Your Fears – Defined.

When someone says the word “define” to me my stomach knots. When it is followed by the ever faithful “in your own words” a bile sets into my mouth. Yet today, I was asked to do just that – to “define” horror, as a genre or otherwise, “in my own words”.

Up until that moment I had never thought of the definition of what has become throughout the course of my life one of the most influential and poignant tools to not only my writing but in turn, to my view of the world and its inhabitants.

Horror is widely perceived to offer the consumer one thing – cheap thrills. Anything deeper, or darker, than superficial (and mostly superfluous) entertainment usually brings about a completely different genre definition – Dracula for example. I would not define Dracula as horror, for the intimidating elements of Bram Stoker’s classic are not the defining characteristics of what has made it so timeless. It is erotic, thought provoking and two steps away from absurd at times. It’s the ultimate anti-hero tale that just so happens to be set against a spooky canvas with some devilish undertones.

Those of you who know me (and have read some of my rants on here) will be expecting one name to drop now – Stephen King. How you ask, can I write anything about, well anything, without somehow bringing the King into it? Well my friends, you know me well, because I am going to drop his name right now.

I do not perceive what the King writes to be “horror” in any traditional sense of the word, and those of you who are learned enough to have read beyond “It” and “Misery” will know why I say this. I can think of more books that the King has given us that have no supernatural elements whatsoever, that scarred my mind and played with my heart for longer than even his most sickly tales of textbook gore.

Three words – The Bachman Books. A compilation of stories published between 1977 and 1982 all of which are void of the standard boundaries of horror writing as we know it. (*Disclaimer – I refer to the four short stories published in the compilation The Bachman Books and do not include “Thinner” (1984) in the next series of statements (PS. Brackets inside brackets rock! :P)).

“Rage” (1977), “The Long Walk” (1979), “Roadwork” (1981) and “The Running Man” (1982) – These are my examples and if you have not read them, then you have no earthly business here so please move along, long days and pleasant nights to you J

For those of you that remain these stories are in my mind offer some of the most notable and defining characteristics of horror and still to this day haunt my mind from time to time like no others. They have no supernatural beings, no demons in hoods or inbred super humans with chainsaws – all they have is real people, in real (and some would say unthinkable) circumstances. Because at the end of if it all, is that not what we are afraid of most as human beings? The REAL horror?

We are told from the time we can remember that the things that scare us as children are A) not real or B) not threatening – or sometimes both. Therefore we starve that fear within ourselves and no longer as adults find the vampires, ghosts and ghouls of time gone by intimidating anymore. This is a double edged blade in many ways. It allows us to grow up (reasonably) well adjusted as an adult afraid of such childish notions is frowned upon – but the sharper side of that blade is that it desensitizes us to the things we SHOULD live in fear of and paints our world an shade of magnolia.

We should fear the ordinary, the mundane and the dreary that sap at our souls and eat away at our subconscious. We should fear each and everyday being the same, repetition leading to passivity. To be passive, about anything, is a disease. To be passive is to be dead on the inside, if not on the outside too. So we starve the fear of childhood and replace it with the fears of adulthood.

If you were to ask a grown man in the street which do you fear more – a dinosaur coming through your bedroom window and eating you and your wife while you sleep in your overpriced linens, OR lets say life strangling monetary debt? I cannot make any guarantees in this life, for I am not Yoda, but I would bet my breeches on the latter being more scary to anyone “normal” in this day and age.

One simple fact makes this so – debt is real, dinosaurs are not (sad face). Therefore you must ask yourself, as our fears change due to social, political, economical and a whole lot of other -cal unrest in the world, does this not in turn, change the definition of horror?

As adults we fear our cars not starting more than psychopathic clowns lurking in the bushes with razors for teeth. We fear maxing out our credit cards and then dealing with grossly inflated repayments, more so than we fear faceless monsters under our beds at night. We guard our houses with alarms and flashing lights to ward off burglars, feeling no need to have a barrage of crosses and garlic hanging by our front doors to ward off vampires.

