Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Horrors, It's Scary Stuff

By Chester Campbell

Horror is one category of the mystery scene that I’ve never really cared for. I think Carrie is the only one of Stephen King’s books I’ve read. I also recall reading William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, but few others.

I suspect my lack of interest in horror stories may stem from my experience with that classic horror movie, The Mummy.

Maybe it was fate, or karma, or whatever you want to call it, but the story takes place in Egypt in 1925, the year I was born. The movie came out in 1932, when I was seven years old. I suspect my parents regretted taking me to see it. I had nightmares for weeks afterward.

I still have vivid memories of several scenes from the movie, most from the part where the mummified Imhotep, played by Boris Karloff, comes to life. The scene took place in an ancient tomb. It was filmed in black and white, of course, with minimal light, giving it quite an eerie feel. I can still see the archaeologist reading the ancient spell and the mummy beginning to move.

When his arm reached out, I wanted to climb under the seat.

Another sequence I recall was one of the characters starting to laugh hysterically. He kept it up until he literally dropped dead laughing. I still think of that when somebody uses the expression “died laughing.”

I’ll have to say The Mummy thing wound up with a happy ending, however. After my first wife died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease, I struck up a friendship with a member of my Sunday School class who had lost her husband. I wanted to invite her out, but it had been more than forty years since I’d done any dating. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.

Then I saw the ads for a remake of The Mummy, the 1999 version. I couldn’t resist it. I invited her to see the movie, explaining my problem with the earlier film. I found it entertaining but not at all scary. In fact some of it was quite funny. My date enjoyed it, though, and we went out to dinner the next week. That was early summer. We were married on September 4, so we’ll soon celebrate our tenth anniversary.

And though The Mummy doesn’t scare me any longer, I’m still not fond of horror stories.


Mark W. Danielson said...

Chester, I still recall hiding behind the couch whenever a banshee or cyclops appeared on the TV. Back then, movies left a lot to the imagination. Today's movies do little of that, which is why the book version is generally better than the movie. Apparently, Hollywood producers have forgotten that fear comes from within. Like you, I avoid the horror stuff.

Ben Small said...

Chester, I loved those Mummy movies. I'd hold my ears and stare bug-eyed. But I can't watch horror movies any longer, too much gore. And I hate that they modulate the sound so to hear anybody talk, you must crank up your speakers, and then they surprise you with a blast of drums or high-pitched spook noises that force me to change underwear. I won't watch that stuff any more.

I used to read Stephen King and loved his stories, but he's the only horror writer I read. And I don't read him any more. For me, his older stuff was better.

Man, you bring out some memories with those comments about Boris Karloff. And the funny thing is, I understand he was a very nice, soft-spoken man. To this day I remember the name of the mummy, althogh there's no way I would try to spell it. Good stuff.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm with you, Chester. I don't like the scary stuff either, not since I sneaked out of bed as a small child to listen to "Inner Sanctum" on the radio. I'll never forget the pounding heart of a murder victim beneath the floorboards of the killer's house. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.


Chester Campbell said...

Glad to see everybody's with me on the scary stuff. A lot of people really go for it, though. Those horror writers sell a lot of books.