“H” is for “Horror Addict” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post

H

For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^


Let’s get one thing out of the way right here and now: when I was a kid I was an epic wuss. The scariest thing I used to watch was “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, and the scariest things I used to read were the “Goosebumps” books, and both would occasionally give me nightmares. I enjoyed kid-level scary stuff, but in general I couldn’t much handle horror. I remember I once, when I was about 8 or 9, I walked in on a friend of mine while she was watching Child’s Play, and I was absolutely petrified of dolls for months afterward.

That said, as I got older I got a little bit tougher and a little bit tougher…and then I started dating Jason, and things went from 0 to 60 real quick. You see, Jason was, is, and probably always will be, a horror aficionado. One of the first dates we had, he got me to watch Evil Dead 2 with him, and things just progressed from there. Before I even knew what was happening I’d seen more horror movies than most people I know combined. We went to the theater to watch them, we rented them (back when you still could rent movies), we picked them up on VHS when old rental places were getting rid of them, and bit by bit we amassed a collection of them on VHS, DVD, and Bluray, which now numbers in somewhere between 4- and 500 (I’ve lost count).

On top of that, being thrust so fully into the world of horror movies, I found myself gravitating more toward other forms of horror as well. I fell in love with Stephen King, among other horror authors, and began writing horror of my own. Jason and I would even play horror video games together sometimes, and although I’d become a little less sensitive to the genre by that time, playing Fatal Frame 2 nearly gave me numerous heart attacks.

Over the years I’ve become so desensitized to horror that very little really genuinely frightens me anymore, and believe it or not, I’m not necessarily happy about that outcome. Although it wasn’t the greatest being a little wuss who had nightmares all the time, the truth of the matter is that it can be very fun to be scared sometimes, under the right conditions, and I hardly ever experience that anymore now. There have been a few movies to genuinely freak me out in more recent years – Shutter, the original version from Thailand, scared the crap out of me – but there have also been plenty of supposedly super-scary movies that didn’t faze me in the slightest.

Mind you, that doesn’t change how much I’ve grown to love horror. It’s a part of me now, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Everything from the genuinely terrifying to the absolutely ridiculous (I’m lookin’ at you, Apocalypse Cow) tickles my fancy, and I imagine it’s going to be that way for pretty much the rest of my days.

Terrifying Television

The time of spooks and specters is almost upon us. Halloween was always a favorite of mine, not only because I always loved dressing up and going Trick-or-Treating, but because even during the time of my life when I was a godawful wuss, it was always a little bit fun to be scared.

In honor of our favorite frightful holiday, this week I’m going to be talking about my favorite moments of horror…in the form of various kinds of media.

To start off, today I’m going to talk about TV shows of the spooky variety.

Let’s start off with some shows of the past. When I was a kid I was a lot easier to frighten, but even considering that, some of the shows I used to watch late on Friday nights were pretty creepy, in my opinion. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one of my very favorites, something I watched every weekend without fail. It’s pretty damn tame by today’s standards, and the special effects leave something to be desired when compared with what television can do these days, but at the time it was an amazing show that gave me no end of shivers.

Oh yeah. Spooky as hell. >.>
Oh yeah. Spooky as hell. >.>

The show centered around a group of youngsters who called themselves the “Midnight Society” and would take turns telling each other scary stories around a campfire. Each episode was one scary story brought to life. Most of the stories were based on common folk tales and urban legends, with the majority of them designed specifically to be frightening to children. I recall the episode that freaked me out the most was one in which a girl gets sucked into a mystical dollhouse and begins to turn into a doll herself. There was just something about watching the girl’s limbs become porcelain that creeped me right the hell out!

As I got a little older, I began to get into the “reality” ghost shows. I couldn’t name one in particular, but you know the type: a group of people with cameras and really crappy flashlights venture into a haunted house, or an old asylum, or a creepy abandoned graveyard, and records the results. The funny thing is that I never really believed in ghosts myself, but when one of these shows was actually done well…yeah, it could really give me a spook! Even to this day, if the show is well-done (which is asking a little much, apparently) I can still get a chill from the antics that are experienced in the world’s creepiest places.