The fear of a child is a beautiful, endearing and natural being that should be starved for the sanity of said child. As a person whom read her first King novel at the tender age of eleven, I can vouch for this. We forget that those children, whom starve their fears until they have no strength to scare them anymore, never quite have the ability to kill them completely. They therefore carry these fears into adulthood – that’s when it gets interesting.

Authors are duty bound to make you feel what they are portraying in their prose. To make someone swoon at a love story, cringe at a war crime, or feel empathy towards a lonely old spinster in a wedding dress – these emotions are easy to capture, as love, guilt, hurt, empathy – they are all emotions we are allowed to express as adults. Mummy and Daddy are however, not so easily entitled to fear as their children are.

To make Mummy and Daddy look over their shoulder when they are walking home from work, for fear of what lurks in the sewer grates beneath their feet, to make Mummy and Daddy get into bed before turning off the light at night, for fear of what may grab their bare feet from under the bed in the process – to make Mummy and Daddy’s hearts beat in their throat until they feel as though the bastard were physically trying to climb out of their mouths – this is the power of horror, because when it comes down to it, the things we are afraid of never change, just our willingness to address them.

If as a writer you can force people to address the things inside themselves that they forget they were afraid of so long ago, to make them look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves what they would do if they actually did find themselves in palaver with a clown with razors for teeth, you are in turn forcing them to question their own psyches and again, as a result – their own humanity.

To make a credit card seem small, to make a deadline at work seem frivolous, to render Christmas with the in-laws worry free, by replacing these fears with those childish notions of fright – to make an adult face that child within them – opens so many doors, the draught alone may cause a complete overhaul of that persons life. It has the power to change them.

If you are capable of doing this, then my friends you will have marked the earth for eternity, for when human beings die, they leave behind headstones but when legends pass on – they leave behind legacies, that long outlive even the stone that upon which the mere mortals of this world will all inevitably carve their epitaphs.

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When I Dream of Deserts

There was literally nothing around me but hard, red dirt and cracks of endless dust tearing through the barren rock. The sky was as blue as I have ever seen it, the sun a chrysalis of frosted glass, hanging between clouds almost soft enough to taste. It was hot. It was far too hot to be a normal day and sweat spiked on the nape of my neck and dripped into my eyes. I wiped at them tenderly, as they shrieked in their sockets.

I knew that I was not alone, but I could not see anyone. So I started to walk, ignoring the intensity of the heat beating down on my body and cooking my flesh. I walked, the dust kicking up from my shoes and settling on my wet skin. I felt as though I were caked with dirt, my throat slick and scratchy. I could hear footsteps, small, scuffling footsteps. The footsteps of something too small to make noise, or something that did not have walking down to a fine art. I would find out that the footsteps belonged to both something small, and something unable to walk.

There was a building in the distance, not so far away that I could not identify it as an indoor swimming pool, but still far enough away not to be able to make out whether or not it was in operation. I focused my exhausted eyes on it and continued, one step after another, the way I always had. The scuffling noise returned and I spun hard enough on my heels to swirl a cocoon of dust around myself, momentarily disappearing into the redness of the air.

There was a strangled sound of gargling, as though someone were trying frantically to breathe through oil laced sea water. I could feel my heart beating in my mouth, when I realised at once that the strangled sound was actually coming from me. I tried to smile, the skin on my scorched lips cracking and allowing tiny runlets of copper coloured blood to rise to their surface. I licked tentatively as them, wincing back against the enormity of pain, but savouring the taste of anything in my mouth, even if it were my own blood.

Caught in the monotony of walking I did not notice the deep crack in front of me until I was at eye level with it. My head hit the hard pan with a sickening thud and for a moment the sky lost its allure and became a speckled black greyness that seemed to swamp straight into my bones. I rolled over onto my back and closed my eyes, a dizzying sense of becoming unravelled settled over me and I allowed it to take me.

