Monday, October 31, 2011
On Horror and Other Scary Stuff
On Horror and Other Scary Stuff
by Arley Cole
The Blacksmith's Daughter
out NOW at Musa Publishing
In Stephen King's excellent essay "Why We Crave Horror Movies," he basically states that we crave horror and scary stuff as a way of allowing our primitive, insane sides "to scream and roll around in the grass." We love the thrill ride of the scary movie or the scary book. We love proving we're tough enough to take it. And I agree with him.
But what makes something scary? Lots of people saw Arachnophobia years ago and ran screaming from the theater because spiders scare the willies out of them. Other folks weren't bothered by the spiders and thought it was a hilarious comedy--because apart from the spiders it is pretty funny.
I for one, saw the Robert deNiro/Nick Nolte version of Cape Fear in my younger days and was afraid to walk to my car afterward. It scared the ever-living crap out of me. I also got completely freaked out by the Rebecca deMornay movie The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. It is possibly the only women's horror movie I ever watched and it goes straight to the heart of what women fear.
That's probably the root of the question: what scares you? Spiders? The unknown? Failure? Loss?
In The Merchant's Son (sequel to my new release The Blackmsith's Daughter), I am creating monsters that scare me. There are hints about them burrowing in the ground, creating mysterious tunnels. There's a huge hint at the end of The Blacksmith's Daughter involving the thing Nerian finds in one of those burrows. So if you haven't read it yet, now's the time!
But why are these particular monsters scary?
One of the things that scares me most is the idea of creating something I can't control--setting events in motion I am powerless to stop, even if I really, really want to.
In the great wide world of technology, there are so many things in the modern world that cannot be stopped. I can't watch those virus movies because it's just too close to possible. At least the Black Death occurred in the natural course of things. But if scientists create and then accidentally release a superbug that turns us all into zombies, we're just done for. No amount of zombie killing can change the fact that most everybody is going to catch the bug and turn into zombies.
And that scares me more than the actual zombies.
The truly scary is the idea that you can't unscramble an egg. To quote Lost--still obsessed--"what's done is done." There's no getting back that time you wasted. There's no taking back those words you said. There's no rewinding that course of events that destroyed a relationship.
If Robert deNiro's scary guy wants to randomly confront me in a dark parking lot outside the theater and kill me slasher fashion, I guess it'll just happen. But what if I started the whole course of events by making him mad when I dumped a coke in his lap at the theater because I was goofing around with my friends instead of paying attention?
I didn't mean to start those events into motion. I really might wish I could stop it. But in the end it is all out of my control.
And that is scary.