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.


  1. If you're enjoying horror, might I suggest a few nice ones?

    Ginger Snaps (Canadian werewolf movie, the first is the best by far)

    Dog Soldiers (UK werewolf movie, think Aliens meets the Howling)

    Any of the B&W Universal classics, esp. The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolf Man.

    The Heisei (think I spelled it right) Godzilla movies which rebooted the series, from Godzilla 1984 (in Japan) through Godzilla versus Destroyah (Destroyer), the one with King Ghidorah is especially nice :)

    Take it and run.

    Earl Allison

  2. There really needs to be a Ginger Snaps vs. Dog Soldiers movie...

  3. I much preferred the remake to "Metropolis", when it went by the name of "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey". (You think I'm kidding ... well I'm not. Same movie.)

  4. With your love of horror, any Stephen King book you particularly dig?

    Curious I be.

  5. Oh, I do love a good ghost story. But not that stuff with chainsaws and blood and guts, 'cause that's yucky.

    I thought I was the only person who screams and jumps when startled. My kids get a real charge out of it. Our powers of concentration must be just that awesome.

    Oh, I think that Green Lantern comes out NEXT week. *sigh*

  6. When I was a kid, I was a huge Doogie Houser fan. "A kid doctor? AWESOME!" I'd watch it every time I got the remote.

    Since then, Harris has gone on to play Spider-Man and Flash... two of my other favorite heroes. Life is weird sometimes!

  7. Hello, Highly Nervous Person here. And I totally approve of this post.

    For myself, I'd like to add that one reason I enjoy horror is that, compared to the real life things I worry about, the badness in horror is *solveable*, or at least preventable. Werewolves? Silver. Vampires? Stakes and sunlight. Give me a choice between dealing with vampires and dealing with cancer, and guess what I'll pick every durn time.

  8. When you mentioned the Obligatory Protagonist-Sounds-Crazy Scene in the movie yesterday, I was trying to find some way of conveying that the Real Keel Deal sounded crazier by far -- while still recommending the book as a marvelous read into X-Files territory.

    Mirrors in the dark used to seriously creep me out; they're so obviously DOORWAYS INTO THE WRONG. Oddly, what cured me of that was moving into several places that had mirrored walls and/or closet doors in the bedroom. Somehow, when it's a whole wall, and you really CAN see the whole room in the mirror, it doesn't have that Something Lurking Around The Edge Of The Frame effect.

    My personal favorite HPL story for Teh Scary is "Pickman's Model". When I first read it in high school, we lived in a rural area that had packs of feral dogs filling the coyote niche. Read "Pickman" before bed, and have a dog knock over the trash can under your window at 2AM...

  9. Hi Ragnell,
    In the spirit of Spreading the Love of Good Horror, I also would like to recommend some good books and movies. I second the recommendation from an earlier poster for Ginger Snaps and Dog Soldiers, and add what I think to be some of the best horror movies since the original Haunting:
    The Others
    the late 70s/early 80s Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    The Bunker (Mr. Reads and I do adore our low-budget British horror movies)
    The Dark
    The Invisible (more psychological than horror, but it got a very bad review from hoi polloi that I feel is mostly undeserved)

    And some great books:
    Scott Smith's The Ruins, which was so great that I was still reading at 2 a.m., and so scary that I woke up both Mr. and Pup Reads because I couldn't be "alone."
    Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box and his collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts (he's Stephen King's son, and I think has the potential to be better than his father, whom I adore madly)
    Chelsea Cain's Heartsick
    Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects
    The last two are more psychological, but very good.


  10. Hey Ragnell? This is apropos of nothing in this particular post of yours, but since you've got a problem with trolls, I thought you might appreciate this.

  11. If you want to read some real horror, check out the newest All-Star Batman. 8-O

  12. Maybe you could do a full post on New Frontier? Because I've been looking forward to it for months, and then thought the final result was sort of scattered and confusing. Like it should have been quite a bit longer, just to make the character's motivations stronger and the plot more obvious.