A Modern Guide to Disturbing Behavior: A Top Ten List

I was once told spending time with me is like spending time with a cross between the modern Sherlock and Stephen King. I have my doubts as to whether that was intended to be a compliment. Actually, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t.  But hey, I like that show (“s/he will outlive God trying to have the last word” – true) and I love Stephen King.

Though the comparison is not accurate (as I sincerely doubt either of those men share my appreciation for Kate Spade or Farrow & Ball),  it is not not accurate either. I do have a deep desire to be right and a love of the macabre. I’m not easily offended, rarely provoked, and even less frequently disturbed (unless we are talking about reality – that disturbs me all the time). But it has happened. Maybe even ten times. This week’s top ten list (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish): characters from “x” genre. Since there is no specific prompt, I’m choosing the characters that disturbed me (primarily from the horror genre).

(I also enjoy classic horror films. And minimalism.)

In no particular order, except number one truly is number one:

10. Guy Woodhouse (Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin). Selfish, passive, and a sell-out. I’ll be a famous actor, you have the devil’s baby. Fair, right? Marriage.

9. The Overlook Hotel (The Shining by Stephen King). All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Or at least a psychotic, possessed one.

8. Norman Bates (Psycho by Robert Bloch). I think perhaps all of us go a little crazy at times. Though significantly fewer of us go on murderous rampages disguised as our dead mother.

7. War (Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo). This should be self-explanatory.

6. Frank (The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks). An insane teenage boy utterly convinced of his own sanity – with no one to contradict him.

5. The collection as a whole (Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk). This didn’t disturb me so much as I found it unsettling. I would’ve died at the bottom of that pool.

4. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis). The only thing I can credit him for is creativity?

3. Judge Holden (Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy). A genocidal sociopath, joyously perpetrating horrendous acts of violence.  Lovely.

2. Patrick Hockstetter (It by Stephen King). Creepy little fratricidal child.

1. Ruth (The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum). If there’s any part of you that still believes in the good of humanity, this book will kill it. Slowly, disturbingly, and thoroughly. Naturally it’s based on a true story.

Happy Tuesday! Did I miss any particularly deranged characters?


34 thoughts on “A Modern Guide to Disturbing Behavior: A Top Ten List

  1. Interesting category and list and I enjoyed your intro. I would take it as a compliment. 🙂 You brought back a lot of memories. Yep, ol Norman is creepy and he’s on the rise again. I’m a fan of Stephen King, too, but I fell off the wagon years ago and I’m trying to get back on.


    1. Stephen King can be hit or miss, though lately I’ve felt he’s been solid. I don’t think it was intended to be a compliment, there was a third person in the comparison that I omitted (because it was so far off).

      Another commenter said there was going to be a Bates Motel series – so maybe he really is on the rise again. Huh. I feel like if you can’t top Hitchcock’s adaptation, you shouldn’t try (although I just looked, apparently it’s ‘inspired’ by).


  2. I’ve heard of most of these titles (or know of them) but I’ve never gotten around to them (either book or movie adaptation).

    Love the minimalist posters you featured with this list, sometimes I wish the PR departments in studios would adopt them when promoting their movies xD Or book covers too 😀 Both! lol


    1. Me too! I realized after the fact that I forgot the American Psycho minimalist poster – it’s quite good as well. I would highly recommend the original Psycho movie and Rosemary’s Baby.


  3. Haunted was Palahniuk’s last decent book, I think. I saw him read from it and he his people pass out meat air fresheners before the reading started and then gave out plastic limbs throughout at prizes. It was definitely interesting!


    1. I tend to agree, but I was still a bit excited when I saw that he has three new books coming out in the next three years – especially Beautiful You (he describes it as Ira Levin having a baby with Jean Auel).


    1. Some of them aren’t so dark – just disturbing. Johnny Got His Gun is classic, it was written post WWII and had a huge resurgence during Vietnam. If it had a theme song it would be Edwin Starr’s War.

      Blood Meridian is truly a masterpiece. It’s one of the greatest novels I have read, maybe not a favorite, but excellent.

      The Girl Next Door is the most horrifying book I’ve ever read. I do think it’s important, but I can’t recommend it exactly. It’s based on the Sylvia Likens murder if you’re curious.


