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Monday, October 22, 2012
What Scares Us blog tour
Clay and Susan Griffith
Today we are thrilled to be visiting Kristen Painter, whose October release, Out For Blood, is already getting reviewers excited. And in celebration of her creepy, visual fiction, we’re talking about:
Back in the 1970s, I was an unsuspecting, precocious child of seven or eight, and my mother looked for all intents and purpose like a normal housewife who loved going to church and worshipped naught but family values. Little did I know that she was also an avid fan of horror movies.
So when my mother said I couldn’t watch television with her one day, I was stunned, and yes, a tad angry. It only made me more determined to be with her and find out what she was doing in the TV room. I masterminded a plan to sneak in under the ping pong table and then slip through the space between the couch and the end table, gaining a full view of what she was watching.
And what I saw on the screen terrified me. I was frozen in shock and horror! On the screen was a beast of terrible proportions! A living brain with a spinal cord for a tail, which had wrapped itself around its victim and was choking him to death. I think it even had a small mouth with sharp teeth and was biting the poor soul.
I stayed far longer than I should have and saw more than a small child could withstand. Sneaking out of the room, I fled to cower in my bedroom, seeing in every shadow a brain like shape that would leap out and devour me! My mother, of course, had no idea what I had done and found my refusal to go to bed that night annoying. I never watched another horror movie until I met my husband Clay. Now I watch them all the time, the classic ones at any rate. It was through Clay that I discovered the name of that particular movie which had haunted me for years. Fiend without A Face. I suppose then it was inevitable that horror seeped into my soul.
Thanks Mom for the introduction!
I am a horror movie guy and have been since I was a kid watching late night creature features. I love monsters and aliens like the Mummy, the Creature, Godzilla, the Thing From Another World…but they don’t scare me. The movies that scare me have been ghost stories, and two in particular. The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963). These two movies were “Holy Crap, could we turn some lights on in this house” scary to me when I first saw them. They are both black and white, and better for it.
The Innocents is the film version of Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, a psychological parable about insanity and reality. On screen, it becomes more of a straightforward “child in jeopardy” ghost story, but it’s still amazing. The Innocents has the single creepiest image I’ve ever seen in a movie. A ghostly woman dressed in black stands amidst cattails on the edge of a pond. That’s it. No screaming. No blood. No chainsaws. It’s an eerie image that I’ve never seen equaled.
However, no movie ever scared me like The Haunting did the first time I saw it. It’s based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House about a group of investigators who stay in a haunted house. It has numerous sequences that are makers of sleepless nights. Julie Harris and Claire Bloom huddling together in bed while something bangs on the walls and the door. Near the end there’s a jarring appearance by the lead investigator’s skeptic wife after she unwisely demands to spend the night in the nursery. The shadows. The whispering.
As jaded as I am from a lifetime of horror now, I don’t think I would watch either of these pictures late at night at home alone.
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