Friday 31 October 2014

Horror A Day!

I've been taking part in the #HorrorADay over on Twitter and thought I'd sum up here.

Day One - First Horror Movie Watched

It's not strictly speaking a horror movie, but the first film I saw that I remember really scaring me was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I was 5 and it was shortly after my Mum died and I came in on the scene where the room's closing in on them and the bugs and spikes and skulls... and eventually ran out screaming over the fire pit. I hid in my room reading The Famous Five.

Day Two - Favourite Horror Themed Game

I've played in some fantastic homebrew horror RPGs, but have to pick the board game Arkham Horror. I love it because it's co-operative and you really have to work together (I love Pandemic for the same reason). I also love it for the groups I tend to play it with (check out nogamesnoglory, one of these friends).

Day Three - Favourite Horror Novel

I picked 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. I've discussed this briefly before, here, but basically I particularly like this because of an intense fear of vampires that stemmed from The Legend of Croglin Grange. The fear stayed with me for many years, even with cloves of garlic on my window cill and a stake close to hand by the head of my bed... 'Salem's Lot spoke to that fear and made it ok, acceptable almost. Also, one of the books my Dad had leant me to try and help me get over it was The Natural History of the Vampire by Anthony Masters and King references this text within his novel. 

Day Four - Favourite Horror Movie Soundtrack

I don't generally notice the soundtrack unless it's part of the plot (as in Guardians of the Galaxy); I do like the Richard Cheese cover of Disturbed's Down With the Sickness that's used in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead has some wonderful moments too. Also, the siren song in The Wicker Man sung by Britt Ekland is wonderful.

Having said that, I think the music in The Woman in Black was very effective in helping build terror levels.

Day Five - Favourite Horror Author

I've probably read more Stephen King than any other, but not sure. I absolutely adore M R James's collected ghost stories; similarly those of Edith Wharton and Ambrose Bierce. I'm currently re-reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and think she's wonderful and have recently discovered  John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Day Six - Favourite Actor in a Horror Drama

Hmmm... no, I still find this really difficult. I do like Shaun Pertwee in Dog Soldiers, though, so maybe I should leave it at that...

Day Seven - Most Memorable Character to Survive a Horror Drama

I went with Carey Elwes's character Dr Lawrence Gordon in Saw, but maybe Christopher Lee's Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man

Day Eight - Favourite Subgenre of Horror

I have a real soft spot for a well crafted ghost story that probably overrides everything else, even my intimate fear of vampires.

Day Nine - Most Memorable Monster/Villain

The Gentlemen from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 4 episode 'Hush'. This was the episode that first made my Dad pay attention to the show, because he found them creepy.

Day Ten - Favourite Director of a Horror Presentation

Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer got me through my teens, and the season 5 episode 'The Body' is so very powerful. I might one day do a post about why I think the episode is so wonderful, but this isn't the time.

Day Eleven - Favourite Historical Period

Despite my love for M R James and ghost stories of his era, I think modern day fiction and settings are my favourite. Having said that, did enjoy a zombie homebrew RPG set in Celtic Britain one of my friends ran. That was cool.

Day Twelve - Scariest Scene in a Horror Movie or Book

That bit in The Descent where the terrified caver swings her camera round and it pans past her friend and the monster is stood right there behind her... It's a moment that haunts me!

Day Thirteen - Favourite TV Series with a Horror Theme

Back to Buffy. There are a lot of fantastic shows out there, but Buffy will always have a special place in my heart.

Day Fourteen - Last Good Horror Story Read

When I got to this stage on Twitter, I went with John Ajvide Lindqvist's short story collection Let the Old Dreams Die and highly recommend it. Since then, I've started re-reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and it is wonderful.

Day Fifteen - Last Good Horror Movie Seen

I saw the remake of The Haunting many years ago and didn't enjoy it very much, so was sceptical when Husbit sat me down to watch the original. It is so, so much better; a really creepy, tingling film. There's a sense of dread pervading everything whose cause is never quite clear.

Day Sixteen - First Horror Story Read

My Dad read the short story The Legend of Croglin Grange to me when I was little, and triggered a fear of vampires in me. I moved from there to M R James, but think the first novel was Christine. I'm not certain, though - it was a long time ago!