These days I don’t find there are a lot of TV shows out there that are able to genuinely frighten me. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many TV shows that have the budgets of big Hollywood horrors, or maybe there’s just not a lot of genuinely scary stuff out there on TV right now. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. But that doesn’t stop me from loving shows that are meant to be scary. Supernatural has been one of my favorite shows for ages (even though recent seasons haven’t been that great) because I love all the different monsters, creatures, and beings that regularly popped up on the show. It was never really all that scary of a show, because that’s just not the kind of show it is, but all the paranormal stuff, monsters eating people, and super-strange occurrences gave me that good tingly feeling; the kind you get when snuggled up in bed with a good ghost story.

There, uh...may be a few other reasons I enjoy the show too.
There, uh…may be a few other reasons I enjoy the show too.

American Horror Story (the first season) raised the bar a bit, throwing all manner of weird, crazy, and creepy at you all at once. The show about a family living in a(n extremely) haunted house focused mostly on the mental insanity and anguish, but there were definitely moments when I got the shivers because of a creepy side-plot or two.

But I can’t finish this post off without giving a shout-out to some of the classics. Not your weekly kind of TV show, but the TV specials that are made specifically for Halloween. Some are old, some are newer, and lots of them are tons of fun. Every year my family and I are sure to watch Garfield’s Halloween special, and my daughter is a big fan of the spooky Spongebob episodes. Want to bump up your enjoyment of the holiday? You should totally go on the hunt for some Halloween specials. They’re fun for the whole family and a great way to get into the Halloween-y mood. ^_~

And that mood is "Eep!"
And that mood is “Eep!”

A to Z Challenge Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)

Ffreddykrueger

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a kid I was a right awful wuss. I watched shows like, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, but I did so through my fingers as I cowered from the corner of the couch. I read books like Goosebumps, but I’d have the light of a thousand suns burning in my room while I was doing so. I loved scary stuff and yet hated it at the same time. It was the silliest thing, really. I wanted ghosts and creepy ruins and all manner of monsters, but the second I had them it was like my heart said, “Okay, that’s enough, bye!”

It wasn’t until I started dating the man who would become my husband that I really started getting into horror movies, because he was a connoisseur of them, particularly the older ones, and the ones of the B-movie variety. It wasn’t until we were firmly seated within our relationship that I saw my  very first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. That’s right, in the year 2006 or so, I had never seen a movie starring Freddy Krueger. What the hell, right?

As it turns out, the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks were some of my hubby’s all-time favorites, and within the span of a few months I wound up watching every single one of them. Now, I’m not going to say that they were all cinematic masterpieces or anything. In fact, some of them are downright god-awful. However, since my hubby first began the slow process of completely desensitizing me to all things that go bump in the night, Freddy became quite possibly my favorite of all the horror movie icons. Why? Well for one thing, he’s creative. Being a nightmare demon has it’s perks, and a big one is that he gets to do or become effectively anything he wants. How totally cool is that? For another thing, Freddy is evil as hell, and I like that in a demon. I mean, come on…he’s all about killing kids. That is messed up. And finally, one of my favorite things about the Freddy character is that he was created because of the evil that exists even in innocent people. Spoiler alert, if you somehow have never heard of the story of Freddy Krueger before, but he became an immortal nightmare demon because he was burned alive by angry parents after he escaped child molestation charges on a technicality. There are other aspects to the story that are revealed in further films in the story, but the main plot point is that the parents of Elm Street, in their rage, took a child molester and turned him into a mass murderer who kills kids in their dreams. How screwed up is that for the adult characters, knowing that their vigilante justice ultimately got their kids killed?

Call me a psycho, but I’m a sucker for a good, creepy, outrageously uncomfortable-feeling-making back-story, and that Freddy Krueger has in spades.

