Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fear for thought, part three.

Ah! Come in, come in... the chatter and the good company continue!

Of late the patrons of this place have been privy to some interesting storytelling and a bit of philosophizing, and I thought I would recount some of this and add my own thoughts (what is it with these annoying, attention-grabbing pubkeeps?).

Again, these comments can be read directly at the bottom of each post but I'd just like to give some attention to them up front, in their own post.

Referring to this photo from the previous entry in this discussion:
... Fester admits:
"I spent a lot of my childhood in that pose. I especially remember ducking down to the empty cup and wrapper level when the movie house ran a scary preview..."

Boy, I never did that, Fester. Ever. *ahem!*

Smartly ignoring my lame interruption, Fes continues :
"On TV, the horror movies and previews were a little easier to watch. Although my mother likes to tell the story about me at six, watching the afternoon kid show (Kimbo the Clown?) and the TV station ran a Godzilla ad. She was in the kitchen and heard Godzilla roar and me scream. She ran into the living room and found me wedged between the sofa and the wall..."

I have no idea what you looked like as a child, but I can easily see a child doing that... again, not that I ever did such things myself... except for this time when I was 7 or 8 and was home from school because I (seriously!) had a lousy cold, and in the middle of KHJ 9's mid-morning Laurel & Hardy shorts an ad for The Exorcist came flashing, roaring out of the TV set. They didn't even show her face, just stills of Ellen Burstyn's horrified face and the growling, demonic voice...

No sofas or walls for me -- I ran screaming down the hallway into my room and jumped into my bed with the sheets up to my face, staring at the door to the hallway and waiting for that hideous demon girl to come get me.

Nothing like that ever happened to me again, though. I mean, not any time that I feel like admitting right now.

Then, Fester makes such a sad statement (sad to me anyway!):

"Yet somehow, I managed to grow up a sort of normal person. Not sure what the turning point was."

Sad, but true -- most of us Hallowe'en and Monster Lovin' Kids manage, in spite of the seeming odds, to grow up sort of a normal person.

In truth, I know it's a darn good thing to grow up and out of your fears, a happy thing. But sometimes we can still lament the lost thrill of those more innocent days. Max, that drunken severed head I mentioned last time, addresses this very issue:

"Hang onto your memories, folks, 'cause you can't capture again all of the magic from (when) you were a tadpole and you watched monsters on the little and big screens.

Just watched KING KONG ESCAPES for the first time since I saw it at the Razorback Drive-In with my mother, shortly before she passed on. It was fun, but it wasn't the wonderfully overstimulating, baffling, wizardry-laden buzz trip that it had been when I was 5 or 6. (Yeah, I know, KKE's a lousy example, but the point remains.)"

Well, no one's going to argue about that movie's lousiness, as an example or otherwise, I agree. But yes, the point remains and is well taken.

Like Fester, Max mentions leaving childhood: 

"I grew up, mostly, but I miss that kinda full-throttle openness to the fantastic. 'Course, I'm smarter than I was then, and I've gained new levels of appreciation, but there is a part of one that can never go back to The October Country."

I know the feeling, and see what you're getting at, Max. Being the romantic sentimentalist I've always been, I prefer to think that we can return to that far, Fall country in one piece -- we just can't fit into all the corners there, hide in all the shadows, as we once did. Those places mean something different now because of those 'turning points' Fester mentioned (though they are different for everybody), and you're right, we are smarter (mostly) and appreciate things on other levels.

Maybe it's all just semantics and wistful (and wishful) thinking, but I think The October Country grows as I get older, even as I outgrow my clothes -- I mean, outgrow my childhood thrills and chills...

(Hhhmmm... a little too Grither-ish for comfort...)

I really enjoy reading your thoughts and stories, everyone. 

I hope everyone else enjoys my posting them. 

More books, knick-knacks, and even an interview or two are on their way in the coming days and weeks... 



  1. I didn't realize I sounded sad when I spoke about somehow growing up sort of normal. The fact is, when I was a little kid, the scary stuff made me hysterical. I am talking terrified, traumatized, scared poopless! Despite the shocks to my little mind, I managed to avoid the need for a long term relationship with a mental health professional. I did grow up sort of normal. And the turning point for me involved more of a mental shift from hysteria to developing a taste for a good fright.


  2. Sorry if I misrepresented anything you wrote, Fes... you didn't sound sad at all; I only called the statement 'sad' in jest, as in the old 'ain't it sad we have to grow up sometime?' lament.
    And boy I sure understand the terror aspect--I was very much the same way, in that when something really got to me I would cry, shake, I was literally sick with fear, as you say 'traumatized', for days or in some cases weeks! Oy! the stories my family could recount for you!
    I think that's why Hallowe'en was such a gift all my life -- it let me exorcise those fears by exploring, and then deconstructing and rebuilding them in my own image, so to speak!
    I wonder how many horror lovers were in fact the more sensitive, scared types as kids?

  3. From a scientific poll taken of a representative group of one: Most of us, I would say.
    For reasons we will not discuss, I had a fairly isolated childhood. Outside of a few friends at school, I had little contact with kids my own age. It was just as well-- I was, a pretty nerdy kid and tended to not fit in. In many respects, life was pretty scary and intimidating to me. My parents understood and did the best they could. Thanks to them, I had ready access to the library and books. And they supported my collecting and assembling the Aurora monster models. Watching scary movies with Dad helped me enjoy them more.
    Long story short: I found my monster friends helped me cope with a world that was out of my control. I was not alone in the universe--I knew others who had problems fitting in, albeit they were on tv or perched on my model shelf. Perhaps that is why I usually see Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man as sympathetic characters.
    I really think this may be a typical human response to a complex and sometimes scary world.
    Remember Marilyn Monroe as "The Girl" in Seven Year Itch? Just before the famous subway vent scene, she and Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell)are at the movie theater showing the Creature From the Black Lagoon. As they leave, she says she felt sorry for the Creature. Guess we're in good company!

    DDSP! & ZOM-Beee!

  4. Exactly. I think you're spot on. Our monsters, our horrors, our Hallowe'en, these are all healthy responses to an uncertain life, a big scary world. For children and adults, facing death without really dying is a cleansing thing; whether the thrill is from a rollercoaster or a horror film, the result is the same, the act of 'Not this time, I'm safe for now' is cathartic, and necessary, to get beyond simply reacting to fear, and acting positively on it.
    And I see that we are indeed in good (and in her case, very lovely) company... though, the Creature has the heartfelt sympathy of Marilyn Monroe... so I can't feel TOO sorry for him! :-)