Okay, switching gears–slightly–as we near the end of our beloved twenty-six.
Come, gentle reader, delve into the recesses of your mind, back to your childhood, to a time where, yup, you guessed it. You stayed up past your bedtime to watch those scary movies you were told not to watch before bedtime. There you sat, trembling as the credits rolled, numb as infomercials tried to sell you hair in a can, still stuck to the spot as the television station shut down for the night (in some places, back in the day, the national anthem would play and you were left with static, the white noise. More on that later.)
As kids, we always had to defy our elders and do the exact opposite of what they told us. When it came to scary movies in our household, why on this third rock from the sun did I ever do this–repeatedly? Sometimes, I’d sneak into the living room while the grown ups watched a slasher flick. When something scary was about to happen I’d duck behind the sofa. Guess what? That made it SO MUCH WORSE. I could still hear everything and it let my imagination run wild.
One of my earliest memories of self-terrification–Yeah, I made the word up. It’s mine.–was the time I “watched” a lovely little miniseries called V while my mom thought I was “asleep.” You know the tactic, one eye open while pretending to snore every so often. It wasn’t so bad until–SPOILER ALERT–the alien’s humanlike face fell off. Scaly madness ensued and believe me I ended up sleeping with one eye open for a long time after that.
Now that I have joined the brave souls who choose to be teller of tales, I think back on everything that went bump in my head (not necessarily the night. Horror movies do not discriminate.) I have an extensive list of movies that left some traumatic scar tissue in my psyche, but V is one of the earliest to tap my inner-masochist. Here’s just a sampling: Poltergeist, The Omen, The Bad Seed, Don’t Go to Sleep, Psycho, The Boogey Man. I’m talking about the terrifying movies over two decades ago, not their remakes. Yowza. One might criticize special effects, but the terror still made its way through the screen. Speaking of. A snowy TV screen? That freaked me out years before Sadako crawled through. These movies sent chills to my bones faster than you can say Freddy Kreuger.
I want to tap the thrill that lured saps like my younger self into watching movies that I knew would give me nightmares. That technique to hook a reader is something fascinating. I cannot critique these films objectively in terms of writing, cinematography, or anything like that as half the time I saw them between my fingers or from behind furniture, maybe a useless blanket. But the raw emotion that they elicit stays with me all these years later. I hope my stories have that same impact (not necessarily in a scary way, mind you) with my future readership.
Do you have any tales of horror that inspire your writing, regardless of your chosen genre?
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