sup_atoZ

Things You Might Not Know About Me

I was taking dumbass-looking selfies before it was cool...circa 1999
I was taking painfully-dumbass-looking selfies before it was cool…circa 1999
  • I am an absolute terrible swimmer. When I try to swim, I sink, and when I try to dive, I float.
  • In the third grade I went through a weird stage where I felt like I should have two middle names, so I kept adding “Marie” after the “Lynn” whenever I signed my school work.
  • When I was a kid I was a huge wuss. The “Are You Afraid of the Dark” TV show scared the beejeezus out of me.
  • I grew up on the Babysitters Club books by Ann M. Martin, and by the time I stopped reading them my parents had purchased well over a hundred and fifty of those books.
  • All the books I used to read growing up are still in my parent’s attic. There must be well over three hundred of them up there.
  • I am perfectly happy to lay in bed with my daughter all day and watch Teen Titans, not just because I love spending time with my daughter, but because I have an incredibly embarrassing love of Teen Titans.
  • When I was a kid I truly believed that I had what it took to be a great actress.
  • I was obsessed with anime for several years of my life, and if I’m perfectly honest there are still a few anime shows that I would happily sit down and binge-watch.
  • The very first Star Trek thing of any kind that I ever saw was the 2009 remake with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (but I’ve since watched the entire original series, about half of The Next Generation, and most of the original movies).
  • The very first Doctor Who show that I saw was the first of the newer episodes, staring Christopher Eccelston (but I’m now currently in the progress of going back and watching all the old episodes because OF COURSE I AM).
  • Since my daughter developed a love for them, I began to develop an extreme hatred of stickers.
  • I once lost two baby teeth within a month of each other because of those ridiculously sticky caramel chocolates that pop up around Christmas time.
  • The Pottermore website totally sorted me into Gryffindor.
  • People who refuse to retire simply because they don’t know what else to do with their lives frustrate me to no end because their inability to find a couple of hobbies keeps young people with thousands of dollars worth of student loans from getting a job.
  • I project anger on myself on a daily basis for being unable to keep my sweet tooth under control.
  • I own, like, seven pairs of shoes, and three of those are steel-toed work boots.
  • Regardless of the impression it projects, I would rather wear a pair of jeans and a superhero t-shirt than bother to get dressed up in blouses and skirts and whatnot.
  • I have no patience for make-up. I wear lipstick because my lips are pale and if I don’t I tend to look sick, and if it’s a special occasion I might add a bit of mascara.
  • I’m not a fan of “fat shaming” OR “skinny shaming” because there are lots of reasons for people to be too fat or too skinny, but I honestly see no problem in shaming people who are obviously extremely unhealthy and refuse to even admit it.
  • I would love to have a pet snake…just a little one.
  • Even a simple post like this takes me a good hour to write because I only get half a sentence written at a time in between my daughter torturing me with the aforementioned stickers.

Young Me’s, Meet Older Me’s!

Occasionally I find it interesting to look back at my life, to mentally stack up the “Me”‘s from throughout history and to compare them. I find it interesting to look back and see how things have changed, how attitudes and interests have shifted…or how they’ve stayed the same, because some things never change.

An example of something that didn't change: I STILL get my hair in a ponytail this way.
For example, I STILL use this method to get my ponytail straight, even though it makes me look like a nut. 

When I was a kid I loved the winter. Now that I’m an adult with many daily concerns, I loathe it. I still love December because that’s Christmas and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving Christmas no matter how old and crotchety I get. But as soon as the New Year rolls over I am officially DONE with winter, and then it’s just suffering for the next few months. When I was a kid playing in the snow was the best thing ever. Now it’s fun watching my daughter play in the snow, but only until my nose gets cold and then I’m bribing her with everything under the sun to convince her to come back in the house. I hate the wind, I hate the slushy crap that winds up everywhere once a bit of snow melts, and I hate the fact that it seems to last forever in Eastern Canada. There’s nothing worse than the first day of Spring when there’s still snow on the ground.

When I was younger I was an enormous scaredy-cat. I loved watching the “creepy” shows that YTV used to play on Friday night – Are You Afraid of the Dark? was my absolute favorite – and I read tons of scary books like the Goosebumps series, but underneath I was a total wuss. I’d hide my eyes during parts of the shows, and I’d have a hundred lights on around me while reading my books. I gave myself nightmares on a regular basis. And as I got older and was dragged kicking and screaming into more “adult” scary stuff, it got more pathetic. I couldn’t watch a horror movie without nearly having a heart attack. These days I couldn’t resemble that scaredy-cat girl any less. I partly attribute this to my husband who, while we were dating, subjecting me with a metric ton of horror movies, both good and bad, both genuinely frightening and only frightening in how ridiculous they were. At this point I’ve become so desensitized, it’s almost disappointing. I enjoy being scared now, but it happens very rarely. And these days my nightmares do not involve monsters, ghosts, or evil creatures; my nightmares these days involve my daughter having an accident, my husband leaving me, or my house burning down. Dammit, I’ve become such an adult.

