Have Books, Will Travel: To Hell & Back

Halloween is upon us, and we’ve got just the thing for those of you who love books that have a little tingle in the spine. Ah, yes. If you love a good ghoulish read, then this list is right up your dark alley. Should you be brave enough to embrace the terror, take a look as we guide you through our great, ghastly list of horror books perfect for reading in the dead of night with a flashlight held to your chin just so. This edition of Have Books, Will Travel? To Hell & Back. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA…ahem. Let’s get started!

 

Arthur's Halloween

Arthur’s Halloween by Marc Brown
We get it. Not everyone takes an interest in terror. Some of you enjoy an adorable dose of silly spookiness and that’s all you can handle. As an honorable mention, we look no further than our favorite nearsighted aardvark, Arthur. In the Halloween installment of Marc Brown’s beloved children’s series, Arthur must face his fears (and he has a lot of them) and find the courage to save his little sister after she wanders aimlessly into the scariest house on the block. Is D.W. doomed to spend the rest of her days in Elwood City’s most haunted house? Something tells us her brother has what it takes to set the scary things aside and save the day.

Number of lights you’ll need to leave on: A single night light if you must, but you should sleep just fine.lightbulb1 Continue reading

13 Book-Inspired Pumpkins

Fall has arrived, booklovers! As we bask in all things pumpkin spiced, let us not forget that the actual pumpkin still deserves our attention. That’s right, it’s pumpkin carving season and what better way to get your gourds in ghoulish order than to use themes based on iconic literary characters and books? No better way, we say. Need inspiration? Check out some of our favorite Instagram-worthy ideas below and break out the seed scooper. We’re willing to bet you’ll have the best pumpkin on the block.

1. Harry Potter

Dobby


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Happy (Godric) Holloween! I asked #TheSPEWCrew to pick a pumpkin design, so today involved socking it to self-doubt and setting the WitchCrafter FREE ♥️ In the end, I’m proud of the result and am also amazed my fingers lived to tell the tale… albeit two plasters later! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but all I cared about was The SPEW Crew seal of approval. As you can see in the second photo, my CEO Sir Bumble (Chief Elf Operator) can definitely see a likeness, so I’m calling it #magicmanaged 🌟 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Have you made any potterhead pumpkins? 🎃 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #daretocreate #harrypotter #bibliophile #autumn #daysofsmallthings #potterhead #houself #dobby #halloween2018 #bookpumpkin #dobbyisfree #pumpkindecorating #hogwartshalloween #wizardingworld #afreeelf #myeverydaymagic

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The Island of Misfit Horror Sequels

Sequels are always a mixed bag – especially sequels to horror movies. Even if a horror movie doesn’t scare you, it should at least surprise you. And how do you get something that surprised you once to surprise you again?

I’ve selected some horror sequels that attempt – and mostly succeed – at being something other than just more of the same. Most of these movies aren’t the equal of the classics they’re based on, but they’re worth watching because they try to surprise you again. So if you’re looking for something new or different to watch this Halloween, I recommend giving these sequels a chance (or second chance).

So without further ado, I welcome you to <insert spooky voice here> the Island of Misfit Horror Sequels…

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
Well, we have to start with a Friday the 13th movie on Friday the 13th. I won’t lie, this series has never been my thing (sorry, Friday fans), but Jason Lives is a ton of fun.

jason

Why? The people who made it acknowledged how silly this series is and leaned into it. The end result is a charmingly self-aware horror-comedy that’s funny while still letting Jason do what he does to anyone who gets near Camp Crystal Lake. If this isn’t the best Friday movie, it’s right up there. Now let’s move on to something that takes itself more seriously…

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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.

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.

A Spec-CRAFT-ular DIY Halloween How-To

I might have mentioned before that I am a late-night quirky crafter. Think Amy Sedaris without the fame and fortune.

The fall season, specifically Halloween, has become quite the merry ol’ time for us pro-craft-inators. There are many, many guides to support our habit when creativity stumps you and they are most amply available at good ol’ HPB for cheaps!

But, one of my favorite past times is to dig in the old craft-drawer and develop a something-from-nothing quirky project all by myself. I present to you, my Paper-Maché Wine Toppers…just in time for the spooky season:

Supplies needed:

Old newspapers

School glue (All-purpose, white glue-all)

Paint brushes

Assorted paint colors

A couple of latex party balloons left over from someone’s birthday or that last summer water balloon fight

Random plastic containers (I like cottage cheese containers best!)

