Horror Doesn’t Have to Be Horrific

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Horror ranges from the silliness of Scooby-Doo to the terror of The Ring. But some of the most interesting and insidious horror comes when an everyday object becomes unexpectedly evil.

Look at Cujo. The book, and subsequent movie, are visceral and terrifying–and yet, they are about a rabid dog, not some demonic creature. Any dog can be bitten by a rabid animal and go on such a rampage. The story terrifies because it could happen to any household in any neighborhood.

Would Child’s Play have as much impact if Chucky were not a doll? One of the most innocuous toys possible…something in any little girl’s room.

If you are setting out to write horror, don’t think only of the monsters. Think of the mundane items in your world and see if there is something you can turn into the catalyst of your story. Perhaps the water fountain in the square suddenly starts poisoning people. Why? Is it a human intervention, or is there something more devious at work? Perhaps a vengeful water spirit?

Maybe a pet songbird suddenly starts singing words–words that prophesize murder. (Wait…I think I want that one…)

The point is, horror doesn’t have to be full of ghosts or demons or vampires to bring a shiver to the spine. And, sometimes, it is better when it isn’t.

Let’s Talk About Monsters…

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Monsters. The mainstay of horror, aren’t they? Vampires, werewolves, mummies–these are the creatures that everyone turns to when they hear the word “monster.” Perhaps that should be qualified–these are the stereotypical creatures that American readers/writers turn to automatically. And that’s why they inundate the pages of books and the frames of films we are familiar with.

But there are other dark things in the world, and some of those are fascinating. For example, here is one list of Asian monsters, and this one is specifically Japanese. Here is a list of creatures from Indian mythology.

Celtic mythology is rife with incredible creatures. They even have their own television series. Here is a list of specifically Irish mythological creatures.

African monsters are often animalistic in nature rather than humanoid.

Australian folklore has some interesting creatures to consider.

Even if you want to stick to American monsters, Native American myths are full of unusual beings.

The point is that there are so many under-used monsters in the world that putting aside the vampires, mummies, werewolves, and ghosts for awhile and exploring these lesser-known creatures in our fiction and film might be to everyone’s advantage. 😉

Here are some resources for further study:

World Mythology

World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide

Bulfinch’s Mythology

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition Deluxe, Illustrated, Anniversary Edition

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales

The Complete World of Greek Mythology

Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology

 

 

Things that Go Bump in the Night…

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Everyone is afraid of something…whether it is walking alone down a dark street at midnight or losing one’s job. These fears are real and tangible. They are depressing and often out of our control.

Perhaps this is why we gravitate to horror so readily. The monsters in a novel or movie aren’t usually real. Pennywise is not going to pop out of the sewer. Dracula is not going to swoop into your bedroom window. But the thought of these iconic creatures in our lives gives us a scare we can control–we can put It down, or pause Dracula if it gets to be too much. Campfire stories fade with the light of dawn.

When I was a kid, I would rush home for Dark Shadows. I was so in love with Barnabas Collins. Of course, fifteen years later when I watched it again in reruns, it was so cheesy and badly filmed I just laughed, but it was one of my first introductions to the horror genre. (And I still think Jonathan Frid was amazing–though Barnabas was almost his only role.) Did the camp of the series impress itself in my head even then? Is that why I like to write humorous horror most of all? Maybe.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave was the first time I remember feeling all tingly over a vampire. He was so sexy and masculine…to the ten-year-old watching it on the couch at a friend’s house. There is just something so alluring about a cape…

So, horror can affect us in many ways. It isn’t always terrifying. It can be compelling, or attractive as well. And, while vampires and werewolves might be things of legend, I find some of the scariest horror deals with people who could live next door.

For example, Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy. Especially the first book. This story could happen tomorrow down the road. Similar stories have happened. And the only monster here is just an evil man.

This flavor of horror is almost too real. We can dismiss the supernatural as unlikely to interfere with our lives. We can’t dismiss the evil that men do so easily…

What scares you? Do you like monsters better or the wickedness of the world? What do you recommend watching or reading if someone likes to be scared in a way they can control?

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Welcome to the Home!

RVHome

 

Well, I’ve gone and done it. As if two daily blogs weren’t enough, I decided to start one for my horror antics as well. 

I will be talking about Bruce and Roxanne (it is their house, after all) and linking to my Ladies of Horror pieces, my horror short stories, and Skellyman…and my horror poetry…

Plus, I plan on exploring the history of horror and monsters, RieViewing other people’s books and movies. Adding bar-be-que tips and recipes…

The possibilities are endless.

Of course, that’s a lot of territory to cover…so I think that I will change things up a bit. I will be focusing on one blog a day and RieViews on Friday starting next week. (And that includes “Here’s the Clean” so maybe I will finally get some housecleaning done!)

I haven’t decided on the order of days yet, and I may rotate all of them but Fridays. We’ll see. For now, here are some of my credentials for doing a horror blog in the first place. 🙂

 

        

         

        By Candlelight  By Candlelight 

  (only available on Audible ATM)