Day Seventeen - Favourite Slasher Movie

I think Scream. It was the first slasher movie I saw and it really scared me. It wasn't until I'd seen others that I discovered the humour in the film and could appreciate the way it pokes fun at the genre with love.

Day Eighteen - Favourite Gothic Horror Story

I don't think I can pick just one. Frankenstein is an obvious answer, as is The Vampyre, but maybe The Monk is a better choice - it's probably the darkest gothic story I've read.

Day Nineteen - Most Memorable Science Based Monster

The Id from Forbidden Planet. The film is based on my favourite Shakespeare play (The Tempest) and I found the monster suitably scary when I watched the film as a child.

Day Twenty - Most Memorable Supernatural Monster

I was torn between the obvious Vampire that we've established I have a... complicated relationship with and the Gentlemen from Hush discussed above. I went with the Gentlemen, forgetting I'd already used them, so maybe I should go with the vampire from Croglin Grange.

Day Twenty One - Favourite Horror Themed Artwork

This print by David Jones based on Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner hangs in my Dad's hallway. Growing up, it terrified me. Now I kind of love it.

Day Twenty Two - Favourite Horror Anthology

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M R James. I read James long before I was introduced to Lovecraft and believe his stories are part of why I felt so let down by Lovecraft: all the good things people claimed of Lovecraft's writing are carried out so much better, so much mroe efficiently by James and without the same endless repetition of only 3 or 4 storylines I ever found from Lovecraft.

Day Twenty Three - Favourite Horror Host

Because I've never watched nor read anything with a horror host, I have to cheat slightly and go with my brother's friend's dad, who threw an amazing Hallowe'en party each year. We'd start at mine with a group of my brother's friends and a set of silly games like apple bobbing and chocolate pretzels on a washing line to be jumped for, and then I'd take them trick or treating (I'm only 3 years older than them, but Dad trusted me and their parents assumed Dad was with us and they knew if they misbehaved or told their parents they wouldn't be allowed to come again so it always worked out ok - and anyway, I always went as a vampire slayer, so they were perfectly safe) and we'd finish at Louis's place for scary stories and more silly games and fun.

Day Twenty Four - Most Memorable Object used in a Horror Story/Movie

Back to 'Salem's Lot and a scene I've always found very vivid, in which the younger main character wards off a vampire using one of his plastic action figures who's holding a cross.

Day Twenty Five - Favourite Horror Parody

Having already used Scream for something, I picked Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (which I do recommend), but then I was reminded of Shaun of the Dead, which as my hangover move of choice probably should win this round.

Day Twenty Six - Favourite Horror Comic/Magazine

Not reading either, I went with Preacher. It was leant to me on my 18th birthday and I devoured it. Creepy and horrible with some brilliant ideas but not always comfortable reading.

Day Twenty Seven - Favourite Director of a Horror Movie

John Carpenter feels like the obvious choice, but actually I think I have to give this to Neil Marshall for Dog Soldiers, which is one of my very favourite films, and for that scene in The Descent that so successfully terrifies me.

Day Twenty Eight - Favourite Horror-Themed Guilty Pleasure

Lemon and slime flavoured Jaffa Cakes! They're only available at this time of year and are so very yummy.

Day Twenty Nine - Best Horror-Themed Purchase

Possibly the Deadlands settings for the Savage World RPG. We've only played through part of it so far, but I like it and it's creepy and fun. 

Day Thirty - Most Memorable Spooky Attraction

I'm going to go back to my brother's friend's dad's Hallowe'en parties. He was American and this was a little before American Hallowe'en really took off in the UK so these were a bit special. I remember his wife (who was British) arranging a series of boxes in which grim and ghoulish things were placed - eyeballs (peeled grapes) and worms (congealed spaghetti) and so on. The last box, you reached in and screamed as her hand grabbed you from within!

Day Thirty One - Favourite Hallowe'en Costume

This blog gets its name in part for a stunning dress my friend Mary made me, originally designed by another friend who very kindly allowed me to steal his idea. I've worn it as a fairy queen to a Hallowe'en party before.

My favourite costume remains the Vampire Slayer though. No femme fatale, no victim: sometimes flawed, but ultimately powerful.

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