  1. Water down the glue a little in the cottage cheese container (make sure you washed it out!)
  2. Douse your strips of newspaper
  3. Here’s the fun part: blow up the balloons to about 6 in or so in diameter, try to avoid the impulse to throw a party.
  4. Coat your balloons in the soggy/gluey newspaper, leave the bottom portion un-papered so you can get the balloon out and use them as a proper-topper (I’m a poet and didn’t know it)
  5. You can go to sleep now; the paper needs to dry
  6. When you wake up you will have two crusty-paper coated balloons waiting for you!
  7. Paint the balloons as much or as little as you want and let the paint dry
  8. Here is the next fun part! Pop the balloons and enjoy your new craft!
  9. TA DA!

 

Notice how these Zombie and Alien paper-maché wine toppers hide the fact I am serving my guests extremely cheap wine! They won’t know until they have a headache in the morning!

 

Dream up a quirky craft of your own this fall-season! Tell me about it below and I will try it out, the fewer instructions you give, the more fun I’ll have!

Enjoy fall, y’all! — Becky

 —

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

The Great, the Gross and the Gruesome

Have you ever read a book that sent shivers down your spine?  Have you ever read a passage that was so gross that it made you gag?  Have you ever had to close a book and said to yourself, “I don’t think I can read any more of this?”  Now, have you ever done these things with a trivia book?  I have, and the book was Gruesome Facts, published by Igloo books.  So I just have to share all the wonderful things you can learn in this book, like:

Places you should not go on vacation:

  • The village of Pluckley in Kent England, which is one of the most haunted places in the world
  • Deshnoke in India is a good place to stay away from, unless you really like rats
  • Centralia, PA, unless you want to turn into a human fireball
  • Siberia, Russia, for not only is Tunguska, Siberia a lonely and desolate spot whose burned landscape cannot be fully explained, but it is also the home of Peter Plogojowitz, who is said to be the first vampire.  You thought it was Count Dracula, but he’s just a character in a book, who was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, who was not a vampire — just a guy that impaled his victims on stakes.

People you do not want to travel back in time and meet:

  • Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, whose favorite pastime was boiling people alive.  I was going to make a cooking reference here but it would probably sound too much like Titus Andronicus.
  • Emperor Caligula, who once had a section of the Coliseum’s spectators slaughtered by wild animals, just because he was bored. And they say video games make you violent. 
  • Anyone in the Medici family in Italy; not only did they kill other people, they also killed each other, second only to the Borgia family in their pursuit of power.  So, I would stay away from the Borgias too, and for Pete’s sake don’t tell them about the time machine.

People you do not want operating on you:

  • Dr. Walter Freeman, who preformed lobotomies with an icepick. Can you say “Ouch?”
  • Dr. John R. Brinkley, who used to implant people with goat glands while he was drunk.  I’m thinking the patients must have been drunk too.
  • Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr.– please note there is no Dr. in front of his name. There is a reason for that.  He wasn’t one, but he played one in the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • Bonus Information: Did you know they used to use giant ants to clamp intestinal wounds together?  Now, don’t you wish you didn’t?

Things you don’t want to eat:

  • Casu marzu. Sounds harmless, but it is cheese with live maggots in it (and yes, this is where I gagged). The book does warn you to be sure and crunch the maggots to death before you swallow because they can tear holes in your gut. (Yum!)
  • Jellied Moose Nose.  Yes, it is exactly what it says it is.  (Still reading?  It gets better—or should that be worse.)
  • Hard Tack.  You may have heard of this as many books have featured hard tack as a food for sailors. However, this is a biscuit that is so old and stale that it is filled with weevils and other insects. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m not much of an insect eater.)
  • Pretzels. Have you ever wondered how pretzels get that lovely brown color on the outside?  It comes from the chemical compound urea, which can be extracted from urine.  Now, it can be made chemically as well, which is how I’m sure how the ones we eat are made. However, I will never look at my favorite salty snack the same again.

Since we’re talking about bodily fluids…

  • Don’t ever ask an Inuit man in Alaska what he’s going to do with that bucket full of urine.  You will never shake anyone’s hand again.
  • Don’t eat your boogers.  You don’t want to know what’s in them.
  • For the same reason, don’t pee in the shower. You never know what’s in your kidneys.
  • Bonus information: There is a man who had his rear end rebuilt after a horrible car accident left him badly damaged.  He now has to go to the toilet using a remote control, which he carries in his pocket. (No, I didn’t make that up.)

These topics are just the tip of the iceberg in the book Gruesome Facts.  So, if you ever wanted to know why the Romans used to have vomitoriums, or why the people in northeast England hung a monkey, then this book is for you. You can find a new copy of Gruesome Facts at your local Half Price Books this Halloween season.  And if you make jellied moose nose for your Halloween party, please don’t invite me. – Julie

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Top Five Horror Movies

Happy Halloween everyone! Of course, when I promised my list of the scariest movies of all time, I didn’t know it would be so difficult. This is by far the hardest movie list I have ever made. In the horror genre, there is a lot of complete garbage out there– even so, when I started scribbling down the ones I like, my list was at 25 in a hurry. Now to see if I can pick a top 5.

