Autumn stories to help you hold on to the last days of fall

Autumnal and atmospheric, here are five fall favorites for the end of your term.

by Tess Bowler | 55 minutes ago

It’s week 9 and I’m tired. Between the problematics and the sketches of the final papers, I am looking for an escape. So whether you’re looking for a movie to scare you more than the finales or a book to wind down with once you’re home for Thanksgiving, here are five of my favorite fall stories with autumn written everywhere – pun not intended.

1. The Illustrated Man (1951) – novel by Ray Bradbury

“The Illustrated Man” is an adult version of the scary stories told around the hearth during the Halloween period. The novel begins when the narrator meets a former circus performer whose body is covered in tattoos – and each has a story to tell. It’s categorized as science fiction, but the stories often dive into intellectual horror, so you can reminisce about fall and the Halloween season no matter what time of year.

If you suffered from “Fahrenheit 451” in high school, don’t be intimidated by “The Illustrated Man.” Even though the narrative begins and ends with the tattooed man, the stories in between are basically, making this a story you can dive into between your 10A and 2A, or whenever you have a free moment. If that sounds too pretentious, try Chuck Palahniuk’s “Haunted” — it’s like Quentin Tarantino directing Bradbury — or the quintessential classic, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

2. Rules of Attraction (1987) – novel by Brett Easton Ellis

It was one of the last books I read before entering college and it holds a special place in my heart as it shaped my expectations for Dartmouth. Although the novel is set at the fictional school in Camden, it is based on Bennington College – where author Bret Easton Ellis went to undergraduate and befriended the author of ‘The Goldfinch Donna Tartt.

The Dartmouth students are actually mentioned several times throughout the novel, as Bennington and his fictional counterpart are located in Vermont. Ellis’ friend and classmate Tartt wrote “The Secret History” — often considered the quintessential campus novel — but I find Easton’s postmodern depiction of college life far more realistic. Told from the rotating perspective of the three main characters – Lauren, Sean and Paul – “Rules of Attraction” perfectly encapsulates the morally ambiguous years of college and the ridiculous feat of trying to figure out who we really are, all in the backdrop of a perfect drop in New England.

3. Evil Dead (1981) – film by Sam Raimi

I have a deep, dark secret: I love horror movies. It’s actually no big surprise to any of my friends who have heard me talk about my childhood dream of being a special effects makeup artist or my days spent in Blockbuster looking for the scariest movie I could get my hands on, but it’s always been a big part of my taste in movies and books. If it were up to me, this whole list could have been scary movies, but I limited myself to one: “Evil Dead”. I’ll be honest, it’s not the best movie, but it’s unique in that there’s something so unmistakably scary about it, yet entertaining.

The plot revolves around five friends who go to a cabin for a weekend, only to find an old book that awakens an evil spirit. corny, I know, but the only reason the “cabin in the woods” trope is so over the top is because of this movie; “Evil Dead” pioneered that and so many other horror films. It was written and directed by Sam Raimi, who was just 20 when production began, and it was made for less than $40,000 – with the cast and crew asking for money from their families. Its amateurish design can be seen in the final product, with shaky camerawork and raw sound that really contributes to the film’s unnerving atmosphere. I also think it’s such a fitting movie for Dartmouth; the woods and the house itself are so intimidating that they become their own character. Thank goodness our nights spent in the DOC cabins are much more peaceful.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – film by Wes Anderson

Whenever people ask me what my favorite movie is, I usually answer “Blue Valentine”, “Oldboy” or “Y Tu Mamá También”. Although I really like these films, they struggle to sound more adult than me, because the real answer is “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. Although this movie is on almost everyone’s list of go-to fall movies, I couldn’t bear to leave it out. Everything about it epitomizes fall – from the color palette to the festive Thanksgiving scene to the soundtrack.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” stands out to me as a near-perfect movie because it appeals to people of all ages: perfect for kids who love animated movies, who then grow into young adults who can fully appreciate the spirit of Wes Anderson. I see it again at least once a year, usually in the fall, and it’s my absolute favorite movie to show my friends who have never seen it. Dartmouth can get so stressful during the fall term and the accompanying pressure of new beginnings. Sometimes it’s nice to just put on a light childhood movie and laugh with it.

5. Night of the Hunter (1955) – film by Charles Laughton

To be honest, I have no idea what season this movie is set in. I just know that every October it would play on Turner Classic Movies and my mom would call me from my bedroom to watch it. I said I’m sticking to a horror movie, and I’m – Google calls it noir/thriller, so maybe I’m getting by on a technicality. That’s not to say “Night of the Hunter” isn’t completely creepy…

Set during the Great Depression, the story follows two children hunted down by Harry Powell, a reverend and serial killer who is in search of their father’s hidden fortune. Although it’s a simple story, it manages to produce one of the sharpest accounts of the battle between good and evil I’ve ever seen. Whatever the season, “Night of the Hunter” is haunting; he borrows techniques from old silent films, creating a subtle unease throughout the film. There is a monologue about love and hate that has become one of the most famous speeches in the history of cinema. Whether you’re a movie buff or just someone who loves “horror for smart people,” as my mom would say, “Night of the Hunter” is your fall movie.