Who Scares Ya, Baby?

dreamstime_l_4442155   Okay, I must be the last person on the planet to see Iron Man 3 in the theatre.  In fact, I saw it on Thursday, and by Friday, it was no longer playing in the theater.  No worries, this is NOT a review of Iron Man 3 (although I will say I did enjoy it.  How can you not love Iron Man?  I mean, I can still sing the theme song from the old black and white cartoon – Iron Man, Iron Man… well part of it, anyway).

No.  The topic of today’s blog is what scares you?

The reason I bring this up is that I went to see that movie with a certain amount of expectations with regards to ACTION! SUSPENSE!  SPECIAL FX! COOL COSTUMES!  And I wasn’t one bit disappointed in that regard.  The surprise bonus came with the glowing eyes and skins of the bad guys.

It was really creepy.  Even at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

So I started thinking about all the kinds of images that creep me out.  Glowing eyes is a big one, but when I did an image search on ‘scary’, the images that came up didn’t bother me like I thought they would.  Oh sure, they had black eyes (“…like a doll’s eyes…”), bloody eyes, white eyes.  But for me, it’s the glowing fire eyes that gets to me.

And I started to think about it. So how come I haven’t put in any of the stuff that really creeps me out, like glowing fire eyes and fire veins in my stories?  Why did I have to go to a movie to see that great stuff?

So I decided to make a list of all the stuff that really scares ME, and came up with some interesting ideas.  Like sometimes, the image (in this case of the glowing fire eyes) is what touches the real primal fear inside you (of being burned).  It was never Bruce the Shark in Jaws that scared me; it was the primal fear of being ripped apart and eaten alive that has kept me wary of swimming in the ocean all these years (even as Jaws is one of my all time favorite films).

So the lesson learned (for me) was the realization that the special effects/action, whether in a movie or in your story must  reach a primal place in the audience to be most effective.  The action and threat in any story has got to reach someplace much deeper than body count.  Like the Twilight Zone,  it’s got to reach that place that makes you turn more lights on when you’re at home alone on a quiet night.

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