Monday, October 22, 2012
If you're not aware of that... go read that blog.
Now. I'll wait for you to return.
*insert elevator/hold music while I wait for the reader to return*
Done? Good. Now, let's continue.
What got me interested in horror? It doesn't really make much sense for a relatively sane person- like myself, to want to be scared out of my pants, right?
Well, you can thank (or blame depending on how you view an interest in horror) my Mom and my Aunt for nudging me into the shadowy world of cinematic creepy crawlies. To be honest, I didn't dive straight into horror fiction. I actually started with non-fiction works about ghosts and other macabre things- such as a book about the Ressurection Men. This particular book contained the accounts of attempts to steal Abraham Lincoln's body, and the ransoming of Charlie Chaplin's. I also read about the life of Joseph Merrick- the famous Elephant Man (the David Lynch film is just a masterpiece in my opinion). In addition, I read up on the various famous performers in the Victorian "freak shows".
Mom also had several non-fiction books on ghosts (including "Haunted Houses" by Richard Winer and Nancy Osborn- one of my favorite books). Many of the tales in these books scared me (I was only nine or ten at the time I started reading these particualr stories), but made me more curious about such phenomena. So, while I enjoyed the tingly, "You're not alone in the quiet house" feeling I got, I saw these books as being more informative than entertaining. Exposure to horror for entertainment came seperately.
Around this time, I also got into the old "Vampirella" magazines- not so much for the scary stories, but... well... the hot female vampire in a bathing suit. Blame the hormones. But these magazines gave me a hint at what horror entertainment was about. It was up to my Aunt, and Stephen King to really get me into enjoying horror.
My Aunt lived on a ranch of 150 acres, about ten kilometers past the last hydro pole in Vanderhoof, British Columbia. The road the ranch was one was a dusty, gravely, dirt road called, "Kenny Damn Road". Propane was used for the stove, and the lights. There was a generator, but that was used just for the TV and the radio. The house was a simple log cabin. In fact, my Uncle spent more money on the comfort of the animals than he did on human comforts.
I used to go out there during the summers, and work in the fields stooking bales of hay for $0.10/bale. At least until we discovered that I was actually allergic to hay. After that, I worked around the ranch painting barns, gathering the eggs, watching the flock in the field, feeding the sheep, etc.
Anyways, it was during on propane lit night that my Aunt suggested that I read to pass the time away. She handed me "The Shining" by Stephen King.
I was hooked. I would curl up on the chair sipping hot chocolate, while my eyes would travel across the page soaking in each word, and letting them seep into my brain. I lost myself in the events that King described on the pages, all the while enjoying the images I came up with play upon the movie screen of my mind. I allowed the delicious feeling of crawling skin and the tingle that comes when my hair stands up to encase me in its dark pleasure. I didn't want to sleep because I wanted to keep reading.
Once I'd finished, I began seeking out more horror- old or new, I wanted to experience more and more. I wanted to feel that sweet fear creeping over my skin again and again. I started paying more attention to horror movies- discovering movies like John Carpenter's "The Fog", "The Changeling" with George C Scott, and the classic Hammer Horror films. I began collecting "The Vault of Horror", "Tales From the Crypt", "Eerie", and "Fangoria".
But... WHY? Why do I enjoy it? Why do I seek it out?
A couple of reasons, actually. First off- it's... fun to see if a book or movie CAN scare me. Secondly, by facing that fear- and surviving, I remind myself that I'm alive- it's a bit like being an adrenaline junkie. Finally, most horror movies and books are a reflection of the fears that Society holds at the time, so it gives us a chance to examine Society (and ourselves) and discuss the issues that are brought up.
But mostly, because it's fun.