Feed me the nightmare fuel
February 22, 2016 10:43 PM   Subscribe

I have a thing for eldritch abominations, alien geometry, fridge horror, and general nightmare fuel. I want more, pretty please!

An example of some things within this category that I've really enjoyed include:

Madoka Magica
Neon Genesis Evangelion, including reboot
Fullmetal Alchemist & Brotherhood (This is my favorite anime series by far, I'm yet to read the manga though because of $$$ reasons)

Cabin in the Woods
Event Horizon
The Mist

Halo (the background lore, especially involving the Flood, is very interesting to me)

I've also read some HP Lovecraft because it's pretty much obligatory if you're into this stuff (but....eh), and I've recently read "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison which I liked, prompting this question!

I'm interested in all kinds of media. The darker, the better. Thanks :)
posted by Owlie to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
I think China Miéville's short story collection Three Moments of an Explosion would be right up your alley. His book Kraken is lighter but it might also interest you, though in that case I'd recommend the audiobook version.

Also, Charles Stross' The Laundry Files books. You can get a taste with a couple of free novellas: Down on the Farm and (especially) Equoid.
posted by neushoorn at 11:03 PM on February 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

It may in fact be too light-hearted for your tastes, but you should check out Welcome to Night Vale, first a podcast and now a novel. You should just start at episode 1 and see how you feel about it.
posted by O9scar at 11:07 PM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding the Laundry Files although it is the lighter side of the ancient terrors.

Seamus Cooper's The Mall of Cthulhu and Terror at the Shore are even more tongue in cheek. Although weird geometries and shopping malls go well together. A little too well, I think.

If you haven't already come across it, the HP Podcraft goes through a huge number of his stories, arguably too many in too much detail, but still worth a listen. Some decent readings once they started getting some actual actor-colleagues involved.

Finally, there was a silent-movie version of Call of Cthulhu directed by Andrew Leman. It's shot in the style of a '20s silent film, which works remarkably well IMHO because the limited 'special effects' of the time almost require obtuse and oblique angles meeting in unnatural ways, odd lighting, and actors at the edge of their own sanity.
posted by mark k at 11:25 PM on February 22, 2016

I can't imagine you haven't already read Junji Ito given your list here, but if not, Junji Ito.
posted by thetortoise at 11:46 PM on February 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

I might suggest Awake in the Night Land.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:51 PM on February 22, 2016

posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:13 AM on February 23, 2016

Podcasts are a great source of this kind of story. My favorites are:

The Black Tapes Podcasts
The Message

They've all got pretty neat synopsises on their pages, so you should be able to click around and see if it's anything you'd be interested in. They're quite different in structure/production style, and you may find you prefer one type of story over the other. The Black Tapes and TANIS are produced by the same team, so if you'll like one odds are you'll like the other too.

There's also The No Sleep Podcast, which I've been holding off listening to because I really like being able to sleep? But if you enjoy creepypasta stuff, this sounds like a goldmine.

Seconding Junji Ito because holy crabsticks that man knows how to do weird and terrifying.
posted by harujion at 12:41 AM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Thomas Ligotti's first two short story collections, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe were recently republished in one Penguin Classics edition. It's about as good as horror fiction gets imho - it's certainly indebted to Poe and Lovecraft (as Ligotti openly acknowledges) but, well, it's better (than Lovecraft, at least).

He's basically the horror-lover's horror writer and if you've any interest in the genre it's essential.

