During my high school years I was a horror film junkie. In fact, there was a three year span when many of my weekends were spent with a friend watching a Friday the Thirteenth movie, a Freddy Krueger movie, or some other randomly freaky show. To me these shows were not incredibly scary, just amazingly gory. Although I did make some basic rules for my life as a result.
1- Neither I nor any of my descendants would ever go to a summer camp.
2- I would never move into a neighborhood with an Elm Street.
3- When I got married I would never allow my children to keep rabbits nor would I allow my husband to have a clandestine affair with Glenn Close.
4- Never accept a job in an haunted hotel during the winter with only my supernatural son and my wanna-be novelist spouse named Jack. And if for some reason I ever found myself in this situation, I would keep all the axes with me and stay clear of any bathrooms.
5- Never, EVER, answer the telephone while babysitting. That is just asking for trouble.
6- Showering by yourself in a small motel is a bad idea.
I figured if I followed this simple guideline my life would be horror free and all would be well.
A few years later, I was in college and visiting my family who had moved half-way across the United States. My sisters and I decided to go to a new horror movie, Scream, with Drew Barrymore. (I love Drew Barrymore, to me she was the Molly Ringwald of the late 90′s.)
The movie was a little scary to be honest. Not only does poor Drew die but so does Henry Winkler. And if something is scary enough to kill the Fonz, you know it’s a big deal.
However, I emerged from the movie theater relatively unscathed (even though my sister threatened me with bodily harm if I kept shouting advice to the characters on the screen. Whatever. I still maintain if that dumb girl would have listened to me and avoided the scary garage, she would be alive today.)
It was only later as I was trying to go to sleep in a strange house, in a strange town that my years of scary movie watching finally caught up with me.
I lay there in bed pondering the fact that I was in a small college town, just like the movie. In an old house, just like in the movie. With raucous teenagers cruising around in their cars, just like in the movie. And I realized I was probably going to die a grisly death, just like in the movie.
At that point I made a bargain with God that if He would protect me from all deranged and psychotic killers, I would never again watch a horror movie.
Evidently the Lord agreed to my proposition because I survived the night intact, if a little sleep deprived. It was the second longest night of my life.
(The longest? When I was in labor with my firstborn. Ironically that night I again attempted to bargain with the Lord, that if He would just make this baby come out now I would never have sex with my husband again. The fact that I have two more children should alert you to the fact that this deal never went through.)
However, since I was not murdered in a brutal way, I have continued to uphold my end of the original pact by never watching another horror movie again.
Why this huge back story?
I recently saw a preview of a new Daniel Radcliffe movie based on a book I have wanted to read for some time, The Woman in Black. Knowing I will never see the film because of my aforementioned deal, I decided to check the book out from the library.
BIG mistake. The Woman in Black is the scariest book I have ever read.
It has the feel of an old fashioned Victorian thriller, with a slightly more modern spin. The book itself is a short, subtle, but easily read story and I should mention that Susan Hill’s writing is flawless.
Therein lies the problem. You can taste the salty sea air, feel the character’s despair and terror, and see the haunting and malevolent woman in black all while reading the pages of this brilliant novel.
I finished reading the book a little before midnight while tucked safely into my bed. My husband was lying right next to me, it was a calm storm-free night, and we live no where near the ocean. Yet it took a few minutes for me to work up the courage to reach over and turn off the small reading lamp on the nightstand.
And I have now added a seventh rule to my guidelines for avoiding horror:
7- Never go anywhere near a foggy English graveyard and make eye contact with a sinister female wearing black EVER. And if you are unlucky enough to catch the eye of a vengeful woman in black attire? Never let your children anywhere near a horse-pulled vehicle for the rest of their life.