Scary Things: A Halloween Meme

Stephen Lang came up with the idea of listing 10 scary things for a Halloween meme and publishing the list after dark. After dark? Everything I do on the net is after dark this time of year, unless I’m off work that day.

Anyway, here’s my 10. Beyond the first two, they aren’t really in any order.


As someone who is a thanatophobic and therefore has an abnormal fear of death (I’d defy anyone to try and justify it being an “irrational fear”) this obviously makes my list. I just don’t like the idea of not being here anymore, is all. Having said that, I don’t particularly like the idea of living here in fifty years time when the world governments are still saying “you know, we really ought to do something about global warming”, we’ve killed off about 80% of other species and the planet is becoming increasingly inhospitable because of greed.

Completely Mucking Up The Planet

Pretty much what I’ve said above, really. People who have been interested in environmental issues have been aware of global warming caused by the greenhouse effect for fifteen to twenty years, and still some businesses (and governments bought by big businesses) are refusing to accept we have a problem. Of course, to a business, what’s important is future profitability, not whether or not hundreds of millions of people are going to die and the world will be made inhospitable.

It’s not so much a fear that we won’t do anything as a stone cold certainty that the world won’t do anything until it’s too late and then future generations will rightly hold us accountable for the mess we’ve made of their planet.

Big Barking and/or Snarling Dogs

Note that I’m not scared of little dogs (i.e. the ones that “yap”). It’s the big ones, where their mouth is roughly level with my testicles that I don’t like. I’ve not liked them since I was a small child — possibly since my mother and her mother both had somewhat of a phobia of large dogs this rubbed off on me to some extent.

I remember once as a child walking home from school, and as I turned a corner, was confronted by a dobermann snarling and growling at me. I was terrified and screamed very loudly — which in turn terrified the dobermann which ran off a different way, leaving me free to walk home a little shakily.

Salem’s Lot (1979 film)

Not really the book — I’ve never really been that scared by books, to be honest — but there’s one scene in the film where this small child has become a vampire and he’s floating on an eerie mist outside his friend’s window, scratching at the windowpane and wanting to be let in. And you’re watching this deathly pale boy in his pyjamas who we all know is a vampire, and hoping his friend doesn’t let him in, and then watching as he goes over to the window, puts his hand on the latch and — well, watch the film yourself.

The Shining (1980 film)

Again, another film adaptation of a Stephen King book. I think he’s a great writer and I really enjoy reading his books, but I’ve never been actually frightened by them (sorry, Stephen) — I’ve been worried for the characters, certainly, but it seems to take a more visual medium to scare me. With this film, it’s not the in-yer-face terror of the manic “here’s Johnny” Jack Nicholson breaking down the door with the axe, nope.

It’s the slow and building dread and tension at the start of the film that does it for me — when the little boy sees balls bouncing along by themselves, and little girls who simply aren’t there, and so on. Eep.

Hannibal Lecter and My Cat

I was watching Silence of the Lambs at around age 14 on video with a friend from school. We were sat in the dark in the living room of my old house, with all of the lights left off deliberately to make it a bit more spooky. At one point, you just know there’s a dead body in the room — and possibly one that has been there for some time. Just as they were finding it, a putrid, unearthly smell began emanating around the room — the cat had added something to the litter tray and the smell had wafted into the room — which certainly added something to the atmosphere.

Then, later on, they find the body of a hospital orderly with his face removed — so you know Hannibal has escaped wearing the orderly’s face. At this point, we were still alone in the house, in the dark, and hear a thump and then a massive clatter from the other side of the room. After nearly jumping out of our own skins, a quick check reveals that Tiger had himself jumped on the ironing board, knocking it over, and again adding another “special effect” to the film. A quality film, and pretty scary on its own, but much more frightening if you have a cat adding to the special effects—

The First Two Thirds Of Silent Hill (2006 film)

This could have been the best horror film I’d ever seen. Unfortunately, the last third descended rapidly into a gore-fest where the only tension was in wondering who was going to be eviscerated next, and actually became quite boring. You could argue I was being desensitized to the violence, but equally I’d be prepared to say that I didn’t like the violence, but I didn’t think it was very good either. I didn’t care about the characters any more, all the tension had gone and well, there’s only so much of wires bursting through flesh you can really watch…

But the film is still worth watching, just for the first two thirds. I’d still recommend people watch it because the majority of the film really is that good. It starts quite simply — there’s a small child having nightmares and sleepwalking who nearly falls into a big hole in the ground. To try and find out what’s happened, they go to a place called Silent Hill (I think she was from an orphanage there or something).

Silent Hill is an abandoned mining community, abandoned because the coal seams underneath caught fire and couldn’t be put out, and parts of the town had started to become unstable and collapse into the fiery seams. So they get there, there’s what looks like a snowstorm, the car veers out of control and the woman bumps her head.

When she wakes up, her little girl isn’t in the passenger seat any more. And we realise it’s raining ash, not snow. The woman is then left to search through the silent and deserted town against this all-white backdrop of constantly falling ash, and she occasionally sees a girl running out of the corner of her eye.

And then a siren goes off. A couple of minutes after that, the whole town changes…

Ring (1998 film)

That’s the Japanese film I’m talking about here. The Japanese film I watched in bed, with all the lights off, straining to read the subtitles (as my Japanese extends no further than “Toyota”) from about 2:00am to 4:00 am one morning on Channel 4, about three or four years ago. This is one of the films where there is a certain amount of sheer terror — but is more noticeable for the building dread and creeping fear that accumulates throughout, helped by the bizarre dream sequences that you try to make sense of. As the film itself says: before you die, you see the Ring. I’d second that — make sure you do.

Locked-In Syndrome

This is an unpleasant condition where you are completely paralysed and unable to move, speak or otherwise communicate with the outside world, but are completely aware of what is going on. Indeed, without careful diagnosis and monitoring of brain activity (and catching you during an “awake” period) it may be very difficult to differentiate this from PVS where theoretically someone is just unconscious for an extremely long period of time. In this condition you are conscious, but unable to do anything.

Just imagine lying there hearing people discuss whether or not to switch off your life support when you’d love to be able to scream out “I’m alive, I’m bloody alive, and I’m trying to listen to the telly! Leave my life support on and for goodness sake turn the golf off”. Definitely not a condition I’d like to experience (although frankly most things with “syndrome” “disorder” or “condition” in them aren’t things I’d like to experience — those words are a bit like “multiple”, “cardiac” and “haemorrhage” in that respect).

Being Unable To Have A Peaceful Night In On October 31st Because of Bloody Kids Who Can’t Even Be Bothered To Dress Up Properly Knocking On Your Door Every Few Minutes And Demanding Sweets

Pretty much what it says there, really…

One Response to “Scary Things: A Halloween Meme”

  1. Steve responds:

    I must confess I’ve never read Salem’s Lot or The Shining, but I do now remember the vampire boy from the Salem’s Lot film, a scene I’d forgotten about for years and years.
    The Shining (film) is on my list too, which the BBC seem to air twice a year just so we aren’t allowed to forget how scary it is…

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