I was just starting fourth grade when I saw my first Freddy Krueger movie. Nightmare on Elmstreet 3: Dream Warriors. It freaked me out bad. Prior to that all my monsters had clear and specific ways to defeat them and in my head these things seemed doable should I ever find myself in trouble. Werewolves and silver? Check. Vampires and stakes through the heart/sunlight? Check and check. Mummies? Find the loose bandage and unwrap that sucker. Check. (At the time this was Flawless Logic.) I wouldn’t be introduced to zombies till the following year, so we were good to go.
Until Freddy Krueger. Because you can’t fight sleep.
Sure, some of the characters won out in the end. But then there’d be a sequel and they all went down eventually. Even Nancy.
These days not a lot of movies scare me. I do remember having a full-on WTF when it turned out the zombies in the Dawn of the Dead remake could run at top speed. That sure as hell wasn’t in my Zombie Survival Guide. But once it was over, it was over. It didn’t keep me up at night or anything.
Still, every so often I’ll stumble across something that turns me right back into that little kid staring wide-eyed at the screen watching a knife-gloved man tearing through the dreams of innocent people while they slept.
The topiary scene in the book version of The Shining. The whole damned “Blink” episode in Doctor Who. That split second revelation while I watched In the Mouth of Madness for the first time. I think what gets to me is the loss of control and total inability to save myself from it. How can I be sure that sound is just leaves in the wind? How do I not blink? What do you mean I’m already there?
In most horror stories, if you’re fast enough/strong enough/smart enough then there’s a chance you can wrest control of your own fate. The ones that get to me most are the ones where that’s not even an option.
Which begs the question: Why the hell did I write Want Me? Joel loses all control of self and fate when Walker invokes his spell in chapter one. And every turn of the spiral slices that loss deeper.
The story scared the bejeezus out of me while I was writing it. When it was first released I put a warning on all my portals that it was a dark, dark book. I was sure it was going to freak everyone out.
One of the first fan-letters I received said something to the effect of “Read your book. With the way you were talking I was expecting mountains of corpses or something, though.” So my definition of scary is certainly not universal.
When people ask about Want Me, I never call it a Romance. Usually I refer to it as Erotic Horror and I’m somewhat alarmed when a reader tells me it’s the first book of mine they’ve picked up. What a first impression to make. But for the most part they seem to have been good impressions.
What Romantic/Erotic Horror stories have made good impressions on you? Which ones had scenes that stuck with you weeks, months, years later? Anything scaring you this Halloween? ;)