Deliciously Scared

Diana: “Oh, Anne, I’m so scared.”

Anne: “So am I. Deliciously scared.”

– Anne of Green Gables (TV Miniseries)

I am not a fan of horror movies. I can’t take those…”slasher flicks” I believe they’re called. All that blood and gore and people being cut to bits with a chainsaw.

But I do like to be scared. Deliciously scared. I love that phrase of Anne’s. It’s not in the book, it just appears in the television series but it’s such a good description of the best way of being scared.

All the great masters of fright knew that to truly scare people, you didn’t need horror in the form of violence and intimidation. It could be a mere door that would make your heart beat that little bit faster.

“I was once asked what I thought was the most disquieting thing you could see on the screen and I said, “An open door.” “- Christopher Lee

“Nothing is so frightening as what’s behind the closed door.” – Stephen King

Open or closed, a door leaves you wondering what is behind it or what will come through it. Your heart rises up in your mouth, you hold your breath….

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

Yes, the anticipation. Alfred Hitchcock certainly knew his stuff there. The “is what I think is about to happen, about to happen?” nervous thought. And then, because of the suspense, even when what we think is going to happen happens, we still jump out of our seats in fright.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – HP Lovecraft

Recently, we took a Ghost Tour of the local old gaol. Built by convicts when the city was first founded, it’s a place of horrifying injustices and menacing history. The Ghost Tour is conducted at night with only small lanterns for light. To add to the atmosphere, we happened to choose one of the wildest and coldest nights of winter to wander about an old bluestone gaol in the dark. Shivers all round.

The guide shared stories of various inmates and of course tales of those believed to still haunt the place. We were, at times, shut into cells in the dark while frightening stories were told, more often than not ending in a sudden scream.

Were we scared? Of course. Did we love it? Of course we did. In the darkness, we would titter nervously. Jumping at the sudden screams, we would laugh at each other. “My, aren’t we silly?” we would see in each other’s faces and then try not to run as we made our way out of the cells.

It was invigorating.

I’ll confess here that the scary movie that has had the most profound effect on me is The Sixth Sense. The story of a boy who can see dead people haunted me for years. My boys were mere babes at the time and every time one of them screamed unexpectedly in the dark at night, my heart would beat a little faster and I would have to quash the urge to turn on the light.

The Sixth Sense was one of the best movies to play on our fears of the unknown, of the dark, of things we don’t understand. And to play on that thought of “this could really happen”. It wasn’t gory or over the top. The scary scenes were played almost casually. A boy with his head half blown off wanders casually into the child’s lounge room. It was the normality of it that made it all the more frightening.

Doctor Who writer Steven Moffatt is a master of the spine-tingling fear of monsters. The television series has been frightening children for more than 50 years but Moffatt has been responsible for introducing two of the most frightening new monsters the series has ever seen. One is the Weeping Angels (previously written about in this post) and the other is The Silence.

Both of these monsters play on the same fear – that which we know is there but we cannot see. Is there anything more frightening than knowing there is a danger but being unable to see it?

That digs into our deepest childhood fears. The noise of the wind that sounds like a ghost, the dressing gown on the back of the chair that suddenly becomes a crouched man in the dark, the awareness of space under the bed and what might be lurking there.

Pixar tapped right into those deep-seated fears with their movie Monsters Inc. But I can’t help wondering how many children were actually helped by the personification of the monsters that haunt their bedrooms into everyday people who go about their job of scaring small children and who are just as afraid of them.

Scary books are easier to handle. We can stop reading at any time, go and do something else, take the scary bits in small doses. But books are also, therefore, great ones for granting that delicious scare that we love. From Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Stephen King, the opportunity to make our hands go clammy, our hearts beat faster is there for the taking whenever we want it in whatever dose we think we can take.

I rather love to be scared but only in that tingly, caught-breath, delicious way.

Do you like to be scared? What scares you?

 

 

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43 thoughts on “Deliciously Scared

  1. I’m with you. I don’t like the blood and guts of horror movies, but I do love movies like Sixth Sense. I love being scared/surprised in a dark movie theater when my girlfriend and I make that reverse scream noise (sucking in deliciously scared air). Then we look at each other and laugh.

    By the way, if you haven’t seen this in Australia, you’ll get a kick out of it. It’s a Geico commercial making fun of horror flicks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Deliciously scared…” Yes, I do enjoy flicks like that….the gory ones, not so much. Of course, scared is not one of my favourite places to be….I much prefer Anne being deliciously scared and me watching safe in my own little world here. 🙂

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  3. I’m not a fan of blood and gore and the Halloween type of film, but perversely I do enjoy a good Scandi crime thriller. The one thing I remember scaring me most from my childhood was my parent’s wardrobe. It was made from walnut and had markings on one door that looked like a woman’s face. When ill I’d sometimes crawl into their bed, but I wouldn’t sleep there on my own. And my brothers loved to terrify me by hiding behind the curtains or in my wardrobe, then leaping out once I was almost asleep!

