13 Flicks for a Halloween-ish Movie Marathon

Happy Halloween! Hope your holiday is festive and cheerful (or creepy and scary, if that’s more your style). The tradition at my house is to enjoy the cool night air, listen to children scurry and giggle on the streets, curl up on the couch with popcorn and candy, and watch a movie. And since I’m not a big fan of zombies or give-you-nightmares type of movies, I steer towards not-too-spooky selections. So (if you’re a scary-movie-wimp like me), here are some suggestions for your family’s Halloween-ish Movie Marathon.

1. It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966). How can you get into the Halloween spirit without watching this?! It’s a definite classic for young and old. Linus is waiting for the Great Pumpkin while those around him trick or treat. Will he be rewarded for his vigilance or left out in the cold once? Starring the Peanuts gang – Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy.

2. Hocus Pocus (1993). “I’m gonna put a spell on you…!” A Halloween tale in the bewitching town of Salem, Massachusetts. Three sisters who happen to be witches return to Salem after 300 years to wreak havoc on the town that hanged them. Starring: Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker; Director: Kenny Ortega.

3. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Make sure to have some Reese’s Pieces candy on-hand for this Oscar-winning family-friendly classic. A group of aliens visit earth and one of them is lost and left behind, and then found by a 10 year old boy, Elliot. Soon the two begin to communicate and start a different kind of friendship. Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore; Director: Steven Spielberg.

4. King Kong (1933). Classic thriller about a very large, monstrous ape running amok after being brought to New York City. Its groundbreaking effects and still-powerful, beauty-and-the-beast drama are considered required viewing for horror genre fans and cinema buffs alike. Starring: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot. While you’re at it, watch the modern remake by Director Peter Jackson, King Kong (2005).

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990). This romance-fantasy movie directed by Tim Burton features an enchanting original film score by composer Danny Elfman. This is a Frankenstein meets Beauty and the Beast fairy tale about a man created by an inventor. But the inventor dies of a heart attack, leaving Edward unfinished with scissors for hands, living in solitude in a Gothic castle – until he’s discovered by an unsuspecting, friendly neighbor. It all starts with two words: “Avon calling!” Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder and Dianne Wiest.

6. The Sixth Sense (1999). Academy Award-nominated psychological thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan tells the story of Cole, a troubled, isolated boy who claims to be able to see and talk to the dead. The famed line “I see dead people.” Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette; Director: M. Night Shyamalan. For a good mind-bending thriller, watch some of Shyamalan‘s other films – including Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006) and The Happening (2008).

7. Frankenstein (1931). Timeless tragedy about mad scientist creating murderous-yet-childlike creature. This founding example of the monster movie still fascinates horror fans and film history buffs with its still-chilling suspense and sterling performances. Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive; Director: James Whale.

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Break out the pumpkin juice! Wands at the ready! Any Harry Potter film could suit your Halloween holiday film fix – or perhaps a Potter marathon, starting with the first movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001). But if you just want to watch one, choose Prisoner of Azkaban because it features the Halloween feast in Hogwarts’ Great Hall.

9. Casper (1995). This comedy-fantasy film, starring Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci, is based on the “Casper the Friendly Ghost” animated cartoons and comic books. At the time of its release, the computer-generated graphics rendering of America’s favorite ghost were considered cutting-edge technology.

10. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). This Walt Disney musical, starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, combines live action and animation. The story is based on the books The Magic Bed Knob; or How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1945) by Mary Norton.

11. Coraline (2009). This stop-motion fantasy film, based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, taught us all to be careful what we wish for. Voiceover talent includes Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher. Now you can watch this spooky flick at home on Blu-Ray, DVD and even 3D.

12. Monsters, Inc. (2001). What’s not to love about this Pixar movie?! This animated film tells the previously-untold story about the monsters who’ve been scaring children for centuries, popping out of closets and roaring with all their might. Loveable voiceover talent includes John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Mary Gibbs (as Boo). Two words for you: “Mike Wazowski!”

