Thursday, September 6, 2012

Horror Week: Essence of Terror

Zombies and monsters and ghouls, oh my. 
We watch humans dressed as vampires drink fake-blood on TV.  
We prepare ourselves for a zombie-apocalypse by painting our faces and lurching down the streets. 
We laugh in the face of death on Halloween. 

Horror is often translated to scary movies, but that's not all there is. 
Horror flicks have a tendency of resorting to the "got you!"-thing: they make you scream, jump, throw your popcorn in the air and laugh at your fright, but can they make you think?

Sure, I've stayed up a few nights, or slept with the lights on a couple of times after seeing an especially scary movie. 
Sometimes they do have what it takes to make you shiver. 
Paranormal Activity did that to me, and Blair Witch Project still scares me when I walk alone in the dark. 
But when it comes to the psycholocical value of fear, I think the written word has what it takes to really bake your noodle. 

Steve'O once said that reading horror is a way of preparing for death. 
I think that's what all sorts of horror is meant to do: to prepare you for the inevitable moment in your life when you stand face to face with death, and realize that sooner or later you're going to have to go there. 
To take it's hand, and leave this all behind. 
To die.

Death is what scares us the most. 

We all will one day die. 
Our loved ones will one day die. 

I've only written one novel that can be stamped with the label "horror". 
The Mousetrap. 
Writing it gave me a chance to face my deepest fears, and that's what any good horror movie or book will do. 
It will take your hand, and pull it in, underneath the blanket, and make you touch the icky stuff. 
It'll make you look the ghoul in the face, so to speak, make you face the horror of sickness, mutilation, torture. 
It will make you taste the pain, and truly accept it. 
It could happen to you, after all, any day now. 
Any second of any day you could end up in a car crash, and while you lay there, helpless in a puddle of blood, you see bystanders ogling at you like you were the leaning tower of Pisa. 

without the threat of death there's no reason to live at all
- marilyn manson

Death, I think, is what it all comes down to. 
Death is the essence of horror, and the essence of life. 
It can push you, make you do things you never thought you could do. 
It can make you fight for the things you love. 

If life was eternal, you wouldn't have the guts to go bungee-jumping or mountain biking. 
If life was eternal, would you dare take the risks that will push you into bettering yourself? 

Mothers tell their teen-aged kids they shouldn't watch horror movies of read scary books 'cause they will give them nightmares. 

I say they're wrong. 

Nightmares are what makes us sleep better. 
If you think I'm wrong, remember the last time you had a really bad dream. 
The time when you woke up sweating, your heart beating in your throat, and you had to turn on the lights to see everything was a-OK. 
After that dream, you slept like a baby. 
'Cause you remembered what it was like to die. 


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