Do you remember that movie ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’? The one every Millennial semi-goth was obsessed with and consequently wore Jack Skellington’s face on every conceivable item of clothing for a couple of years (I don’t fall into this category, mind, and on a completely unrelated note, I’ve deleted my MySpace profile so good luck searching for evidence.)
You know the film I’m on about, where the characters of Halloween Town discover Christmas and sing to their heart’s content about the earth-shattering discovery of snow.
The Disney one, yeah? Well it’s terrifying.
It’s a hellish hour and a half long musical nightmare that I have refused to watch ever since that first time at my Aunt’s when I was eleven (the less said about that the better). In fact, that film made such an impression on me that I’ve since used it as a benchmark by which I gauge all other potentially goosebump-inspiring activities. Great, now I’ve mentioned Goosebumps and I’m having flashbacks to the TV show. To be fair, I can’t even shelve R. L. Stine without feeling a little afraid.
“Have you seen the new adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘IT’, Victoria?” No Joe, I can’t even watch ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’.
“Hey Victoria, Netflix have done a new ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ series, didn’t you read that once?” I can’t watch it Abby, I’m very busy…and I can’t even watch ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’.
“Do you want to borrow my DVD of ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’?” No, Matthew, I don’t want to borrow your dumb DVD because I CAN’T EVEN WATCH ‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS’! Seriously, what don’t you people understand? I don’t take any pleasure in scaring myself witless for the sake of absolutely nothing. No gain, no reward, and I ask myself ‘where’s the reward’?!
I do get it, just that I’d rather the chills come through books, not on screen. Don’t ask me to explain it, you can call me a hypocrite if you like but I love a scary, weird, disturbing story! Arguably your imagination is worse than whatever they serve you on TV and yet, I much prefer it that way. I even found out that actually things I thought would terrify me aren’t scary at all. I guess you’re somewhat in control of your imagination and limited to your own experiences…but movies can show you things you never really thought about before (and for good reason.)
I had to really psych myself up to read ‘Misery’ after I promised to start reading outside of my comfort zone, and a friend told me it was a book that had actually made her physically sick. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – looking back, there was nothing to be afraid of. There was suspense in abundance and a lot of squirmy moments but I wasn’t too afraid to go to the bathroom in the night.
Oh dear, I’m sorry Victoria but I feel I must now defend my gothic rights and set the world straight about ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. Firstly I did not procure any item of clothing adorned with Mister Skellington’s face as that would have introduced white into my perfectly midnight ensemble and as any self-respecting goth knows, that is a crime against the order…
Secondly, the film itself is NOT scary – my eight year old son can bear testament to that as it has been his favourite movie for several years.
Thirdly, the songs are genius and for a musical that is important. The setting is all well and good but if the songs don’t pass muster (I’m looking at you ‘Into the Woods’) then you’ve wasted an hour or so of your life that you’ll never get back!
On one point we can, however, agree – reading is different to watching and I am not good at watching horror. We’re talking blanket over eyes because hands are needed to cover ears – the soundtrack is often more terrifying than the actual images! That reminds me of my childhood trauma: ‘The War of The Worlds’ (the original radio play one). Truly terrifying! Even now, I can’t listen to it. The sense of fear lives on for eternity within my soul…
I feel it only right I give you a list of Gothic basics to set you on the right path:
If I were you, I would then skip Anne Rice and maybe read Brian Lumley’s ‘Necroscope’ series and anything by Joe Hill. Also, one must not forget Mr Gaiman and the ‘Sandman’ graphic novels.
Gothic duty complete.
Where do you stand on this matter? Let us know in the comments!