Hello folks today we have author Jim Bronyaur who has popped in for a guest post. Today Jim is going to talk about the big four horror characters that shaped him as a kid. So grab yourself a drink and pull up a chair
As a kid, I thought of horror as “the big four”. They consisted of Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Kruger, and our good guy doll, Chucky.
Now I’m well aware there are many other horror villains out there, some that only make one appearance and others who spawn long term scares (yes, Pinhead comes to mind). But for me, it was always about those four above. And as I sit here now, older, still addicted to the movies, and now writing horror books myself, I go back and ask – why are they so scary? Why does their test of time always seem to work?
Thinking about it led me to a pencil and paper where I scribbled ideas for a little while. And I've come up with a good start. Those four horror stars above take away something innocent from us. When we're kids, it’s the reality of what they are doing. They are in our face, terrifying us. And when we're adults, we watch and think back to being a kid. We think back to all those moments in our lives when Jason could have gotten us or when Freddy could have snuck into our dreams… and it gets us still.
Let’s break it down for a minute here…
-Michael Myers. When I speak here, I speak of the original. The remake done by Rob Zombie gave us a more intimate portrait of a serial killer rather than a boy that was flat out crazy. And I’m okay with either version, for the sake of this post, think original. What does Michael Myers do to us? He takes away Halloween. Halloween is the night we dress up and try to scare each other. We get candy, run the streets in the dark, and always make it home safe to count our treasures. When I was a kid, I planned out how to make my candy last into the winter – it was part of my routine. But now you’ve thrown something into the mix. In between the candlelit pumpkins, the bloodied faced bigger kids, and the all around aura of scariness, you now have a man like Michael Myers who is really killing people. Michael Myers made me look over my shoulder on Halloween. He made me afraid of who was under every mask. (And thanks to Jamie Lee Curtis, I still cringe when I see a metal hanger.)
-Chucky. Toys coming to life is pure horror. When we are kids – even girls understand this – we play with our toys to bring them to life in our minds. Our toys have voices, characterizations, features, qualities, they are in so many ways real to us. We are taught from a young age to play with our toys to learn, to use our imagination. We are pushed forward to create worlds where good overcomes evil. Where the big racetrack is a knitted circle rug. Where a couch is not just a couch but rather the top platform at an arena where our favorite wrestler can perform his finishing move. What Chucky did to us was take all that notion of play and imagination and bring it to life. I’m sure all of us have had an experience where we are creeped out by a toy or doll. Where we think a set of eyes is looking at us, following us. One time when I was a kid, on a vacation trip to the beach, my parents had to put a towel over a clown picture because I swore it was real and the clown would get me. Chucky took away our innocence in that playing with toys was fun, but when we were done, so were the toys
-Jason Vorhees. The camp killer. Well, of course it starts with Jason’s mother as the killer before they bring in Jason… but still, the horror of camp. The craziness of being a teenager. The dumb things we do – and most of it we get away with. But wow, how about that for a small moment of bad judgment… two counselors are fooling around while a boy drowns. And this spawned a franchise. Jason takes from us that innocence of being a teenager. Of being at camp. Of all that scariness from being a new place. Our minds run wild and now the wildest horrors come true. A man with a machete, killing everyone. And he keeps coming back!
-Freddy Kruger. What can I say about Freddy? He is the ultimate in horror. Because he gets you in your sleep. Our body needs sleep. We can’t function without it. And now something terrorizes us in our sleep. The concept is wonderful and even though Wes had to leave out the original story line (that was brought back into the remake), Freddy is terrifying. A bad man seeking revenge through young adults nightmares. This again plays on the teenager scene but it works all around. When we see a scary movie, we know it will end and we will fall asleep. We will wake up and it will be a new day. But what happens when the horror IS IN THE dream? Freddy takes away our sleep. He takes away a basic life function for us. And no matter what, in the original movie, when those deaths occur – from the bloody bedroom scene to Johnny Depp being pulled into his bed, Freddy makes his presence known and never lets go… 1,2, Freddy’s coming for you…
We’re born innocent. And each day we live, some of the innocence is taken away. Of course, this is a wide range of thinking, but in the context of horror and what makes it work, is to really think about people. It’s easy to put a knife in someone’s hand and have them kill people. Sure, that’s creepy, but is it scary? Scary is what that person with the knife represents and what that person can take away.
The horror is in the characters, the setup of the story, and the way people react to the scary changes around them. Sure, we all sit and wait for the moment of terror to come, but good horror doesn’t need it over and over. Good horror lets that moment build for a while. It lets that moment get into your veins and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
To end this post, good horror is essentially good writing.
Many thanks for popping in and cheers for doing such an enlightening post.
Jim's latest book The Devils Weekend is out now
Meet Oliver Ignis.
A man desperate for his mother’s love with the constant urge to kill.
After years of killing, he’s been give the name The Anything Killer. But now the police, led by detective Ralph Samuels, are closing in.
After a fresh body is discovered and the town swells with fear, The Devil comes to make Oliver a deal: in exchange for his soul, Oliver will have the weekend to kill without having to hide. It he’s shot, bullets pass through with no wound. If he’s stabbed, the blade comes out clean. And if he’s cuffed, they slide right off.
It’s a serial killers dream.
It’s our nightmare.
When Ralph Samuels apprehends a teenager who claims to have shot Oliver multiple times, he begins to wonder what’s happening to the small town of Damon, Pennsvylania.
It was everything Oliver ever wanted, but what happens when Oliver kills the wrong person?
With The Devil in the background and the police surrounding him, Oliver makes his last stand and gives The Devil everything he wants, and more.
This is The Devil’s Weekend.