Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Tracks Of My Fears

I said in my last post I would talk about what scares me, and since it's the middle of the day and I'm not home alone or anything I feel perfectly safe in doing so. ;)

As I mentioned before, it seems to take a lot to scare a seasoned horror veteran. Even the GOOD movies don't always get us. But everyone's got a trigger, something that freaks them out, scares the crap out of them. I'm not necessarily talking about phobias, though I have those too. Mine? Spiders and corpses. Yeah, Ol' Spooks is afraid of corpses. Funny, isn't it? The phobias have differing degrees. I would rank my spider phobia as SEVERE. I think about them almost constantly, live with a low-grade level of anxiety about encountering them, and panic uncontrollably when I DO encounter them. I can't watch movies with spiders - I did see Arachnophobia when I was 12 or 13, at a friend's sleepover; this was before my phobia was really bad, and honestly that movie may have helped kick it up a notch. I made it through that one viewing, and every moment of that film is permanently burned into my brain, coming out to terrify me at completely inopportune moments. Like, say, when I take a shower. Or pour myself a bowl of cereal. As much as I know I'd probably love the flick Eight Legged Freaks were the subject matter anything but arachnids, there is NO WAY I can watch it. A preview for it caught me by surprise at some other movie, and I screamed - loudly - and almost fled the theater. Yeah. It's ugly. Even talking about this is making my skin crawl. I've considered getting therapy, but the thought of getting over my phobia terrifies me too.

The corpse phobia is milder. It probably goes without saying that I adore Halloween. I can use faux corpses in my Halloween display, with glee even. I have no qualms about handling them (fake spiders, on the other hand? FUUUCKK NOOOO). I can go to funerals. If necessary, I can be in the same room as a dead body without experiencing too much anxiety. I just can't TOUCH a dead body. This applies to human, animal, AND insect. Dead bodies are kind of squicky anyway, for most people, but I think this one was amped up when I worked in a haunted house years back; I worked a torture scene, as a victim chained to the wall, and for some reason the folks in the haunted house thought it would give it some nice ambiance (zombiance?) if they put a real pig's head, fresh from the butcher, on the guillotine right next to me. It was so dark that I doubt any of the patrons even noticed it, but after three days of working that scene - well, Porky wasn't so 'fresh' anymore. Ew.

That's not me; I would NEVER pose naked with DEAD pigs. This is actually from a regretsy listing.

To sum up: if zombies start taking over the world, I am prepared to kick some ass. If spiders start taking over the world? I'm eating a bullet, right now.

So, where were we before I was NOT talking about phobias? Oh, right, things that scare me. It's probably not too hard to guess that the movies that get me are generally ghost-related. I'm not scared of ghosts all the time, or even most of the time. I believe in the paranormal, I've gone ghost hunting, I love it, and most of the time I feel ghosts are fairly benevolent. Sometimes though, they're not. Take The Ring, for instance. Love it or hate it, it scared the shit out of a lot of people. I was one of those people. The Ring got me but GOOD. I've only seen it once. I WOULD watch it again, but it would be one of those flicks that I watch parts of through my fingers. I have a thing about creepy kids though. When I myself was a kid, I was convinced my parents' bedroom was haunted. I had a dream one night about the Bug-Eyed Man, and it terrified me for years. The Bug-Eyed Man was actually this grossly oversized seven year old kid, and he just kind of hung around in my parents' room, lurking in the closet or under the bed. When I would walk by the door, he would leave his hiding place and rush to the doorway and just stand there, staring at me, pinning me down with his freaky bugged-out Large Marge-style eyes. The world around me would go totally silent, I could feel the air moving but I couldn't hear anything, and he would just stand there and STARE, and I could feel the malevolence rolling off him in waves. He never did anything to me, short of make me nearly crap my pants for a couple years, but man, to this day I still don't feel quite right in my parents' room, and I'm not entirely convinced that there wasn't a presence there. It was a very vivid dream for a little kid to have, and I felt that presence every time I walked past their door for about two years afterwards.

his eyes looked just. like. THIS!

