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25 Spooky Books to Read This Halloween Season

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Looking for a real scream this October? Tap into your deepest fears with these books about paranormal activity, haunted houses, kidnappings, and even psychological mind games. Warning: You may want to keep the lights on.

1. DON'T YOU CRY, BY MARY KUBICA

After Quinn wakes to find her roommate Esther missing from their Chicago apartment, she ransacks her room for clues. But what she discovers is that she never knew who her best friend actually was. Elsewhere, in a small Michigan town, a mysterious woman catches the eye of 18-year-old Alex. Though he's swept up in her beauty, he quickly learns she's far more sinister than meets the eye.

2. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, BY RUTH WARE

In this novel, travel writer Lo lands her dream job covering a ship's first cruise. It starts off as smooth sailing: The champagne is flowing, the small number of guests are welcoming, and the cabins are luxurious. Then, she sees someone being thrown overboard. The twist: All passengers are accounted for. Or, so they say.

3. UNRAVELING OLIVER, BY LIZ NUGENT

When the titular character's wife Alice confronts him about his past, the charismatic children's writer loses his cool—and sends her straight into a coma. Alternating among several perspectives, from Oliver's classmates and neighbors to ex-lovers, author Nugent pieces together what really drove him over the edge.

4. EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, BY MINDY MEIJIA

Desperate to break free from her small town, high school senior Hattie strikes up a fatal online romance. Nearly a year later, she's brutally stabbed to death and her dark secrets start to come to light. Now, as they try to unearth who killed the golden girl, the three narrators ask, who was Hattie?

5. THE AMATEURS, BY SARA SHEPARD

Five years after high school senior Helena disappeared from her backyard, four wannabe sleuths try to unravel the mystery. But someone is watching—and is desperate to stop their manhunt. The Pretty Little Liars author's killer new series takes unpredictable twists until the very last chapter.

6. THE GIRL BEFORE, BY J.P. DELANEY

Following a traumatic robbery, Emma is on the hunt for a new place to call home. Enter: One Folgate Street. Sure, the house’s architect still retains control over decor and doesn’t allow for books, personal pictures, or clutter whatsoever, but she’s desperate. Then, three years later, Jane moves in, looking for her new beginning. Instead, she uncovers the mysterious death of Emma, who also happens to look just like her. Soon, she begins to experience the same terrors as, well, the girl before. 

7. THE CHILD, BY FIONA BARTON

Journalist Kate Waters jumps at the chance to investigate the skeletal remains of a baby found at a demolished London house. But as she digs through the neighborhood’s history, she stumbles across three women, each with a gripping fascination with (and connection to) the murdered infant.

8. ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

With her father ailing, Nic is yanked home to the rural, small town she thought she escaped. But her arrival opens up a decade-old cold case: the disappearance of her best friend Corinne. And within days of her homecoming, another girl mysteriously vanishes. Told in reverse over two weeks, the harrowing story seeks to tell how the two events are ominously linked.

9. WITH MALICE, BY EILEEN COOK

Jill remembers nothing. Not her school's trip to Italy, that fatal car crash or…possibly killing her best friend Simone in a jealous rage. Instead, she wakes up in the hospital with a cast on her leg, stitches in her face, and a lawyer team on her case. Now, with evidence mounting against her and the media painting her as a sociopath, Jill questions just what she's capable of.

10. HAUNTED, BY DORAH WILLIAMS

The Williams lived in constant fear. On a whim, they moved into an alluring Victorian home that just always seemed to be vacant. It doesn't take long to find out why: It's haunted. The true story is told through the perspective of matriarch Dorah, as she recalls the chilling paranormal events the family experienced and how they uncovered the backstory of their ghosts.

11. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, BY THOMAS HARRIS

There's a new killer on the loose: Buffalo Bill, who starves his victims before killing—and skinning—them. To catch him, an amateur FBI agent must rely on cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, currently locked away at a hospital for the criminally insane. The 1991 film adaption scored five Academy Awards.

12. SHUTTER ISLAND, BY DENNIS LEHANE

In the midst of the Cold War, U.S. Marshal Teddy and his partner Chuck head to Shutter Island, the home to a hospital for the criminally insane. There, the duo intend to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando, who allegedly escaped the facility. But in the gripping thriller of mind games where nothing is what it seems, Teddy is forced confront his own fatal wrongdoings.

13. GOOSEBUMPS: THE HAUNTED MASK, BY R. L. STINE

Desperate to get revenge on school bully Steve, Carly Beth buys a monstrous mask for Halloween. But as fright night goes on, she starts acting aggressively, even choking her best friend Sabrina. When she goes to remove the costume, she realizes it's become permanently attached to her face and she is now possessed.