When I opened my eyes I could see them coming towards me, slowly staggering, as though they did not have full command of their bodies. I want to say to you now that they were mutants, out there in the middle of nowhere, the left over products of a wasteful and even more hurtful society of experiments and forgotten mistakes. However as they drew closer I saw that they were not in fact mutants but children.

They were about seven or eight in total, but grouped together amidst such nothingness there may as well have been a hundred of them versus the one wounded me. They walked with their arms drawn into their chests, their wrists locked out at awkward angles, as though they were mimicking a praying mantis. Their feet pointed inwards, their hips slanted and the closer they came to me, I realised that they had no fingers or toes. It did not look as though they had been born without them, more so than that they had been forcibly removed.

It was their faces that made me get up and away. Their heads were cocked back like an angry pistol, their twisted grimaces of what could have been pain, but could just have easily have been pleasure, saluting the silence of the topaz sky. I now realised, with a gut wrenching certainty, that the noise I had heard before my face hit the floor, the gargling sound of strangled breath, was not coming from me after all. They were all trying to speak, but their words were dead before they could be born, as though their lungs were full of sand. Every single one of them was hideously sunburnt, to the point that their skin was peeled off in great, weeping welts all over their naked bodies.

I started to walk as fast as I physically could, knowing that if I had began to run I probably would have fainted. Instead I briskly broke through the air, creating a much needed breeze against my sweltering face. They were drawing closer, in my head I was moving faster than I thought I was. I could not so much as hear them behind me, but feel them, as though the movement of their deformed feet dragging through the dust sent physical waves through the earth and up my legs.

The swimming pool was as close as it had ever been when I fell again, this time hitting my head hard enough to knock the wind out of me. I laid on the floor curled into a ball. I could feel their breath on me, hot and sour, like cabbage left in the sun to stagnate. Their eyes were the whitish blue of a blind man, and where the white should have been was blazing red. Blobs of dead black blood and hard green pus sat in the corner of those eyes. I now knew that they were not grimacing in pleasure, but in complete and irrevocable agony. A fingerless hand touched my face and I felt my heart shatter.

She could not have been older than seven, but her face was twisted and full of confusion. Her hair was blonde, hanging in dirty patches all over her head. Across her chest the skin had peeled away to bone on her ribs and in the unforgiving sun it glistened like a fish on the deck of a boat. She smelt of rotting earth and flesh – hot, decaying flesh, but something in her ethereal eyes made me want to save her. That same something inside myself told me that she, like the others, was beyond saving.

She leant in closer to me, her breath now almost too much to bare. Her eyes flickered back and forth over my face, as though she were trying desperately to see me clearer. A sticky, black tear lurched sluggishly down her cheek as I touched her face, my own vision starting to focus. As I lay there on my back, spitting distance from the swimming pool in the middle of the hard pan, a shot ran out and the girls head exploded across my face, a swatch of dirty blonde hair landing with a coy splat my face. It smelt like a memory.

I laid there on the dark, hot hard pan and laughed. I laughed until the girls blood trickled into my mouth and down my throat. I laughed until I was physically sick all over myself, but still choking on the vomit, I laughed some more. The other children were retreating from the gun shot now and I could hear someone shouting in the distance for them to disperse. Someone said that their was a girl on the hard pan covered in blood. I laughed until I I passed out, but I did not fall into the blackness of unconsciousness, but the sacred, still blue of the first and last sky I ever remember seeing.

When I Dream of Syringes

It was cold and most certainly night. I was drunk, for the most part and standing with my usual crowd outside of our local supermarket. I was wearing my blue paisly shirt and my olive green Lee Coopers. I was smoking a cigarette and laughing, a bottle of something strong and tepid in my hand. He approached, his eyes bluer than I could ever recall from photgraphs burning into me. My friend stopped and put her hand on my arm,

“He’s looking at you.” He came straight up to me and took out a pen. He smiled, his face reminiscent of what I knew but something was different. Stubble speckled his young cheeks and he laughed,

“You can’t be though, you haven’t got any hair.” He had cut his hair to half an inch all over but his face bore a similarity too uncanny not be frutiful. He shook his head and closed the distance between us. He uncapped the pen, which was laden with white ink.

