YA Wednesday: Libba Bray's 10 Favorite Horror Movies


The Diviners is not only one of the best books of September, I think it's one of the best books of the Fall, combining the glamour and excitement of 1926 New York (think Ziegfeld girls and Prohibition gin) with totally creepy occult murder, secrets of the supernatural, and a diverse cast of characters. The Diviners has the goose bumps factor of an early Stephen King novel with an impeccably researched look at the history and pop culture of the 1920s--the Labor movement, speakeasy jazz, and young women like Evie O'Neill with their feathered  headbands and chutzpah.  

Author Libba Bray (who won the Printz Award in 2010 for Going Bovine) has been getting lavish praise for The Diviners, which is the first of a new four-book series (yay!), and when I talked to her earlier this year about the new book--see the video of our interview after the jump--I had a really hard time not laughing into the microphone because she was cracking me up. One of the things we talked about was Bray's love of horror--Salem's Lot is one of her all-time favorite books and she refers to it as "Our Town with vampires" (that should give you a clue about her sense of humor).  In the spirit of things that go bump in the night Bray came up with something special for Omni readers: the funniest top 10 horror movies list I've ever seen (the movies are scary as hell, it's Libba Bray who is hilarious).  Did she include any of your favorites? 


 Horror, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your ominous, cobweb-encrusted mansions and staircases leading to bad things. I love your neighbors who might be Satanists and your slowly rising corpses. I love your screams, your maniacs in hockey masks, your creaking doors, and your beasties roaming the moors under a full moon. I love you so much that I had to make a Top Ten List of my favorite horror movies of all time. Because that’s how my love rolls…like a severed head…bouncing down the stairs and landing at the screaming heroine’s feet. Wait—why are you moving away from me?

A warning: This list will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen some of these movies, and you prefer to remain unspoiled, do not read any further. You have been warned. You know, like in a horror movie prologue.


For a kid who grew up loving Hammer Horror films AND National Lampoon magazine, this is the perfect movie—a great mix of horror and comedy. David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are two college pals backpacking on the moors of chilly England where they run afoul of a local werewolf. Dude, that was so not listed in the Frommers Guide. David is taken to a hospital in London to recover but is visited by his now-undead-and-not-loving-it, toast-eating pal, Jack, who warns David that when the moon is full, he’s going to change. A lot. Like, don’t make dinner plans, and don’t be wearing your best clothes when it all gets real.

What’s great about AAWIL is that it succeeds so well on both levels: The comedy is completely disarming (I particularly love the scene in which the hero is visited by the undead in an adult movie house, and the mauled fiancée is all English cheer and politeness) while the scares are quite scary (Hello, businessman-in-the-London Underground station!) It also jump-started my crush on Griffin Dunne who gets all the best lines here. Plus, the soundtrack—“Bad Moon Rising,” “Blue Moon,” “Moondance”—is pretty darn clever.


If you ever wondered why teenaged girls suddenly stopped babysitting and started working at the local Taco Bell, look no further than this movie which singlehandedly moved babysitting from “Great way to make a few bucks on a Saturday night” to “Great way to meet a homicidal maniac.” To this day, the sound of an icemaker dropping its frosty load makes me run for cover. And if I ever pick up the phone and hear, “Have you checked the children yet?” I will need defibrillation paddles STAT.

Teenaged babysitter and all-around good kid Jill (Carol Kane!) is babysitting in a darkened house when Billy Crystal jumps out and says, “It just so happens he’s mostly dead!” and…oh, sorry. Wrong movie. Strike that. Anyhoots, Carol’s babysitting but she keeps getting these weird prank calls asking her if she’s checked the children yet. It’s starting to work on her nerves, and we are treated to lots of creepy build-up: the aforementioned icemaker sounds. A near attempt at going upstairs. A frightened Carol staring into the dark outside the windows. What could be out there, you think. Better stay inside, Carol, and keep those doors locked! Well, Carol hears you, and she does just that.

When she’s finally good and terrified, though, she has the police trace the call and they phone her back frantically to let her know that the call is coming from inside the house! All together now: AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! And that’s just the first thirty minutes of the movie, folks. There’s another hour to go. I won’t tell you what happens but suffice it to say that Charles Durning shows up, and you know that where he goes, bad things follow.


Bruce Campbell. Sam Raimi. A chainsaw. “Grooovy…” #nuffsaid

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Comments (4)

All are good ones! Though the Exorcist is too scary for me. Alfred Hitchcock also made some really great ones. Thanks for the list! xo

Posted by: Julie Chicklitasaurus | Wednesday September 19, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Actually, Uncle Stevie has always referred to "Salem's Lot" as '"Our Town" with vampires' (see "On Writing").

Posted by: Dean B. | Thursday September 20, 2012 at 5:18 AM

Just saw this and although it was posted a while ago I have to comment. Every time I would visit my grandparents house when I was young, Rosemary's Baby was always on tv, this was in the late 70's and I don't think I ever recovered from it being the scariest movie ever!

Posted by: karin | Saturday October 27, 2012 at 2:20 PM

My friend and I have been searching for this type of blog post "YA Wednesday: Libba Bray's 10 Favorite Horror Movies" with the longest time,Thanks for excellent blog post,

Posted by: mba thesaurus writing help | Tuesday November 20, 2012 at 5:05 AM

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