14. CARRIE, BY STEPHEN KING

Hell hath no fury like Carrie scorned. When a bucket of pig's blood is dumped on her at senior prom, the titular character decides to use her newly discovered telekinetic powers to kill everyone in school. King's 1974 debut has been adapted into two films and a Broadway musical.

15. FRANKENSTEIN, BY MARY SHELLEY

Obsessed with the notion of giving life to lifeless matter, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates his own human using stolen body parts. However, his masterpiece is hardly a work of art. Tormented by exile, Frankenstein's hideous monster goes a murderous tear to exact revenge on his creator.

16. THE EXORCIST, BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY

While living in Washington, D.C. with her famous mother, 12-year-old Regan begins to display some odd behavior. She stops eating, refuses to sleep, and starts an increasingly aggressive streak. Though her mom initially chalks her behavior up to teen angst, the movie star soon realizes her daughter is disturbed. She enlists two priests to help purge the girl of the demonic presence. Blatty's cult-classic spent 57 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

17. COME CLOSER, BY SARA GRAN

Amanda has the perfect life. Until she doesn't. Suddenly, she's burning her husband with a cigarette, shoplifting, cheating, and cursing at her boss. And there's a woman, reminiscent of her imaginary childhood friend Naamah, controlling her dreams. Has she lost her mind?

18. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, BY JAY ANSON

They lasted 28 days. In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new, beautiful home … that turned out to be terrorized by the paranormal. Before fleeing the harrowing mansion, they were plagued by swarms of flies, received random welts, and heard mysterious sounds. Plus, their tot Missy gained an imaginary friend Jodie, a demonic pig with glowing red eyes. The true story has launched a multi-million dollar franchise with 15 films.

19. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, BY SHARI LAPENA

Anne and Marco are going to their neighbors' for dinner. They're told they can't bring their 6-month-old daughter, but that's ok. They have the baby monitor and every 30 minutes or so, one of them will check in on their sleeping infant. After all, they're just next door. But when they return home, they find their door ajar—and their daughter gone from her crib.

20. PRETTY GIRLS, BY KARIN SLAUGHTER

Sisters Claire and Lydia do not speak. In the decades since their sister Julia disappeared, Claire has gone on to be a millionaire's trophy wife while Lydia is a single mom dating a con man. But when Claire's husband is murdered, the devastating old wounds are ripped open. How could a vanishing teenager and a dead middle-aged man be connected 20 years apart?

21. THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL, BY JAMES HERBERT

When one of their three children tragically disappears, Gabe and Eve Caleigh leave London for the coast. There's a beautiful river, a garden, and the promise of an idyllic future. That is, until their dog is perpetually spooked, the kids claim to be stalked by a man with a cane, and Eve insists her missing son is communicating with her. Soon, the quintet uncover the house's dark secrets carried over from World War II. 

22. BROKEN MONSTERS, BY LAUREN BEUKES

She thought she had seen everything. Then, Detective Gabriella Versado discovers a unique body in a Detroit tunnel: It's the head and torso of a young boy fused with a deer. As more of these horrifying creatures begin to pop up, she becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter Layla starts an online flirtation with a predator. Both their lives are thrust into a dangerous web.

23. REBECCA, BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER

The gothic's unnamed heroine cannot believe her luck when she meets—and falls for—rich and charming widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. After a quick romance and wedding, he sweeps her away to his Manderley estate. There, she encounters their sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Still loyal to the titular character, who died mysteriously in a boating accident the year before, Danvers begins to manipulate the new Mrs. de Winter, pushing her so far she begins to contemplate suicide. Alfred Hitchcock's adaption of the thriller won two Academy Awards.

24. THE WITCHES, BY ROALD DAHL

Forget what you thought: Real witches don't ride on broomsticks, wear black hats, or have warts. In reality, they're conniving creatures who disguise themselves as regular, ordinary, mundane women. And in the twisted fairy tale, they especially love to taunt children and turn them into mice. Be warned: You'll never know you've met a witch until it's too late.

25. HORNS, BY JOE HILL

Written by Stephen King's son, the horror begins with Ig waking up to find he's … different. After a drunken night, he has knobby horns growing from his head. And suddenly, when he talks to people, they tell him their darkest secrets. ("I don't want you to be my kid anymore," his mother quips.) It could easily be a mental breakdown. He's still reeling from his girlfriend's murder, in which he was the only suspect. Though he was never charged, he's still guilty in the court of public opinion. Or, is this just his new reality? After all, he has horns. So is he the devil?

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16 Sure Facts About Mrs. Doubtfire
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

After voice-over actor Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) gets divorced and loses custody of his three children, he resorts to dressing up and speaking like a matronly grandmother to get hired as his kids’ nanny. Here are some facts about Mrs. Doubtfire, which was released on this day in 1993.

