Back when I was a kid, when you had to walk three miles in the snow in bare feet to find the nearest haunted house, monsters were scary. Monsters didn’t bother with fast cars and teenage girls…unless they intended to eat them, turn them, or possess them. They were never described as hot, no girls were lining up for mad hot make-outs in the back of Freddy’s Beemer. They didn’t sparkle, or go to high school, or consider sex after matrimony.
And I’m not even dogging on Twilight here, I mean, pretty much all the monsters these days come to us steamed, pressed, and neutered.
I yearn to be scared by monsters again. I want Dracula stalking the beautiful Miss Lucy, draining her slowly of her blood so that she is more haunted than alive. I want psychological warfare on the menfolk. I want Renfield baiting and noming on flies and spiders.
There’s just such a suspicious lack of scary anymore. What was once the domain of Horror has now become that of Paranormal Romance, which, whatever, is fine. But I’m ready for the mists upon my skin and Jack the Ripper doing ghastly things to the denizens of the underbelly of London. I want Frankenstein building new monsters and a newfound, special terror of cemeteries and old churches to keep me up late into the night. I want mad scientists knocking back psychosis cocktails. I want to carry salt when I pass the empty house at the end of the block and I’d love to to be kept awake by knock-knock-knocking in the walls.
I haven’t read something properly scary in a long time.
And horror, though difficult to master, is rich with atmosphere and untouched stories. I’m concerned with how fiercely YA (and much of adult) has been gripping the sexy side of werethings and undead spirits. Even zombies are getting dolled up for prom and I can’t think of a more sacrilegious thing. Hunky zombies? Really? What’s happened to our obsession with being scared? Where once October was filled with haunted houses and stupid ideas like let’s sneak into the abandoned house down the street and have a seance and play with Ouija boards* now it’s all like “Do you like me check yes or no – yours always The Invisible Man.”
We’ve turned Dracula into our high school crush and tamed the Hounds of Baskervilles like Pokemon. When the raven comes rap-rap-rapping at our chamber door, he turns out to be a fallen angel come to watch us sleep. Who said stalking wasn’t sexy?!?
There is opportunity here to dig into the psychological trauma of American hauntings and really scare the pants off one another. Monsters need to return to their roots. They need to take hold of their chutzpah in both hands. They deserve to be badass again.
It’s been a while since I’ve been so much as creeped out, guys, and I swear on a first edition Twain that the day the protagonist locks lips with Cthulhu, I’m out of here.
So, it’s time to bring the scary back. And until then, we can keep each other entertained with what slim pickings are out there. Next week I’m going to share two creeptastic books with you and some movies worth turning the nightlight on for on Thursday.
But now it’s your turn. In the comments, recommend some books that kept you up all night, afraid the walls would start bleeding and the crows would come the moment you shut your eyes. Share your scariest.
You can still sign-up for MonsterFest 2011 here.
Today’s Monstrologists are Hunting…
Annalise Green talks Mermaids
*This isn’t as good an idea as one might think.