For me, innocent things that have twisted into something ‘not right’. In Stephen King’s horror classic, ‘It’, the clown is a children’s favourite character at a party. At McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald was a fun personality that invited children to play and eat at his famous restaurants. As a child I never saw him as creepy or dangerous, he was a clown! As an adult, perhaps because of the lasting damage life has on us as we grow up, I find him deceitful, a stranger that offers you sweets to climb into his van. ‘It’ took the idea of something seemingly innocent and fun, and twisted it into dangerous and psychopathic. I love the idea of the balloons drifting up from a grate in the pavement, and the huge sharp teeth in a painted smile. American Horror Story: Freak Show used the same idea. Twisty the clown was my favourite character, a demented mask hiding a terrifying mouth, and how he tried to make the children laugh by ‘putting on a show’ that would horrify all ages.
Fairy tales were something that we were told as young children at bedtime, and they always ended happily. ‘Legend’ was a film I loved as a child, my favourite character in that was the Devil (Tim Curry has the best parts!), and the scene in which he dances with the woman he tried relentlessly to capture was my favourite. I loved the monster in the swamp too, reminded me of the high witch in The Witches originally woven by Roald Dahl. Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ was everything I loved, a dark fairytale full of monsters, and not all of them were the type that lurk under your bed. The monster in the food scene is probably my favourite, but the whole film is just a wonder, a film that gives you the shivers but also a story you embrace in awe. Talking about monsters that are too human, the girl’s stepfather in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is just as scary as the fictional monsters. His lack of emotion and the violence he thrashes on other people is too real, it makes you fear for the real people out there unleashing this terror on innocent people.
Stephen King’s ‘Pet Semetery’ is probably the only film that still keeps me up at night and I haven’t even seen it in about ten years, the character Zelda who has barely four minutes of screen time is absolutely terrifying. I actually had a nightmare last year where I had to look after her. She sat in a wheelchair moaning all day, shut in a room downstairs alone in front of the television, and at night she would be hooked, in the wheelchair, above my bed just to moan and glare down at me with that hollow face and gnarled spine. Absolutely petrifying.
I studied film at college the last couple of years and my final project was to make a short film, (obviously I was doing horror) and I researched extensively. The original short film titled ‘Mama’ (which Del Toro took to make the film which I actually found very disappointing), is nail-biting. There are no cuts, so no point in the film can you take a breath, and it follows two girls in their home being terrorised by a ghost. It’ll make you grip the side of your chair and want to turn it off, but you can’t because you need to know how it ends! Although this isn’t something that fits into this post, I thought it was worth a mention. The short film that really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up is a film about a guy walking home and being followed by a dancing man, a very creepy dancing man. It’s based on a creepypasta post somebody sent in, and I would recommend you finding that post and reading it, because that is pretty horrifying in itself. It’s called 2AM: The Smiling Man, and pretty much sums up what I mean about something so normal and tame being twisted into something dangerous and unknown. I swear when you watch it, you’ll start feeling paranoid every time you walk home alone after dark.
What makes your hair crawl? What keeps you awake at night?