Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Fascination of Magic (and other things that go bump in the night)

Voldemort and Harry
I've been reading some blogs and articles recently, about why we enjoy magic.

I like stories about magic. And horror stories, urban fantasy, speculative fiction, paranormal romance, the occult, fantastika etc. et al, ad infinitum.

The big question is, why?

No one else in my family shared this fascination, nor my desire to spend my free time immersed in vampires, ghosts and magic. Nor did any of my childhood friends. I was reading Dean Koontz then, my peers had never heard of him. Nor my English teacher, who declared horror books to be "pap" and so I wasn't allowed to do a book report on Hideaway. My interest has never been encouraged in the slightest, yet it continued to grow and prosper within me.

Why? I think the main reason is because the stories are just that, stories.

An American Werewolf in London
When I was 6 or 7 saw my first horror film, American Werewolf in London, which i think is rated 15 (possibly 18). Without parental permission, I must add. My sister (who is 5 years older) had nightmares; I slept like a baby.

I believe that a part of me has always known that those kinds of stories aren't real, and so I can simply enjoy the story without worring about a spell being cast on me, or a gremlin climbing in through my window at night (though that would be very cool) or Freddie Kruger hiding under my bed. Indeed, my favourite insomnia company is a horror film, because they keep you entertained, usually without requiring much effort on the viewers part.

I was also exposed to a lot of true crime movies in my childhood as my mother was a fan (still is). Now some of those films, even the PG rates ones, they terrified me.

The daughter in Small Sacrifices
There are some scenes that are seared into my brain to this day. A murdered wife being wrapped in carpet and dumped by the side of a road. The scene in Fatal Vision, where Gary Cole's* movements around his house could be tracked, long before the days of DNA, because his family all had different blood types. The Deliberate Stranger looking for victims at a lake and at the end of the day, a group of friends, frantically calling the name of their missing friend. A woman being stabbed in broad daylight, and no one lifting a finger to help her. Farrah Fawcett's** little girl, finally admitting the truth to herself by writing down the name of her attacker. (She was mute. And the attacker was her Mom).

My sister still claims that she cannot throw a pair of curtains open thanks to American Werewolf; she has to pull back one curtain, then the other, whereas I can't even remember that scene.

Damon Slavatore trying to escape an animal trap
Just today I saw Damon Salvatore trying to rip his hand out of an animal trap and it didn't bother me in the slightest. 127 hours though? I'm afraid to watch it because I know that suffering was real, and that someone actually endured what I'm seeing.

I think that real life is hard enough. I don't want to spend my leisure time immersed in real suffering and unimaginable cruelty that will haunt me. I'll stick to pretend bogeymen, thank you, because deep down, they don't frighten me at all.

So are you a fan of the fantastic? If so, what draw does it hold for you.

* I would like to add that Gary Cole was the actor playing the murderer and did not actually kill his own family
** Same for Farrah Fawcett, she played the murderous mom.

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