Tag Archives: fear

31 Days of Spoooktacular: Happy Halloween

I’m drinking a beer called Vampire Slayer (brewed by Clown Shoes). This isn’t a review, I’m just letting you know that I have a dark, flavor rich beer and you should get some yourself.

No, really I’m just here to say, Happy Halloween. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you and I and it’s been a hell of a ride. There were conventions and philosophizing on fear and beer and apple picking and more philosophizing. And, now, it’s drawing to a close. Soon, people will be slapping pictures of hand-turkeys on the walls and throwing cornucopias everywhere and eating way too much food. The time of reveling in horror and monsters and goblins and scary things is drawing to a close.

I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. I can talk about other things now. I can review beers that don’t taste like pumpkins. I can watch movies that aren’t just boobs, blood and bad guys. I can pontificate on politics or work or Sprint’s terrible service.

But, just one more time, I’m going to watch a horror movie, drink a Halloween themed-beer  and relax for the last night before….

 

 

NANOWRIMO.

 

See you tomorrow.

And have a Happy Halloween!

-D-

 

PS If you need some spooky fun, check this out. It’s an audio dramatization of my story, The Song and Dance Man. Thumbs up.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: In the Path of the Storm

Storms do not scare me. They haven’t scared me in some twenty years. The thunder is so much noise and the lightning is avoidable. Hail is a problem, but only rarely and only when you’re outside. And, in the end, there’s not a lot you can do about it except button down and stay low.

When I was little, around 7 or 8, I was caught outside during a tornado. I don’t know if the tornado came anywhere near me, it could have been a mile away, because I was hiding up under an overpass, being the most scared I had been or ever would be. The only thing I clearly remember is the noise, just the deafening, all-over, unrelenting noise. It was big noise. Noise that didn’t sound like anything because there was too much to process. It was like being caught in the center of a tiger’s roar and I couldn’t think; there was just raw, undiluted panic.

And then the wind died down and the noise stopped and everything was fine again.

I’ve never been in a storm like that since. Nothing has topped it. That noise. I think if I ever heard that noise again, I would drop to the floor and curl into a ball and hope it would all go away.

But right now, Sandy is being quiet. She’s shaking the house, bringing down some tree branches, but she has no roar.

Bring it on.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Do You Fear What I Fear?

If I were to catalog the myriad fears and superstitions that bind me, we would be here the rest of the night and you would be feeling increasingly sorry for me. They range from the mild, but compelling (numbers, silver, threes) to the more provoking, but manageable (don’t touch, please don’t touch, and now there’s germs) to the almost paralyzing (Emily’s late and almost certainly dead, that food is too old, this person is angry and I have to make them UN-angry). And, if you didn’t know it, three is good. Three threes are better and three three threes are the best, hence 27 is the best  number.

They’re binding because they prevent. It’s not like being scared of a movie. That just prevents you from watching the rest of the movie. And, with most horror movies, you’re probably better off not watching the whole thing anyway.

But a lot of those fears hamper things like a job or a relationship, or they do when they start to get out of control. It’s taken years of throwing myself repeatedly into situations I do not like, a dislike from the depth of me, before I could actually function and even, on occasion, thrive in those same situations.

Working retail in an urban environment, for example, has set off pretty much everyone of my major anxieties at some point. I get touched by dirty angry people and all I really want to do is run into the nearest bathroom and wash my hands for ten minutes. But I have to stay there. Not because I’m trying to be brave, but because this is my job and I’m getting paid to do it, so I don’t have an alternative.

The only way I know to deal with being scared of something is to hunch into a little ball and march forward and hope that my instinctual desire to run is, for once, not the correct impulse. Dealing with it, moving forward, always forward, is the only way to keep from getting stuck, from being bound by a thousand intertwining threads, a spider’s web of nervous anxiety that only builds up if I stay still.

