There is something about the power of horror that has always held my heart. A mix of the release, the nature of the storytelling, and the craftsmanship Something about how the stories unfold. Horror creators don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. It can’t be easy to write in a way that taps into the subconcious and fuels our fears. It can’t be easy to portray terror in the face of things suggested or made of rubber. It’s a heck of a skill to take that rubber and fake blood and suggestion and to infect our nighmares.
And that’s just the films.
Horror lives in audio, in the written word, in the theatrical performance.
Horror is anywhere people have tread.
I spent this weekend tapping into that horror for some good old fashioned Halloween fun. And maybe that’s where two of the strongest assests horror reminded me of how powerful it is. How timeless.
Friday I helped lead a haunted tour of Flint through my job. We took forty people to four different sites around the city said to be haunted, bringing along two psychics and the authors of a recent book on Flint hauntings. And it was fun. No matter your beliefs. See, this is why it can be fun in more than one way. If you believe in ghosts then you are always looking, always listening, Waiting to see if there will be contact made. The anticipation and hope. The waiting. And if you aren’t into that, don’t think ghosts are more than stories to be told at Halloween then you got access to four amazing places where we got to walk around, hear the history, and see them in a situation that wouldn’t present itself any other way. You got the opportunity to revel in the history of these places and these stories that become like folk tales, stories that transcend the reality and history and slide between the two to create a third stream of reality. It’s up to you whether you care or not what it means or says.
On Saturday I went with my wife and nephews to a haunted attraction that boasted a haunted hayride. Lots of people, music, running, screaming, and chaos. We waited about twenty minutes to get on and then loaded onto a flat wagon with tweny-some other people and were taken out into the woods to be scared. I have been to this place a few times and the story is nill, the scares are mediocre, but the whole is better than the sum of the parts. It was incredible. The sky was clear with the stars watching from above. The night was cool and full of the scent of bonfires. The people on the ride were into it and excited. The person leading the ride was the perfect barker, playing up the scares in a way to milk them and exaggerate them and stretch them out. It was the magic of communal horror. The wonder of the shared experience. Sharing the experience and enhancing it that way. Creating monsters where there were just teens. The saws get closer. The blood thicker. The sets more elaborate. In retrospect, as you share your experiences it all becomes part of a bigger tapestry. Pieces sewn together to make something larger and more vibrant.
Horror as experience and doorway to imagination.
Horror as shared connection and land of make believe.
Horror is what you bring to it, as much as anything else, and whatever you take away. Horror the teacher and horror the trickster. Even the worst story or attraction can have a germ of an idea that worms its way into your mind and grows in size and power even beyond its origin. Kind of like how a fart joke, one of the simplest and lowest sorts of jokes, can have a deep impact and power if done the right way, and to the right person. It can become the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.
Power beyond belief and experience.
Heck of a thing.
Horror is strongest and most impactful when it’s shared, as an experience you can relive. Horror is most powerful when it plays into your imagination.
It’s a time for ghosts. A time of nights. A time for all of us weirdos that love this time of year and all it brings.
A time to share the scares.