What Are You Afraid Of?

Anton Semenov

Sitting here this evening, listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns (you must listen to the entire danse if you haven’t already), thinking about Halloween coming up, thinking of all the boring scary movies I’ve tried to watch, and I wonder — what are you afraid of?

I don’t mean DEATH or Dismemberment or Alzheimer’s — those topics are scary on the sunniest of days. Or blood and guts. That’s a given.

I mean spooky-wise. Creepy-wise. 

As I’ve told you before, I live on 14 acres, some of which are natural fields, a spot in the middle that is cleared, then woods in the back. There is a trail that goes through the woods to the back gate/fence. It is a beautiful walk in the daylight … it’s safe and not very long.

I will not walk that path down to the gate at night.

During the day it looks like Ireland. At night it looks like the Haunted Woods From Hell. There’s no telling who or what is hiding right off the side of the trail. Uh huh, no way. Nope.

I also am afraid of spiders. Not really afraid — just creeped out. It is 1/1000 my size, and I scream when one crawls on  me. Flingomatic — I don’t kill them, but I do have one hell of a flicker finger or stand-up-and-shake move. They are nature’s helpers. They spin awesome webs. An artist couldn’t do better. Just not on my person.

I also don’t like walking around in the dark. The dark is atmospheric. Comforting. Quiet. Maybe it’s just that I can’t see well at night. More likely it’s that I watch too many scary movies. Just tonight I watched the second chapter of The Haunting of Bly Manor, and the au pair is playing hide and seek in a huge mansion with two creepy little kids — in the dark.

Are they fudging nuts?

Despite the fact that this is supposed to be a spooky, haunted series, who in their right mind plays hide and seek in the dark in a big, huge house? Especially one that has a wing that no one is supposed to go into?  I wouldn’t like to play hide and seek in my own house in the dark.

On a lighter, spooky note, I am fascinated by creepy art and artists. Not ones who show ripped open insides and mangled bodies. Ick. I mean artists who really know what scares us. Anton Seminov instantly comes to mind. Delightfully creepy. The abandoned places photography of Christian Richter are haunting as well. Or how about the weirdness of Colin Batty? His “postcards” are enough to give anyone nightmares. 

I don’t mean to get you thinking about scary things before you go to bed. Do check out the artists in my Gallery, and feel free to share new ones I can add.

But, for real. 

What would you do if, one sunny, beautiful afternoon, you looked out in the distance and saw a spider the size of a football field crawl over the houses in the distance coming directly at you?

I shudder to think ……

 

I’m Coming to Get You…

scaryWhat does it take to scare you? Rather, what does it take in a movie to scare you?

Things have certainly changed since Boris Karloff chugged along as Frankenstein. These days readers and movie goers have seen just about everything there is to see in the blood and guts world. I mean, most of what is considered “horror” is really more “disgust.” How much you can do to the human body and still let them live. Even when the story is clever, there’s nothing about losing limbs and buckets of blood that make those little hairs on your head stand up.

Writing horror isn’t easy. It’s not easy to twist plots and rattle windows and whisper in someone’s ear and have them be truly frightened. Portraying that same creepy feeling on film is not easy, either. I get it. But the more we grow spiritiually, emotionally, and psychologically, the more it takes to catch us off guard.

My son gets Netflix, so I decided to take a ride down the horror road and see what I could see. Half of the movies I’ve seen, half I have no interest in. Maybe it’s being older, but just because someone has pins in his head doesn’t make someone scary. Yet, the way Hellraiser talked, the way he held himself, the way he slowly pried his way into the lives of the unsuspecting — now that was pretty creepy. It turned pretty bloody/gutsy, but the earlier ones threatened more and showed less. I tried one from France: some kids climbing over a locked gate and mountain climbing into the horror pit where some hillbilly wacko lived. (Teenagers are always so dumb.)

I’ve tried old ones (The Scream series), I’ve tried new ones (The Walking Dead). I’ve tried ghosts, monsters, psychos, and snakes. Some make it to kinda creepy, others are just d-u-m-b. The Saw series is nothing but bloody psychological terror, one fingernail at a time. But it’s not horror.

Back in the day, movies like Psycho and Halloween  brought “real life” horror into the realm of the everyday. The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead put normal people in abnormal — and often deadly — situations. Alien and The Thing took those same situations and put them in outer space or in the future.  Devil possession, zombies, psychos in masks — how can you deal with those?

But as the years passed, what was once novelty became remakes, each one more technically savvy but emotionally empty. By the time Halloween VI or Alien Resurrection came along, nothing was new. We’d been there, done that. Only the stars had changed. And the ability to frighten us.

So what kind of movies twinkle my creepy twinkie?

