Scaring Myself

I’ve always been interested in looking at the types of horror that I write about, because I think it says a lot about the kind of person I am, about what makes me tick.

I have a tendency to steer clear of anything that’s spiritual. Ghosts do not scare me. Haunted houses scare me even less. If there’s one type of horror I stay away from, both as a reader and a writer, it’s the Haunted House trope. Beyond the fact that I don’t think ghosts are scary, the solution to a haunted house is so mind bendingly simple, that I lose all interest in following the trials and tribulations of the characters. Just move out of the goddamn house! You’ve got a problem, it stays tied to one geographical location, then MOVE. Problem solved.

(Small digression, favorite haunted house novel, The House Next Door, which basically obliterates all my complaints with the genre. Check it out.)

I also tend to stay away from the Classical Monsters tropes: no vampires, no werewolves, no mummies. There’s just very little that can be said about those monsters. They’ve become so embedded in our pop culture, that they’re no longer truly scary. And, lest you forget, horror is about scaring people. This seems to be something modern filmmakers have forgotten.

If I can think of a new angle for werewolves and vampires, then I’ll run with it. But for the most part, I think those guys have been thoroughly tapped out.

My own personal fiction focuses more on either madness or some Lovecraftian terror. By Lovecraftian, I don’t necessarily mean ancient Gods living beneath the ocean, but strange, metaphysical horrors that lurk around and under the shadows. That appeals to me on some level because there’s at least a vague potential for it being a real thing. Not to mean that I think these creatures and demons and the like do exist, but so little is known about the universe, that the notion of weird little pockets of unreality at least sounds plausible. And that’s what makes things scary to me, their real world plausibility.

And this follows with stories about madness as well. Insanity is a very real, tangible thing. I mean not for me. I’m sane.


Dylan Charles

7 thoughts on “Scaring Myself

  1. The book by Anne Rivers Siddons? SK liked that book, too. And it’s one of my (and my mom’s) favorites.

  2. I like Lovecraft and Poe. I know a lot of people are down on “The Blair Witch Project,” but it was different when it comes to modern horror movies; it never showed any gore. What you didn’t see was what was scary. Pyschological horror, not actual horror.

    But I would respectfully disagree with your assertion that vampires, in particular, are all tapped out. I have been studying vampires for years now (I even wrote my history thesis on vampire mythology in medieval Eastern Europe), and one thing I’ve taken away from all of that study is that vampires do whatever you need them to do.

    In Victorian England, they were a metaphor for sex and lust and all those other things you had to repress. Then they slowly became an outlet for homosexual fantasies and other forbidden types of relationships. Now, to read someone like Laurell K. Hamilton, they are just about everything imaginable–immoral, monstrous, sexually deviant, and just anarchic in general.

    I admit that that tack is pretty old and tapped out. I mean, you just can’t make them any more monstrous or sexually deviant than they already are. And I don’t think our society really needs them to be either anyways. Vampires are all about doing things which we don’t want to or can’t do ourselves.

    I may be completely crazy, but I’ve written a book with vampires in it who aren’t immoral, monstrous or sexually deviant. There are a few bad vampires in it, but most of the ones you see are good guys—quite literally. They do bizarre things like pray and talk about God occasionally. They have laws, which they obey. And they have these weird concepts called “chivalry” and “honor,” in which they believe in taking care of other people before themselves.

    See, my thought is that things like that are what’s on the way out in our society. It’s getting to the point where people are thought weird for being religious or for being courteous. Pretty soon, only vampires—thanks to literally being the product of a different time and place—will be able to get away with being old-fashioned gentlemen and ladies. And we’ll secretly long for that, the way that Victorian ladies once secretly longed to be passionately embraced by a dangerous stranger.

    Of course, I may be completely crazy. But, if your own sanity is in doubt, would you know it if I was?

    1. I don’t think vampires are tapped out as interesting story material. For example, I love the show True Blood.
      But I don’t consider them scary. I’m never scared when I watch True Blood. I’m entertained and I love watching the show, but it’s just not scary to me.
      But it sounds like you went with an interesting direction with your vampires and not in a glittery, shimmery kind of way too.
      So yay to that.

      1. I have got to pick up the Twilight series and see what the hell everyone is talking about with glittering vampires. Some of my vampires are good-looking, and some are quite charming, and some are even quite Jewish, but none of them glitter.

        But yes, I have to agree with you that vampires aren’t scary. I’ve got a few who are, but they’re scary in a very mundane, psychopathic killer sort of way. Not in a monster-under-the-bed sort of way. They’re not horror; they’re temptation.

  3. P.S. Your commentary on haunted houses reminds me of some of my dad’s stand-up routine. He says you never see a redneck in a horror movie because rednecks never go anywhere without a gun; the movie would be over in fifteen minutes. “Ooo, you’re a mean booger. I’m real scared. KA-BLAM!”

    The haunted trailer routine:

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