So, creepy kids. Don't like 'em. Also don't like scary dead eyes. One time when I was about 11 or 12, visiting my aunt in Canada, I was sleeping alone on the third floor of her (awesome but ginormous) old house and... I had a dream. I was in the room one afternoon (in the dream) when the closet door opened and this thin old woman walked out, head down. She shuffled out the door and down the hall. I called out to her but she kept going. I followed her, down the stairs, down the hallways. It was a bright sunny day and I could see the dust motes spinning in the air as she shuffled by. I lost her somewhere on the second floor but there weren't many places she could have gone, and I ran out the front door to see if I could find her, find out who she was, what she was doing in my aunt's house. The air had that eerie silence to it again, not even the birds were making noise. As I ran out onto the porch, I saw the woman; drab and gray even in the bright sunlight, she was kneeling down in the garden, bent over the flowers. I called out, she didn't answer. I walked over to her and put my hand on her shoulder, and she turned to me. Her skin was gray too, and cold, and as we came face to face I saw that her muscles were all slack, lifeless, except for her mouth, which was curved into a hideous parody of a smile. Our eyes met and hers were cold, dead, gray, glazed. I was filled with such a sense of evil and terror that I woke up, sat bolt upright in bed, heart pounding, and refused to sleep in that room for the rest of my stay. I never once opened that closet. And to this day, those gray glazed-over eyes in movies scare the crap out of me.

The Ring kicked it up a notch with those herky-jerky movements. When Samara comes out of the TV at the end, I was terrified; the way she moved was so unnatural, so completely unnerving. When it speeds up and she bum-rushes the guy - HOLY SHIT. I think this is the crux of my issue with a good ghost story - most other scary critters can be stopped in some fashion, but ghosts? Ghosts can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want. My personal beliefs are that ghosts in real life have limited power, and that there are different types of hauntings, but I believe it is POSSIBLE for some ghosts to do whatever they want. Maybe in limited doses, but... yeah. That thought, if I let myself run with it for a while, will feel me with creepy-crawlies and leave me sleeping with the lights on.

This picture still makes me want to crap my pants. Seriously.

Running with the creepy kids theme, the beginning of the Dawn of The Dead remake - the neighbor kid who appears in their hall, all zombified and I'm-a-gonna-eat-cha? Yeah. I still sometimes check my hallway at night. Vulnerability, having someone or something in your house when you're sleeping or showering or otherwise unaware and totally vulnerable, also terrifies me. The rest of the movie, while I enjoyed it, not so much with the scary. But that one scene haunts me.

Sometimes, late at night, when I'm the last one awake and I'm in the right frame of mind, I am still convinced something is under my bed, something that is going to grab me and... I don't know what's going to happen then, it's just going to grab me and I'm going to panic and die, die of fear. This isn't an entirely unfounded fear because, you see, this happened to me once. Well, not the dying part obviously, but the being grabbed by something under my bed in the middle of the night part. I was 12, and though I don't remember the day, my mother's account is that I was behaving like a particular brat all day. So while I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, she decided to teach me a lesson. I had a day bed, but no trundle, so it was fairly high off the ground. Mom snuck into my room, slid her ass under the bed, and waited. And waited. And waited for me to get into bed, read, turn the lights off. She waited some more, let me get good and comfortable, and when she felt the time was right... she reached out and grabbed my legs. I don't know if anything in real life has ever terrified me more than that moment, and I still sleep with the covers tucked firmly around my feet.

this is the face of evil

I've been scared by other movies... but nothing else comes to mind as a lingering, life-affecting fear, where it comes to mind unbidden in the middle of the night and makes me sleep with the lights on. Those are my big ones.

Next time, I'll talk about startle-scares and how I think they're generally a cheap plot device.

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