Moore) is a psychologist tasked with studying Adam (played by Meyer), a young man suspected to have dissociative identity disorder. Dr. Harding soon realizes Adam’s personalities are those of real people who have passed away under various circumstances – none of them good. One of these personalities leads Dr. Harding down a rabbit hole of blood sacrifices and Appalachian granny magic (what’s with me and Appalachian horror? I don’t know). Religious trauma abounds as faithless souls become simple playthings to those who can control – and consume – them.

All in all, this film is virtually overlooked and I’m not happy about it. The tale is intelligent and suspenseful and rife with the horrors of possession, Appalachian granny magic (stay tuned for this feature article, coming soon!), and unexplainable psychiatric conditions. This one is tough to find but if you can dig it up on the web somewhere, give it a chance. It’ll be worth it for Meyers’ performance alone.

There you have it, friends and foes. A handful of horror films that I think deserve some attention. It seems like most box-office horror films are remakes or continuations of beloved classics – not that I’m complaining. I loved Halloween Kills. But sometimes it’s nice to explore paths less traveled and dig up some under-appreciated gems.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


Movie poster art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

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I Know, I Know. Where Have I Been?

Hello, friends and foes! It’s been a while. Let’s talk about it.

Sometimes, real life gets in the way of the things we love to do. I love reading books and writing reviews, researching spooky historical figures and folklore, and talking about pop culture, horror or otherwise. Contrary to my wishes, I do have a real life outside of my beloved blog and social media sphere, and it has been such a struggle to feel creative while juggling life’s pressures. All that being said, I’m settled in my new home (I bought a house. I guess they just let anybody do that these days!) and I’m ready to do the things I love again. That means reading, writing, and the blog!

Some housekeeping items: I’m going to deactivate the Little Book Blog of Horrors Twitter account. Dry your tears! You can still find me at @AllisonKrebel. Head over there for blog updates and general writing and book related tweets. I guess there was only one housekeeping item.

There will be a fun new post tomorrow about horror movies, and early next week I’ll be back at it with another book review. It feels so good to be back. Even if no one’s listening. And to those that are… hi.

And, as always, reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison

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Top 5 Scooby-Doo Animated Movies

Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you?

In an effort to celebrate spooky season and to reconnect with our favorite childhood frights, let’s revisit the classic Scooby-Doo animated films. These films were a staple in my Halloween movie rotation as a kid. Let’s take a walk down a memory lane lined with witches, warlocks, and werecats (oh my!).

The sprawling Scooby-Doo franchise began as a cartoon in 1969, called Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The show was created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for Hanna-Barbera Productions. It follows meddling kids Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Shaggy Rogers, solving supernatural mysteries in their trusty van, the Mystery Machine, along with their doggy pal, Scooby Doo (short for Scoobert Doobert). In 2013, TV Guide named the cartoon as the 5th greatest cartoon of all time. A rank well-deserved, that’s for certain. And we can’t forget about the 2002 live-action masterpiece of a remake, Scooby-Doo, starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini. The well-loved live action remake got a sequel in 2004, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

The live action films aren’t included in this list, as evidenced by the title. I’ve also left out the television movies and television specials; like the 1988 classic Ghoul School. Although they’ve been omitted from this list, we don’t love them any less.

5. Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001)

Don’t be mad that this is at the bottom of the list – at least it made the top five. A virtual creature called “The Phantom Virus” emerges from a new video game based on the adventures of the Mystery Inc. gang. The gang is transported into the game and must defeat 10 dangerous levels by finding boxes of the dog treats, Scooby Snacks. The best parts of this film are the cameos made by classic Scooby villains like the Creeper, the Tar Monster, and Old Iron Face. I’ve ranked it fifth on the list because it didn’t strike me as scary when I watched it as a kid – I mean, the monster isn’t even real. This one might not strike a chord with kids who aren’t into tech or video games. The main song (every Scooby movie has a main, karaoke-worthy song) “Hello Cyberdream” pales in comparison to some of the big hitters later on this list. All that being said, it’s still a fun take on the Mystery Inc. gang, bringing their 70’s style into the 21st century.

4. Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003)

I was surprised to find in my research that Scooby fans aren’t as familiar with this totally tubular installment of the gang’s misadventures. The Mystery Inc. kids head to Australia for vacation. Goth girl-band The Hex Girls (recurring characters in the Scooby franchise, originating in the film Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost) are playing a music festival at a place called Vampire Rock. The previous year, a band called Wildwind performed at the festival and went missing – presumably turned into vampires by a local vampire called the Yowie Yahoo. The gang enters the music festival as a band to lure the Yowie Yahoo from the caves of Vampire Rock in the hopes of finding out just what – or who – he really is. It’s so cool to see The Hex Girls again, and the music in this one is top notch early 2000’s rock (I mean, it does take place at a music festival). As the most recent film on this list, it’s also the first to have the newer animation style of the What’s New, Scooby-Doo? television series. Stylistically, it is much brighter than its predecessors. But don’t let that fool you – it’s just as spooky.

3. Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)

The Mystery Inc. gang stumbles upon aliens while driving through Roswell, New Mexico (who would have thought!?). Shaggy and Scooby are abducted by aliens and later awaken in the middle of the desert while the rest of the kids are stranded at a creepy roadside diner full of alien skeptics – and even more alien believers. In the desert, Shaggy and Scooby meet Crystal and her dog, Amber, and immediately fall in love. The gang must solve the mystery and government conspiracy that is Area 51, and potential life on other planets. No spoilers, but this one actually shocked me when the truth was revealed – and it still hits as an adult. The flower-child montage of Shaggy and Crystal, Scooby and Amber falling in love is an adorable jaunt through a colorful 70’s aesthetic. And there’s a jackaloupe! This film is the last installment in the franchise to feature Mary Kay Bergman as the voice of Daphne before her death, and it is lovingly dedicated to her memory.

2. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

The gang investigates an allegedly haunted bayou island in New Orleans, Louisiana. They are reunited after a hiatus, having become disenchanted by their constant run-ins with masked bad guys rather than real, supernatural monsters. Ghosts and zombies abound in this colorful ride through the American bayou south as the gang sets out to solve a 200 year old mystery steeped in gumbo, voodoo, and… werecats. The soundtrack on this one is killer, with acts like Third Eye Blind and Skycycle on the original tracks. The main song, Terror Time Again, is an instant classic that will get you in the Halloween spirit – and in the mood to run around the bayou away from some terrifying monsters. There’s also a sequel that was released in 2019, which I didn’t know about until doing research for this article. It premiered at San Diego Comic Con and can now be found everywhere digitally and on DVD.

1. Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999)

Obviously at the top of this list, this film follows the gang on their travels to the fictional New England town of Oakhaven (think off-brand Salem, Massachusetts) after being invited by horror writer Ben Ravencroft. They have to solve the mystery of accused witch Sarah Ravencroft, who was executed by the Puritans in 1657. Ben, Sarah’s descendant, claims Sarah was an innocent wiccan, using her powers for healing rather than evil witchcraft. The gang soon realizes they’re in for more than just a Halloween festival and some tasty treats when it becomes clear the witches didn’t all stay in 1657… Ruh-roh. Also in this film we meet The Hex Girls, the greatest fictional band of all time. This is the perfect Halloween movie for young and old witches, warlocks, and wiccans alike. It made little Allison want to be a horror writer and a witch… halfway there.

I hope this article helped you reconnect with where your horror fixation might have started. Whether it was Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, or the Scooby-Doo cinematic universe, it’s always nice to pay homage to the frights that started it all.

Want more Scooby-Doo content?

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (2017): The gang’s grown up… Well, not exactly. Inspired by Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang, this novel follows a reunited group of grown-up detectives who try to solve a Lovecraftian horror mystery that traumatized them when they were kids. Book review coming soon.

Jonathan Young’s cover of It’s Terror Time Again:

Moon Sisters, The Nostalgia Girls’ cover of Earth, Wind, Fire & Air:

Dreadlight, Maiah Wynne’s cover of Hex Girl:

Simple Plan’s What’s New Scooby-Doo?:

AllSTARS’ Things That Go Bump in the Night:

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.

xo Allison


Art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.

All other images are certified public domain.

Feature image citation: Still frame from the debut episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: “What a Night for a Knight”. (original airdate: September 13, 1969). Copyright © 1969 Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.

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