Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Horror Heaven

So I got  Justice League: The New Frontier and really enjoyed it.  Particularly the first Flash sequence, that was fun.  Neil Patrick Harris as Barry Allen works.  Also, can't believe I didn't realize before watching that this release is perfectly timed politically..  Because of the Silver Age setting and the McCarthy era backdrop, there's a lot of dialogue that is custom-designed to comfort Americans who are feeling kind of shitty about how their government is behaving and hoping for an inspirational figure to usher in change.

I like my new toy, too.  He has a little lantern to go with him, and he's molded to the base so I can leave him out somewhere.

And while I was at the store I saw one of those cheap collections of old black and white movies.  50 black and white horror movies for 20 bucks.  I picked it up on a whim because it had the original The House on Haunted Hill.  On getting home I discovered it had silent movie classics Nosferatu and Fritz Lang's Metropolis.  One of the first Superman stories I ever read was the Superman: Metropolis elseworlds, which led me to checking out the movie out of curiosity.  It has a special place in my heart and now I own it.

I found a book of classic ghost stories (Not just Poe reprints, but it has Ambrose Bierce and Washington Irving stories).

I also got my hands on a copy of John Keel's Mothman Prophecies book.  I'm only 25 pages in and this book is Urban Legend Paradise.  There's UFOs, metaphysical speculation,  multiple counts of small-town weirdness, a giant fucking bird with hypnotic red eyes, the US government trying to act like they know what the hell is going on and that nothing is going on anyway, military red tape stupidity, historical ties to stories about faeries, The Devil, and encounters with the inhuman kind of Men in Black (not the run-of-the-mill government spooks, these are the MiBs who are like aliens or robots trying to cover their tracks).

I'm starting to come to terms with being a horror fan.  I started out with kid's ghost story anthologies (The Dark Thirty, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Are You Afraid of the Dark?), and I worked my way up to the hard stuff (Lovecraft, Internet and Radio tales of ghost encounters) from there.  and have been utterly hooked on these sorts of things ever since.  I hate the current trend of torture porn, and have no interest in mortal slasher flicks.  But I can't stay away from a good ghost tale (particularly one that purports to be true).  I can't help but research weird and frightening occurrances.  I absolutely adore horror movies made before 1970 (I love the camera tricks that cover for bad special effects).  I like modern supernatural thrillers provided they have a creepy air.  The only romance I read is paranormal horror romance.  I can't resist this stuff.

But there's a problem.  It's the same as the reason my favorite superhero is Green Lantern.  I'm a huge wuss, a neurotic person with a highly active imagination.  I am what is politely referred to as high strung.   Other people are amused by my nervousness.  In my first year in the USAF, the guys in the dorm used to knock on my door when they walked by.  They knew I was in there watching or reading something creepy and I would scream audibly.  I haven't calmed down.  Right now my boss greets me suddenly and boisterously every day because it never fails to make me jump, yelp, and drop whatever I'm carrying.

I never watched horror movies as a teenager because I always figured I'd have nightmares.   (Oddly enough, I rarely have nightmares from this stuff.  The problem is getting to sleep.)   Trailers and commercials for horror movies spook me out.  I have an irrational terror of witch stories (yes, I know just how wrong that is for me).  I don't have mirrors or televisions in my bedroom because reflected light (and my own ghastly snarl-haired pale visage) is too unsettling in the dark.  I stay up late reading ghost stories and then kick myself for it.  But I can''t stop.  I'm drawn to it.

It always seemed like I was being incredibly unwise by exposing myself to this stuff.  My brain clearly hates me, and I'm giving it ammunition.  Then I was completely flipping out at work on Friday over something my physician suggested I might have when I realized just why I adore urban legends, ghost stories, and creepy suspenseful horror.  I'm the kind of person who makes her own life 50 times more stressful than it needs to be.  I panic needlessly and worry endlessly about my lot in life.  No matter how secure my job, my financial health, my physical health, my safety and my future is I will always be convinced everything I love is about to dissolve and slip through my fingers like purple art project scenery sand.  Or worse, crash on the floor and spill out like brains and blood from a crushed skull.  Supernatural tales of terror give me something else to worry about.

Something fun to worry about.

It's time to stop calling myself stupid for this, and embrace it.

I'm off to go replace my worries with the Scariest Thing Ever Written (Dreams in the Witch House by HP Lovecraft -- Witches, ghosts and geometry, oh my!), then I'm going to bury myself in modern North American mythology.  Dig me out when the next issue of Green Lantern comes out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Heroes don't HAVE to be stupid, do they?

I rented The Mothman Prophecies because I enjoy watching creepy supernatural stuff when there's no one around but my cat. (Mild Spoilers below.)

The main character (the one played by Richard Gere) is pretty dumb.  I mean, I thought he was smarter than the average horror protagonist when he got creeped out by the phone call where Cold knew everything, so he turned off the lights and closed the shutters (where a normal person would not want to sit in a dark hotel room and listen to that creepy voice).

But he thinks the chemical plant is going to blow up, so he accosts the Governor and asks him to close the place down.  He's ranting and raving like a complete madman, and gets escorted away  When if he really wanted to shut the place down he could have just called in a bomb threat (what's really amazing to me is that they assume he's heard a bomb threat, call one in, and he says "I didn't get a bomb threat!" and torpedoes the option they'd take him seriously).  Yes, he'd have gotten in trouble if he got caught phoning in a threat.  It's illegal, he'd have been arrested. But he wouldn't look completely fucking insane, and he'd have accomplished what he wanted.

(I haven't read the book, so I don't know if John Keel actually acted like this, but I know they changed a whole bunch of stuff so I'm going to assume that any character behavior is the fault of the writers.)

And it makes me worry about the heroes in these supernatural thrillers.  They're supposed to seem like rational people, so that we can be drawn into the story.  It's not supposed to be someone we can write off as a nut, but someone like us who is experiencing this stuff.  Makes it more believable.

But damned if every time we get to the point where the hero is trying to get the police or the government on their side to prevent a disaster, they go the route of looking like a complete lunatic and risk getting committed for their trouble.  And they know, going in, that there is no way in hell that the authorities will take them seriously.  But they try anyway, and that's supposed to be the heroic part.  Except they just seem stupid to me, because there are usually sneakier and more effective ways to accomplish that objective in today's society.

And don't give me "we don't want our hero to lie."  If he's really so fucking sure that a whole bunch of people are going to die, he should lie if he has a better chance of being believed and getting the place evacuated.  Even if he's wrong.