13. Practical Magic (1998). Chocolate cake for breakfast, margaritas at midnight, and chanting spells in the kitchen – there are a lot of unconventional rituals in this house. Sally and Gillian, raised by their aunts, learn first-hand about the curse of Owens women. Based on the novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. Starring: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest.

Magic. Witches. Monsters. Aliens. Ghosts. Goblins. There’s something spooky for everyone. Want more thrilling movie recommendations? Check out my round-up of The Best of Alfred Hitchcock, Jim’s Halloween Movie Favorites from the 80s and 90s and Top Five Horror Movies.

What is your favorite Halloween-ish flick?

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Top 11 Family-Friendly Aliens

Regarding alien invasions . . . not every alien probes your eyeball or pops through your intestines in a gory mess! I find it deplorable to assume that those from another universe are just up to no good. As a matter of fact, once I started to think about it, we’ve grown up with a lot of pretty funny and friendly aliens in our time here on this planet. Here is a “nice list” of intergalactic beings that have made us smile, hoot and holler — and some we have even bought the stuffed toy to hug on forever and ever. Do you remember all of these?


The Aliens from Toy Story (1995, 1999, 2010); The Ewok and Chewbacca from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983); E.T. and Gertie from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982); Sparks from Aliens in the Attic (2009); Lilo & Stitch (2002); Fred, Barney and The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones (1965); Alf and the Tanner family from ALF (1986-90); Evie from Out Of This World (1987-91); Mork & Mindy (1978-82); The Yip Yips from Sesame Street (first appeared, 1971); Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes (1948).

Which kid-friendly aliens did we miss? And who do you think are the best and funniest aliens in the universe?

Hugging my stuffed E.T. a little tighter tonight, Becky

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Bexican75.

Happy Birthday, Cary Elwes! Top Five Quotable Lines from The Princess Bride

Today is actor Cary Elwes 50th birthday, which conveniently coincides with the recent 25th anniversary of the film that made him a star (and the subject of many a teenage crush): The Princess Bride. Often lauded as one of the most quotable movies ever made, The Princess Bride was not an immediate box office hit when it debuted in 1987, but has since become a cult favorite (the book is also wonderful). Here are my picks for the top five most quotable lines from “not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale.”

1. “As you wish” – Westley

2. “Inconceivable!” – Vizzini

3. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. – Inigo Montoya

4. “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’ – but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line’!” – Vizzini

5. “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…” – The impressive Clergyman

Bonus: “Have fun storming the castle!” – Miracle Max

So many of the lines from The Princess Bride are memorable – which are your favorites? If you haven’t seen it, do you know birthday boy Cary Elwes from any of his other roles (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Liar Liar, Twister, Saw)? Mr. Elwes, if you’re reading this, I’d really appreciate if you’d respond to my 1995 request for a signed picture of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Thank you.

Kate is Promotions & Direct Mail Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

Top 40 Horror Books to Scare Your Pants Off

This week at HPB, we’re celebrating all things horror: those stories that make you sleep with one eye open, with the lights on, or sometimes not at all — and even if you do, watch out for those nightmares. Normally we poll our HPB bibliomaniacs for these sorts of lists, but this time we asked YOU, our booklovers, “What’s the scariest/spookiest/most frightening book you’ve ever read?” And here’s what you said. 

(Editor’s note: these are not in any particular order, and we chose not to include ALL of Stephen King’s books, as they would have taken up about 20 of the 40 spots.) 

So, draw those curtains and read on at your own risk (mwah ha ha ha)  . . . 


It by Stephen King; The Shining by Stephen King; House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski; The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova; Isolation by Travis Thrasher; Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk; We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson; Salem’s Lot by Stephen King; Pet Sematary by Stephen King; Amityville Horror by Jay Anson; Carrie by Stephen King; Coraline by Neil Gaiman; American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis; I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison; The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft; And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie; Dracula by Bram Stoker; Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons; The Omen by David Seltzer; Dust by Charles Pellegrino; Cradle and All by James Patterson; Ghost Story by Peter Straub; The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris; The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey; Pigeons from Hell by Robert E. Howard; Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin; Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury; 1984 by George Orwell; The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Steward; Afraid by Jack Kilborn; The Strain by Guillermo del Torro; Primal Fear by William Diehl; Gone by Michael Grant; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; John Dies at the End by David Wong; The Witching Hour by Anne Rice; Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry; The Exorcist by William Peter Beatty; Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill; Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

What did we miss? Which horror book most scared the pants off of you? – Kristen

Kristen is Public Relations Specialist at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You can follow her on Twitter at @kristendickson.

