So the new Holiday Guide presents a special new feature! Best Of. That’s right. I got some folks together and asked them to contribute a list of their top ten movies and top ten books. Along with an intro and some pimping of their stuff when I can, we’ll be doing one a day when I have one. I had nothing to do with these lists except soliciting them. The descriptions are the authors’ as are the picks. Remember, I do not write these. The people listed to.
Meghan Knierim is a writer and all around cool ass mo-fo.
10. Gummo: : I saw this movie when it came out at the Angelika Theater in New York City. I remember leaving the theater scratching my head and not being able to figure out how I felt about it. After watching it again when it came out on DVD, I decided I really dug it. Yes, it’s disturbing and a little nonsensical, but I also saw the beauty in it. Then again, I find lots of disturbing things quite beautiful.
9. Night of the Comet: This one is a classic, cheesy sci-fi romp. If you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you! This has been one of my favorites since I was just a wee lass.
8. Twin Peaks – The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series): One of my favorite series of all time. David Lynch delivers some seriously twisted shit and keeps the mysteries just out of your reach until the last possible moment. And who doesn’t love pie and damn good coffee?
7. Carnivale – The Complete First Two Seasons: This one deserved way more than the two seasons it got. But what little we were given is gold. Until Dexter came to be, Carnivale was my favorite series ever, hands down. Dexter might have replaced it, but that doesn’t take away the brilliance that is Carnivale. Clancy Brown kicks ass, as does the rest of the cast. And Nick Stahl is super hot!
6. Dexter – The First Season: My new favorite series of all time. Season one was full of serial killing goodness, the hotness that is Michael C. Hall, and just an incredibly twisted storyline that makes you bounce in your seat and squee with frustration and excitement. Season 2, which is not available yet, is certainly living up to the hype, as I think it’s even better than the first.
5. Bully: I did mention my ability to find beauty in the truly disturbing, right? More Nick Stahl goodness, this is one fucked up movie that is sure to kill your appetite for awhile. I wanted to take a shower immediately upon finishing it, but it’s bloody brilliant, and based on a true story, which is always awesome.
4. Amadeus: I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid. It gave me an appreciation for classical music that I have to this day… and was disturbing in it’s own way as well. Not all that historically accurate, but an amazing film nonetheless, with incredible performances from F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce.
3. Heathers: Not only is Christian Slater smoking hot in this one, I love how you can at once be repulsed and turned on. It’s hilarious, yet so very, very wrong. “My son’s a homosexual, and I love him. I love my dead gay son!” It’s a quoterrific movie that I think anyone who has ever been a teenager (um… so, yeah, everyone old enough to watch it) can relate to.
2. Phantasm: Good, old-fashioned, 70s horror goodness. The Tall Man is one of the most frightening monsters of all time, in my honest opinion. Every time Angus Scrimm is onscreen, I get goosebumps. Not to mention, Reggie Fucking Bannister!
1. Hellraiser: This film, without a doubt, is the most beautiful disturbing film I’ve ever seen. It scared the crap out of me as a kid and I’m still awestruck by it today. I really think Barker changed the horror genre as we knew it with this one. It has earned the rank
of holiest of holy in my DVD collection.
Top 10 Books
10. Lucky: A Memoir, by Alice Sebold Not an easy one to get through by any stretch of the imagination, but this true-life account of Sebold’s rape and the aftermath is as awe-inspiring as it is horrific. I will always be amazed by her strength, and her ability to weave her own sense of humor into the recounting of such a traumatic event.
9. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway I’ll admit that this is the only Hemingway I’ve ever read, and I only read it as part of a college class. But I poured through it. Another one of those beautiful, yet a touch disturbing, classics.
8. The Shining, by Stephen King My favorite King book ever. Screw the movie, because as good as it was, the book is just so much more terrifying. It’s tough to unnerve me with reading material, but King did it.
7. The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri The classic tale of the seven levels of hell. I love this book, though I had to read it a few times, I’ll admit. The descriptions, the atmosphere… it’s always good for a little inspiration when it comes to my writing.
6. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut This crazy-ass book is a war novel, no, it’s about time travel, no, it’s, it’s… whatever it is, it’s bloody brilliant. This was my introduction to Vonnegut’s work and remains my favorite thing he’s done.
5. The Drive-In, by Joe Lansdale Lansdale is my hero, and this book is one messed-up piece of fiction. His laid-back writing style and firm grasp on language and characterization make him my favorite writer of all time, and this book a must read.
4. The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum Another rough read, though unlike Sebold’s Lucky, there is no notion that everything will be ok, no comic relief, no inspiration. This book is about the pure evils of humanity, the horrific things we can do to each other, and watch be done to others. It’s about how the twisted mind of one adult can warp the minds of children into thinking acts of evil are just games, and how far the human mind can be pushed. This book sickened me and haunted me for weeks. But Ketchum is mesmerizing and treated the material with respect. There is nothing in this book that is just there for shock value, it’s all integral and necessary, and handled brilliantly.
3. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger I read this in high school and it quickly became an old standby. The ultimate coming of age story, Holden Caulfield remains one of my favorite characters ever created. Who doesn’t love a cynic?
2. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess I would have thrown this on the movie list as well, if I had more than 10 to pick, but this one definitely belongs on my book list. I read this in 8th grade for the first time and wouldn’t have been able to make heads or tales of it if my copy hadn’t had a glossary in the back so I could figure out what the hell they were talking about. An experiment on a murderous little prick to change him into a law-abiding citizen? Need I say more?
1. By Bizarre Hands, by Joe Lansdale Yes, I know, Lansdale is on my list twice. Get over it, he’s a god I tell you! This short story collection contains some of most fucked up fiction I have ever read. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about six years old, but when I read this book I knew I wanted to write horror. Incidentally, I was only 12 when I read it, and I don’t believe this book belongs anywhere near a 7th grader’s eyes!
You can find Megan at http://myspace.com/meghanknierim. Her story The Hunger will appear in the newest Garden State Horror Writers anthology due out at some point next year.