“Can I?” I nodded, my mind still and my heart beating in my ears. I breathed in as he pulled one side of my half open shirt aside, revealing the black of my bra. He scrawled a word, an autograph on the portion of my left breast that showed and let the shirt fall gently to rest. I reached out to touch his face and he took my hand before it could.

“Come with me.” He pleaded. I could see poison under his eyes, swimming in the blue that was never quite captured on the cameras where I had come to know him so well. I turned to my friends and realised that they had moved away. He squeezed my hand and we walked out of the car park and into daylight. We were by the side of the sea. There was an immense heat baking off of the ground but neither of us looked pained for the weather. The cool sea breeze wafted through my hair.

We came to a wall, hand in hand, and beyond it lay nothing but ocean. He let go of my hand and climbed over the wall, almost glided over the wall and hit the sand on the other side with a soft thud. He then reached his arms over and helped me, also somehow glide, over the cinder block obstacle. Our foreheads touched and my stomach knotted when he kissed me briefly on the mouth. On the wall now stood out a face, melted to the brick, its skin grafted to the very mortor.”It’s for nothing.” Its mouth was disorted, a hideous grimace marring the scarred, powedery skin but its words were clearer than the ocean that now lay before us. It shifted and came closer to us, almost sinking into the brick and oozing back through the wall now only a foot from us. His grip tightened on my hand and we ran, we ran like we were trying to beat the devil, until blood pumped in our eyes and our mouths were are dry as the sand under our now bare feet.

We skidded to a halt on the side of the ocean, a platform about three foot over the water. We sat down and caught our breath, words were exchanged but they escape me now. He took out a leather pouch. Inside the pouch was a syringe, a white ball of clinge film and other random pieces. I watched as he sharpened his arm, the muscles writhing underneath the roadmap skin and popped the needle of the syringe through his the cleft of his arm. He immediatly fell back, his muscular stomach now bare and glistening in the light of the rising sun.

I went to stand, placing my hands next to me when he shot up as it electrocuted and stabbed the same syringe, now full once more, into the soft flesh between the knuckles of my index and middle finger. As soon as he pushed the plunger down the platform broke and I was flung two hundred foot into the air, the platform rising and blood pouring from the wound on my hand. I could vaguely see him but his voice was lost in the wind.

I had to throw something. He wanted me up there, that is why he had stabbed me. I had to be that high up. I could not remember what he wanted me to throw though. The wind was heavy and the platform unstable. I shifted my weight and looked out onto the horizon. There was ocean for as far as I could see but behind me was a dense city landscape, with life and sound melting together. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a green guitar pick.

That was what he wanted me to throw. I held it against my mouth, the metal in my lip chinking against it. I pursed my lips and kissed the pick before shuffling my feet to the edge of the platform. Then I took a deep breath and thought of the man who had led me here with neck length dirty blonde hair, a green cardigan and a guitar in his hands singing about the scent of teen spirit and then I remembered who he was and what he wanted from me. I let my feet continue off the platform where they found nothing but air.

But I did not fall. I floated back down to the platform where he now stood smiling, his hair grown back to the length I remember it being. He had tears in his eyes as he took me into his arms and kissed me once more. With my arms locked around him, he dissolved into dust and was carried away by the wind. The day faded to night in seconds and I was back standing outside the supermarket with my friends, although now I was covered with sand like powder and my hand was black with dead blood.

“Are you okay?” I nodded and we walked up the high street and into one of the pubs. I ordered my drink and excused myself to the toilet. No one had said anything about my hand that was now twice the size it should have been. I stood in front of the mirror and watched as my hand returned back to normal and the dust like dirt all over my shirt washed away into the air and out of the open window.