Oh, and if you haven't, do read Poe as well.
posted by Ted Maul at 12:46 AM on February 23, 2016

Check out Graham Harman's Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy for an introduction to an interesting strand of contemporary philosophy that can be seen as having Lovecraftian horror as its guiding principle... the Lovecraftian sublime, if you will.
In symbolic terms, Great Cthulhu should replace Minerva as the patron spirit of philosophers, and the Miskatonic must dwarf the Rhine and the Ister as our river of choice. Since Heidegger’s treatment of Hölderlin resulted mostly in pious, dreary readings, philosophy needs a new literary hero.
In a similar vein, Timothy Morton's Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, which looks at epistemology, ontology, ethics, and aesthetics from the viewpoint of the inhabitant of a planet-species-world that "has already ended."
The strategy of this book, then, is to awaken us from the dream that the world is about to end, because action on Earth (the real Earth) depends on it. The end of the world has already occurred. We can be uncannily precise about the date on which the world ended. Convenience is not readily associated with historiography, nor indeed with geological time. But in this case, it is uncannily clear. It was April 1784, when James Watt patented the steam engine, an act that commenced the depositing of carbon in Earth’s crust—namely, the inception of humanity as a geophysical force on a planetary scale.
Your deeply unsettling coffee table is complete with a copy of Reza Negarestani's Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, a work of post-Lovecraftian fictional philosophy, described by the publisher thus:
At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth's tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun. 'The Middle East is a sentient entity - it is alive!' concludes renegade Iranian archeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the 'lubricant' of historical and political narratives. A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along. Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil...
posted by mbrock at 12:56 AM on February 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

You'd probably like House of Leaves
posted by crocomancer at 1:51 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Mononoke Soushi
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:02 AM on February 23, 2016

The video game "Darkest Dungeon" should fill a void. It's a continuing battle with monsters and sanity with creepy graphics and great voice acting.
posted by KMB at 2:10 AM on February 23, 2016

The SCP foundation is full of this kind of stuff (although the type of horror is quite variable) . Also for some original online, quite short original fiction, try the Northern Caves which I recently read and enjoyed.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:11 AM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

I was just saying to my husband that the Lovecraft ethos seems to be having A Moment right now. Two books I've read recently that might hit the spot for you are Jeff VanderMere's Annihilation and Scott Hawkins' absolutely stunning debut novel The Library at Mount Char. I haven't even finished the latter book, but I'm up reading it with glee and trepidation at 5 am, so that may tell you how this work has grabbed me.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:11 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is not my thing, but it is my spouse's thing, and he swears by Reddit's creepy pasta. I presume general Reddit warnings apply. (But sometimes "homegrown" can feel way creepier than commercial.)
posted by instamatic at 3:34 AM on February 23, 2016

You will probably really like Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for the Nintendo GameCube. This is the game that made me want to read Lovecraft. I'm a bit out of date with emulators, but it looks like you can get this in the Wii (but you will need a GameCube controller).

I would also recommend that you NOT read too much about some of the game's "famous" mechanics, as they are awesome to experience yourself!
posted by El_Marto at 4:36 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cyclonopedia is a great shout - definitely one of the most original and uncategorisable works I've read in the last few years. It's packed with nightmare fuel but the precise nature of the nightmares will depend upon your tolerance for Deleuzean critical theory jargon.

I notice you're into anime too. Personally I've never been much of a fan but lately a colleague recommended Tokyo Ghoul which I've been enjoying. It's only really 'horror' in its general premise - cannibalistic ghouls hide in plain sight in Tokyo, eating people - but it's very graphic and certainly action-packed.
posted by Ted Maul at 5:00 AM on February 23, 2016

There was a really fun (and SCARY) movie that came out called "The End of the Line" - totally underrated. Sounds right up your alley.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:18 AM on February 23, 2016

The short stories of Bob Leman are hard to come by - they were published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in the 1980s and collected only once but that's out of print and costs hundreds of USD - but they're truly creepy.
posted by nicwolff at 5:19 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Cyclonopedia and derivative materials (such as Punctum Books' Leper Creativity volume of collected papers from the 2012 Cyclonopedia symposium and Ben Woodard's tangentially-related geophilosophy tome 'On an Ungrounded Earth')... pretty heavy, and heavily unsettling, material at the intersection of Deleuze-Guattari and Lovecraft. If you dig around online there is still a lot of further related material from the development of Cyclonopedia in the old Hyperstition archives and the even older Ccru site. The rabbit hole is pretty deep...
posted by remembrancer at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding House of Leaves! Also, The Ruins.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:43 AM on February 23, 2016

Oh yeah, and you might like Honeymoon.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:46 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh man, The Ruins. Corny concept, results leave you weeping in horror.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2016

Subreddit /r/nosleep might be up your alley. The rules say it has to be original work, so A) quality may vary and B) you probably won't see much of this elsewhere, at least if the rules are working.

