With Halloween a week away, I reprint my post from last year suggesting viewing and reading material.

Most "scary movies" I dislike. They are what I think of as "shockers": the visual equivalent of jumping out of the dark and yelling BOO!, or worse, "gorefests" that shock in the same way the sight of a bad car wreck with its blood and death grabs the attention and causes the audrenaline to pump. To these movies I say, So what.

I do like "suspense" movies: the kind that induce sustained apprehension, like Jaws. And I like "weird" movies, that mess with my mind, challenge my thinking and perceptions, and disturb me at a deep level. Like The Exorcist. But mostly, I think the realm of The Weird is better done in literature.

So this Halloween, if you must watch a movie, I recommend The Exorcist, or the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, or perhaps the 1922 Nosferatu, or maybe the 1932 The Mummy with Boris Karloff, or if you can find it the 1932 Freaks.

But, I recommend you read this Halloween. (more below)

Somehow the interaction of author and reader in the privacy of the mind, the necessity of one's own images and imagination, the quiet of a good book in a quiet house with only the reading light on, makes for a more satisfying experience of The Weird.

There are so, so many great pieces of weird literature, in length from short stories to novels, that even I recognize the presumption of picking out a "best of category" selection. (Though I'll probably try in a future post; apparently my hubris knows no bounds.)

What I want to do is make a few suggestions of some American authors you may have overlooked.

First, from the earlier days of literature in this country, two authors that may be overlooked because of the overpowering brilliance and reputation of Edgar Allan Poe: Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Both of these men turned out some great short stories of Weird Fiction. For Irving: most of you have probably seen one version or another of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," now read the story, and also "The Adventure of the German Student." Hawthorne could write with power of the darkness of human existence: "Ethan Brand," "Young Goodman Brown," "Feathertop," and of course The House of the Seven Gables.

Next, Ambrose Bierce: "The Death of Halpin Fraser," praised by H.P. Lovecraft as a "mountain-peak" of American writing.

And, if you've never read Robert W. Chambers, locking the doors before you begin reading his stories will not calm your nerves, they are fears of the mind and soul, not the body: "The Yellow Sign," and "The Maker of Moons".

Of course, if you love Weird Fiction, you've not overlooked H.P. Lovecraft. He messes with my mind.