Tag Archives: scary

Why I Like Suspense

I write suspense, and I frequently get asked, “How come you like suspense?”

The first time someone asked me that I had to think for a minute.

I think it starts in childhood. As a little kid, it was wondering when would be the next time that my older sister would put a spider on my shoulder, or jump out of the closet. Or it was fearing that maybe, just maybe, those spine-tingling scenarios on The Twilight Zone really could happen.

  • What if giant ants could invade your neighborhood and eat children?
  • What if seeds from outer space could land on earth, germinate, and take over a person’s mind?
  • What if there really was a fourth dimension—right next to your bed—that you could fall into and never get out of?

I guess I’ve always wondered if there is an area in space and time where reality and unreality meet. The space where they meld might be very small, but perhaps it does exist. And the possibility that I might have stepped into that area for only a second gives me goosebumps.

It’s a deliciously nerve-wracking realization. Like the time my husband “disappeared” from our house during a snowstorm. The car was still in the garage. There were no tracks leading away from our house. For over an hour, I searched every inch of the house. Even the crawl-space. Gone.

I began to imagine all sorts of scenarios. Because I’d already exhausted all logical explanations for his disappearance, my frenzied mind stumbled into other-worldly imaginings:

  • The Rapture happened and I was left behind.
  • Aliens abducted him.
  • He slipped into the fourth dimension.
  • Spontaneous combustion. (Nah, couldn’t be ’cause there was no smoke.)

I did finally find my husband. He’d been hiding from me by slipping behind the mattress of our boys’ upper bunk bed. (too bad he hadn’t fallen into the fourth dimension!)

My husband’s practical joke was scary. But the experience showed me how far the human mind—my mind—will go to answer its questions. Once emotionally and mentally invested in an uncertain future, we need closure.

IMG_2589That’s why I love suspense. How will it end? Will good triumph?

 

Scary Movies

Some of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen were made in the fifties.

The technology and special effects for scary movies was in its infancy then. So, either the movie was campy, or it was done well and would scare the Dickens out of you.

Scary movies today rarely thrill me. The little monsters that pop out of someone’s body, the goo, the in-your-face horror just doesn’t do it for me.

It’s the psychological stuff that makes me clutch a blanket to my chest and huddle close to my husband.

Remember The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.? It wasn’t the pods that scared me. It was the horror of the idea that a dead body, lying on a pool table, without any identifying marks,  finger prints, or pulse, could, over a period of an hour or so, begin to assume the individual physical  and mental characteristics of the person closest to it. Then, when fully formed, it could open its eyes and look at you. And you knew….

Agh!

Then there’s the deliciously creepy, The House of Wax, with Vincent Price. Although his disfigured face was scary enough, it was the idea that this bad guy wanted to coat you with hot wax—what a gruesome death!— and dress your dead body up as one of the life-like historical displays in his museum. The wax human figures in the museum were creepy enough. But to think that under the wax might be an actual dead body? Deliciously horrible.

I loved the old Hammer Productions of Dracula played by the wonderfully talented Christopher Lee. He was so tall and distinguished looking. No man looked better in that black cape than Christopher Lee! But the scariest thing about The Horror of Dracula was the idea that despite the guards posted outside your house to protect you from Dracula entering, he’s already IN your house! I’d be screaming at the characters on the screen because I was the only one who knew that Dracula only had to rise from his coffin, secretly placed in the basement, and walk upstairs to claim his victim.

Creepy concepts, especially since in all of these movies God was not present. (Okay, except for the reliance on a crucifix.) and He was not the solution.

Here are some really scary ideas straight from the Bible:

What if the Devil came to God and said that the only reason you loved Him was because He gave you good things? What if He asked God to let him send you all sorts of tragedies to prove your conditional love?

What if an evil giant was waiting outside your house with a sword, promising to slice and dice you and feed your flesh to the birds?

What if a man down the street was so filled with demons that no one could restrain him? And he frequently attacked people. Would he come after you? Your children?

What if the Devil himself filled a man and gave him so much power that he was able to conquer the entire world and hunt out and kill Christians?

All great concepts. No goo, no stupid looking mini-monsters poking their heads out of your guts.

And the scariest thing? They’re true.

But, unlike the horror movies I’ve been writing about, the Lord is present in each of these biblical horrors. Even my imagination can’t conjure all the wonderful ways that He is able to rescue us. Better than the best of the best horror movies.

He conquers the devil, or the demons, or the evil warrior, or the anti-Christ. Rest assured, as a child of the Lord, God will always deliver.

 Bad and scary things do sometimes surround us. but Jesus told His disciples: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV Bible)