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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

May Monster Madness #4 - Fear of the Dark

Blog #4 for the May Monster Madness Blog Hop. Click the link or the image to visit the master post for the hop, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the linky list.

When I was much younger, less than eight, I never had a problem with windows looking out into the dark. I didn't like being in the dark, but looking out into it was never a problem. Then I read a children's ghost story in a Mandy annual (probably the one to the left, but I can't remember the year).

It was a simple story about a girl who heard something at her window and thought it must just be a branch or a bird. Then she looked and it was a face and she screamed and screamed. It wasn't graphic, just a little story, but I still can't sleep with the curtains open. Isn't it strange how childhood things still affect us. I used the same idea in my book Face of the Dead, because I remember it freaking me out so much.

Dark places into which we cannot see are the most fantastic spots for monsters.

The best use of this I have seen recently is the Hammer version of The Woman In Black with Daniel Radcliff. They have this arch at the end of a long hallway that is so dark it is almost completely black and, of course, eventually, that's where the woman in black appears. You can see the black alcove I'm talking about over Arthur's shoulder in this picture.


The Alien films also use dark spaces very well. There is the moment, I can't remember which film, where there is a dark alien hallway, totally still, until the alien suddenly moves. It is a perfect moment of fear.

Of course the darkness of space is superb for horror, as the catch phrase goes: "In space, no one can hear you scream."

Another space horror movie that uses the dark to terrify us is Pitch Black with Vin Diesel. I have to admit, I prefer the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, which is much more space opera Sci-Fi, but I do have a soft spot for Pitch Black as well.

It's basically another reworking of the Alien genre, but it's well done with an interesting array of characters. The creatures cannot stand light, so, of course, all darkness is dangerous. This is a blatant use of the human fear of the dark and it works very well.

We rely so much on our sense of sight that anything that lurks in the dark can terrify us. My favourite monsters of all don't terrify me (well not usually), but they do lurk in the dark. I am a huge vampire fan and most of them have a big problem with daylight. Bringing this blog full circle, the creepiest vampire I remember gave me another problem with windows.

When I was ten or eleven I think, I remember seeing Salem's Lot (the original mini series) on TV. Now this had a superb scene where Ralphie Glick comes to his brother and floats outside his window (see below). This gave me the heebeegeebees for weeks, especially since, at the time, we were on holiday with relatives and my sister and I were sleeping in a room with the exact same windows. A mist comes up out of the dark, Ralphie floats in and then his brother Danny lets him in, to his doom.


I have to admit, I enjoy the remake, but it doesn't quite manage to be as eerie as that one scene I remember.

What monsters lurk in your dark places? ;)

[Edit: Just thought I'd add, I wrote a drabble (100 word story) inspired by Monster Madness today as well: Cocoon of Safety?]

10 comments:

  1. Ugh I can't sleep with the blinds or curtains open either. Doors also need to be closed completely, regardless of what they open into. I can't pinpoint the exactly moment or event that triggered it, but I'm sure it was something equally silly. I also have a hard time looking in my rear-view mirror in the dark in case I see something in my back seat!

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    1. It's funny, I have to have the door to the back bedroom closed, but these days the door out of our bedroom open (possible a means of escaping the monster maybe :)). Not thinking about back seats; I'm bad enough about driving in the dark as it is ::g::.

      I managed to give myself a complex by writing a short story about a small access hatch in the ceiling of a hotel room that nasty things came out of - now if a hotel room has an access hatch I have to pointedly ignore it.

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  2. I basically stay away from windows at night if at all possible... I have always been terrified that someone is looking in. I don't know why I think I am that important i would be on the radar, but it is just a little (quite large actually) phobia of mine! Scary little post you have here! Thanks!
    Here's my day IV MMM at Design du Jour.

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    1. My desk is under a Velux window in our converted attic. I have the blind open during the day, but if I happen to check my email at night and look up I totally have to close the blind. It's utterly irrational, but then sometimes we can't help what our subconscious tells us.

      Thanks for dropping by again :)

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  3. 'The Woman in Black' was the first thing that popped into my mind when I began reading your post. That movie hits my fear button in a way a lot of other things don't. It's so unsettling not knowing what may be lurking in the darkness or about to reveal itself. I love 'Salem's Lot'. The Glick brothers scratching at the windows are some of the best scenes in horror, in my opinion. :)

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    1. Darkness can be used in such wonderful ways in movies and in books as well. Danny visiting Mark is another of my fav scenes in Salem's Lot, although Ralphie going to Danny was the one that stayed with me the most :). It's just as creepy in the book too (I love that book).

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  4. For me, it's the unknown that lurks in the dark. Demonic spirits, aliens (the creepy abducting kind!) are two of the worst ones. Enjoyed your MMM, day 4 post!

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    1. Thank you. The unknown has always been what frightens us the most.

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  5. The problem with monsters in the dark is they can't hide in the light, so your can't ever see them. I have to sleep with the door open since the AC blows it open if it doesn't latch well and I can't tell if it's wind or a monster opening it.
    Another post I shouldn't have read this close to bedtime.
    Enjoying Face of the Dead. Love stories that scare me at night!

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    1. I can think of anything spookier than doors opening by themselves, well unless there's scratching to go with it. You AC has a lot to answer for :).

      Thank you and I hope you slept well despite the scares.

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