Seconding Stross's Laundry books.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:02 AM on February 23, 2016

The Drabblecast podcast does an annual HP Lovecraft month, which is mostly modern stories in the mythos of HPL and avoids some of his more problematic views and over the top writing. The Only Game in Town and The Country Doctor are pretty good examples.

I bought Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism by David Nickle after reading a similar Ask and enjoyed it, kind of like HPL wrote a dark fairy tale.

I think Jeff VanderMeer's work might also appeal to you.
posted by Candleman at 8:26 AM on February 23, 2016

I'm only part way through, but Worm (previously) is surprisingly engaging, and some properly horrifying things get done to characters on the regular.
posted by lucidium at 9:46 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ellen Datlow is a great horror editor who does not select formulaic crap. Check out Best Horror of the Year 2012
Also great if you can find them used are the whole Best Fantasy and Horror series, the short stories were always top notch and really varied.
posted by benzenedream at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mushishi is an anime that gave me a good X-Files episode level of after-spook. There's a form of life all around us that most people can't see, and for those few who do something not-good usually happens. Not because this other form of life is malicious or anything, mostly just because it's so different.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2016

John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness is a great love letter to H.P. Lovecraft. Underrated, yet excellent.
posted by ringu0 at 8:06 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

OMG, Mushishi! As a person with a biology background, I freaking *lerrrrrrvvvve* that series to ity-bitty, tiny pieces. Honestly, I would *eat* that series if I could.

The first time I watched it, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being given an exquisite gift that I hadn't earned and didn't deserve. Even now, years later, I am still nearly dumbstruck by how rich, delicious, and ingenious it is, both in conception and execution. It's fantasy, but fantasy that riffs primarily on ethology, microbiology, and ecology instead of on human history and folklore. And tone-wise, it manages this constant, graceful movement between moments of tense inquisitiveness, moments of illumination, and moments of peril and heartbreak that, taken together, produce an overall feeling of lush and gravid stillness, even in episodes that deal heavily with with pestilence, violence, and death.

Without Mushishi in it, my world would be far flatter, far grayer, and a good bit more resistant to the sustenance of hope and wonder. That is not hyperbole.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:24 AM on February 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

- The Descent
- Let the Right One In
- Drag Me To Hell
- The Conjuring
- Alien
- Aliens

- The Shining
- Sphere (Don't watch the movie)

System Shock 2 (it's graphics are dated but it is still amazing. The sound design is so good.) http://www.gog.com/game/system_shock_2
Eternal Darkness
posted by zackola at 1:53 PM on February 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Host
The Ring

Also up above I mean the original Let the Right One In, not the USA remake :)
posted by zackola at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2016

You might like the Hellraiser films, though I would only recommend the first 2 in the series.

Visually very interesting and quite a crepuscular, dank mood to the enterprises. I would say the second one is the best of the series, and that they tail off rapidly from there.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 6:19 PM on February 27, 2016

Sunless Sea is a semi-roguelike naval exploration game with a great creepy atmosphere.
posted by gamera at 10:39 PM on February 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

This is going to seem strange at first maybe, but....

One that will get you eventually is the popular indie/Steam game Undertale. It pulls off a neat trick regarding what it's all about, because it's often crazy funny and heartwarming (depending on how you play), but you'll encounter some quite disturbing things before the end, especially if you manage to play the game in one of two certain (opposite) ways.