In a twist, I was significantly more into video games as an adult than I was as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I loved video games when I was little. I had an Atari when I wasn’t even in school yet, I treasured my very first Nintendo Entertainment System, and I only know one or two people who logged as many hours as me into Chrono Trigger. But video games were not my life when I was a kid. I played them, and I loved them, but I also spent a lot of time outside, riding my bike or my roller-blades. I spent a lot of time writing and drawing, and “building” things (have I told you about the entire closet that I devoted to creating a dollhouse?). Truth be told, I did not spend nearly as much time playing video games during the first 18 years of my life as I did in the five years following those. Maybe that was because I got lazier and wanted to spend more time just loafing around. I don’t really know. But in my early twenties I definitely spent a lot more time on video games than I had at any other point in my youth. These days things have slowed down simply because I have a lot more responsibilities on my plate, but my Playstation Vita has been reigniting a spark in me, and don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t spend every waking second playing games if I weren’t able to convince myself that I have more important things to do.

I’ve always hated to cook. I really don’t think that’s ever going to change. There have always been a few things that I didn’t mind making. When I was a kid I’d whip myself up some English Muffin pizzas, and when I was a little older I’d fry up some hot Italian sausages and hash browns (a totally under-recognized meal, in my opinion), but for the overwhelming part the task of creating edible, enjoyable meals has always been one that gives me a twitch right above my eye. I enjoy eating. I hate cooking. I don’t mind baking so much because it’s usually very formulaic – add ingredients, stir, pour into pan, bake – but there’s only so much sugar you can serve to your family. I don’t think I will ever enjoy cooking. It’s just not my thing, and I screw up often enough that even the eating part isn’t always enjoyable.

                                                                                         

Some things change, some things don’t. Some changes (or lack thereof) are quite surprising. Who else wants to share? Look back at yourself… What differences pop up in your mind and give you a little chuckle?

The (Family) Cabin in the Woods

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was just starting to get into scary stuff. I had always been a bit of a wuss (it took me about twenty tries to get all the way through Pinocchio because Monstro the Whale scared the bejeezus out of me), but at about this point in my life I was just starting to appreciate the thrill that came with being scared. I was starting to read books like the Goosebumps series, and on Friday nights I would watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on YTV. Often I would freak myself out, sometimes even giving myself nightmares, but I also loved the feeling of being scared, the giddy thrill.

At this time in my life my grandparents still had their cabin out in the middle of the woods. It was a modest cabin on a nice lot of land, and often our entire family would go out for days on end; we would cram aunts and uncles and cousins and family friends and sometimes even pets into a three-bedroom deal with one toilet and now that I’m thinking of it, was there even a shower in that cabin? It was crowded and half falling apart, and often we would arrive to find that a bat or a small family of mice had taken up residence while we’d been away, but it was awesome and we all loved it.

My grandmother, traveling the old roads with my cousin.
My grandmother, traveling the old roads with my cousin.
Loving the "coat" rack, eh?
Loving the “coat” rack, eh? And my uncle, rockin’ the pink shirt!

To one side of the cabin property there was a small mobile home, an older model with only one bed. It was permanently parked there and sometimes a couple of the adults would use it to create more space when there were too many of us staying at the cabin all at once. As kids, my cousins and I loved this little trailer because there were just enough trees between it and the cabin that we felt like we were in our own area, free from our parents, camping all by ourselves out in the big, bad woods. We would have little adventures in that mobile home, and because I was starting to get into this idea of purposely scaring yourself (see how I brought those two subjects together?), I would often imagine that when we were in there we were surrounded by monsters or wolves or zombies. It gave me a little thrill, even though I knew I was perfectly safe and that my parents or my grandparents or my aunts and uncles were very near by.

Can you tell we were rebels back then? lol
Can you tell we were rebels back then? lol That’s me on the right…cute as a bug.
Lazy summer days...and we had NO TECHNOLOGY OF ANY KIND.
Lazy summer days…and we had NO TECHNOLOGY OF ANY KIND.