366 is a good number of words.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Even a Man Who Is Pure in Heart

For 31 Days of Spoooktacular, I wanted to do the occasional spotlight on the monsters that have formed the deep and gristly backbone of pop culture. Through a society’s monsters, you can tell a lot about that society. What scares us, helps to define us. It is no coincidence that, in the wake of World War II and the Emergence of the Atom Bomb, atomic horrors plagued our silver screen.

More telling, is the changes we made to old legends.

The werewolf, in the olde days, in the olde country, was a man or woman who had made a pact with the devil and, through that pact, had gained certain supernatural powers, including, but not limited to, changing into a ferocious beast. The idea was that this was a gift, a boon for giving oneself to evil. They were satisfying their baser urges.

Once it entered modernity, specifically the movies, the werewolf became a different kind of creature. No longer was the lycanthrope a witch or savage, but an innocent who had been cursed by the bite of another werewolf. The transformation could only happen under the light of a full moon, or a around a full moon. The person change against their will and, once transformed, lost all control.

It became a symbol of repression unleashed, of inner savagery, a beastial nature unchained.

In more recent years, it has followed the route of vampirism. Rather than a supernatural curse or a religious affliction, vampirism and lycanthropy have both become diseases. The disease is transmitted by a bite or scratch and produces extreme changes in both physiology and psychology.

It is the last gasp of the mythology to survive in our modern times as a viable thing that exists beyond entertainment, as a lesson. Because that’s what monsters are. Monsters are how we teach our children fear and how to deal with that fear. Be careful after dark. Do not talk to strangers. Stay in church and with your community. Do not go up to make-out point.

We use our monsters to learn what to be afraid of and how to deal with that fear. The lessons we learn from our folktales are meant to leave lasting repercussions that affect our behavior well into adulthood. The werewolf, the vampire, the ghoul, the goblins; they have lost resonance. They don’t function in our world anymore. In spite of increasingly desperate attempts to make them relevant, they are falling behind.

They have nothing left to teach us. They have nothing to scare us with. In a world with bombs and serial killers and viruses; the occult loses all meaning. The werewolf has lost his bite.

-D-

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An Analysis of Fear

Over the years, I’ve made Horror my thing. I’ve watched countless horror movies. I’ve read countless horror stories. I’ve viewed the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I’ve worked out the formulas for the non-Euclidian shapes of Lovecraftian geometry. I’ve sampled the wares of multiple cultures; the giallo films of Dario Argento, the existentialist nightmares of French cinema, and even some Bollywood rip-offs of American slasher films.

And, in all of my research, in all of my attempts to feel fear through fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one way to craft perfect Horror. There is no one platonic ideal for Horror, hovering in the Aether like some malignant spider, hell-bent on the destruction of your pleasant dreams. Instead, Horror is a swarm of nightmares.

Fear is a personal thing. Certain people find certain things scary. What is scary for one person, is funny to another person. The supernatural doesn’t scare me at all, but I have a friend who believes that there are ghosts in the world. Horror must strive to reach only one person at a time.

Fear is primal. Something that is inspired by rudimentary thought processes buried deep in your subconscious. It is affected by the myths and legends of your culture. It is shaped by your upbringing and defined by your personal experience.

Horror, to be truly effective, must be individually tailored. For someone to feel that dread within, for someone to lose control of their conscious reasoning, they must read or watch something that has been specifically crafted for them. You cannot write a single story and try and scare an entire audience.

You’ll give a few people the creeps. And some people may feel the knife’s edge of Fear, but it will be dulled and blunted by the attempt to reach a broader audience.

The next step in Horror is not to try and reach the broadest audience possible. The next step in Horror is to make the experience as personal as possible.

Horror, as a form of fiction, has one goal: to create fear in the audience. Now, more than ever, it possible to achieve this goal. The Internet allows the Audience to approach the Creator and demand to be scared. It allows for the Audience to achieve something that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve before: they are able to get a customized, personalized experience that allows them to feel Fear.

Now, if only there was someone with a stronger work ethic than I to take advantage of it.

Dylan Charles

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