T Nation

Disturbing Literature


Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone else on this site (I'm sure there are many... this is kind of a rhetorical question haha) is a fan of books or movies with dark disturbing themes.

The movies The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now shake me to my core.
I also really enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker.

I also recently read the short story "I have no mouth, and I must scream" a few months ago. It might be the most horrifying short story I've ever read, and if you don't want to feel right for a few days you should give it a read.

I look forward to hearing about all your favorite 'all kinds of fucked up' literature.


I'm a huge fan of both Lovecraft and Apocalypse Now, as well as a lot of other dark films, books and music. I dunno how much of it I'd call "disturbing" though. When I think of disturbing I think of de Sade, and the only films that come to mind are Irreversible and Tod Browning's Freaks.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Yes it's the one that was made into a movie with Viggo Mortensen, I haven't seen the movie but the book is dark.

If you like Clive Barker you might want to try some Richard Laymon books, his stuff is dark and perverted. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I'm a cheery sort of guy, but I like Lovecraft stuff and Clive Barker (but not the Hellraiser movies...oddly enough I don't like horror movies).

The Dark Tower by Stephen King is something you may like too if you haven't tried it.


I love The Road by Cormac McCarthy! I've seen the movie and it was good but it doesn't compare to the book. Something about the literary style of the book - no use of quotation marks and the run on sentences adds something to the dismal plot of watching a son and father relationship torn to pieces by unbelievable circumstances. I'll have to check out Richard Laymon's stuff!

I've heard great things about the The Dark Tower series! I've heard the first book in the series starts off as an almost slow paced western, and the series escalates into all kinds of insanity.

And Cimmerian I think that De Sade is in a league of his own haha!

Have any of you guys seen the movie santa sangre? I was just thinking about it, it might be the most disturbing film I've ever seen!


I didn't find the Road disturbing at all. I found it more intriguing than anything, but I've always enjoyed the idea of everything going to shit and just having to survive for a change. No bullshit, just survival.

I have to say this is the most disturbing thing I've read.

Great collection of short stories. I happened to pick it up in second grade at the school book fair. Between The Black Cat, The Leather Funnel, and Between the Minute and the Hour my eight-year-old psyche was permanently and forever unsettled. Still fucking disturbing as shit.


Their relationship was hardly torn to pieces. The man and his wife, maybe, the man and boy were brought closer together, if anything.


good point :slight_smile:


How about William S Burroughs? (Junkie, Naked Lunch, Nova Trilogy)

But really, non-fiction is where heads truly explode.
Start with the Gulag Archipelago and just stay away from war propaganda.


If you liked Apocalypse Now, try reading Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the book that the story was based on. It is a hard read but worth it.


she didn't think he had enough bullets to keep them safe


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I just read the Harlan Ellison story.

That is some disturbing shit. The brevity of it made it that much worse.


I don't really remember Heart of Darkness being disturbing to be honest. There was madness in it but not quite that feeling of horror (despite the infamous quote) you get from other stories. Likewise with King, I've always found his humour dulls the sense of dread he builds up to though I do remember one story about a painting of a car with a killer in it which followed him around. That was quite disturbing. As was Thinner now that I think of it.

Barker had some good yarns; 'in your face' adult themes but the only one I can remember giving me any sense of unease was The Damnation Game and it was so long ago I couldn't even recall why.

To be honest I find stories like 2001 A Space Odyssey to be more disturbing than most horror tales. The degradation of HAL and the tragedy that follows is far more harrowing to me than cenobites, ghosties or goblins. Maybe that's because I find the prospect of machine overcoming man to be a more tangible threat than the supernatural.





On the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now train of thought. There is a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now and how it pretty much drove everyone insane/ruined their lives. I believe it might just be called "Hearts of Darkness", but I'm not sure. If you liked the movie or book you should try to find a copy of the documentary.


Buried Dreams by Tim Cahill
is about John Gacy


Hah, yea, that's what I'm talking about. ^^


de Sade can have you questioning your own ideas of morality and what is "right". Not sure if there is anything more disturbing.


Irvine Welsh's new one, 'Maribou Stork Nightmares' was a rough one. So was his Trainspotting. Porno wasn't as bad as either of those.