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My Favorite Dark & Weird Genre-Bending Stories
I’m throwing in a little of everything, not just literature. If anything, maybe it’ll give some insight into why I write what I write. And I’ll start with movies, since that, like most elder millennials, is where my base for storytelling came from. One of the first really weird movies I fell in love with came out the tail end of summer before I started high school, which, coincidentally, is where the characters in my book Switchers are.
(OK–quick side note: I wrote this scifi/horror novel. I won’t pitch it here, but if you’re interested…click here for more info on a new tab.)
OK…right! I was talking about this movie. Ya know what? I’ll put up a header for movies and–well, you’ll see.
Have a gander at…
My Favorite Dark & Weird Genre-Bending Movies
Event Horizon (1997)
As I said, this movie came out just before I started high school. It went to HBO later during the school year and played a lot. Like. A. LOT. I watched the TV Guide channel (remember that shit?) made note when it came on, and probably watched it a couple times a week for the better part of a year. I loved, and still love, this movie. If not for Jurassic Park, this would be Sam Neil’s best movie. If not for the Matrix, same for goes Laurence Fishburne. I don’t think I really thought about how beautiful the relationship between science fiction and horror could be until this.
The ‘Burbs (1989)
I don’t think I saw this right when it came out, but maybe a few years later. But I liked it so much I asked for it on, wait for it…VHS! It’s still in my parent’s basement. Now I have a copy on DVD and have watched it as recently as a month ago. Still holds up. Later on I got into the horror-comedy stuff like Shaun of the Dead and whatnot, but this well-balanced movie (with a seriously great cast) put that genre on my map. Watched it last month. Love it.
Just a final note on the movies:
There were a lot I wanted to put in here. Jurassic Park came to mind, because it is a sci-fi/horror story in my mind. The island is our society. The dinosaurs represent corporate science. I mean, a lot of Michael Crichton’s stuff was labeled thriller and sci-fi. But the book is more “horrifying” than the movie. Believe it or not…
Nope I’ll save it for the next part. Here’s the next part:
My Favorite Dark & Weird Genre-Bending Books
Both Jurassic Park and Congo (SPOILER ALERTS)
Michael Crichton’s books were much more complex than the movies made about his books. As far as movies go…Jurassic Park is amazing, but doesn’t follow the book’s storyline past about the “Welcome…to Jurassic Park!” part. (Before that, really.) Congo is one of my favorite books of all time, but the movie just wasn’t very good. They had to scrap too much source material, and deviated to a different storyline a bit.
OH! What I was going to say earlier..
The raptors in the book are waaaay smarter and devious in the book. And the rich guy who makes the park looks more like a con-man and gets eaten by those little chicken-sized, a-hole dinosaurs. The book is more of an exploration of the single scene in the movie. You know, the Goldblum line, “You were so concerned with whether or not you could, you didn’t think whether or not you should.” The movie instead uses visual wonder to explore the craziness of being with the dinosaurs. But the movie leaves out a lot of the horror elements. And like I said, the raptors in the book…collectively one of the best pop-literature villains of all time. The characters are deeper and better in the book. Just read it already.
Again, not a fan of the movie. Like, if it was on TV, I’d see what else was on. Or just read something. (I don’t have cable so the idea of ‘seeing what’s on’ is kinda weird…)
The book has one of the scariest scenes in a book I’ve ever read. Seriously. Read the nighttime river encounter with the hippopotamuses. Wait a bunch of years. Write a blog about it and see if you don’t get a chill thinking about it. Michael Crichton could scare with his scientific imagination, or with nature. This movie was person v. person, person v. nature, person v. science, and uses nature and geopolitics to create a framework where anything can (and does) happen to these characters testing their commitment to money, scientific exploration, and survival. It’s thought-provoking, psychological, and jump-scare all in one.
The idea the one can become “unstuck in time” is crazy. It’s like when your whole life flashes before your eyes, even the parts you haven’t lived yet. It’s bizarre. This dude jumps to different times in his life, some happy, some traumatic, some literally out of this world…
It’s so weird and out there. And smart. Kurt Vonnegut might be my favorite writer of all time. I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind at any time and for seemingly no reason whatsoever. And the ending isn’t happy. Or is it. You’ll have to read to try to make sense of it.
The scariest part of this book is the constant reminder: time is fleeting. You can’t hold on to the good things and you can’t forget the bad. But it all sort of, kinda works out? Not really. But sorta. I mean…
My Favorite Dark & Weird Genre-Bending Short Stories
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
I mean, I grew up in the 80s and 90s. That book was a must have for almost every kid. We used to read them at sleepovers. Or to our parents. Occasionally alone during the daytime.
But I used to read them alone…in the dark. But I had to have my feet under the sheets. I was scared to have them uncovered while I read it. Ha!
Didn’t matter. Still gave me crazy nightmares. The power of a good story for the right audience, eh?
Any Stephen King Collection
Can’t pick one. They’re all good. You won’t love every story in each collection, but you’ll find more than a few that knock your goddamn socks off. And even the ones that don’t get you are memorable. Like the dry cleaning machine that comes to life and tries to kill people. Not many people would even try to write that story. But it was King-ian and pretty good.
The Monkey’s Paw
I just love the story. You know it’s good when The Simpsons does it for their Halloween Special! Might not be considered much of a genre-bender, but I’d say it’s fantasy and horror. A magic granting item that gives you anything you ask for 3 times. That’s fantasy. Right? Like that one movie Disney made so good. (Then made again. (Nothing against it, but Robin Williams is the genie.)
Well, the wishes almost all backfire tragically. There isn’t ever an established threat directly to the main characters, but it shows how easily people can break and, more importantly, how our own wishes and desires can be our downfall. Good stuff.
Alright. That’s all for now, I guess. I kinda threw a lot out there. (You should’ve seen the first draft if you thought that was too much…)
One more time: Please take a look. At my book. Reading rainbow!
Take er easy, dude.
Christopher Tallon is the author of the dark, adventurous, time-travel novel Switchers.
Keep planting to find out which one grows / It’s a secret no one knows / Mmmbop, ba duba dop