Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fears of the Famous--What Haunts the Horror Gods

Oh, how I love to get into a horror book--REALLY into much so that I'll sit a bit more still than I normally would, because if I move whatever is waiting around for a victim will know I'm there...

...and I have to wait a bit to go to the rest room because God knows what is waiting for me behind the shower curtain...

...and I definitely will NOT look out the window because there will be a man standing about halfway up my walkway just waiting for me to peek out--and he'll be smiling--and as soon as I notice him he will finish his walk to my front door...


I can scare myself more than almost any horror writer can. But I worship the few that can get under my skin.

I know it does not seem so from what I just wrote, but I am actually pretty hard to scare. I recently saw the movie Insidious in my sister's basement that was recently converted into a very cool movie viewing room, complete with old fashioned popcorn maker, comfy sofas, and a 75 inch drop down screen and projector. Next to me on the couch was my sister's stepson, all six foot three, 200 pounds of him, recently recruited to play college football on full scholarship. The lights were down and he remarked he was not very fond of the dark corner behind him, and I felt him move an almost imperceptible fraction of an inch closer to me.

He was not very good about tension in the film either. If he thought something was going to happen he would say, Ohhh, here we go....this is gonna be baaaaddd.... while curling into a bit of a ball and not quite fully looking at the screen. There was no mistaking our narrowing proximity on the couch, and when the music crescendoed and the monster appeared and we were startled, he screamed like Kim Kardashian at a shoe sale.

Exact moment of the woman scream.

Happily he is a good sport and laughed even though he was teased for the rest of the night. Apparently horror is not for him. Some are more easily scared than others.

So this got me horror writers get scared of what they write?

Was Stephen King as scared writing about as I was scared reading about the dead boy with glowing eyes scratching patiently at the window, floating and asking let me iiinnn during Salem's Lot? What about the "other Mother" that Neil Gaiman wrote about in Coraline, with her sewn-on black button eyes. Did it creep him out for a while?

Stephen King admitted to being afraid of "Spider, snakes...and my mother-in-law," when he recently spoke at the University of Massachusetts, and Neil Gaiman doesn't seem to admit to being afraid of anything, except possibly repeating the sins of his parents on his own kids. (Have no fear, I am referring to an incident where he hoists his screaming son over his shoulder to bring him to sleep after refusing.) And he might also be afraid of falling...

Tim Burton of Edward Scissorhands fame admits to having a fear of chimps--interesting, since he directed a remake of Planet of the Apes. He said, 

“You don’t know whether chimps are going to kill you or kiss you. They’re very open on some levels and much more evil in a certain way.” I also remember him saying it is not the horror movies that scare him, but real life. I can relate.

Anne Rice, who brought vamps into vogue with Interview with a Vampire, admits to fearing the dark:   "I'm kind of scared of the dark. .... I've never seen a ghost. I've never seen an angel. I've never seen a vision of any kind. And I think I'm a little bit scared that I might."

Joe Hill, author of the shivery ghost story Heart Shaped Box says he is afraid of technology:

“AutoCorrect. AutoCorrect is the first phase in the war between the machines and mankind. I assume at some point in the near future, the President will send a text to Hu Jintao reading ‘Looking forward to our talks in Beijing soon’ and his iPhone will change the message to read ‘Looking forward to our tanks in Beijing soon.’ This will be followed by 30 minutes of frantic text messages, all over the planet, reading ‘omfg the world is ending amf!! @ least I dont have 2 go 2 work 2day lol!!’ Millions will die, but will still be unable to get out of their cellular-phone contracts. This is the stuff that keeps me up at 3 a.m.” (From Time Entertainment)

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, claims to fear nothing, just like Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine.


I imagine:

- Edgar Allan Poe was afraid of being alone, and of course being buried alive.

- Bram Stoker had a desperate fear of intimacy.

- H.P. Lovecraft was forced to eat squid as a child.

- George A. Romero spent far too much time with his older relatives.

- and Tom Cruise may be afraid of being weak or ordinary. (I know he has nothing to do with horror but he kind of scares me...)

And just so you know--I am scared of only a few things, but I won't tell you what they are because I don't want to pay for it for the rest of my life...okay--I'll tell you one.  I am a germaphobe...not for myself...for my kid. Oh, and I'm a little scared of flying...and dark, open water...

Now I would love to know what scares YOU.


  1. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I don't like hearing things in the dark...things from those dark corners that might jump out at me. I also don't like being startled.

    I think it would be totally creepy to look outside the window and see someone staring at the house...I'd probably fall all over myself trying to get away from the window.

    BTW, love the pic, "Your flashlight can't shine everywhere at once.", so true...

    1. Beth that actually happened to me! True story.
      My dog was growling softly for a minute and woke me up--I looked outside and a man was walking up my front walk at 400am--I almost died. He was the paper boy--but I didn't discover that til after I had a heart attack...
      I always had the fear of looking out my son's window toward the woods and seeing someone just standing there...watching...smiling...
      And thanks! I love finding the pix.