      1. I try to avoid anything based on murder! I’ve never really enjoyed being scared. I only survived the movie of The Shining by saying to myself ‘it’s not real, it’s not real’ on a constant loop!


      2. That is a particularly effective scary movie (it was changed quite a bit from the novel). I struggle with excessive gore, but love gothic literature and the unknown.

        To be honest, murder disturbs me, but aliens disturb me more. Perhaps because I think they exist, but can’t prove it. I don’t know, but ultimately I could watch The Shining before I could watch Alien.


    1. You’d probably like his science fiction if you haven’t read any. The Wasp Factory was his first attempt at mainstream fiction – Frank was a very cold character with a very dark family. I’ve only read that and Stonemouth, I enjoy his sci-fi more (particularly The Algebraist).


      1. I couldn’t get into the Algebraist but I’ve read a couple of his sci-fi books and enjoyed them a lot.


  4. Great list! Totally loving it! Disturbing characters are so deliciously fun sometimes! I have Blood Meridian, but haven’t gotten through it yet. Now I’m excited to. 😀 Also, did you know they’re doing a Bates Hotel series? I’m not sure what channel–TNT or something. Anyway, it looks disturbing. Can’t wait. 😀
    My TTT


      1. Thanks! I had no idea there was a Bates Motel series (though I don’t have cable). Sometimes I feel like they’ve run out of ideas, but at least the Bates Motel could have potential.

        Blood Meridian is amazing.


  5. Oh my goodness. I’m such a chicken, I have to be VERY selective about my Stephen King (ie, nothing with psycho children and/or possessed hotels.) Is there anything on this list you might recommend to the nightmare challenged?


    1. Blood Meridian is great, it’s disturbing, but not particularly scary. Other than that, I’d probably avoid this list.

      It’s odd, I dream vividly almost every night, but it doesn’t bother me to read scary things. My dreams tend to be odd combinations of daily life. The last thing that gave me nightmares: The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp. I don’t even know why…


      1. It’s probably closer to No Country For Old Men. The Road is rather minimalistic for McCarthy. That being said, Blood Meridian and The Road are two of my favorites. I did not particularly care for No Country for Old Men or All the Pretty Horses. I’d say give it a try (but I always say that in regards to books).


  6. you’ve actually made me go find out more about this Girl Next Door true story. scary stuff. Love Steven King, but I’m not a fan of horror. Any list with The Shining on it, though, is alright in my book 🙂


    1. It’s such a sad story and a hard book to read (more so because it’s true). How can you be a Stephen King fan and not like horror? 🙂

      The Shining’s great. I just went to The Stanley Hotel two weeks ago and saw room 217 (apparently where he had the inspiration for the story).


      1. i used to read horror much more when I was younger, but I generally will make an exception for him, anyway. I’ve read several of his books, but not all of them, and I prefer the ones that aren’t out of this world crazy pants


  7. Great list and a great “genre” choice as well! (I can see I went way too simple with mine.) I’m a huge King fan as well so I love that you chose the Overlook as one of your characters.


    1. Thanks. I huge fan of lists, so mine tend to get very specific. I’m just lucky there is such a thing as top ten Tuesday, if not, I’d still be writing lists, there would just be nobody to read them – and that would be a sad day for me.

      And I’m always happy to find another Stephen King fan.


    1. I probably could have composed the list entirely of Stephen King characters – somehow I managed to restrain myself. Though really, Stephen King writes a great novel, but I tend to struggle a bit with his endings (like Under the Dome) – so it ruins some of the characters for me. Most of the film versions (save IT) of the above are quite good, which I think is a rarity. And they need to stop remaking Carrie – two times too many!


  8. Yes yes yes to Johnny Got His Gun, American Psycho, Haunted, Girl Next Door and Rosemary’s Baby. The Wasp Factory is on my wish list. As far as disturbing goes, throw in Chappy from The End of Alice and War from The Painted Bird. Oh, and Kevin as in We Need To Talk About…


    1. You have fabulous taste in books (not surprising…).

      I’ve been wanting to read We Need To Talk About Kevin, but I recently read a extremely harsh book review written by her and it was a bit of a turn off – it’s still on the TBR longlist however…


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