Ever since I was a little girl I have loved the subject of horror. I remember my mother complaining to my father that he let me watch too many horror films and how unhealthy it was for me. The origins of my fascination for the subject lie not in some deep dark murky past but in a cardboard box in the garage. A box I found just the other day.
At school English was my favourite class. I often wrote short stories and read them out. This was not from hubris. The truth was my fellow classmates begged me to read the stories out loud. It is an unappreciated fact that children are always hungry for blood and gore and there were lashings of it in my writing.
My English teacher, however, did not share our enthusiasm. I will never forget one parents’ evening, when my English teacher talked with my father and mother and began explaining my progress in class. ‘She’s very creative,’ she said. Then took a pause. ‘But I think her stories are quite morbid.’ She looked at me with what I thought was distaste before adding, “Too graphic actually.’ My mother’s nostrils flared a little before she took her turn to look at me. It was a look of utter disappointment.
My taste for morbid literature started innocently enough with books by Enid Blyton. The Far Away Tree, the three in one book, was a favourite. Then I discovered Roald Dahl and The Witches. The BFG, James and Giant Peach and others followed. All laced with touches of Dahl’s famously macabre sense of humour. When the films of the books were released, this was a bonus as it was so exciting to see the stories come to life front of my eyes. I was pleased to find that most of the time scenes in the film matched the scenes I had imagined in my head.
As the years progressed I moved onto darker subjects. I became fascinated with the Point Horror books. Back then, with only £2 a day lunch money to spend, it was a case of Hubba Bubba V Point Horror. Point Horror usually won.
I often read books by R.L Stine: The Beach House, The Babysitter and Beach Party.
However, it wasn’t just books that quenched my thirst for all things ghastly. I soon discovered horror on television and VHS too.
The first horror movie I ever saw was Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I’ve been a big fan of Barker’s books ever since.
I was 9 years old when I watched Hellraiser (what would my English teacher have thought?) and afterwards I was transfixed with the whole idea of another dimension. The film scared me, of course, but the idea of an unknown world full of demons excited me more.
Films like Friday the 13th scared me too but it was the supernatural that held me spellbound. Take Candyman, another movie based on the work of Clive Barker. I felt it was very possible that such horrors could happen to Daniel Robitaille and it was truly agonising to watch. Called back to our world, by reciting the word ‘Candyman’ three times in the mirror, he exacted his revenge. But his appearance as an entity full of pain and intense trauma had me feeling as sorry for him as his victim.
Television also played its part in my appreciation of horror. Series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark. Or the Goosebumps series that was a spin off of the books.
Are You Afraid of the Dark was low-level horror, but as a child I found myself eagerly awaiting what was the last programme of the night on Nicklelodeon TV.
As I grew older and my bedtime grew later I moved onto Tales from the Crypt. I remember episodes like Only Sin Deep, Three’s a Crowd and The Ventriloquist’s Dummy to name a few.
I found the stories so very sinister and creepy that they would often fuel strange dreams if not nightmares. But it wasn’t long before I noted the changes to the Crypt Keeper. Over the years he grew less scary and I recognised him for what he was, a puppet!
Those late hours watching television unearthed many gems, old classics that have remained some of my favourite films: The Innocents, The Haunting, The Wicker Man, The Night of the Demon, Night of the Eagle and Night of the Living Dead. So many ‘Nights’ of horror. And then there were the Roger Corman productions of Edgar Allan Poe stories and that master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock with Marnie, The Birds and Psycho.
The journey of my love for horror continues. There are still many films to see and books to read. And I’ve also found inspiration in art. Hieronymus Bosch is one of my favourite producers of nightmares and continues to inspire.
My quest to absorb everything horrific begins here on this blog. I hope you will join me, delving into dark literature and keeping abreast of new horror releases.
Stay superglued to my words but be warned. Some will encourage nightmares!
As Vera Donovan said in Delores Claiborne, ‘Sometimes being a Bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.’