I unbuttoned my shirt, standing in the harsh light of the pub bathroom and let it fall to my elbows. There written on the nape of my left breast, almost as while as the flesh was his word as if to assure me that he was not a dream but somehow more. Four simple letters in untidy scrawl that brought an exhausted tear to my eye – live.

Top Five Sunday Afternoon Horror Movies

Everybody loves a Sunday right? Nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to see. They’re my favourite of all of the days of the week for the simple fact that no one is going to knock on my door on a Sunday. They are peaceful pyjama slumming sunny afternoons reserved for mothers and lovers. It’s a wonder God ever stood a chance.

A staple of my family home, much like many of you out there who sit down to a roast dinner or play board games with your sleepy eyed kin, was my six year old daughters Sunday afternoon nap. She would fall asleep around one o’clock in the afternoon shortly after her lunch and would wake up close to half three or four, looking for her dinner.

In this time I was permitted a brief window to crack a spine on a new book, finish sanding down whatever it is I was renovating at the time or, my guiltiest and most beloved of all uses for my Sunday afternoon free pass – I could watch a scary movie whilst my daughter was safely tucked away from it on the sofa.

But scary movies weren’t made for the daylight, and most of them lose their gloss when viewed in such mundane settings and maybe it’s just because I have gotten so used to the movies mentioned on the coming list that I feel at ease with their depravity and therefore comfortable going about the business of ironing clothes or mopping floors whilst their blood curdling screams echoed in the halls of my home.

Whatever it is, to me, some movies, well, they just feel like home. And there is nowhere else that I would rather be on a sun soaked Sunday afternoon that at home with my kid and these flicks, that to me, always went better with sleepy Sunday afternoons than shadowy Saturday nights.


Number One 

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

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The sequel to the trip-tastic House of a 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects follows an original trio of family (or clan) members from the first movies, consisting of Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her father, the sensationally psychopathic clown, Cutter, better known as Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). Both movies were written and directed by Rob Zombie.

The movie, though a direct follow on from House of 1000 Corpses is shot in a much grittier and far more serious manner, though the original black humour and shock laughs are still there. The movie follows the Firefly clan as they attempt to outrun Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), whose brother they killed in the previous movie. With the mother of the group taken into custody and under interrogation by the Sheriff, Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding spend most of the movie stealing cars, sexually assaulting middle aged women, giving children a life long fear of clowns, killing people and getting wrecked in an attempt to save themselves.

As to be expected with a Rob Zombie movie, the soundtrack is awesome, which is one of the main reasons why I think this movie, once seen a few times before, is the perfect afternoon companion as it plays like an album as well as a movie. The one liners are absolute gold, many of which come from my beloved Captain Spaulding and include – “If you’re gonna start the killing, you best start it right here. Make sure I’m all the way dead, because I’ll come back and make you my bitch!” as well as his magnificent rebuttal to a child whom when asked, says he doesn’t like clowns – “Why? Don’t we make ya laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny? You best come up with an answer, cos I’m gonna come back here and check on you and your momma and if you ain’t got a reason why you hate clowns, I’m gonna kill your whole fucking family.”

This is the kind of movie that genuinely gave me rocket fists when I first watched it, and since then had carved out a little cave of wonder somewhere near my heart. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should (derp), and last time I checked both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were available on Netflix. If you’re of a more organic breed, y’all can find a copy here for your pleasure and delight.


Number Two

The Hannibal Movies

The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal (2001)

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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) directed by Jonathan Demme is the first Hannibal movie, but as Red Dragon, the second story in the trilogy is written as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, this movie and book, when they are read or watched in the correct chronological order, is the second time we come across the charming cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, and his exploits. The book was written by Thomas Harris and published ten years prior to the movies release in 1981. It introduces us to rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who must seek the help of Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) an imprisoned psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer in order to apprehend Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) who is murdering women in order to skin them and fashion a lady suit. Clarice quickly succumbs to Hannibal’s immense charm and allows him to get inside her head, where he pries into her subconscious and offers her assistance with the Buffalo Bill case on the condition that she answers his personal questions.