One particular night, some of my cousins and I were playing in the mobile home. As previously mentioned, I was about 8 or 9, which means that Tommy was the same; Leah would have been 11 or 12, and that would make Matthew about 5 or 6. The four of us were hanging out in the mobile home, all piled together on that one bed, and for the life of me I can’t remember what we were doing in there, but we were having a blast. It was getting dark outside and we were just enjoying having our special little place in the middle of the woods.

Then Matthew said something about seeing someone walk past the window above our heads. We completely ignored him because he was the young one, and the young ones never get listened to, am I right? A few minutes later he said the same thing again and I remember we were all like, “Matthew, shut up, geeze. Don’t be a baby.”

We continued on, ignoring the young one, as older ones tend to do, and then suddenly Leah heard something…a scratching noise. If I’m remembering correctly she ignored it the first time, but the second time it happened she shushed us all. And we heard it too. Every couple of seconds, a scritchy-scratchy noise against the side of the trailer. It brought to mind images of something with claws – coyotes were common in that area – pawing at the outer walls, trying to find a way in.

Here’s where nervous denial began to set in, because earlier in the day another of my cousins – Billy, who is the same age as Tommy and I – had gotten mad at us for some reason or another and stormed off. We anxiously assumed that it was him, trying to screw with us. Leah shouted out a couple of times for him to cut it out, that he was being a jerk. There was no response except for further scratching, which was now growing in intensity and seemed to be coming from multiple directions at once. There was no way Billy could be scratching the right side and the left side of the trailer at one time, we reasoned. Now we were getting really nervous.

The childish imagination is an amazing thing. All of a sudden there were a thousand possibilities running through our minds. What was out there? Why was it bothering us? Could it get in? Why did it want to get in? Where the heck was the rest of our family? Surely one of the adults would have noticed if something had approached the mobile home…right?

It seemed like hours passed as my three cousins and I glanced nervously from wall to wall, window to window, from one to another. And then the scratching suddenly…stopped. We glanced at each other, and for whatever reason our gazes all gravitated toward the same thing all at once: the door knob. I’ll never forget the three things that happened next…

Leah nudged Tommy and asked, “Did you lock the door?”

Tommy gulped and replied, “I think so.”

And then the entire trailer shook with an earth-shattering BANG! as if it had been hit by a semi truck.

To say that we reacted poorly might be a bit of an understatement. I have vivid recollections of Leah and I screaming for our grandfather, while Matthew cried for his mother and managed to shimmy his way up on top of my and Leah’s heads, and Tommy turned white as fresh snow and very nearly passed out. The decibel levels in that trailer nearly reached critical mass, and I’m sure each of us came as close as any young child ever comes to having a full-on heart attack.

A moment later the door opened to reveal our grandmother – who was practically in stitches – and our aunt, lamenting that she’d broken one of her nails whilst scratching the trailer. It took my cousins and I half a moment to realize what had happened, and half a week to forgive our relatives for nearly sending us all into coronaries.

But here’s the thing: as mad as we were at the time, and as difficult as it was to calm the panicked racing of our childish hearts, it has been one of our favorite stories to recount for the past decade and a half. The tension was so real, the terror so visceral, that I’ve never had any problem picturing the event just as it happened, even though it was years and years ago. I’ve even occasionally dreamed about that night, complete with the heart-stopping panic that accompanied it. That’s the power of fear, and it’s moments like this particular event that make me want to write horror. I don’t want to gross people out, or give them cheap SUPER-LOUD-NOISE! jump scares like so many of the horror movies of today. I want to scare. I want to make people’s skin crawl. I want to make my readers feel uncomfortable sitting in the dark by themselves. I want to make people feel the way I felt as a little kid, sitting in that trailer in the middle of the night, thinking that god-knows-what was about to break through the walls and steal me or eat me or rip me to shreds. I want to give readers that visceral thrill of pure, cold terror.

I think that’s an important part of an artist’s life: wanting to share your experiences, in whatever way you can. My inner child remembers the wonder of fear, the racing heart and ice-like chills, and I want to share that with the world if I can. If one reader someday tells me that I scared them out of their wits, I’ll feel like I accomplished something great.

Do you have any scary memories that stand out in your mind? Scary tales that you can look back on and laugh at? Did you like scary stuff as a kid? Do you enjoy it as an adult? Please share!