Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.
In this installment, Christine Hadden of Fascination With Fear talks about her ominous Saturday night alone, and the ensuing damage it wrought. Lucky for us.
My obsession with horror came at a very young age. As a small child, my grandfather (a Methodist minister, no less) introduced me to The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka - both of which actually have horrifying undertones for kids. (Gene Wilder was seriously demented in that freaky psychedelic boat sequence!) To that effect, a lot of the better Disney features can be brutal as well. Exposing a child to Bambi at too young an age--and I'm telling you from experience--you'll scar them for life. My grandpap and I would also stay up late watching Bill Cardille ("Chilly Billy") on Chiller Theater (a Pittsburgh legend). My parents bought me all those crazy Disney ghost story records, I watched all the old Godzilla movies on Saturday afternoons, and, truth be told, I read every last Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery, okay? After school I rushed home to watch the iconic (?) Lost In Space...so there's my sci-fi link.
I can't recall how old I was when my parents left me alone for the first time on a Saturday night to go out. Was I ten yet? I should have been but I'm really not sure. But I was forever damaged (and enchanted) after turning on a movie called The Exorcist. And what was that movie doing on regular TV, anyway? Must've been around Halloween.
From there it was Friday the 13th, When a Stranger Calls (which will frighten the pants off any babysitter, take it from me) and -always my favorite -Halloween. Then I moved on up to classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Spit on Your Grave, and Last House on the Left - as well as those really corny, are-they-really-real cheese-fests like Faces of Death... Also checked out all the old Universal monster flicks, bad 50's sci-fi, Vincent Price gems...you name it, I've probably seen it.
I have an uncle the same age as me and we grew up like brother and sister - always infatuated with getting the latest gore-fest to go with our Friday night pizza. I swear I think I've seen it all.
But it was as a teenager where I discovered my truly intense passion for the genre. I saw everything I could get my hands on. I'm trying to remember what movie might have really scared me senseless... I'll admit A Nightmare on Elm Street knocked my socks off the first time I saw it (as did Johnny Depp, but that's another story...). But hey, I was around fifteen and pretty impressionable.
It's not just movies that got me going. I read Carrie at age ten, making me a Stephen King fan for all eternity. I still recall reading The Shining, late on a school night - with a flashlight under my covers. That hasn't changed, well, except the light under the covers thing. I still read horror late into the night - even though I know I have to get up in a few hours to go to work. Oh, and The Shining? Still the best example of horror I've read in my humble opinion.
In high school a group of us used to do our own Ghost Hunters. I live in rural Pennsylvania, where there are no shortage of back roads with dilapidated old houses to explore (can you say illegal?). Now when I think about it, ghosts were probably the least of our worries. We didn't even think about what else might be lurking - rats or other animals, drug dealers, rotten floor boards to fracture ankles on...
Anything concerning horror is interesting to me. I wouldn't exactly say it's an obsession with death or anything so morbid. But I am intrigued by serial killers, true-crime, devastating weather events, the occult, ghosts, monsters, urban legends....the list is endless.
I do admit to having a sub-genre fondness for vampires that I cannot explain. Well, maybe I can explain it a little. My grandmother (yes, the preacher's wife!) watched Dark Shadows faithfully...so I guess I always saw the vampire as a tragic hero of sorts. Add seeing Lugosi in Dracula and my reading of Salem's Lot, and I think you see my point. I watch all kinds of horror movies, but most of what I currently read is vampire fiction of one kind or another. The vampire fiction genre is a huge one, and there just isn't enough time in the day for me to get to much else. So yes, I've read everything from Let The Right One In to Twilight (and saw the movies as well)...and yes, True Blood is my favorite TV show. The book on my nightstand currently awaiting me is Del Toro's The Strain, which I hear is superb.
As far as movies, I pretty much like everything horror-related. And I've seen A LOT, desensitizing myself several times over with the goriest of the bunch. I'm a big Fulci fan and love stuff like Inside and Frontier(s). Gore is good, bring it on. But I also love psychological horror and would definitely say there just isn't enough of that to go around. Those last few minutes of The Blair Witch Project? I can safely say that was the last time I was actually scared. Sure, I can be startled - shocked, even.
In recent years, I'll admit The Ring threw me for a loop with that girl in the well thing, and The Grudge had me staring at my attic door a little hesitantly. And really, could there be a better serial killer than Hannibal Lecter - or a more shocking ending than the one The Sixth Sense gave us? But horror movies that truly made an impression on me (and I mean freakin' SCARED me, here) are far and few between. I would count Jaws, The Exorcist and the aforementioned Blair Witch as the only flicks that petrified me senseless--had my gut churning and my mind reeling. The other stuff is just pure fun and entertainment for me. But I keep hoping something is coming...eventually...to paralyze me with fear. It's what I live for.
As far as why I blog? Because I have an inherent need to write. I have no less than ten novels started on my hard-drive. Finding the time to attend to them is another story because I have this thing called a real job. But the stories are there...waiting.
And yes, eight out of the ten are about vampires. Go figure.