Red Dragon (2002) directed by Brett Ratner is the second Hannibal movie, but the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. It was written by Thomas Harris introducing the character of Hannibal Lecter and was published in 1988, seven years after the release of the first book. In this movie we meet the man responsible for putting Hannibal Lecter (still played by Anthony Hopkins) behind bars. FBI agent Will Graham (Ed Norton) who is not unlike Dr Lecter in his brilliance or understanding of the human psyche, takes an early retirement to Florida with his wife and son after being stabbed and nearly killed by Dr Lecter when Graham cracked the case. A few years later, Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) comes to Graham looking for help in apprehending a serial killer that has been dubbed “The Tooth Fairy” for the unique and terrifying teeth marks he leaves on victims. Graham knows that there is only one man who can help and must confront and confide in Dr Lecter in order to locate and stop The Tooth Fairy, real name, Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes), a man obsessed with William Blake and the physical transformation he feels he is undergoing from a disfigured human man into that of a great red dragon.

Hannibal (2001) directed this time by Ridley Scott was released before Red Dragon (2002) though it is the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Confused yet? Well, let me elaborate. At the end of The Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lecter escapes prison, in such a magnificently gruesome way, and goes on the run. The final movie, though technically the second movie, chronicles what Hannibal gets up to whilst he is on the run from his old friend Clarice Starling (this time played by Julianne Moore). The bad guy this time around is one of Hannibal’s surviving victims, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), a seriously sick dude that Hannibal drugged and convinced the cut off most of his own face during a therapy session in the good ole days. Now incapacitated and in a wheelchair because of Hannibal’s horrific, but somehow admirable actions, Verger seeks to exact revenge on Dr Lecter and eventually tracks him down and captures him. Needless to say, Hannibal evades death at the hands of his old friend and from there, well, this movie turns into kind of a love story between Clarice and Hannibal.

Yeah. It really does.

For those of you out there whom confused by complete inability to explain time or dates in any cohesive form, whom, after reading this blog, or maybe right now whilst reading it, decided to go and Google all this shit, you may be wondering where the fourth and last (but actually fourth and first) story/movie Hannibal Rising (book 2006) (movie 2007) is on this list. Well, as you may have noticed it’s not here. And I’ll tell you why.

I said at the beginning of this blog that some things feel like home to me, and as a prisoner of nostalgia, as well as a child of the 90’s, nothing feels more at home to me than Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. These were some of the first horror movies I ever watched as a kid (terrible parents, blame them once more) and indeed the Thomas Harris books were in my heart before I even knew who Stephen King was, though I can honestly say that as a child/teenager I didn’t understand the immensity of the written works as I later did as an adult.

As a result of this manacle of childhood infatuation, I found the last instalment of the Hannibal movies rather obnoxious. The book was less so, but still, for anyone who has seen or read Hannibal Rising it paints a rather fantastic back story for my dear Dr Lecter that left me confused and a little bewildered. Though his back story is his own prerogative, I prefer the cool and calm Hannibal Lecter, with the Cheshire Cat grin and the liquid eyes. The whole prequel to the power of two thing muddied the waters, even for me.

So, a rather long little entry here, but I couldn’t choose the exact movie that I like to watch of an afternoon as all play well in the quieter moments of the day. My personal favourite book and movie is Red Dragon as Will Graham and Francis Dolarhyde always interested me more as the cops and robbers duo than Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill. To each their own I guess, but I wouldn’t turn off any of these movies were I find to them on my television at half past two on a Sunday afternoon.

Because Hannibal movies are the epitome of awesome, I don’t think I have come across them on Netflix before but if y’all would like to make a purchase of the books or the films, just click the colourful words and thou shall receive.


