This Geekscape Top 10 Most Actually-Scary Demons in Pop Culture History got me thinking about the imagery that has inspired — and terrified — me. So to celebrate things that go bump in the night, here are a few of my favorite creeps.
I’m not sure why the 1960s cheezefest Attack of the Mushroom People still sticks with me like… like crappy latex makeup. Maybe because I saw it too young. I’ve always liked mushrooms. On my pizza (with extra cheeze) and whatnot. But to be possessed by fungus… Eck.
I probably read Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE around the same time as I saw the Mushroom People. The movie was good too, but the scene in the book where our frail heroine is alone in her dark bed (honestly, she needed a romantic hero) and something — something most assuredly NOT a hero — bangs around in her walls (that is also not a euphemism for a romance hero) and then reaches out to take her hand. Creeptastic!
I have no excuse for why John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness still pops up in my head as one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. John Carpenter made great horror movies, but I was old enough to not be freaked out. Except… Well, it’s a freaky movie. If you doubt me, check out this enthusiastic if slightly gory review which includes worms.
I also like (although like isn’t quite the right word) Tool’s Sober video for an interesting take on horror. It’s a quieter horror that mixes violent anger and sorrow (”Trust in me and fall as well”) with ghastly visuals. Great inspiration for a writer.
Why do we humans appreciate gore, horror, terror, and demons? Is it train wreck syndrome? Catharsis? I’ve heard people say that you can’t appreciate light without the darkness. Which I think we all know is philosphical bullshit. We’d all be ecstatic to have the light, the whole light and nothing but the light. But maybe knowing that’s not possible (for reasons I’m still not really clear on) is what makes us seek meaning in the dark. We’ll bring our own damn lights.
Do you have a favorite horror?