Best Movies about School: Yearbook of Characters

What a blast going though your old yearbook! Or even better: your parents’ yearbook. Do you recognize yourself? Did you find your parents? You may recognize these well-known school characters, but can you name the film that they are from? Enjoy checking out the Half Price Books School Movies “Yearbook” below. And don’t forget! If you are an educator, be sure to renew your Educator Discount card by October 31 to keep saving 10% off your in-store purchases year-round.

Quick! Pair the student, teacher or coach to the movie & see how many you got right below:

Answers: (left to right) The Students: Row 1: American Graffiti, American Pie, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club. Row 2: Super Bad, Sixteen Candles, Teen Wolf, Juno. Row 3: Saved, Back to School, Clueless, Good Will Hunting. Row 4: Harry Potter (series), Rushmore, Ferris Buellers Day Off, Easy A. Row 5: Billy Madison, Animal House, Pretty In Pink, Dazed and Confused. Row 6: Carrie, Rebel Without a Cause, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The Faculty: Row 1: Dead Poets Society, Half Nelson, Music of the Heart, Bad Teacher. Row 2: School of Rock, The Great Debaters, Lean On Me, Dangerous Minds. The Coaches: We Are Marshall, Friday Night Lights, Hoosiers, Coach Carter.

How many did you guess correctly? Which is your favorite?

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

Meet the Bibliomaniac: Kara Griswold

As you can imagine, all kinds of things go into setting up a new Half Price Books store.  With the grand reopening of our new Plano, Texas location coming up this Thursday (hooray!), we thought it would be fun to chat with one of the people responsible for getting the store into tip-top shape.  Meet Kara!


Name: Kara Griswold


Job Title: DIM (District Inventory Merchandiser), Dallas North District


When did you join the HPB team? December 2005


What is your favorite part about working at HPB?

My favorite part is the people. In my position, I get to travel to the different stores in my district so I get to interact with a variety of different personalities, both customers and employees. People are fascinating!


What is your all-time favorite book?

I have a hard time picking a favorite of anything and my favorite things can depend on the mood I’m in.  Currently, I would say my favorite author is Janet Evanovich.


What are you reading right now? Right now, I’m on Lean Mean Thirteen of the Janet Evanovich series.


As a DIM, what’s an average day like for you?

Being a DIM means I never have an average day, but that is one of the things I love about my job! I am constantly at the different stores representing Dallas North. I try to help the SIMs (Store Inventory Managers) with displays and different merchandising challenges that they face.


If you were to ask an employee at one of the stores what an average day is like for me, I’m sure they would say they see me talking on the phone by holding it up with my shoulder, pushing a dolly full of boxes, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. (Of course not actually running while pushing a dolly full of boxes. Safety first! J)


What is your role in getting the Plano store moved?

Where to begin?!  I did whatever needed to be done. I helped with the design of the new sections, packed up the books and put them on skids, built the displays, slept on a cot in the backroom, made and directed the labeling of the entire store, made sure we had all the supplies needed, drank a TON of coffee, and put the books onto the new shelves.   I laughed, I cried, I ate too much, I didn’t eat enough, and all the while had a great experience moving the Plano location. (P.S. I didn’t actually sleep in the backroom, I slept in the office.)


Anything else to add?

Yes, please come visit us at our new and improved Plano location where the air smells like flowers and the employees are ever-ready to serve you. So type 2440 Preston Rd. into your GPS and join the FUN!



