We are composite creatures. We are made up from our surroundings, choices and an amalgamation of determinism and also perspective influenced tastes. In todays blog, I look back at how my youth shaped my love of horror and how it has influenced my writing today.
I wasn’t a very popular child… Come to think of it I’m not really a hugely popular adult to tell you the truth!
Wow, that’s depressing….
ANYWAY, I had few friends growing up and found life to be quite a solitary exercise. Not that I really minded as I was quite apathetic in my late teens. No, I was happy to spend my Friday and Saturday nights as a teenager watching horror films. Whether they were recorded on the VHS car engine sized video recorder or rented from Blockbuster video thanks to someone who never checked my age (or the fact I was using my mothers card!) I was able to consume a vast amount of films over the course of a few years.
Every Friday I would head down to the store and rent two films. One for Friday night and one for Saturday. My house was more than often empty what with my mother and sister out so I found myself immersed in a world where I was scared and secure all at the same time. Actually, I say scared but most the films were terrible or exercises in watching young girls being chased in their underwear so it pleased me on multiple levels regardless of fear!
Some films did shake me up and test my tolerances. I was 15 when I saw Hellraiser and that was a MASSIVE test of my gore tolerance and nerves! Yet other films, such as Sorority House Massacre and The Burning, were purely exercises for my frustrated brain to indulge in for ninety minutes.
I loved being scared, I loved gore and I loved knowing the genre inside out!
Over time, I ended up dropping out of school (I had my reasons but I am no way an advocate of walking away from education) and I spent more and more late nights watching horror. It was very cathartic for me as I watched, so pathetic and alone, whilst pretty and arrogant young teens got hacked to pieces. Call it a way of coping with how I felt about the world!
My mother was less than impressed by this point and was trying to stop me seeing these films. She was horrified I had little interest in any other film unless it was gory!
“You’ll end up a serial killer if you keep watching those horrible films! They rot your brain for gods sake! Its not healthy!”
Technically, I suppose she had a point! I mean, I love hamburgers but eating them every single day is not a good idea for a diet!
I did watch other films, blockbusters, sci-fi and thrillers but the weekend was all about…
STOP! Horror Time!
I looked forward to it! The twenty minute decisions about choosing what film to watch in the store!…Then getting home and hiding them upstairs (only to always have them found with another mother lecture about how I was going to grow up weeeiiiirrrrrd) and then, FINALLY, turning off all the lights, getting loads of nibbles and a drink of cider before commencing my weekly gore-a-thon. In those days, there were no VOD or streaming so walking to the store was the only thing I could do if I wanted to see a film.
I was an avid reader of Fangoria at the time, a hard-core horror magazine who catered for all things macabre, and I found myself connecting with the other kids who wrote in about their passions an showed their collections/tattoos of iconic horror characters. Even today, from Human Centipede body art to SERIOUS fan boys who attend conventions in full Vorhees outfits, I feel a kinship with the most passionate set of film fans ever. So dedicated and less picky than comic book fans, horror guys and gals are great fun and very down to earth! We are just a special breed that’s all.
Okay, gory films have had a bad reputation in the past and been accused of contributing to all sorts of horrible real life crimes, but for the majority of us its a special relationship and devotion to something people just can’t understand.
So as you can guess, despite watching thousands of horror films, I am not a serial killer! My mother was wrong (thankfully). In terms of writing though, my books of Bezmel and Tapeworm Slim and its 2017 sequel, I do kill a lot of people! I am a literary serial killer! I exterminate, decapitate and decimate many of my characters and so I’m not quite sure what that says about what is inside my head! I’ve tried writing nice and healthy stuff but, unfortunately, there is a haemorrhage of darkness which always leaks onto the page.
I’ve always said writing was my coping mechanism. Throughout all my problems it has been my most consistent way of expressing and metabolising all my demons. I wanted to be an artist when I was young. I tried everything to draw as I hated typing and writing but, as even my stick men look badly drawn, I was drawn to the computer screen instead of the canvas.
In fact, without horror films and writing I may well have become a serial killer, but my two favourite obsessions have kept me sane! I must say my tastes have matured and mellowed over the years and I am more choosy in what I watch but, and it still cannot be beaten, I love finding a terrible film and enjoying a night of low budget nonsense!
I still love to be scared! It is one of the most amazing feelings when you are frightened, are nervous going to bed and have terrifying dreams all because of a film you watched. But horror is also pop culture and for every Nightmare 1 and Saw 1, there is Nightmare 6 and Saw 5 which is watched purely for enjoyment with no real threat to sanity or sleep!
Its another list next week as I countdown pop culture villains in horror. As for this week though, I just wanted to share another insight into the creative process, who I am and what inspires me. After all, this website is all about the story behind the story of Doctor Sahara Scarseed and her revolutionary new medication.
A biological horror book you can buy on Amazon today if you like!
Tapeworm Slim is on sale now and can be purchased from the menu link at the top!