‘Tis the season to temporarily turn away from the horror show in Washington, D.C. With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve shaken the cobwebs off of a few seasonally appropriate favorites from the Reader archives for your reading pleasure.
Steve Bogira’s epic feature, which just turned 30 last month, details the death of Chicago housing project resident Ruthie Mae McCoy. On an April night in 1987, she was fatally shot by someone who exploited a flaw in the building’s design to break into her unit through her medicine cabinet. Bogira’s well-researched tale has more than a few similarities to the 1992 horror film Candyman, but it isn’t really a ghost story as much as an account of the daily terrors of living in the neglected Chicago projects during the 1980s.
“Urban Legends: Who Saw Homey the Clown?”
The name Homey the Clown may trigger memories of Damon Wayans’s popular In Living Color character, but if you’re of a certain age and from the Chicagoland area, chances are you’ve heard tell of a different such clown. In 1991, there were reports of a clown cruising around in a van, trying to lure unsuspecting children into it. Isaiah Thompson’s story from 2006 explores the creation of the Homey myth. The story feels more relevant than ever considering the rash of creepy clown sightings last year and the recent film remake of Stephen King’s It.
“The horrors of a weekend in Trump’s southern Illinois”
Reader social media editor Ryan Smith was spooked by the sights and sounds of southern Illinois’s Shawnee National Forest and the surrounding area during a road trip earlier this year. The piece includes a creepy cabin, a haunted hotel, a dank cave with a murderous history—as well as dying rural towns.
“At Mad Mobster’s peculiar crossroads of real and imagined horrors”
In 2015, Reader staff writer Leor Galil waded into the morally murky serial-killer culture of the Mad Mobster True Crime & Horror Expo. The Valentine’s Day weekend event stood out from the growing pack of fan conventions because of its unconventional blend of fictional and real-life horrors, from the voice actor behind Chucky in the Child’s Play movies to Columbine High School shooting survivor Richard Castaldo.
In 2015, Galil profiled Graveface Records imprint Terror Vision in 2015. They’re a niche record label that releases soundtracks to obscure horror movies on vinyl—part of a trend of labels that specialize on cult, horror, and sci-fi soundtracks and scores.
Filmmaker and composer John Carpenter made some of the best horror movies of the 70s and 80s (including Halloween and The Thing). In 2012, Miles Raymer explored the growing influence of Carpenter’s synth-centric film scores on a generation of electronic musicians.