I was one of those kids with a closet full of living, breathing monsters, bogeymen and your general serial killer-types, waiting to creep out and do their worst to me as soon as my parents fell asleep. The reason I’m still alive is surely attributable to those early years of constant vigilance and my insistence on keeping the hall light on. My parents also had a role in my survival, in that I often made them check the closet and prove to me that there was nothing hiding in there. The inhabitants of the closet always seemed to sense them coming, however, since they were never present when Mom or Dad opened the closet and put on a show for me of shuffling the rack of clothes and reaching to the back to touch the bare wall. I also did much checking under the bed. What would’ve happened if there actually had been a monster, bogeyman or serial killer, I don’t know – but at least I would’ve seen it coming.
So how did that child version of me soon fall in love with the horror genre? I don’t know exactly, but maybe I learned that watching horror movies or reading horror novels and stories was a way to be able to control the frights. I could always close the book or magazine, or turn off the television.
Or could I?
That’s one of the great things about horror – sometimes you know you should stop watching or reading if you want to get a decent night’s sleep, but you can’t. There’s no way to stop; the narrative keeps dragging you along, kicking and screaming, and won’t let you out of its grip until the end.
But usually, when it does finally let you go, you realize that you’re still safe. The book or the movie or the magazine didn’t kill you, it didn’t eviscerate or disembowel you while you weren’t looking. And that’s pretty damn cool. And believe me, you need to be safe and whole to keep vigilant against the monsters who live in the closet and under the bed.
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