  2. BTW, you always nab the best pics!

  3. Great post!

    I've been a horror lover and viewer since near infancy, so very little on screen will startle me, surprise me, or stay with me after the movie ends. I'm not afraid of the dark and I'm not afraid of what is beneath my bed (Willow). However, while writing WISHBONE, there was a late night session, pounding at the keys on my laptop when, Jerome, the protagonist's deceased father, manifests from the corner shadows of the barn...I was writing, seated with my back to the open French doors in my office, facing a pitch black, large yard, filled with dark silhouettes of dense orange trees with swaying branches...the sounds of wildlife rummaging through the brush at 4 a.m. All of that mingled in with my deep concentration in writing a very intense and frightening scene, and I suddenly found myself aware of the darkness behind me and rushing to slam those doors shut! LOL I creeped the hell out of myself! HA!

    xx, B

    1. Thanks Brooklyn :)
      Oohhhh I can just imagine that was a creepy moment! I think we both do the same thing--spring into action. Some people freeze...we're the ones running around the house with a bat yelling at the not-yet-discovered intruder.
      Although I do have to say sometimes total quiet freaks me out too... :P

  4. Hello,
    It's me again!
    I was TERRIFIED of the dark when I was a child! Petrified! Wouldn't go to sleep unless the light was on in my room. Screamed bloody murder if anyone turned it out before I went to sleep. Wouldn't sleep alone either, not until I was 13. Yet I loved all the scary movies and TV shows, still do.

    Now, pfft, if there's something out there that wants me, it won't keep me long. :-)

    Heights..mmm, don't do those. I think that's a fear of falling off said height.

    Interesting as always Pen.

    1. Ahahaah Debby!!! :)
      OMG I remember falling asleep on my parent's bedroom floor after reading Amityville Horror--Jody the pig was a little too much for me at 15...
      And me too!! The scarier the better--what is WRONG with US!!
      Thanks Debby--funny comment!

  5. Scariest movies I watched as a kid and shouldn't have, The Amityville Horror and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I was like fifteen and by myself. Not a good combo. Ended up sleeping with my door open for a few days.

    1. Amityville scared the @#$ out of me...and just the Body Snatchers name still gives me chills.
      I love to try and scary myself. Sometimes it works.
      The Exorcist killed me as a kid, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose freaked me out for like a month...then my sister would call me in the middle of the night and repeat lines from the movie and hang up.

  6. Great post! So funny how the big ones are very often the most timid when it comes to horror. I recently watched The Changeling with George C. Scott. I had never seen it. *slaps hand* It was great counting the amount of chills it gave me. I also thought The Woman in Black was good. That one gave lots of chills. I like to turn out lights and enjoy those type of films to their fullest. My wife has to leave the room.
    I saw your comments above. The Amityville Horror book is way more frightening than the film, I thought. I used to read that late at night in my bedroom as a kid. The Exorcist is the only film that stays with me. I watch it every few years or so, and it usually takes about two days for me to not to expect to find Regan staring at me in the dark should I open my eyes.
    As for scares, I don't like heights, or snakes.


  7. Ooohhh The Exorcist was BAD for me when I was a kid...some of those images haunted me forever.
    And funny you should mention The Changeling--someone mentioned it to me recently as one of the scariest things they have ever seen. SO that is a must see now that you said it.
    One day I have to take a poll--scariest things people have ever read or seen.
    Thanks for the comment!

  8. That's interesting because I have written morbidly humorous horror. I'm not really afraid of much, although I won't have an opaque shower curtain. It must be seethrough... :)

  9. Ah!! Interesting about the shower curtain...
    I have a weird thing where I always think I hear a voice while I am in the shower...kinda sounds like moaning sometimes.
    Just getting my bathroom redone--getting GLASS...

  10. I'm wigged out by that very first picture in this post! :-)

    Flying, large bodies of water, bridges, heights, crowds, being underground - all of those bother me. But what terrifies me is that I won't live my life to its full potential. Also, silverfish. ::shudders::
    Some Dark Romantic

  11. Yep--that pic is BAD.
    And yeah--potential--I won't sleep for a week.
    Oh! Almost forgot one--stepping on something BAD with bare feet in a lake or the bottom of the ocean--ack...

  12. I've always been afraid of heights. Also water that I can't see to the bottom of (lakes, oceans)... You just don't know what could be swimming beneath the surface *shivers*... :)

  13. Oooooo Emily--the same with me!
    And God forbid I step on something creepy in the water...eek!!
    Glad you followed--thanks.
    As for heights--I can't even look UP at bridges sometimes...there's this weird feeling called "high place phenomenon" where you get this strange urge to jump off a bridge or drive off a cliff. You don't actually want to kill yourself, it is a psychological tweak that actually has something to do with the urge to comes another post idea :)
    See you soon!


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