Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oh, The Horror; the Horror! It's good for you!

By Glenys O'Connell

As a kid I can remember being terrified by a television showing of the original black-and-white movie Dracula. Later, married with two kids, I couldn't face going into my basement to do laundry at night after reading Stephen King's The Shining.

I recently saw The Shining again, and wondered what the fuss was all about!
But I'll be right there the next time there's a King book out, or a horror movie showing at the local movie house.
And I won't be alone.
I know you – and lots of our friends – will be right there with me.
Horror is good for us!
It alls starts when we're kids – have you read some of those traditional fairy tales recently? I don't mean the politically correct versions some of those killjoys out there want kids to read. I mean the ones with wicked witches and monsters, children being cooked over an open fire….even the rhymes like Humpty Dumpty and The Three Little Pigs are early horror fodder for our young.
So what do I mean by horror is good for us? Well, for one thing it lets us explore our worst fears, just like the cavemen who drew pictures on the cave walls showing them fighting off saber toothed tigers and other monsters of the day. We face our fears, and then we can say wow, we faced the crazy serial killer, the zombie, the monster, and we survived! And deep down inside, we know it's not real.
There's also the borderline real horror shows, like CSI. Now we don't care hoew gruesome the scenes and we don't really care if it's inaccurate. What is important that the story shows us the world is set right after something aweful happens. That's what we want to know: always the bad guys are punished in the end and the good guys win out.
Uhm. Maybe not so much like real life, after all.
Now, I'm all for horror, but I'm also all for keeping it in the fantasy realm. Fantasy horror, on tv or the big screen, where we can shudder or scream, close our eyes tight or snuggle up to a lover for comfort & protection, is a great safety valve.
But real life horror, that's something else. As a journalist I saw some pretty awful things that have stayed with me for many years. One is the way a weedy little man, charged with eviscerating his estranged wife, turned around in court to smile at his relatives who were there to support him.
That grin said so much – the pleasure and pride he felt at what he'd done, the lack of a conscience or any remorse, and the empty, insane look that made shivers run down my spine. I'm glad to say he was put away for a long, long time.
One I'll never understand. I used to dread being on duty during long weekend holidays, because one of the jobs then was to cover the traffic accidents. We all know folk go a bit crazy on holidays, what with mixing booze and unaccustomed freedom, so the accidents can be pretty horrendous.
So, we have a beautiful summer day, birds singing, leaves budding out, blue skies with fluffy white clouds. And an accident scene – two wrecked vehicles, emergency crews everywhere, an elderly woman being rushed to an ambulance while her husband's body lay in the road.
And a middle aged couple with two children in tow arguing with a young cop because they were not being allowed near the scene. They wanted the two children, aged about nine and 12, to see the dead guy. Indeed, they claimed they had a right to see the dead.
I was an educated adult and yet I can still shudder when remember that blanket covered form, still in death, and one hairy wrist protruding from the coverings, a gold wedding ring glinting in the sunlight. Would seeing this be an education for the two kids? Or nightmare material?
Yet the two nutcases wanted to expose their kids or grandkids to some titillating entertainment of the dead body type. An early forerunner of reality television?
No, thanks. I'll take my horror with popcorn and a few good friends. The kind of horror we leave behind when we leave the theatre or turn off the tv.
Real life horror is just too, well, real for my taste.

Romantic suspense & mystery author Glenys O'Connell admits to some pretty evil deeds herself. For example, at Hallowe'en she's been known to stash some of the best candy away for herself and then lie to innocent children about having given it all away…you can read some of her work on under the brand Romance Can be Murder.


Jannine Gallant said...

Horror can be fun when you're in the mood. But I still remember being home sick from school one day, and my mom watching Dark Shadows while she ironed. When the vampire rose from the coffin, I was off that couch and hiding in my bed! Still, I had a crazy urge to watch that show whenever I was home sick!

Colleen Connally said...

Oh, I do so love a good scare. My sister and I would sneak in to watch Dark Shadows. Our scaried-cat brother would tell on us...I can't wait until the new movie comes out.
I agree with you Glenys. I'll take my horror on my couch or at the movie theater.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Great post. I don't do horror movies or TV shows. I also don't like blood and guts, although I write romantic suspense and hope I can ramp the heart rate of my readers. Yes, I know that makes no sense. Life is full of horrors--many of them are the one-sneeze-from-insanity people living among us.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I have to agree I prefer my horror with popcorn - if at all. I'm not much for horror. I stay my distance from all things vampire. My mom loves vampire movies and we saw them all when I was a kid. Too bad I didn't enjoy them like she did!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Glenys,
Sorry for coming in late. Great blog. You do have to wonder about the mentality of some people. Why would you want to inflict the horror of a dead body on your children?
Hiding the best candy, I can certainly relate to that. I am always hiding chocolate bars so hubby can't find them and I can enjoy them all on my own.