Arts, Venue

Horror favourites: Books and paintings

For me the best horror book is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A story about abandonment, power, beauty and what it truly means to be human. This just scrapes the tip of the iceberg of why the book still haunts me. When you factor in that Shelley was 18 when she wrote it, grieving from a miscarriage, and hiding in Europe with Percy Shelley after their elopement, you have to admit that she was one incredible woman and the book is a testimony to her title as the woman who ushered in the age of sci-fi.

Martha Griffiths


Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a wonderfully strange and scary story. Somewhat reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, Coraline finds a door that leads to familiar, yet frightening world. I love this book because it’s so original. From creepy button eyes and sardonic talking cats to attempting to steal souls, it’s a unique kind of horror that’s great for kids and adults alike. It’s bizarre, but it just works so well.

Nerisse Appleby


The iconic status of ‘The Overlook’ in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is confirmed by the fact that the BFI shop stocks socks emblazoned with the geometric carpet design that sprawls throughout the labyrinthine corridors of the fictional hotel. Intentionally impossible architecturally, with internal windows appearing to have light pouring in from outside, the design is steeped in a sense of imprisonment. An art piece on a massive scale, Kubrick’s set encapsulates violation of normative space key to effective horror. It is the illogic hidden within the walls of the seeming freedom of the vastness that lulls its inhabitants into a false sense of security.

Imogen Carter De Jong


Katsushika Hokusai’s Kohada Koheiji is my favorite horror painting. Based on real events, the skeleton is the cuckold and murder victim, Kohada Koheiji, who returns from the dead to seek revenge and torment his unfaithful wife and her lover. Now only flesh and bone with some skin and hair clinging to his skull, he pulls back a mosquito net to give them a ghastly wake-up call for dumping his body in a swamp. With Koheiji’s googly eyes and humorous grin, the painting induces the right amount of shrieks and laughter.

Monique Santoso

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