1. IT’S BASED ON A BRITISH NOVEL.

During the mid-1970s, author Anne Fine walked by a “bric-a-brac” shop selling jewelry and old furs, never having the time to walk inside and meet the store’s proprietor, one Madame Doubtfire. Fine remembered the name in 1986 when she wrote her book Madame Doubtfire. Fine said her one request to the filmmakers was that they "not make the children bratty, and they did indulge me in that."

2. BLAKE LIVELY BLEW HER AUDITION TO PLAY NATALIE.

It came down to the future Gossip Girl star and Mara Wilson. To calm his daughter, Lively’s father told the then five-year-old Blake that she would be reading with Robin Williams’ twin brother at her final audition, not the movie star himself. That plan failed when someone in the room introduced Williams as Robin. Lively described the experience as “horrible.”

3. THEY WENT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHS OF OLD WOMEN.

Director Chris Columbus claimed that he and his fellow filmmakers looked through “hundreds and hundreds” of photographs until finding a 1940s-era English woman to base Mrs. Doubtfire’s look on.

4. IT TOOK FOUR AND A HALF HOURS TO APPLY MRS. DOUBTFIRE'S MAKEUP.

Makeup artist Ve Neill did the honors. Neill—alongside Greg Cannom and Yolanda Toussieng—won the Oscar for Best Makeup, just like she did for Beetlejuice and Ed Wood. The wig was created by Toussieng, the hairstylist who created Edward Scissorhands' hair.

5. WILLIAMS WENT TO A SAN FRANCISCO SEX SHOP IN THE MRS. DOUBTFIRE COSTUME.

The shop employee was about to sell a sex toy to him when he realized the true identity of the customer.

6. IT WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN SAN FRANCISCO.

That includes the five large sets built in a 100,000-square-foot building in the Richmond district. It used to be a candy warehouse. After Williams’ passing, fans of the actor left flowers, photographs, and letters at the Pacific Heights house that doubled as the Hillards' home. The plastic surgeon who lives there didn’t mind. In the original script, Mrs. Doubtfire was set in Chicago.

7. CHUCK JONES SUPERVISED THE OPENING ANIMATION.

Jones was the iconic animator of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Bros. The full five minutes of Pudgy Parakeet and Grunge the Cat was released as a DVD feature.

8. COLUMBUS USED MULTIPLE CAMERAS SIMULTANEOUSLY TO CAPTURE THE CAST WHEN WILLIAMS IMPROVISED.

The director mostly shot one or two takes of each scene as it was written in the script before shooting something Williams made up. Columbus said the resulting footage gave him the option of cutting a PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17 version of the movie. (He ended up going with the PG-13 version.)

9. WILLIAMS DIDN’T KNOW THE BARBRA STREISAND LYRICS.

Harvey Fierstein (Frank) and Scott Capurro (Jack) taught Williams “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”

10. WILLIAMS TRIED TO BREAK PIERCE BROSNAN'S CONCENTRATION.

While Brosnan (Stu) was attempting to choke on the shrimp, Williams kept making suggestive comments to make his task much more difficult.

11. SALLY FIELD AND MARA WILSON ALSO WENT OFF SCRIPT.

When Field inadvertently gave herself a cappuccino mustache, it was added to the movie. Wilson ad-libbed her princess line.

12. LYDIA WAS EXPELLED FROM HER SCHOOL FOR WORKING ON THE MOVIE.


Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Lisa Jakub was kicked out of her Toronto school for taking the five-month-long gig. When Williams found out he wrote a letter to the school asking them to reconsider. School officials framed his letter, but didn’t change their mind about Jakub.

13. A LENGTHY SUBPLOT INVOLVING THE NEIGHBOR GLORIA WAS CUT.

Scenes were filmed where Daniel got even with Gloria for telling Mrs. Doubtfire nasty rumors about him by telling her to use dog urine to make her garden beautiful, which ultimately kills her flowers. Gloria is only in two scenes in the final version.

14. THE HILLARDS ALMOST GOT BACK TOGETHER.

Screenwriter Randi Mayem Singer left the movie when 20th Century Fox wanted her to change the ending so that Daniel and Miranda get back together. After the studio and Columbus read the new, happier ending in Leslie Dixon’s revised script, they asked Singer to come back and change the ending back to the two remaining divorced.

15. TALK OF A SEQUEL BEGAN IN 2001.

In 2014, Williams had given Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum the go-ahead to work on a second draft of the sequel, which was cancelled following Williams’ passing.

16. BUT A MUSICAL MIGHT STILL BE COMING.

In early 2015, Alan Menken announced that he was in the early stages of working on a musical adaptation of the movie. In May 2016, however, he told Digital Spy that the project had stalled out a bit. "Mrs. Doubtfire went through a change of lyricist, and then also a dramaturgical evolution," he said. "At the moment, the best thing I could say is
that it's on a creative hiatus." At this point, only time will tell if and when it happens.

