Read Our Favorite Creepy, Crawly Halloween Stories / by Washington Square

While horror movies have their obvious, visceral appeal this time of year, it is often a passage from a favorite book or poem that continues to haunt us well into the night. From the horrific to the insane, here are our favorite creepy stories and lines from literature. Happy Halloween!

Alyssa diPierro
Assistant-Fiction Editor, First Year Fiction

Whitley Strieber's The Hunger is probably the most underrated, and most horrifying, vampire novel I've ever read. Spoiler alert: it ends with the main character, Sarah, locked in a box by Miriam, a thousands-year-old vampire who keeps her not-dead and not-alive former lovers in boxes in her attic. This image has haunted me for years:

"Little rustlings and sighs filled the air around her, coming from the other chests. So Miriam had done this before. The thought of what must be in the other chests terrified Sarah. How many were there? Some of them must be hundreds of years old. Some thousands. Thousands of years like this.”

Matthew Chow
First Year Fiction

One of my favorite horror-esque stories is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. One of the moments that sticks with me to this day is when he decides to experiment on the vampires and see the effectiveness of sunlight against them. He goes out, finds a vampire woman sleeping, drags her into the sunlight, only to watch her die a horrible death. It is pretty gut-wrenching and it shows how strange and inhuman Neville has become under the circumstances.

Alexandria Hall
Web Editor, Second Year Poetry

A very creepy thing addressed to a beloved, Charles Baudelaire's "Une Charogne" ("A Carcass") is realizing your love will one day be a corpse. 

Maggie Millner
Assistant Poetry Editor First Year Poetry

What’s creepier than Cannibal Holocaust, the bloody Italian horror movie so realistic that the director was charged with murder after its release? Try Kea Wilson’s masterful and spine-chilling debut novel, We Eat Our Own, which takes the 1980 splatter film as its inspiration. Like Cannibal Holocaust, Wilson’s novel is set in a jungle outpost in Colombia, where guerrilla fighters, drug traffickers, and wild megafauna lurk menacingly behind the scenes of an unscripted experimental movie. As the danger mounts, Wilson’s prose remains incisive and insidious, weaving between chilling plot and vivid character study. I can’t remember a smarter, cannier, or more haunting debut.

Bruna Dantas Lobato
Fiction Editor, Second Year Fiction

There's a scene in the final chapters of Madame Bovary that always gives me the creeps, featuring a pretty mistress to be buried in her bridal dress with "her open mouth like a black hole in the lower part of her face" and "the outline of her eyes beginning to blur under a pale film of mucus, as though spiders had been spinning cobwebs over her face."

Razmig Bedirian
First Year Fiction

From Hassan Blasim's short story called "Crosswords":

"Why couldn't it have been the policeman who incited Marwan to swallow the razor blade?!"
Wilson Ding
First Year Fiction

This comes from a short story called "Chickamauga" by Ambrose Bierce:

"There, conspicuous in the light of the conflagration, lay the dead body of a woman—the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles— the work of a shell. The child moved his little hands, making wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries—something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey—a startling, soulless, unholy sound, the language of a devil."

Lindsey Skillen
Managing Editor, Second Year Fiction

As inspired by Lipsky, on Halloween I'm assigning these two stories to my students: Michael Chabon's “The Halloween Party” and Lorrie Moore's “You're Ugly, Too.” The Halloween costumes are what stick with me the most: Nathan's horrible lightbulb concept - "a guy about to have a great idea for a costume" = Nathan the Lamp post. I also love the Chabon line "a barrage of miniature-demon knocks" to describe trick-or-treaters at the door. And the dancing adults at the Halloween party ("the diligent men as the jogged in place"). 

I like how both stories build up to the Halloween party - the main event to look forward to. Much how we all treat upcoming holidays in this season. 

And Earl in "You're Ugly, Too" with the breast "protruding like hams" and how "His pubic hair slid over to one hip, like a corsage on a saloon girl." I'll never forget that Magic Marker line on his buttocks spread wide "sketchy black on pink, like a funnies page." 

Samantha Facciolo
First Year Fiction

"The Husband Stitch" is a modern take on the spooky legend of the girl who wore a green ribbon around her neck. This updated, sensual rendition combines the traditional story with commentary on marriage, sex, and just enough horror to keep us hurtling toward an inevitable conclusion.

Megan Swenson
First Year Fiction

I finally got around to reading Stephen King's IT last year. It took me an absurdly long time to read--my sleep schedule was obliterated by nightmares, so I had to take a lot of breaks from the book to make sure I was actually getting enough sleep most nights. No other book I've read has freaked me out quite like that. 

Azzuré Alexander
First Year Fiction

One line from The Picture of Dorian Gray comes to mind when thinking of creepy things. Dorian’s overall reaction to the murder he committed is chilling, but when preparing to dispose of the body Dorian returns to cover his portrait and notices that the hand in the painting is dripping red, “as though the canvas had sweated blood.”

Hannah Gilham
Assistant Web-Editor, First Year Fiction

Charolette Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my absolute favorite pieces, and just so happens to be incredibly cool and creepy. Gilman’s protagonist famously obsesses over the horrible yellow wallpaper while she’s recovering from, you know, being a woman in the late 1800s, when she starts to see (and become?) a woman crawling around behind the paper, trapped. “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.”

The wonderful climax sees her doctor husband fainting in fear at the sight of his wife: “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” YES.