As a child, everything terrified me. I knew for a CERTAINTY that monsters lived and breathed under my bed. I never peeked (that would be suicidal) but I just KNEW it. That's why I slept in the very, very center of my twin bed. It was a well know fact that monsters, no matter their girth could not reach you if you lay perfectly still in the middle. Their arms were simply to short.
All you had to do was simply make mention of something creepy and I truly believed THAT was exactly the way in which I would die--Jason with his chainsaw was going to get me, Bigfoot was going to eat me (and if he didn't, then radioactive rats, or spiders, or killer bees from South Africa probably would), my dolls were possessed by voodoo and desired my soul, or ghosts in my closet were going to pull me to hell because our house was more than likely built on some sacred Indian burial site we didn't know about (it can happen)--->.
And do any of you remember the movie Alligator? Oh, I do! This scene specifically made me cry:
Or what about this scene from Stephen King's "IT"...
Now many of you are probably wondering, "What the heck? Where was this little girl's parents? Why did they let her watch such scary things?"
Well, let me tell ya . . . my father (a good man, though a little misguided in this case) was sitting right there beside me . A fan of scary movies, my father wanted to share the experience with his kids--he liked the idea of us needing him and wanting his protection.
He also thought it was funny.
Remember, this was the 1980's, I don't think parents (specifically dads), well . . . thought. They didn't see the connection between the scary movie and the kid sleeping in their bed later that night. It just didn't compute.
So you want to know HOW I know I've been scarred forever by having witnessed such brutally horrifying scenes at such a tender age?
Example #1: Whenever I shower with a shower curtain (usually at hotels) my first thought is always the movie Psycho.
Example #2: Whenever I see a large flock of birds gathered together, I don't see the beauty. I see Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Seriously. This is true.
Example #3: When I went snorkeling in Hawaii (just a week ago) I swore I heard the soundtrack to JAWS playing behind me. dun-dun! dun-dun! dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, da-na-na!
Example #4: I'm writing a zombie book. And a sequel. Possibly a trilogy if all goes well. And I like it. You can't tell me that's normal.
But I can tell you this, I've learned a lot through watching a ton of scary movies, lots of ways to escape homicidal maniacs and crazies on the loose.
#1: Do NOT, repeat, do NOT makeout with anyone of the opposite sex in a car parked down a dark and scary road (especially unpaved mountain roads surrounded by trees). You will die. Or if you decide to take the chance and lock lips, for heavens sake keep the car engine RUNNING. Don't turn off the car. It is guaranteed not to start. That's a given.
#2: If you are a girl, do NOT sleep in only your bra and panties. You will die.
#3: If you witnessed, as a child, a tragic experience such as a family member going nuts and murdering your clan, and you happen to be the only survivor, do NOT go back to the scene years later for any reason, especially for your best friend's marriage or because your mental health doctor thinks it would be cathartic. Don't do it. You will die.
#4: If you must travel through barren land, such as the Arizona desert, please make sure your vehicle is in top notch condition. Have a mechanic look it over before you go on your trip. Don't wait until you are out in the middle of nowhere to stop at the "locals" automotive facility to check your engine light or, heaven forbid, even fill up your tank with gas. Most desert locals are inbreds who hate outsiders. You will die. (Sounds judgmental and rude, I know. But you will thank me later).
#5: If you hear a strange noise coming from ANYWHERE--the attic, the basement, the barn, outside in general--do NOT try and figure out what is making that noise. You really don't want to know. It's never good. I promise. You will die. And if you are a girl, do NOT go searching out the strange noises in your bra and panties. You're an idiot and you will die. Girls, just wear long-johns. No one kills girls wearing long-johns.
#6: If someone suggests you should all split up and go in search of the killer, just kill that guy yourself. He's stupid. If you listen to him and take his advice, giving him the benefit of the doubt, you will die. Oh, and if you happen to be the comedian of the group or the daredevil, you will be killed first. That's a given. If you are a girl, wearing long-johns, and you're terrified, but slightly perturbed about the whole thing, your chances of survival are pretty good. If you're not, you will die. If you have the benefit of numbers, why in the world would you ever split off?
#7: If you have radioactive material that needs to be disposed of, please do it properly and through the right channels. If you don't, you stand a great chance of ENORMOUS rats or spiders, or even zombies, taking over the world and peering through your bedroom window with their gigantic eye. Ultimately in the end, you will die.
#8: If your creepy neighbor gives you ANY advice whatsoever--TAKE IT. Even if it sounds weird and unlikely, just do it. If you don't, you will die.
#9: Anything that is labeled "Portal to Hell" should be left alone. If you even THINK about messing with it, you will die. And, you probably deserve to (you're stupid).
#10: And last, but surely not least, if you are running from the monster/homicidal maniac expect to trip and fall at least once. Possibly twisting your ankle in the process. And even if the monster/maniac appears to be meandering about at a leisurely pace, he or she will eventually catch up to you. Do not take this for granted. Suck up the pain and get your hind end moving. Do not head for the hills, or down a dark alley. Head straight for the local NRA meeting house. If not, you will die.
It's kind of interesting, looking back on things years later, that monsters and maniacs terrified me so horribly as a child, but now, as an adult, I'm writing about them. (I actually have both--zombies and a madman in my novel). Strange. Maybe it was meant to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT a horror writer by any means (too scary) but I think watching my fair share of scary movies has aided me in my tension building process. At least I'd like to hope so anyway.
How about you? Did you watch any monster or maniac movies when you were a kid that terrified the bejebbies out of you? Or did you have a kind father (Dad, I love ya) who shielded you from such things?
And for you writers out there, tell me about your monster/maniac in your manuscript. How creepy is he or she? Give me chills.