Things that scared me as a child...
The face in my toilet
Yes, it's a funny one this. I mean, there wasn't really a face in my toilet. It was just a few bumps in the finish of the porcelain at the bottom of my childhood WC. With a little imagination they could be thought to resemble a face, and I was unlucky enough to have a lot of imagination. At some point I got the idea (possibly from my dear old Nan) that it was the face of the devil, so I suppose I'm lucky it didn't put a permanent end to my toilet using days really.
'Nuff said, surely?
The Children of Green Knowe
I have several frightening memories of The Children of Green Knowe but by far the most paralysing is of a statue of St Christopher carrying a stone child through a river during the night. It still sends a shiver down my spine. I've not seen the programme since and would really like to revisit it.
Blake's 7 series 4 episode 6: Headhunter
The memory that really chills me is of the robot, Muller, pursuing our anti-heroes through a corridor while carrying his head under his arm. Hell's teeth but that scared me, and put me off Blake's 7 for years. Of course, when I came to rewatch the episode years later I found it wasn't all that scary after all. Here's a clip -
A recurring nightmare
Each time the scene would be different. Eh, you splutter, how can it be a recurring nightmare then? Well because each time it would be accompanied by a horrifying, throbbing droning noise and a perspective that zoomed in and out on the action while never really focusing on what was happening. The events of the dream weren't what scared me. It was the way the nightmare was, if you like, shot. I would wake up in quite a state.
Imagine my surprise when, years later, I watched Irreversible and saw the precise same methods used in the opening sequence. I think Gaspar Noe may have had the same nightmare.
Hands coming from under the bed
I think this is probably a common one. I was always convinced that something was under the bed, waiting to grab my ankle as I climbed into bed. Why I thought it couldn't creep out and get me in the night while I slept I don't know. This same fear preoccupied me when using the stairs in my house. I would run up the stairs like a mad thing in case a clammy hand reach between the balusters and grab my leg, then I would leap onto the bed so that no ankle grabbers got a grip. Every night. Sheesh. I should have been well fit.
So these are some of the things that scared me as a boy. I guess it would be odd if I didn't ponder what scares me now?
Being a rubbish father, or husband. Anything at all bad happening to my family. Our new government. Never getting anywhere as a writer, or worse yet feeling like I never fulfilled my potential.
It's important for writers to recognise what scares them, and what the root of their fear is. Not just horror writers either, fear and irrational reactions are a strong motivation for characters as well as for people.