Number Three 

Silent Hill (2006)

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Based on the video game of the same name, Silent Hill was directed by French director, writer and lover of video game adaptations Christophe Gans. I learned a lot about this dude whilst watching (you guessed it, on a Sunday afternoon) a feature length “making of” the movie in which the directors enthusiasm and love of the material practically drips off of his words. As well as the dedication of many of the actors, not least that of Roberto Campanella who not only had to rock the Pyramid Head get up, but also had to act the part of Colin the janitor in all his twisted glory, this film always just made sense to me. It was released when I was sixteen, two years before I would give birth to my own daughter, and as a strange and infinite warning, after watching this movie I always find myself sitting a little closer to my kid when its done.

The movie follows the story of Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her adopted daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) as they head to the mysterious abandoned town of Silent Hill in order to find out more about Sharon’s past and maybe the root of the nightmares she has been having that force her to sleepwalk, draw some really creepy pictures and recite the towns name. On route to Silent Hill, Rose and Sharon are spotted at a petrol station by police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who immediately becomes suspicious of the pair and follows them into Silent Hill. On arrival static flickers from the car radio and an unknown child appears in the middle of the road forcing Rose to crash the car and lose consciousness. When she wakes up in day light she finds Sharon gone, her cell phone out of range and a town that rains ash. Cool, huh?

The town turns out to be sat on top of a fire that has been burning that has been burning for thirty years, and is hence abandoned. Accompanied by Cybil Bennett, who followed Rose because she believed Sharon to be in danger, the two women find the town to be far from abandoned, instead inhabited by creatures that mirror the most terrifying of nightmares, including a seven foot tall hoofed creature with a giant metal pyramid helmet covering his head and knife as big as he is, as well as a whole host of burned, screaming, disfigured and demented humanoid and not so humanoid creatures.

 So out of the movies that have made it on to the list so far, this is the first movie that exploits the elements of horror beyond that of the human realm. Riddled with its own lore and tales from beyond the grave, Silent Hill is the kind of movie that gets under your skin, whether you’re a mother on a feminist kick arse power binge or not. In this movie, with the exception of some of the demonic creatures, the good guy and the bad guy are both women. The entire plot revolves around two women, one a mother, the other an officer of the law, trying to save a little girl from a crazy pseudo-psychotic religious nut bar named Christabella (Alice Krige). As a result this movie is a 101 in the power of the female form and the strength of a mothers love, with Gans’ actually stating in numerous interviews that he intentionally altered the original video game story line in order to give a sense of female solidarity amongst the characters and the inherent power of women. This is certainly admirable in a genre of film where women are the ones forced to be saved more often than not.

This film has a real place in my heart and I watch it often, crying more times at the end than I probably should. Similar films involving small children, especially girls, such as The Ring (2002) and Mama (2013), the last of which actually gave me a panic attack in the cinema because of its realistic portrayal of feral children, both girls in this case, have had a much more profound affect on me since I became a mother and had my own daughter to protect from bad guys.

I wouldn’t be as bold as to say that you cannot understand the gravity of these films if you are not the mother to a daughter, but I would go as far to say that people who are not in that boat see the shore differently, the same as heterosexual male Bob Dylan fans cannot possibly love the man in the same way I do, because, you know, I want to put my tongue in his mouth. Same love, different angles. Same understanding, different reactions.

If you haven’t seen Silent Hill and I kind of feel like you should, click the enchanted link here and it will transport you to a man with a cart on a hill who will sell it to you for roughly the price of a chicken and two almonds.


 Number Four 

Misery (1990)

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I feel like one of the main reasons people have a blog or a vlog or hell, even social media in general, is so that they can indulge in the things that bring them joy and share those magical feelings and thoughts with everyone else in hopes of finding and connecting with like minded freaks and geeks the world over. So, it seems natural that in almost every facet of my life, I have a favourite Stephen King “something”. Misery which was released in 1990 three years after its publication in 1987 was directed by Rob Reiner and stars James Caan as Paul Sheldon and Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes. Bates won an Academy Award for her portrayal of the depraved number one fan in this movie and it remains, at least to date, the only Stephen King film ever to win an Oscar.

