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Archive for the ‘Scary’ Category

What Scares You?

 

     Here’s Buck in a wig he found in the middle of the road a few years back. He found it in the middle of Main Street in Buzzards Bay, to be precise. Buck finds abandoned wigs the way other people find pennies in a parking lot. He used to keep several on display in our bike shop, right next to the top of the line derailleurs. (Village Cycles was a very unusual bike shop.)  Over the years, people have asked me if it scares me the way Buck doesn’t hesitate to wear a nutty wig in public. I tell them: NO, it would scare me if he wore them in private.

     Whenever he’s questioned about this particular wig, he tells people it’s a George Harrison wig, and the George Harrison Fan Club was so desperate for members, they gave you a free wig and a Volkswagen Beetle just for joining.

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     Halloween is the time when all the TV stations roll out the scary movies. Old ones and not so old, and that’s good because I like scary movies. As a matter of fact, I love scary movies. NOT slasher, blood and guts movies. I mean, seriously: scare me, don’t gross me out. I love scary movies that make me break out in a cold sweat and blow my groovy little mind. The Sixth Sense, The Others, The Ring, Seven, The Mothman Chronicles, the 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead. That kind of stuff. Buck does not like scary movies, and neither does Max (although, I can usually talk Max into watching one with me). Cody and Sam do love scary movies. They share my thirst for spooky little surprises wherever they can get them. If we’re together for long enough, you can eventually find us huddled in a dark living room scaring ourselves to death and loving every minute of it.

     I can trace my love of scary movies back to scary TV shows. Night Gallery used to scare the living bejesus out of me. And with good reason. I was like 9-years-old when I started watching it. I used to sneak the TV on when I was supposed to be asleep, even though the show terrified me and I knew it was warping my mind. I used to break out in a cold sweat watching it and think something like, Wow, I’ve really fucked myself now, and I totally deserve the brain damage I’ve just inflicted upon myself. My mother was right, I really don’t have the brains it would take to keep from giving myself serious psychological damage.

     But the Night Gallery episode that did the most damage was called The Doll and it really did ruin me for life. That hideous leering doll with runny mascara just waiting at the top of a darkened staircase. God, that was scary. And from that episode on, I not only had a love-fear realtionship with movies and TV, but a love-fear relationship with dolls as well. (Buck’s most psychologically damaging episode was The Caterpillar, when the earwig crawled through the guy’s headand left fucking eggs in his head! But I don’t have to tell you about it. You know exactly the episode I’m talking about.)

 After Night Gallery, I went years before anything scared me as bad as The Doll. And then came Trilogy of Terror, that 1975 made-for-TV movie starring Karen Black in three vignettes that you all remember. I know you rememberTwo of them sucked for sure, but the third one, Amelia, was just excellent. That was the one with the creepy Zuni warrior doll that comes to life and CHASES KAREN BLACK AROUND HER FREAKING APARTMENT!

     It’s a famous scene for Karen Black, that vicious little doll skittering around her pad. As campy as it seems when you can catch it today (which isn’t easy), Karen Black’s facial expression at the end is still disturbing. AND she says it’s the one movie people always want to talk to her about. I truly believe that, because if I ran into Karen Black it’s exactly what I’d want to talk about.

      Both those TV movie/stories had killer dolls, but dolls don’t have to be killers to peak my horror. They just need to be morbid and/or creepy. For that reason I could watch Blade Runner a million times. I never get tired of Sebastian’s disturbing toyfriends. Sebastian (that guy who played Larry with the two brothers named Darryl on Newhart, and then EB Farnum on Deadwood) is a genetic designer with a aging disease ( Daryl Hannah affectionately refers to it as accelerated decreptitude) that keeps him confined to a weird apartment where he makes bizarre toys to be his friends. Two of the toys, Kaiser and Napoleon, appear to really love Sebastian. It’s sad what happens, and I always worry about whatever became of all those broken, emotional toys.

     I felt the same sadness for Toulon’s puppets in Puppet Master, although they were murderous little motherfuckers. I still think Tunneler is really cute. Come to think of it, there have been a lot of freaky dolls over the years: Chucky, of course; Demon Dolls; the clown doll in Poltergeist. I never saw the clown doll actually murder anyone, but he certainly looked capable of it. I know, right? He definitely looked capable of it.

    A couple of years ago I read an article in Spin Magazine called Welcome To Hell’s Dollhouse. It featured the various Goth dolls out there on the market today. Mostly it was the usual commercial fare you see in Newbury Comics or wherever, and those are wicked cool, but the article led me to discover some very disquieting ones made by real artists who only produce one-offs or very limited runs of their art work. 

      What is so wonderful about these one-offs is that they are imaginative representations of things that are truly nightmarish, even ethereal in some cases. I’m very envious of artists like that. Whole worlds exist within these dolls, stories that are chilling and horrific, and many of the dolls emerge from these imaginations with what looks to be cemetery dirt on their hands and face.

     To be able to bring that creepiness to life beyond the movie screen is really an art. I wouldn’t want to be immersed in it every day, but glancing now and then at a doll that jolts the dark part of my imagination is a cheap thrill and I like it in much the same way other people like roller coasters. I hate roller coasters, but I like a good haunted thrill when I can get it. Pet Sematary, when little Gage is running through the house, giggling? Jesus, that was horrifying. It really scared me.
      These dolls are like tangible versions of that scare. I look at those dolls and think, I don’t know where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing, but its creepy and awful and I love it.

     We don’t have any of these dolls, unfortunately, but we do have a very disturbing clown head on our fireplace mantel. It’s from an old carnival something-or-other and was a gift, believe it or not, from a friend who found it in a stream. He’s been scaring us from the mantel for about 20 years now. Basically, he’s just another member of the family. At Christmas he wears a Santa hat. He doesn’t have a formal name or anything, we all prefer calling him Scary Clown Head.

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