How Did I Get into Horror?
My mind freezes whenever I’m asked this question. Why? It’s such a long answer. I feel like I’m in an interview and I’m extremely nervous of how to squish who I am in a tiny paragraph. I can’t give you a simple answer. I just cant. All I can do is elaborate on how I got into horror.
In my first post here titled; Why I Blog, I mentioned my passion for reading and how that snowballed into my passion as a writer. As my small collection of books began to expand, I stumbled upon my favorite author. His name was R.L. Stine and at the time he just released a series called Goosebumps. Goosebumps is a collection of stories that were guaranteed to scare the pants off you. Titles such as; Welcome to Dead House, Say Cheese and Die, Welcome to Camp Nightmare all guaranteed exactly what he promised. He engaged you in his story, he made you feel like you were there. You’d have nightmares after you’ve read them believing the things he wrote about could actually come true. The first book I had ever read from him was titled; Stay Out of the Basement—
“Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really. But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when they … meet … some of the plants he is growing down there. Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy–and seedy. Is this just part of their father’s ‘harmless’ experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?”
He is the reason why I’m freaked out about basements. People who have basements terrify me. Nothing ever ends up well in a basement. Human Experiments. Torture Chambers. Imprisonment. See what I mean? The world is a horrible place and people’s basements are even scarier.
But I couldn’t bring myself to stop. Peeling through each book, I felt scared half to death. But I was curious. There was a sense of adrenaline that I got from reading his books. I felt as if in some sort of way, I was involved in his storytelling. And I found myself right there with the main character. Worried, Afraid, Curious, Bold. I often found myself telling the character what to do and what not to do. And obviously, they went into business for themselves. Jerks.
Goosebumps eventually developed their books into a television series which I immediately hopped onto. It became an interesting way for me to see how my imagination would translate on screen. Would I feel that same adrenaline rush? I had to know. Throughout my terrifying adventures there would be countless times where my mom would warn me;
“You’re going to have nightmares if you watch that.”
And obviously, I didn’t heed that warning. I steamrolled right through that cliché rule. I danced feverishly with danger and felt a sense of uncontrollable cockiness. (Until it came time for me to go to sleep then I had to sleep with the door cracked open and the hallway light on.) I found myself laying there and hoping nothing would come out of my closet to eat me. And yet, I woke up the very next day and did it all over again. I was a glutton for terror and I loved it.
I have to be real with you for a second, growing up wasn’t the best thing. Don’t get me wrong, I lived in a pretty nice neighborhood and my family was stable but I felt like an outcast in my youth. I had transferred to a new school where I had more enemies than friends. And that was a lot of enemies. I was into dinosaurs, Goosebumps and shooting GI Joe action figures off my fence with the neighbor boy. I just didn’t fit in with those girls who had to be in a Girl Scout Troop while crafting friendship bracelets that signified their long lasting bond. (Mainly because when I was in Girl Scouts, they were mean as shit to me.) So when I actually met my best friend who embraced my so-called ‘weird’ qualities at my age–I was stoked. And she lived just around the corner from me. I found myself going over to her house nearly everyday during my pre-teens. One day while we were doodling for our new comic we had thought up, she switched on the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.
The broadway production by Andrew Lloyd Webber was inspired by the book written by Gaston Leroux. She explained that it was about a crazed man who was terrorizing an opera house, and would stop at nothing to be with the chorus girl of whom he was obsessed with. Intrigued, I listened to the rest of the soundtrack with her that day. The lyrics drew me in and crafted a story for me that my imagination spun almost instantly. I fell in love with this ‘Opera Ghost’ and cheered him on (which of course was right after he dropped a chandelier on the audience.) My best friend thought otherwise;
“No! Why would you cheer for him? He’s bad!”
Bad? I didn’t see him that way. And besides I couldn’t root for the chorus girls’ main love interest–Raul. He was such a wimpy worm in my opinion. Guys like that seemed normal, and apparently I’m opposite from that. Why would I root for him? The Phantom, on the other hand, would kill people who got in his way and had zero sympathy for his wickedness. He would roam through the Opera House so swiftly that he seemed almost invisible. Watching your every move, he’d pass through his various trap doors and secret passageways. He was hypnotic and alluring. His mysterious nature captured me. He was different from all the other common characters in stories you would read. And not to mention, he had a bad ass underground lair that he got to by boat. Who wouldn’t want that? I connected with the main character for a reason. He was cast out from society due to his facial deformity. I was cast out because I loved the Power Rangers, Dinosaurs and Legos. (Not the same thing, but you get what I mean.) And even though my friend thought I was crazy, I cheered his vengefulness. I saw so much of myself in him. Shunned for being different, feeling alone and wanting nothing more than to feel companionship.
I feel you, Phantom.
So when I’m encountered with this question as to how I got into horror, It started out with well–feeling horrible for being different. It sucked feeling alone like that especially at such a young age. By getting involved in these storylines and developing a close relationship with the characters didn’t make me feel so alone anymore. Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Hunchback of Notre Dame all sought companionship and love. Although considered to be terrifying to some, I loved them for being different just like me. Through their difference, I found my niche. My home.
I’m glad I stayed true to who I was growing up even though I was chastised for it. I remained that weird bookworm who enjoyed reading Goosebumps even though it wouldn’t allow me to fall sleep comfortably. My interest in horror catapulted me on this journey through self-discovery and acceptance for being different. I’ve developed a passion for horror films and transformed the beloved genre into a lifestyle. (You should see my house.) I attend conventions, I’m a contributor for TerrorThreads and not to mention, I’ve made new friendships in the process. You know who you are. Who knew that would all come from embracing individuality in a sea of normality? And before I knew it, I realized one day that to be different is cool and to be normal is terrifying.
Do me a small favor. Be sure to take a moment and think about the one thing that your passionate about. How did you get there? What has it done for you?
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