Which, lets face it, isn’t that surprising. Did y’all see Children of the Corn (1984)? *shudder*

The story line in the films stays pretty true to the plot of author Paul Sheldon crashing his car in the Colorado mountains during a snow storm where he is left for dead, only to be saved by local nut job Annie Wilkes who claims to be his number one fan. Annie then keeps Paul immobilised and in pain until he rewrites the last of his famous books that ends with the heroine of Annie’s heart, Misery Chastain, being killed off. The film was (I have on good authority from my mother as I was three months old when it was released) received well and instantly became a cult classic for those that could stomach it.

I remember watching this movie as a child of around eight or nine (really, Ma? REALLY?!) and being absolutely absorbed in what was happening on the screen. Devoid of any sexual activity, strangely swear word free and almost entirely free of blood and guts, Misery manages to make you feel just as uncomfortable and disgusted with what it doesn’t show you as many torture porn movies try tactlessly to achieve with hours of gratuitous violence and death. Without spoiling the movie for the three people left in the Western world who haven’t seen it, there are some pretty big differences between the book and the film, which usually makes my blood boil, but in the case of Misery, works just fine, another testament to its inherent brilliance as a stand alone piece and not just another crappy Stephen King adaptation.

If you would like to see a man bullied to the brink of death by a woman who regularly dribbles when she shouts, go ahead and click the magical phrase “He didn’t get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!” – your salvation awaits.


Number Five 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

(…and it’s many offspring.)

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Another cherished movie of mine, the origins of which can be traced back to my parents apparent lack of interest in what their children were watching at any given time, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and the character of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is as much a part of my childhood as Pogs or Pez and therefore, like many other treasured movies, finds its way into my DVD player when I have nothing to do but kill time. This movie and its many reincarnations is an old faithful and as such, is a regular Sunday player in my home.

Written and directed by Wes Craven, we’re going to talk about the first movie as, aside from the third instalment Dream Warriors (1987), it is without a doubt my favourite. It follows a group of teenagers living in small town America who are hunted and killed in their dreams (or nightmares?) only to die in reality. All of the teenagers including Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp) and Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp in his first cinematic appearance) are visited by the brutally burned blade fingered Freddy Krueger, and though they don’t know what this delightful character may want with them, it turns out that their parents may now exactly why one-two-Freddy’s-coming-for-well, them.

In terms of the kind of movie you’re going to get here, let me sum it up with some immortal words from the work in question – *ahem* – “We don’t need a stretcher in there. We need a mop!”. Yeah, that’s about the size of it. Grotesquely gory, sexually charged and in the cold light of day as cheesy as an old trainer sock, this movie reeks of camp comedy and perversion. You’re not likely to lose any sleep over the storyline and Krueger always came off to me more funny than frightening, but I have heard that Krueger (like E.T. was for me) was the stuff of nightmares for many. And probably still is.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of being acquainted with the likes of Freddy Krueger before and have subsequently misunderstood a plethora of social parody spanning thirty years, please direct yourself to the Kruegeresque winky face at the end of this sentence. 😉  


And that’s me just about done. 

Sometimes watching a scary movie during the day can be seen to take away all its weight and power, and personally speaking, I don’t see that as any bad thing. I have noticed people getting so bogged down sometimes in the apparent shock value of a lot of movies that they never pause to consider the other elements of the craft at work like superb soundtracks, stunning cinematography, heartbreaking story lines and charismatic characters.

These movies, plus a whole heap more, bring me genuine comfort when I’m stressed, a shot of adrenaline when I’m listless and if nothing else, they make my heart beat a little harder when it feels like its not beating at all. And for that, they’re here.