Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I don't write horror nor am I a particular rabid fan of the genre but I do admire those authors who can scare the beejeezus out of people. It is a talent most rare.

At one point in my life - primarily in my teenage and early twenties days - I was a huge Stephen King fan and loved watching horror movies. Reading the book IT made me even more deathly afraid of clowns. I have vivid recollections of the TV series Night Gallery (gah, The Earwig! Dolls coming to life *shudder*). I remember calling my friend Jan on the phone when we were both home alone at our respective houses watching the TV adaptation of King's 'Salem's Lot and at a crucial point (I think a vampire was floating outside the window of a 2nd floor bedroom asking to be let in or something) the roll-up blinds in Jan's bedroom flew up with a clatter causing her to scream over the phone and me to have a heart attack. I remember watching my brother reading The Exorcist and him having to put the book down every few minutes and pace around just to get a break from the tension. He still remembers seeing the movie when it first came out and the hype was about people fainting in the aisles during the screening. He said the producers weren't over-hyping. The movie was that freaky. I still have vivid memories about The Blair Witch Project and going home alone (8 months pregnant) thinking the movie wasn't that bad but, when faced with a dark, empty house (hubby and Daughters One and Two were gone) and calling up my Golden Retriever to the bedroom, allowing her to sleep in the bed with me (strictly a forbidden thing until that point) and locking the bedroom door against … what, really? Don't even get me started on Paranormal Activity or The Ring. Nightmares, I tell you.

So you'd think that with all those vivid recollections I would run the other way when my daughter said she wanted to see this very hyped and buzzed West End hit play called "Ghost Stories" that's now playing here in Toronto. I have to admit, the advertising is very well done. Warnings in the ads state:

"Please be advised that Ghost Stories contains moments of extreme shock
and tension. The show is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 14"

They even have videos showing audience members cowering behind their coats and screaming at key moments.

Ya. Sounds like fun, huh?

Well, instead of running the other way, the two daughters, my brother, hubby and I will be going to see it this Saturday (the Boy does NOT enjoy scary things. He will be at a friend's house well away from ghosts, demons and other supernatural beings). My brother has said that he wants his money back if he's not terrified when he turns off the lights that night. My brother is sick. The teenage girls like to be scared and love to scream so they're all in. My husband will think it's stupid. And me? I used to enjoy being frightened but now I'm not so sure. Why put myself through the stress? Yet, horror is a big business. Do it well and you've got a career out of it. Hello? Stephen King, R.L. Stine? But people wanting to be scared? I don't get it. What is it about some people that like to have that fear adrenaline rush?

What about you? What really scares you when you read or watch a movie (besides bad writing that is :)? I'll let you know if the play was as good as the hype or if the overpriced tickets were a scam. And if I survived...


  1. I tend to be frightened by quiet suspense, rather than unabashed gore/ horror. I find it most effective when a character is creeping around, often alone, just waiting for something to leap out of the dark…

    (This works especially well in movies, when the 'leap' is accompanied by a sudden boom of volume in the soundtrack. Never fails to get me twitching!)

  2. Hi Skye! Oh, yes. The master of suspense,Alfred Hitchcock did that so well. Psycho is still one of my favourite movies. Oh, and not Hitchcock but definitely suspenseful was The Silence of the Lambs.Totally had me on the edge of my seat.

  3. Movies like Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity scared me so badly. Probably because the villains were invisible and dangerous.

  4. Hi Medeia! Exactly. The not seen is infinitely more frightening than the seen. Our imagination is the most powerful fright inducer.