Some people have brilliant, amazing imaginations. It their mind’s eye they can see vast, immersive worlds. they go into their thoughts and come out with incredible short stories, epic novels, vast fantasy realms filled with a slew of creatively designed creatures, books, movies, blogs, TV shows, RPG’s, videos games, etc. Their imaginations lead to massive fan groups, cult followings, and ultimately lots and lots of green. People create clever Youtube channels and make money that way. If only my imagination was like that. If only my imagination could be used to create vibrant, expansive, beautiful worlds for people to enjoy, or even just for me to enjoy. That would be fantastic.
But my imagination is not like that. My imagination is the opposite of that. It’s not that I don’t have an imagination. I do. A very vivid one. But it is not the right kind of vivid, active imagination you would hope for. Nope. My imagination is terrifying. It can turn the most innocuous things into horror-filled nightmares that want to tear me limb from limb and give me a “New definition of pain and suffering as I’m slowy digested over the course of 1,000 years….” … or… something like that anyway…
Using that quote brings up an important point. My imagination isn’t original, either. It needs to be inspired by something. Anything to get the wheels of fear turning.
You may be thinking “you’re so over the top. There’s no way your imagination is that bad.” Oh, but it is. It really is. Let me give you the perfect example:
One night, back when I was a young teenager (Probably just 12 or 13 at the time), Some friends and i got together at a sleepover and watched the 1978 “Dawn of the Dead.” Now I realize that this film is widely regarded as a horror classic, but horror classics don’t hold up all that well these days, and while we enjoyed the movie, it was mostly because we saw it as being funny: the campy acting, the bad zombie make up, cheesy dialogue, absurd zombie killing mayhem. For us in led to some good entertainment that was high on laughs, low on scares. (if you watch the long trailer on IMDB.com you may feel the same way) None of us found the movie to be frightening….
Until we decided to go to bed. Now, when I watched any horror movie, especially at friends’ houses, one thing always happened: Everyone else always fell asleep extraordinarily fast. It was like they were all drugged by a supernatural sleeping serum or something. Then, that’s when my imagination kicked in:
Suddenly, with the lights off, I was alone. And I had to keep my eyes opened, because if I allowed them to close, even for a moment, then blue faced zombie actors with awful makeup would break down the door or seep through the walls (my imagination suddenly made them more powerful by giving them ghostlike powers) and kill me. Not my friends, who were sleeping soundly. Just me.
As always happened at these types of get-togethers, I would quietly turn the TV on and play video games with the TV on mute until I literally had no energy left, and my imagination, with no fuel left to fire its psychosis, would crash with the rest of my body (though I do remember one instance when I was spending the night at my cousin’s house, where I pulled an all-nighter playing “Tecmo Super Bowl,” because I was afraid to sleep. Fear could drive me a very long way).
There have been multiple instances of this, whether at friends houses, or even watching movies with my family. This happened after watching Jaws, Twister, E.T. and even Goonies (SLOTH WAS AN EVIL DEMON FROM HELL!!!!!), not to mention that part in “The Empire Strikes Back” when Luke imagines himself cutting Vader’s head off and then sees himself staring all deadface into nowhere. I don’t even want to begin to say how uncomfortable I was deciphering reality after watching “A Beautiful Mind.” I found myself asking “Is this real life?” only I wasn’t on drugs…. At least as far as I know.
This imagination of mine is what led me to this recent post about the most recent Paranormal activity movie, where I mentioned why those movies continue to be such effective horror for me. Because seeing gore isn’t frightening, Jump scenes are fun, but don’t give you lasting terror. Ugly ghosts are creepy but… wait… hold that thought. Ugly ghosts haunt my dreams too… But I’ll tell you about that some other time.
What is truly terrifying for me is when a movie practices restraint.The original “Paranormal Activity” was so horrifying for me because through literally half the movie NOTHING HAPPENED AT ALL when you were expecting to. Thus, it gave my terrifying imagination ample time to build up adrenaline as it told me “what is about to happen will be the worst thing ever. Just watch. It will be. You’ll see.” And then when nothing happened, I peed my pants… okay… maybe that’s an exaggeration. But that movie definitely kept me up at night.
Clearly the understanding of my own inner horrifying struggle will have to be a two parter. One post simply isn’t enough to explain just how awful my imagination is. So stay tuned for part 2 of why my terrifying imagination is more frightening than yours.
UPDATE: PART TWO HAS BEEN WRITTEN! Check it out here!