Thursday, February 28, 2008

What scares you?

By James O. Born

Fear is a great emotion. It can motivate , freeze or thrill you. Like most emotions, as you get older you can deal with it a little better but not always. Everyone has fears whether they want to admit it or not. Some fears can be concrete and easy to identify like spiders. Some are more discreet and subtle like fear of commitment, which many people don’t realize they have until they’ve already screwed-up their lives.

I’ve found that my fears have evolved since I was a child. I can vividly recall the low-budget movie Legend of Boggy Creek scaring the crap out of me. The faux-documentary about the Arkansas version of Bigfoot hit the exact thing that terrified me at that point in my life: large hairy bipeds. Bigfoot, Yeti or even gorillas fascinated me because they were like us but much different. My view of gorillas at the time came from cheap horror movies and the King Kong saga.

Today, things are a little different, but I’ll admit to a little discomfort in the gorilla exhibit at Busch Gardens. Now I like reading books that scare me. It’s rare to find a movie that scares me more than grosses me out but there are a lot of books that scare the crap out of me. I don’t read a whole lot of crime fiction because it’s hard to find a story that rings true. The cat and mouse tales of chasing serial killers and catching armed robbers are a little less elegant in the real world. But science fiction and horror novels have no boundaries as far as inciting terror goes.

I can remember the first two books that spooked me badly. William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and the David Seltzer's novelization of his own screen play of The Omen. I know, how could an adapted novel spook me? I was a teenager, bought the book for a dollar at a bookfair and had not seen the movie yet. Later, Stephen King’s The Stand got under my skin.

What do all three of these books have in common? The devil or some version of Lucifer. It’s not even the thought of battling the dark one that concerns me. What really bothers me is that in these books and similar stories, no matter what you do or how brave you are, if you’re not successful, even death is not a release. The idea of someone torturing you even after death is the one thing that really creeps me out. That, and germs in public restrooms.

I’m still a sucker for books and movies where the stakes are not only in this life but in the next as well. Jim Stafford wrote the memorable country song I don’t like Spiders and Snakes. But they don’t really bother me, the devil, he scares the living crap out of me.

What spooks you? C’mon, we’re all friends, you can admit it.


  1. There is something about our concept of the Devil that digs deep.

    Couldn't sleep after seeing "The Omen."

    Of course, the same thing happens with any Adam Sandler movie.

  2. Donald Trump's hair. Who knows what evils lurk beneath that bird's nest.

  3. Bush supporters.

    They really really scare me.

  4. Cockroaches. The big black kind that fly.

  5. For me it was the "Suspense" and "Escape" radio showsin the
    40's and 50's, and the movie that got to me was the original "The Thing (from Outer Space)." Later, "The Omen" got to me too. Now Hillary scares me to death: Go, Obama!

    Tom, T.O.

  6. Hey guys.
    Just got off the road. Thanks to Patty or Paul, whoever posted this for me this morning.

    One of the highlights of the last week was seeing Dusty Rhoades who made me laugh all weekend. He and Terrinore are almost interchangeable.

    That last photo, if you couldn't tell, is a big snale pulling that small, cow-like animal out of the water.


  7. I'm not fan of snakes, but Alzheimer's would probably be the big scare for me.

  8. 1. Mice, rats, or any of their cousins.

    2. The idea of harm to my children.

    3. And the all time scarest sound in the world...........

    Standing in the dark and hearing a shotgun being rack...and you aren't the one holding it.


  9. Alzheimer's terrifies me, mostly because I thought I had it once. For months my mind slowly slipped away. Turned out to be a reaction to a prescription.

    Other than thet, if we're being both existential and honest--I'd say that I'm afraid of success. Or rejection. In some ways they're one and the same.

  10. I am petrified of unknown dogs. Especially if they are running at me and barking, with no owner in sight. I know not to run, but somtimes my other responses aren't too smart either.

    Once I walked very calmly into traffic when a huge dog was running and barking at me. I think it probably took 5 years off of my mother's life who was with me at the time. As you can imagine, the driver of the car was none to pleased with me either!

  11. I’m afraid of fear itself, of the lunches that D C P S feeds its students, of the idiots who can’t switch power around a simple fault, of the tunnel to Miami Beach, of the bus service, of the illiterate generation that won’t be able to carry the country forward, of the greedy capitalists intent on sinking the masses into poverty, of those ready to start crusades using other people’s children as cannon fodder, etc … But more than anything else, I’m afraid of those who can’t or won’t think.

  12. After today, what scares me is traffic court. And I have to go back tomorrow.

  13. On a literal level, anything with more than four legs terrifies me. I go almost catatonic around crickets. Yeah, I know, stupid. But there you go, I do.

    On a more surreal level, the idea of telling the truth and having no one believe me scares the snot out of me. I see how very easily things could spiral out of control.

    Okay, I have to have chocolate now, and I think I'll watch the news to distract me. Great topic!

  14. "The Haunting" (1963 original not the remake) especially when Julie Harris asks, "Whose hand was I holding?"

    And teeming ants. (((shudder))))

  15. 1. There was a TV movie on ABC back in the 70s called Devils Triangle. It was the first time I remember being scared by a movie.

    Satan is just another word for obstacle. The word was personified to give it meaning. The red horned guy with the tail is never mentioned in scriptures or the Torah. I'm not afraid of obstacles.

    Church Lady Quilting THAT scares me.