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Friday, August 6, 2010

The Quest For Terror

          Do you recall hearing your mother or grandmother or some other adult telling you scary stories?   Many of us as youngsters may have experienced that feeling of hunkering up with chills as we finally arrived at the anticipated "boo" moment that would leave us squealing in a delightful fright.  It was all spine-chilling fun.

           The horror genre of movies became my favorite as a child.  My parents would let me stay up late on week-ends so I could watch monster movies and other such fare that psychologists would probably heartily encourage parents to let their children watch (not!).  There were few things more fun than being up alone late at night and being creeped out by some old black and white horror film, while experiencing the paranoia that something equally terrible might be lurking in the kitchen or in my own back yard.

            As a teenager and a young adult I continued to be an avid fan of horror films and literature.  Many were the times of sitting around a campfire or parked in a car overlooking the Tennessee town where I lived and exchanging scary stories with my friends.  We looked for haunted houses, sought out graveyard mysteries, and visited scenes where horrible crimes were said to have occurred.  We were hoping to find something that would terrify us.

           Many people look for that thing that will thrill and chill them.   Whether it be the scariest roller coaster, the auto race where some horrible accident could occur, or exploring a mysterious or dangerous site, some of us want to experience the edge of peril or even death.  The exciting adrenaline rush of having challenged danger and survived is the spark of life for some.

           Once while riding on the Tennessee back roads late at night, I told the friends I was with that I wished I would see something so absolutely frightening that my hair would turn white.  I never saw it and it's probably better that I didn't.  My hair eventually did turn white, although not in one terrifying moment.  I no longer have the quest for terror that I used to have.  There is certainly enough terror in the real world to frighten us all.

            Did you exchange scary stories with your friends when you were young?  Do you enjoy horror films and literature?  What are some of your favorites?   Or are you a weenie and hide your eyes if something scary comes on the screen?   Do you think the desire to be scared or thrilled is unhealthy?   Or is it a natural instinct?   Why would anyone want to be scared on purpose?


  1. My mother was never a horror fan thus it really wasn't in our home and I have never been much of a horror fan through her influence.

    I do like suspense and even an eerie story-but I'll have no truck with the new gore stuff.

    And of course to be a human and a hypocrite-I just posted my first ever horror/eerie story.

  2. We lived with my maternal grandparents, though nothing scary was ever said to me personally, I often overheard snippets of conversations between them which scared me. Through that I used to be frightenend to go upstairs on my own at night, stupid when I look back on it but as a kid it was so real.
    I do enjoy a good murder mystery on the TV, but basically I am music mad.....also just plain mad full

    Have a good day Lee.

  3. I read Edgar Allen Poe stories as a child and adolescent. I don't think I could bring myself to read them now. Now I hate horror and thrillers, however implausible, but then something made me hang on Poe's every word.

    Thanks for this reminder: The Pit and the Pendulum....

  4. Sounds like our efforts to embrace the unknown -- why do places associated with death feel creepy? Do spirits linger? Did "Camp Counsellor Jim" just make all that up, or did it really happen?

  5. I spent many a childhood night swapping scary stories and loved every minute of it. As to movies, Hitchcock is my favorite, mostly because he leaves the fear to your own imagination. I am not a fan of senseless gore.

    Thanks for reminding me of many miss spent childhood evenings :)
    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. I have outgrown my desire to be scared for the most part. I never did like roller coasters or things like that. I think I just missed out on that gene!

  7. I think most kids drift toward scary and yucky things, just like they drift toward ice cream and French fries. Some grow out of it and some want more. I can't read Stephen King because he scares me too bad starting on page one.

  8. I have and have always had a fear of being afraid. The terror lingers for days. My daughters on the other hand have a great enjoyment for scary stories and movies. I'm the one sitting with my headset on and a book or blanket in front to hide my eyes. Doesn't stop me from hearing them scream and laugh in their enjoyment.

  9. Oh, and thanks for the birthday wishes. I have a grandbaby coming in February. I can't wait to run around with it.

  10. We did tell scary stories, but not the horror that is prominent in the movie business of today. I don't mind a scary story, but will not read or watch a horror story.


