In Which I Discover the Obvious: Horror is Scary

When I was about fifteen or sixteen–maybe a tad younger–I was coaxed into watching the made-for-TV movie version of IT by my cousin, Dave. It was at a sleepover, and we watched it right before going to sleep. The movie freaked me out to no extent. I mean, it’s not a wonderful version of the book or anything, but it was sufficiently scary to warp my young mind to the point that months later, I still had trouble falling to sleep if an image of a clown flashed through my head by some strange happenstance. (You never know when you’re going to think of clowns.) The book’s all about a killer thing that takes the shape of a clown and then can pass through walls or windows or anywhere. No wonder I was freaked out.

I’m in my thirties now, though. I wear big boy pants, and I haven’t wet the bed in decades. So I decided I was old enough to read the book version of that lovely tale. Why did I decide this? Because I practically worship the ground Stephen King walks on when it comes to writing, and I wanted to see how a really genuinely scary book is put together.

I don’t normally like horror, truth be told. I have a fairly active imagination (hello–author), and it doesn’t take much for me to be disturbed. That said, I don’t seem to be able to turn away from horror movies or horror books. It’s like I’m a moth, and I can’t stay away from that flame. Hellraiser, Friday the Thirteenth, Nightmare on Elmstreet, Saw . . . there’s a whole long list of movies I’ve watched against my better judgement. I’m just a sucker for punishment.

After all these years since I saw the TV version of IT, one image has stayed with me for all that time. There’s a scene where the clown is lurking in the bottom of a sewer grate, and he lures a five year old boy to come close enough to the grate to . . . eat him, I guess. The clown’s all friendly at first, and then he goes from zero to evil in about one millisecond. I’ve had that thought kicking around my head for twenty years. It still scares me.

I started reading IT at bedtime, pretty confident it wouldn’t freak me out right away. The first scene of the book? That scene that’s been haunting me for twenty years. Thanks, Stephen King. It took me an hour to fall asleep. And I’m still reading the book. Right before bedtime. Because horror. Honestly, sometimes I worry that there’s something wrong with my head.

How about you all–anyone read the book? Seen the movie? Love horror? What did you think? Why? Please share.

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