It’s obvious that humankind wants to be frightened now and then. Controlled frightened. Like frightened for the length of  a movie only.  The Grudge was pretty scary, with dead bodies scurring across the ceiling and up the stairs. The first couple Aliens were pretty scary, even though by the second one we knew the formula (pick off people one by one). Even though my husband and kids disagree by miles, I loved Cabin in the Woods, because it brought all possible endings and villians to the end. I’m hooked on The Walking Dead — I mean, sheriff driving around, looking at overturned trucks and abandoned cars, wondering what’s up, and the next thing you know — Armageddeon! How can you not be creeped out by that?

I loved the old “The Haunting“, and pffffted the remake. I wasn’t scared by windows turning into eyes and canopy beds coming down to squish the heroine — I loved the old black and white because you couldn’t see the adversary. Who can forget the lion’s head doorknob turning evvver-soooo-slooowly? Or the banging and breathing of the bedroom door? You never once saw a bloody hand or face or someone’s entrails spilled on the floor. It was your imagination that frightened you.

And that, I think, is the heart of anything scary. The victims on the screen have to be you, but not you. To be tortured would be cruel beyond imagination. To have a child see dead people everywhere — that’s another story. To be able to capture your imagination and be three steps ahead of it is the true heart of a scary story. To not be able to tell what is real and what isn’t — that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Movie or not.

So tell me — have you seen any good scary movies lately?

Movie, Movie, Who’s Got The Movie?

I wrote a blog not too long ago called Hannibal Lechter vs. Harry Potter  https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/07/27/harry-potter-vs-hannibal-lecter/ .  In that ditty I had just finished watching Hannabal’s first movie, and wondered if I was a reflection of that movie. Having decided that I am everyone and everything I see and do, I took the cosmic message and moved on.

Well, there I was, alone for the weekend, hubby gone up north, no one here but  me and the girls (2 dogs and one cat) and the boy (TomCat), and, left to my own whim, in charge of not only the TV but the movies.  And I am sorry to say I found myself falling into the same familiar grooves. I did watch a brand new movie sent to me in the mail…Wrath of the Titans…which said something about my taste to begin with. But I found myself falling into the same familiar pattern of watching movies I’ve seen ten times before.  Does that mean I’m more predictable than I ever imagined?

In my Lechter vs. Potter rant, I found myself defending polarity ― or bipolarity, if you wish. I found myself saying:

 But back to the crazy movie. In watching this psychological mess, I oft-handedly wondered if this kind of movie reflected my inner self. I have many friends who talk about the movies they watch:  middle-aged love comedies; retro pot-smoking, chick-banging absurdities; historical pieces.  Some are huge fans of horror; others cannot live without  lots of sex and drama. Do these favorites define who they are? Do these choices influence our cosmic journey?

 I was content thinking that we are not our movies. We are not our job, we are not our clothes or our car or our choice of beverage. But the older I get, the more I see that we are all of the above ― and more. On the positive side, I believe it’s good for us to go outside our comfort zone now and then. Finding a new job, trying tofu burgers, watching a documentary on polar bears or the creepy world of Hoarders, all are experiences that may or may not add to the wonderful sparkling jewel we call ME.

Yet, when I find some real free time, all by myself, my energy level not high enough to write a sonnet or a novel, I find myself searching the cabinet for movies that will make me feel good. And, most times, there are the “eternal” movies. You know ― the ones you can watch over and over again and over again. Mind you, not all movies fall into this “special” category. There are many, many movies I’ve seen once, and once is more than enough. There are some that I enjoy if I come across them on TV or if I walk into someone’s house and they’re watching them, but wouldn’t go the extra mile to bother with after that.

Then there are the die hards that I always, always enjoy. For me, Avatar, The Rock, The Mummy, Con Air, and Closer reruns, all can entertain me almost any time. (It used to be tearjerkers, but menapause has turned me into a crybaby.) I sometimes wonder if that means something. For my fun stuff is not my son’s fun stuff. Or my husband’s fun stuff. Or my friends at work’s fun stuff. And I’m sure my stuff is not my kid’s stuff. At least some of my stuff.

On further reflection, I think age, social circles, emotional states and personal history all fine-tune us in one direction or another. There are no “right” or “wrong” movies ― what makes one person feel wonderful makes another sick to their stomach. What is righteous to one is sacrilegious to another.  I suppose that is why humanity is such a varied, colorful tapestry. And I do love tapestries.

Are there movies that you return to time and time again? Do you think they reflect a deeper part of you?  Or are they just oddities in the rainbow of life?  Actually, this isn’t a cosmic question.  Just think about the movies you love to watch time and time again, and let them be a wonderful reflection of your heart and personality. 

And, hey — don’t worry if you love the Freddie Kruger or Saw genre — there’s a place in this world for you, too.

Just don’t move next door to me…