  11. I'm big fan of horror films and still enjoy a good one. It's rare I find a truly scary one though - now that I am older, I've realized the real world is far more frightening.

  12. David --- I not big on gore either which is where much "horror" has gone. Nothing wrong with giving every genre a shot.

    Yvonne -- Sometimes our interpretations of things as children are blown to scary proportions.

    Elisabeth -- E A. Poe was an engaging writer who still holds the attention of today's readers.

    Will -- Oh yes, the camp counselors could tell some great tales before bedtime.

    Jules -- I too am a big Hitchcock fan. I agree about the gore. There is more true terror in what is unseen than in what we see.

    Debbie --- I used to really enjoy roller coasters, but now I'm afraid I might have a heart attack or hurt myself somehow. But they were fun when I was younger.

    Carol -- I've only read one Stephen King novel so far and I enjoyed his imagination enough that I would probably read more.

    Eywade -- My kids probably got their enjoyment of scary stories from me. I used to tell them spooky stories and watch scary movies with them.

    Helen -- Today it seems whatever new comes out has to be more horrifying than the previous things. That's what I often don't like about remakes-- they usually update the story to make it more "relevant" for today's audience and load it with more special effects.

    Alex -- You got that right!

  13. Oh, I love scary movies, stories, and books. My friends and I would get together all the time and watch horror movies and try to scare each other when I was younger. I still love a good horror flick - to this day!

    I'm still really good at getting myself all scared and worked up about 'what could happen' if I'm alone in the house, or 'what would I do' if a rabid psycho killer was stalking me......... :):)

  14. I must admit that I've spent my childhood watching nice family movies and sitcoms, and kid-friendly programmes, Disney's things and similar ... Horrors were not a part of the culture in my country. They came later on with modern Hollywood movies ... and after I was introduced to Freddy Krueger he became the symbol of a most terrible nightmare for me. And I was afraid of the dark after watching the movie for a long time :)

    I've never liked them personally. As a psychologist, I do think that a desire to be scared and thrilled or even horrified (you will agree with me that horror movies are becoming more and more brutal and crazy) is something out of normal, but I wouldn't call horrorfans unhealthy people :)) except maybe those one who do not satisfy their need with a few vampires, suspense thrillers and a werewolf or two, but need to watch some extreme mindless bloodshed in which the only aim is to kill everyone in a gorefest.
    People want to be scared on purpose because of the adrenaline rush.

  15. I'm not a fan of blood n' gore, give me Hitchcock's pacing, a ghost story or aliens and I can scare myself silly! Fun post~

  16. I love scary movies!

    Just the other day, I saw one about a country where the president bailed out big corporations, gave people money for new cars, implemented an expensive national health care system and escalated a war in a foreign land.

    Oh, I'm sorry-that was the news.

    Seriously, though, when done right I do like horror. It's been a while since I've seen one done right (the most recent was Ghost Story, and I was in college).

    There were two that I remember liking as a kid, "When Michael Calls" and "The House That Wouldn't Die." I've never seen them on video, but have always wondered if they would hold up.

    I like roller coasters, too, but never seem to get to amusement parks anymore (one of the drawbacks to never having kids).

  17. Jenny -- There can be an element of fun to fear so long as it doesn't really come true.

    Dezmond -- I don't know that the continual exposure to graphic gore is very healthy. I think modern filmakers have mistaken effects for story to create terror.

    Ellie -- Blood and gore can get pretty extreme. I'll certainly take the Hitchcockian type scare.

    LC -- Kids? That's when I stopped going to amusement parks. Couldn't afford them anymore.

  18. As a young woman I loved Stephen King books, now I wouldn't read one ever.....don't watch horror movies either, guess our taste change as we get older.....:-)hugs

  19. Bernie -- Indeed our tastes do change as we get older. Music, movies, literature, and the food that I eat are different to some extent.

  20. I use to watch scary movies with you all the time. I remember being scared when I was really young and then I kind of grew out of it and now I don't watch them at all really. I still wish we could have seen the body farm up close.

  21. Emilee, you're up awfully late. You need to get to bed. If we had been able to go to the body farm we'd probably be still having bad dreams. That's real life stuff.
    Now get to bed, sweetie. I love you.


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