The Exorcist (1973): To me this is the grandaddy of them all. This film scares me as much (or more) today than it did when I first saw it many years ago. You don’t see many scary movies that attract the Oscar voters, but this one did– it was nominated for 10 Academy awards and took home two, including Best Adapted Screenplay. This is a truly haunting movie about a possessed girl and her mother’s fight to save her daughter. Brilliantly directed and acted with superb performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, and Max von Sydow, be sure to leave your lights on after watching this one.

Halloween (1978): Hats off to director John Carpenter, who took a budget of next to nothing and managed to scare the pants off movie fans! To me this horror film is as much of a classic as Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) and in my eyes, maybe even more so. This film started all of the slasher films, but at least Halloween did it with class. Other than a bit of blood in the opening scene, there is no more to be found. Of course one of the most famous facts about Halloween was that it was Jamie Lee Curtis’ first feature film.  After you watch the film, some of the most memorable images in horror history will be engrained with you forever, from the pale white mask coming out of the shadows to a figure standing at the foot of the bed wearing a sheet….and glasses! Doesn’t sound scary at all….but it works!

The Ring (2002): Ok, there are some more modern films that are done very well. The Ring is one of those. Based on the Japanese film Ringu (1998), this remake is a great story. Unlike so many modern horror movies, this film doesn’t base its story around teenage girls who end up running from hatchet-wielding inbreds in the backwoods. This is such an intriguing story, I won’t spoil a second of it for you by revealing much– just take my word, this movie offers its share of scary movie moments.

Salem’s Lot (1979): Ok, what is the movie guy doing picking a TV miniseries as a scary film? Well, it wouldn’t be a Halloween list without involving the great Stephen King, who wrote Salem’s Lot. Watching as a kid, this one kept me up a few nights, between the image of Geoffrey Lewis sitting in the rocking chair and revealing his yellow glowing eyes as he opens them, and of course Mr. Barlow, the monster himself. This is a good old fashioned evil vampire movie, not the local, good looking high school hunks who fall in love and then fight with the local werewolf clan. These vampires will terrify you with their crooked teeth and pale blue faces. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, give your DVD another spin.

The Descent (2005): After preaching about good horror films not being bloody, this one almost makes me change my mind. This movie is about a small group of friends that go cave exploring, and things go terribly wrong. With no way back to the surface, they try to find a way out by going deeper in the cave, where they encounter a stranger form of humanoid predator. This film is very claustrophobic and will do for cave exploring what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.

What a tough list to narrow down! What movies scared you as a kid and what scares you now? Some of the others I should just mention are Nosferatu (1922 and 1979), Alien, Psycho, The Shining and even the Swedish vampire movie, Let The Right One In. These are my favorites, so what are yours? And remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation.
— Jim

A Riddle, HPB Halloween Potluck Style

Riddle: What’s tangy, delicious and resembles a dead Egyptian carcass?

I assume since it’s noon and a lovely Dallas day in late October, you must be standing in the buffet line of the Annual Half Price Books Corporate Office Creepy Potluck (happening today, right this second) and the answer is Mummy Meatloaf, of course.

This HPB corporate tradition is looked upon with  much anticipation/dread each year. Pot-luck dish entries range from the hilarious: “Eyeball cakes” (quite tasty, by the way) to the terrifying: a plate of dried cranberries labeled simply, “SCABS!” And some just go for delicious. Our head of accounting’s famous Corn Casserole dish is drool-worthy and there are never any leftovers. Our Executive VP’s Mac-n-Cheese entry won the tastiest honor so many times we ended up naming the award after it: the “Golden Macaroni Spoon,” thusly and arguably the most coveted prize of all. 

Prizes you say? Of course! “The Creepy Spoon” and the “Golden Macaroni” trophies are given to the foods gaining the most votes in the terrifying or tasty categories, respectively. Four years ago we added another plaque of honor – “The CARVY”- awarded for excellence in inter-departmental Pumpkin-decorating. Our I.T. department holds 2 of 3 Carvy wins:  

(Pictured Above: HPB I.T. CARVY Champions)

Some of us (myself included) have been planning our dishes for an entire year now…the CREEPY SPOON is miiiiiine! Only one decision left to make: rat-shaped cheese balls or severed-finger chili? Oh also, would you eat food your co-worker prepared for you? Even if it was named “SCABS?” (…ok, just checking, I would (and did) too.)

What do you and your co-workers do to get in the spooky spirit this time of year?

— Becky G.