BLOGBUSTERS The Most Terrifying Horror Stories
SFX’s team of Bloggers reveal what TV shows, films or books have scared the willies out of them. Moderated by Alasdair Stuart
The Horror! The Horror! The endless squamous, rugose, wibbly, sing songing horror!
That’s the thing about horror, different things work for different people. For some people it’s monster movies, for other’s it’s J-Horror, or bodily subversion or maybe even a pizza-faced jumper enthusiast with a fondness for hats and knife claws. Horror is a broad church, filled with ’70s vicars trying to explain the plot to you but fear not! Some of the best ones approach even now and they’re here to answer this week’s blood-soaked, rocketed from the crypt question:
What one piece of horror, book, TV, film or comic,
has terrified you more than anything else?
(You have to imagine lightning and organ music here. You can’t here or see it, but it’s there.)
John Cooper: I can say with total certainty that the scariest movie I’ve ever seen is The Deadly Spawn, mainly as I saw it when I was twelve. Looking back on now it’s an incredibly silly film, but I was so impressionable at the time that it gave me nightmares for weeks. Basically it’s about some wormy alien things with loads of teeth that go around eating everyone in a small town. There are some funny bits in it like the woman who goes into the cellar looking for her missing husband; his hand appears on her shoulder and she jumps, but then calms down when she sees it’s his, only to turn around and see it’s actually just the remains of his arm coming from the mouth of said deadly spawn. Surprise! It’s not so funny when she then get the whole of the front of her face bitten off in splattery detail. Not at the time.
Andrew O Dorfman: I remember seeing In The Mouth Of Madness and being genuinely creeped out by the whole thing. The idea was that a horror writers books started to outsell the Bible and the world began to change to reflect his writings. I don’t remember much about it, and I’ve never seen it since. I probably wouldn’t want to. I’m pretty sure I prefer the memory of the movie to the movie its self. Bookwise I would have to give it to Rats In The Walls and The Call Of Cthulhu. HP Lovecraft was my first experience of having to read a book with a dictionary near by.
Laura McConnell: Oh, this one is easy. The film version of Something Wicked This Way Comes scared me half to death as a kid. I’m not sure exactly what it was that so terrified me, but that movie freaked me out big time. It scared me so much that I won’t watch it to this day. Granted, that’s mostly because I don’t want to have my fragile childhood memory of utter terror shattered by a grown-up viewing of a film that probably isn’t that scary at all, but the fact remains that Something Wicked This Way Comes is my answer.
That said, I must add that I simply don’t watch horror films. It’s not my thing to scare myself, so I haven’t seen many scary movies. If a six-year-old can’t watch the movie alone in a dark basement, I’m most likely out. The same applies to horror books and comics and TV shows. I’m getting better about this, and silly horror (like zomcom) is completely okay – in fact I love that stuff – but the stuff that could happen in real life? Stalkers and serial killers and organ harvesters? No way. I’m gone. So, with my limited education, the only other film that came to mind here was Lady In White, which also scared me as a child, possibly nearly as much as Something Wicked This Way Comes. Of course, that’s probably because I really was always worried about being locked in the coatroom at school and because I probably haven’t seen a horror movie since, but that’s beside the point. It was scary!
Kelly Harker: Jaws. Is there anything scarier than going for an innocent skinny dip in the ocean at night after having too many beers, only then to have your torso severed in mid-thoraxa by big evil shark? Yieks! I know sharks get a bad rap – according to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week website, you’re more likely to be bitten by another human being than by a shark – but Stephen Spielberg’s menacing ocean dweller has managed to haunt me for more than a decade. You can’t get me drunk enough to get onto a boat knowing there may be sharks in the water. Really, I’m surprised I don’t hyperventilate every time I step into a bath. If clowns lived in the water I would probably be more afraid of clowns than sharks, but that damn shark is the monster in my nightmares. Kudos to you Jaws, you son of a BITCH.
Matt Risley: Despite being exposed to everything from Aliens to Predator at a NSPCC-baiting young age, the only thing I can remember truly, utterly freaking me out was a Stephen King short story – “Autopsy Room Four’”, from his 2002 short story collection Everything’s Eventual.
The tale in question is played out via the first person perspective of a guy who has seemingly “woken up” paralysed on an autopsy table. Except he’s supremely aware of what’s going on, and as the doctors chat away above him and prepare for the mortuary mangling, he can do nothing but scream inside his own head and desperately try to signal that he’s still very much alive.
Far beyond your average ghostly spookiness or the shock and awe bombastic scares of Hollywood’s horrors, there’s a terrifying tension that all but dares you to turn the next page. It’s also a freakily possible nightmare; while the chances of a werewolf ripping my head off are hopefully pretty slim, a medical muck up that leaves you trapped inside your own head is infinitely more possible, and as a result, pants-soilingly petrifying.
Steven Ellis: I’m not a big fan of horror. Especially movies as they seem to be more and more about the shock tactic of a loud noise, quick edits that make you jump or graphic torture porn than real themes of something that is genuinely scary. I’ve gotten more scares from books and comics than any other medium because they tend to be the more cerebral; they tend to have themes and ideas that leave an impression that you find yourself thinking about later.
My immediate thought upon reading this question was of the 2000AD horror/comedy strip Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint. There’s a panel, just one single panel, several episodes into in the first series where one of our heroes, who have been caught by cannibals, begs the cannibals not to remove his last remaining limb. He’s already lost both legs and one arm to these cannibals’ hacksaws and their bizarre game of Twister (Left arm Red is given a whole new brutal meaning) and although the words he speaks are only a speech bubble on a page, I can imagine the pitiful sound of his pleading, of his utter helplessness. In and of itself the strip isn’t that scary but the thought of this character’s situation, of being caught and mutilated like this, totally trapped and at the mercy of crazy people is something that has kept me awake at night since the first time I read the story.
Writing about it now gives me an uneasy feeling. It’s the kind of thing that hides in the back of your mind and festers and then jumps out on you when you’re just dropping of to sleep at night. That’s what horror should be.
Alasdair Stuart: The Woman In Black, the old, posh ITV version. A young estate agent goes to an abandoned mansion to deal with its sale and, having clearly never read what horrible things happened to his colleague Mr Harker when he tried something similar in Transylvania, stays overnight.
What follows is the sort of gradual, escalating terror that you just can’’ quantify. I saw a stage version of it once, performed by two people who were so convincing when one petted an imaginary dog it was like the dog was there. This is a story about the gradual subsuming of life into tragedy, of a place curdled by the events in it and a ghost as tragic as she is brutal. It’s classic, old-fashioned horror and I’m giddy about the remake, especially Daniel Radcliffe in the lead and a Jane Goldman script. I just may have to make sure I see it during the day…
So that’s our blood-soaked Blogbusters for Halloween week. Join us next week when our intrepid keyboard jockeys will hack into the 1990s cybernet, complete with CGI Jeff Fahey, and answer this question:
With Misfits back on our screens, what power would you want and why?
Orange jumpsuits on standby. See you next week