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      • I was much younger than them and they probably got fed up of me following them around, so got their own back. I used to hate babysitting in strange houses because I didn’t know the noises and there was always a horror film on late at night (in black and white which always seems spookier to me). We are going back several decades 😉

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        • Ooh, you’ve just reminded me – The Twilight Zone!! I still remember the one about the strange phonecalls and they eventually discover the phone line has come down and is lying across a grave. And yes, it was black and white. 🙂 Rod Serling really knew how to scare people in that delicious way.

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  4. I am a total wuss. I cannot cope with the anxiety of a thriller at all. I don’t mind old-fashioned detective fiction, where the bodies are mostly a fait accompli, and the story is about how. It is, as it as King and Lee knew so well, the anticipation that is so terrifying. I have been puzzled that I have been able to research the lives of Far East POWs in WWII in great detail. I have felt ill and desperately sad reading these accounts, but I can cope because they are not anxiety-enforcers. Funny thing, the human psyche.

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    • You bring up an interesting point, Hilary. While I love the creepy stuff, I can’t take brutality. No matter how many Oscars it won, I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch 12 Years A Slave. And I’m still traumatised from watching a film called Casualties of War many, many years ago. Perhaps it’s the reality of it I can’t take. The knowledge that human beings can do such unspeakable things to each other.

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  5. The Sixth Sense – what a movie !I wish M. Knight Shyamalan had more of them in his head; but I fear he is like me, and has only the one story to tell. And now it’s done.

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    • Did you know he wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little the same year he did The Sixth Sense? How weird is that?? I think his head would be a scary place.

      He had a couple of other creepy movies come out after The Sixth Sense but I recall them being widely panned and I never bothered to watch them. Well, I wouldn’t would I? I was still having nightmares from the first one…..

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  6. I agree with Hilary…the human psyche is a funny thing. I have never been scared by a movie or a story. In fact, as a child I enjoyed scaring other children with such tales. (It’s fun to watch the others being scared…about what one thinks is quite stupidly imaginative and amusing..) Some people and situations in real life were much more scary to me..and have proven tragically to be s0. I wonder if the “luxury” to be scared by imaginative literature and film, etc. relies on the relative security and happiness in one’s own daily life….

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    • I can just see you as the one doing the scaring, Cynthia!! What a position of power to be in. 😀

      I think you are right. We get pleasure from a little bit of thrill because outside the fantasy we are, in real life, sitting safe and secure. If your life was one of daily horror and fear why would you want your “entertainment” time to be filled with the same?

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  7. Ooooh. That night time gaol tour really sounded like you participating or being a part of a horror movie. Certainly those tours have been conducted for a while now, but you never really know if anything out of the ordinary might happen… 😀

    As a kid, I loved horror movies. The one that really scared me was Chucky. And Chucky still scares me today. He may be small but the sight of him makes me squirm and turn away. Freddy Krueger used to scare me but the more Elm Street/Friday the 13th films I watched, the more I became less scared. Horror movies become predictable after a while, since there are so many scary settings one can bring to life and imagine. Sixth Sense wigs me out too, as does the Exorcist.

    Once when I was in high school in Singapore, the teacher showed us a scary Korean movie (dubbed in English so my class could understand). If I’m not mistaken it was a movie called “Into The Mirror” about mysterious deaths in a shopping center. We all thought it was very scary and were very silent while watching it. Here’s the trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=Lpx9AwegKeo

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    • If you also watched The Omen, you should read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; you would understand all the in-jokes. 🙂 I watched The Omen and The Exorcist at a friend’s house in my very early teens and it totally freaked me out.

      I’m on my phone and about to head out to work so I can’t watch the clip just now but I can’t wait to check it out tonight. Just not too late tonight. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, that was freaky!! But definitely deliciously scary. Loved the hand coming around at the end just when you thought the ad was over. 🙂

      Oh, and I was yelling at the girl “Don’t go into creepy places with something sharp in your hand! That’s just asking for trouble!!” That’s Haunted House 101, that is. 😀

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      • The eyeball at the end of the trailer caught me off guard. I thought it was going to come out of the socket 😀 I have to rewatch this movie some day. Korea seems to do pretty freaky horror movies. Into the Mirror reminded me of the Japanese horror film Ringu (or The Ring, the American remake), which has a similar vibe.