It really shouldn't be spoiled for you though, especially if you care about its horror aspects. Suffice to say, the deeper you dig into it, the sadder and more horrifying its backstory turns out to be. Well, give it a try maybe?
posted by JHarris at 2:05 AM on February 28, 2016

You really need to play Bloodborne if you have a PS4. Or at least watch someone else play it.
posted by codacorolla at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2016

zackola: "Movies:
- The Descent
- Let the Right One In
- Drag Me To Hell
- The Conjuring
- Alien
- Aliens

- The Shining
- Sphere (Don't watch the movie)

System Shock 2 (it's graphics are dated but it is still amazing. The sound design is so good.) http://www.gog.com/game/system_shock_2
Eternal Darkness

Also, old, but good in the game category is Clive Barker's Undying. It CAN be as chilling as SS2. An old friend is called back to the Ireland he is banned from to help save a family haunted by a presence they accidentally called forth from standing stones near the family home. Really has fun with what you can do with the 3D first person perspective.
posted by Samizdata at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2016

Also, I loved Drag Me To Hell. A delightfully retro treat that doesn't stand in with the overly grue-laden milieu of Raimi. Lots of fun chills like gobos and excellent sound design.
posted by Samizdata at 3:33 PM on February 28, 2016

Phlegmco(tm): "You might like the Hellraiser films, though I would only recommend the first 2 in the series.

Visually very interesting and quite a crepuscular, dank mood to the enterprises. I would say the second one is the best of the series, and that they tail off rapidly from there.

Going to disagree. I rather liked Bloodlines (The 4th from 1996), as it explores some of the history and hints at some real nastiness and madness.
posted by Samizdata at 3:35 PM on February 28, 2016

Well, the Amnesia PC games are pretty much must-haves, for starters. The first is better than the second, but even the second is still pretty damn good.

The STALKER series of games is also something special, and can be scary as hell especially with some of the (amazing) mods that are available out there. The first time you encounter a Controller you will shit your pants and the pants of the ten people physically closest to you.

I also want to say that the Clive Barker's Undying PC game is probably one of the best horror games of the past decade and a half, but you'll need to be gracious as it hasn't aged particularly well.

Charles Stross' A Colder War is my favourite piece of non-Lovecraft mythos fiction. It is available free online.

I recently read and quite enjoyed The Rim of Morning by William Sloane. Shadows of Carcosa is also an excellent anthology that acts as a sort of "primer".

Also...have you considered boardgames? The two big "Cthulhu" boardgames from Fantasy Flight - Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror - are massively atmospheric provided you play them as experiences, rather than as games. The art and flavour text is just lovely. Eldritch would be my pick, of the two, because the mechanics are much streamlined, but it is a globe-trotting mystery while Arkham is much more "personal", I suppose you could say.

There is also a very highly-regarded Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, and the source material for that can be thoroughly enjoyed even outside of actually playing the game.

And while you didn't ask for music, you would be doing yourself and your proclivities a disservice if you didn't sit back in a darkened room at night and crank some Lustmord on your headphones.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:45 PM on February 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Argh, just noticed Undying being recommended literally two posts above mine. In that case, "Second for Undying".)
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:01 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

And in the webcomics space: Broodhollow by Kris Straub.

Also by Kris Straub: Local 58 - Weather Service and Local 58 - Contingency.
posted by PenDevil at 10:44 PM on February 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would also like to chime for Cyclonopedia, which is terribly boring and unfun to read, but which I've thought about a lot since I read it. It's probably the highest ratio I've yet discovered for "Hated Reading" to "Love That I've Read It."

As far as Lovecraftian creepiness, my go-to response is the intensely-slow-paced Werckmeister Harmonies, which is 39 shots over 2 and a half hours, plus a big dead whale!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:49 AM on February 29, 2016

Couple of books you might enjoy:
- Roadside Picnic (Arkady and Boris Strugatsky) - creepy and suspenseful science fiction classic, centered around dangerous and mysterious artifacts left behind by alien visitors to Earth
- The Willows (Algernon Blackwood) - H.P. Lovecraft considered it to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature
posted by gin and biscuits at 11:45 AM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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