I don’t know about you all, but this made me tired just reading it.  The things our bibliomaniacs do to provide you with a new, beautiful Half Price Books store! — Emily

Emily is Public Relations Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.

You can follow her on Twitter at @emilytbruce.

12 Books to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey

It seems that everyone in the United States has heard of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, and millions of women have now read it. Regardless of your thoughts on the book, it is very apparent that the Fifty Shades series has taken the erotica fiction genre mainstream. Men and women everywhere are reading these books – on planes, in auto repair shops, and at coffee shops.

But now that you’ve finished reading the trilogy and are awaiting more details on the upcoming movie, maybe you’re asking: “What do I read next?” (oh, right sorry… you’re asking for a friend) *wink*. If you want to read other books that are similar to Fifty Shades, I’ve got some recommendations for you. Next time you, or your friend, are at your local HPB bookstore, look for some of these titles.

Also, be on the lookout for the next book in the Bared to You series, Reflected in You, which will be available to the public next Tuesday, October 23rd. – Kristen B.

Kristen B. is Buyer’s Assistant at Half Price Books Distribution Center.
You can follow her on Twitter at @kbev302.

Pumpkin Carving Step-by-Step DIY Guide

It is that time of year again where everyone is preparing for Halloween. Whether it be picking out costumes, buying candy or watching scary movies, October is a fun time of year. A Halloween tradition at Half Price Books corporate headquarters: pumpkin carving competion. And some departments take it pretty seriously. So, as we get in gear for our rivalry, I thought I’d share some tips on how to carve a design into the exterior of a pumpkin. This means foregoing the messy gut-removal of jack-o-latern style pumpkin carving. Instead of a self-portrait, I decided on someone a little more attractive than myself – a flesh eating zombie!

Find a picture you want to carve, your favorite monster, super-hero or even your kids. Print out the face so it fits on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. You may want it larger or smaller depending in the size of the pumpkin you have. Get your tools ready. You will need tape, a push pin or small nail, and a cutting tool. (I chose a linoleum cutter)
Take the print of your character and tape it the best you can to the pumpkin. It may be necessary to fold some corners and improvise since the pumpkin is a curved surface.
Once the face is taped down, begin punching small holes around all the edges you wish to cut. You might think it would be easier to take a razor blade and just cut along the edge. If you do this, the paper will be shredded before long and very hard to deal with.
After punching along the lines of your image, remove the paper and begin cutting away. Be carful when you are cutting, the pumpkins can be hard to handle and a slip of the knife or cutting tool can easily cause a bad injury.

And now you have your favorite (or creepy) face on a pumpkin.

Have a spooky and safe Halloween! – Jim

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

6 Young Adult Fiction Male Protagonists to Root For

Every October we celebrate teachers and librarians at Half Price Books, AND last week was Teen Read Week, so we’ve had school days on the brain lately. In fact, this post was originally slated as a post about books with school settings. After thinking about it, however, I realized that my favorite books about schools don’t necessarily have as much to do with the setting as the all-important coming-of-age experience that happens in a final stretches of high school.

I also have a penchant for male protagonists — no offense to their female counterparts, but I found that I rooted a little harder for the lead boys in these books in particular:


Row 1: Catcher in the Rye‘s Holden Caulfield, the original in existential teen angst; Where Things Come Back‘s Cullen Witter, who searches for his missing brother while his small town obsesses over a long-believed-extinct woodpecker; Paper Towns‘ Quentin Jacobsen, who searches for his missing love using clues she left behind just for him.

Row 2: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl‘s Greg Gaines, who makes you root for him by being completely unaware of his own worth (even though everyone else thinks he’s awesome); The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘s Charlie, whose old-soul voice captures you from the first paragraph; Will Grayson, Will Grayson‘s Will Graysons — two kids with the same name whose intersection changes them both forever. 

Of course, my favorite young adult protagonist of all time is Harry Potter, but I think what sets these boys apart are their first-person voices. So, who did I miss? Which Book Male in a Leading Role did you love?
– Kristen D.

Kristen is Public Relations Specialist at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You can follow her on Twitter at @kristendickson.