The Open Doors

This short film, much like the short story it is based on (“The Open Window” by Saki), is an elegant example of the power of storytelling. What is a quite ordinary afternoon with quite ordinary occurrences is made eerie, even terrifying, by the narrative framework. A story well told changes our perceptions and allows us to see the wonderful or the horrifying within the world around us, even if the story is pure fiction. The actors do an especially fantastic job, particularly Michael Sheen as the poor Mr. Nuttel. The story he tells in every quivering word and wide eyed stare makes us feel acutely poor Mr. Nuttel’s nervousness and eventual shock. It’s an amazing bit of filmmaking.

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Hannibal & Clarice

This trailer re-frames Silence of the Lambs as a romantic comedy, brilliantly demonstrating how editing can alter a story so much as to appear completely different from the original. Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite movies, and this trailer hits on two themes that I’m particularly fond of: the male gaze, and the twisted love. In the actual movie, these are played as being appropriately disturbing. Clarice Starling is everywhere being looked up and down by men who wish to prey on her in one way or another, yet Hannibal Lecter, the one man who most literally might wish to prey on her, is the one who would defend her life, noticing her true value as a person and wishing to keep her in the world. There is affection between them, dark and disturbing as it may be. Yet this trailer shows how those same ideas could be played for comedy. If we think about our favorite rom-coms, how many of them deal with problematic themes? How many of them could be flipped on their backs to expose a dark underbelly of objectification and abusive love that is hidden behind a comedy cut?

Scary Illustrations

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Like many kids who grew up in the late 80’s / early 90’s, I loved the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. I was morbid from a very early age, so I particularly enjoyed pondering its exquisitely terrifying illustrations. Stephen Gammell reached right into the darkest depths of the human psyche and extracted these writhing, dripping, shrieking visions and put them on paper and into the minds of young children, and I love him for it. A couple years ago, the books were re-released, but with different illustrations, and there was an outcry of condemnation. How dare they deprive a new generation of facing these horrors head-on? The story of a bride who went missing while playing hide and seek on her wedding day and whose skeleton was found years later in a trunk in the attic is scary, sure, but the above illustration takes it to a whole new level.

Recently artists who were inspired by these gruesome works held an art show in San Antonio in honor of the illustrations, and they really did it justice. Check out their Instagram for some really awesome macabre pieces.

Terrifying Toys

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Toys can sometimes be horrifying. Maybe it’s the uncanny valley, where the toys are just human enough for their inhuman parts to raise our hackles with their sheer wrongness. Maybe they stir up memories of our childhoods, with all the terror of being small and helpless and believing that inanimate objects may just be animate after all. Or maybe sometimes toy companies just make creepy-ass toys. I mean, come on! Look at that thing! Little Miss No-Name? The doll with a tear? Who even comes up with such things?!? No wonder it was only available for one year. Guilt tripping kids into buying a doll that looks like its head just might start slowly spinning around? Shame on them!

Hat tip Vintage Everyday. For more terrifying toys like Little Miss No-Name here, take a gander at his post.

Horror in art

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This article has some excellent examples of horror in classical art.  Great art evokes powerful emotion, and terror is powerful.  The above, Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son,” is one of my favorite paintings.  The madness in the god’s eyes, the way his hands are about to tear the body right in half, the urgent and brash brush strokes…it hits me right in the gut. It terrifies me and yet I can’t look away.

Take a look at the paintings in the article.  Which one terrifies you most?  Which one can you not look away from?

He’s behind me, isn’t he?

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Have you ever gotten the feeling that someone is behind you, watching you? The hairs on the back of your neck prickle, and goosebumps stand out on your arms. You’re one sound, one creak, one footstep, one breath, away from fleeing in terror.  We’ve all been there.  But what if we’ve all been there because there’s always someone…something…behind us?

The above image comes from the awesome blog Behind You, one panel comics reminiscent of Chas Addams that show everyday people with horrors just a step behind. Check it out. Then spend the next 24-48 hours looking over your shoulder…

In 3D!

There are two kinds of awesome horror movies: the ones that have you screaming, and the ones that have you laughing. The 80’s in particular was full of the latter kind, flicks that were so over-the-top and horrible that audiences couldn’t breathe because they were laughing too hard.  Stupid teenagers! Murders with fake and excessive gore! OH MY GOD SHE’S A DUDE! Hilarious. And of course Weird Al Yankovic, the prime purveyor of the hilarious, does his own homage.  Here’s Weird Al with “Nature Trail to Hell!!!’

What photographs freak you out?

I’ve seen this photograph floating around the web for some time.  Supposedly it’s a World War II soldier who is suffering from shell shock.  His expression of utter insanity freaks me the heck out.  So I was wondering, dear reader: what photographs freak you the heck out?  Maybe there’s this one picture of a ghost that you can’t rationalize.  Or of a person minutes before they’re the victim of a terrible tragedy.  Share them in the comments! Leave a link, a description, and why this image in particular gives you the heebie jeebies. Let’s see if we can put together a collection of photographs that will keep us up all night.

[Note: Please don’t post pornographic or overly gory images.  I’m screening all comments; any comments I deem inappropriate will be deleted before they ever reach the post and the poster banned.]