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8 Death-Defying Facts About Super Dave Osborne
Mr.ShowBiz, YouTube
Mr.ShowBiz, YouTube

Before appearing as Marty Funkhouser in Larry David’s improvisational HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, actor Bob Einstein was familiar to cable audiences as “Super Dave” Osborne, an alter ego created as a parody of reckless daredevils like Evel Knievel. Like a human cartoon, Osborne's bravado would usually get him maimed. With Einstein—a.k.a. Super Dave—turning 75 on November 20, and today marking the 30th anniversary of his Super Dave Showtime series, we thought we’d take a look back at the origins of this unique comic persona.

1. HE’S ALBERT BROOKS’S BROTHER.

No Super Dave primer would be complete without mention of the fact that Einstein vied for attention as a child with younger brother Albert, who went on to become an acclaimed writer, director, and actor with films like 1985’s Lost in America and 1991’s Defending Your Life. Understandably, Albert realized that a show business career might be hindered by his father’s questionable decision to name him “Albert Einstein,” so he changed his name to Albert Brooks. Bob kept the family surname.

2. HE WASN’T DIRECTLY INSPIRED BY EVEL KNIEVEL.

When Einstein came up with the Super Dave character for a 1976 variety show, Van Dyke and Company, Evel Knievel’s popularity was in full swing. The daredevil—who had broken dozens of bones jumping over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in 1967 and subsequently achieved superstardom doing similarly ill-advised stunts—seemed ripe for parody. But according to Einstein, Super Dave was born more out of the false bravado he had seen exhibited by stuntmen in the movie business. “Where it started was from every a**hole who worked on a movie or worked in athletics or anything and when they were interviewed they were always Mr. Gladhand,” Osborne told the Futon Critic in 2009. ”'This was the best game I ever had!’ ‘This is the best stunt I've ever done!’ But then behind the scenes they said what they really felt. I wanted to create a character where you saw both sides of it. He was happy as sh*t before he got killed and then afterwards you saw the real side of him, so that's where it came from. It didn't really have to do with Evel except that I was a stuntman.”

3. HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE FIRST CABLE TV SPINOFF.

Einstein portrayed Super Dave in a Showtime variety series titled Bizarre from 1979 to 1985. In 1987, the cable channel gave the character his own series, Super Dave, which The New York Times declared “cable’s first spin-off series” and a “dubious landmark of sorts.” Super Dave’s first episode featured guest appearances by Ray Charles and Carol Burnett.

4. HE NEARLY GOT HURT FOR REAL.

Super Dave aficionados are familiar with the character’s formula, which involves bragging about his stunt prowess before inevitably getting mangled, crushed, or otherwise maimed after things go awry. (In one sketch, Super Dave plummets to certain death after his bungee cord snaps. His assistant tries to lower an ambulance via bungee cord, which then falls on him.) But for a 1990 episode, Einstein told the Los Angeles Times that he came close to getting decimated for real. Trying to navigate a “bullfight” in a mini-Cooper with a tank, the giant military vehicle advanced after Einstein’s car stalled out, nearly flattening him.  

5. HE ENDORSED NIKE.

Super Dave became a cult cable hit in the early 1990s—enough for Nike to invite Einstein to appear in a commercial for Nike Air shoes alongside Reggie Miller and other NBA stars. In the spot, Super Dave tries a slam dunk and winds up breaking the backboard with his face.

6. HE GOT HIS OWN ANIMATED SERIES.

In 1991, Super Dave entered a new dimension—animation—with Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire, a short-lived animated series on Fox that aired for 13 episodes in 1992. Something appeared to get lost in translation, as Osborne was already a cartoon and relegating him to animation seemed somewhat redundant.

7. FRIENDS CALLED BOB “DAVE” IN PUBLIC.

Actors are usually irritated when they’re confused for their onscreen personas, but Einstein and Super Dave became so linked that Einstein’s friend—and Super Dave co-creator—Allan Blye resorted to calling him “Dave” when the two were out in public. “When I call him Bob, people are very confused,” Blye told The New York Times in 1995. “Super Dave Osborne, to millions of people, is a real person.”

8. EINSTEIN WON’T LET HIM STAY DEAD.

Following his 1980s heyday, Super Dave was resurrected in several projects. In 1995, Einstein filmed a new series, Super Dave’s Vegas Spectacular, with an actual plot—Super Dave owns and operates a casino—which lasted just one season. In 2000, he released The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave, a direct-to-video film featuring Super Dave attempting one last stunt to earn money for a child’s operation. And in 2009, Spike brought him back for four episodes of botched stunts.

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