        I’ve yet to watch The Omen. Need to get around to watching that at some point. I hear it’s a classic and as you inferred, along the lines of The Exorcist.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I am not a follower of horror films. Chris’s son and wife ran a horror film series for several years running in Melbourne, and they had quite a following. Yet, like you, I don’t mind being scared if I’m reading. The quote you started with is so gentle and delicious Heather! 🙂

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  9. So not a fan of horror (actually just read scary) movies, TV, even books. But I totally love Dr Who! I remember watching the early programmes (1960s-70s) from behind the couch because I was terrified of the Daleks and am still a bit of a wuss even now. The Weeping Angels are terrifying! Oddly given all I’ve just said, I wrote my Masters thesis on two NZ thrillers which both had very scary scenes and supernatural-ish elements. One, Mr Wrong, is brilliantly done with more than a nod to Hitchcock. I haven’t watched it for many years, but I still get goosebumps thinking of one particular scene. There is no violence in the film — just anticipation of fear.

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    • The Angels have the phonebox!!!

      I think you just gave yourself away as a closet Deliciously Scared Supporter. Su! Doctor Who is the best. Isn’t it funny, though, to go back and watch the old episodes and then wonder why we hid behind the couch? But I will never forget the first time I watched Blink. I think that was the most scared I’ve ever been with that show.

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  10. Glad you reminded me of that movie. It was pretty scary but in a good way. It leaves you wondering if it really can happen. I have never thought of doors as being scary, but intriguing since you never know what’s on the other side. They are like empty stairways. You wonder where they lead and what lies in store. It’s more curiosity on my part.

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  11. I just followed the link over from the “Travel Tales of Life” site to congratulate you on winning the quiz over there. You managed to just pip me with one correct answer out of ten.

    Your post was very interesting, though, so I thought I’d add a little comment about that too. I watched Doctor Who with my kids when they were growing up and the Weeping Angels were definitely their favorite monsters. I don’t watch horror movies much, I’m afraid, because I find things that jump out at me suddenly a very boring kind of thrill, if that makes any sense at all. It’s a completely automatic reaction with no thought behind it at all, just like flinching at hearing an unexpected noise. One movie I loved when I saw it on TV as a boy, though, was the British classic “Dead of Night” from 1940-something. The last scene and the opening/closing credits in particular made an impact on me that I still remember all these decades later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for coming over. You may have only got one but you used highly intelligent deductive reasoning to get it so that gets you bonus points. And you got the Quick Draw McGraw Award for first answer.

      Thanks for your comment on the post. I find it so fascinating what people find frightening and others find boring. It’s interesting that you remember that one movie and it had such an impact on you. I wonder what it was about it that left such an impression.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I saw it when I was about eight or something, so I might not find it very scary today. It did have a ventriloquist’s dummy in it, though, and I’ve never liked dolls very much, so maybe that was it.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Also not a horror fan. I once watched Rosemary’s Baby (original 1968) by accident when I was alone at night. I say by accident as it was back in the day when I had no guide and just flipped on the TV and started watching this movie. I had no idea it was a horror film, it didn’t start out that way, had I known I wouldn’t have tuned in. But the smoldering suspense kept me glued. There was no blood and guts in the violent sense so it didn’t turn me off that way. it is classed as a “psychological thriller”. At the end of it all I couldn’t believe what I had watched and that it was on TV (back in the 70’s). I didn’t sleep well that night. To this day that movie is the one at the top of my creepy list because it wasn’t overt like so many are today. It was really seductive, in more than one way.

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    • “psychological thriller” – that’s the term I was looking for. Yes, that’s what I like – all that creepy suspense.

      I have a similar thing about The Omen. I watched it at a friend’s house when I was about 15, having never really been exposed to horror movies at home. I’ve never, ever watched it since. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Although, I am actually glad I saw it so I could get all the jokes in Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s book Good Omens. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m not a fan of gore or slasher films either but I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. The Sixth Sense is a favorite and two older films that scared the tar out of me when I was younger: The Uninvited with Ray Milland and a film actually called Ghost Story with (believe it or not) Fred Astaire. Loved you post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Nancy! Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
      I had to go look up that Fred Astaire movie because I was a huge Astaire fan as a teenager but I didn’t know this one. When I saw it was made in 1981, I knew why. 🙂 I was a ‘top hat and tails’ Astaire fan. (REALLY a fan. I had a huge poster of him on my bedroom door. Truly. I’ve always been weird. 😀 )
      But now you’ve got me intrigued…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mr Astaire was a one of a kind! I do love to watch him dance! He is so graceful and makes it seem so effortless. I love old films too but I am more of an Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart kind of girl.

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