Friday, May 10, 2013

Horror-Humor Done Right

I love Ghostbusters, and this blog is going to be biased. There you go. The warning is out. These movies, cartoons, and games have helped shape me into the person I am today. These movies mix great humor with scary things to make an awesome combination that makes me happy to be part of the human race.

What really pulls me into these movies is that they aren’t all-out spoof or gags. They have a chewy core of terror. Yes, the comedy covers up those elements, but they are incorporated to get people to watch horror without even realizing it. I have to say because of this movie and American Werewolf in London, I was terrified of dogs for a very long time. I was also afraid I would be mauled by a monster in front of a large crowd while people ignored my agony.

I must mention the current video game. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I loved it. It frightened me in ways only the best horror games have gotten to me. It submerged me in a world of occult artifacts and creepiness, which was of course mixed with humor, but still managed to spook me. There was a part where the protagonist is forced to walk down a hall of mirrors created in another dimension, and he gets trapped while looking for a ghost. I’m not sure if my game glitched or if the game was meant to do this, but I walked up and down that hallway for half an hour while mirrors shifted, images distorted, and my own sense of rationalization was muddled. Finally, I found the ghost and progressed, but to this day, I’m unsure what happened to solve the puzzle other than I had been stuck looking at myself and contemplating my shortcomings long enough. Again, there’s a lot of comedy in Ghostbusters, but there’s a touch of darkness, too.

The hint of horror in these stories pops up several times in the first film. It jumps out at the beginning when the librarian shows her true form, it shows up when the containment unit explodes, and it turns its ugly face when Vinz mauls Louis in public. The atmosphere of the story contains the essence of horror--it’s in the architecture, the surreal, radiating colors, and the design of the ghosts. I love the comedy in Ghostbusters, but the stories win my heart because of the touch of spookiness they offer.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Magic of a Masterpiece

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is magical in a dark fashion. It's been remade many times because the original has a sparkling touch of creepiness that makes it timeless. I enjoy Mickey's Christmas Carol thoroughly, as well as other remakes, but they do not have the same chill of the original. I’ve been trying to figure out what that chilling element is and employ it in some of my stories. So far, I haven’t been too successful because Dickens was such a master storyteller. However, I’ve narrowed a few things down.

I'm not very religious, but I do prefer Christmas over Halloween, and elements in this tale are exactly why. Maybe, I shouldn't say Christmas either--maybe, I should say Winter Solstice. There is interesting dichotomy with holidays at that time of year. There’s a mix between light and darkness, as well as good and evil. A Christmas Carol portrays exactly those elements. Scrooge represents the rich, evil miser and the goodness of light overcomes the veil over him.

It's obvious Scrooge is consumed by evil while his nephew, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim portray the goodness of humanity. However, the ghosts illustrate physical incarnations of the dichotomy of light and darkness. These creatures are even more mysterious because they were not humans yet they are not angels or demons. They’re pushing Scrooge to overcome his shortcomings; however, they themselves cannot be considered good, especially not the ghost of Christmas future who is basically the incarnation of death. Is the incarnation of death good, evil or just a mysterious force doing its job? Either way, the angel of death has become a very fascinating icon, as have the ghosts in this tale.

I also want to mention when Scrooge looks out his window and sees tortured souls screaming in the streets, I shuttered a little. He's viewing hell, and juxtaposing a view of hell with the tranquility expected on Christmas Eve is quite unsettling, yet very entertaining. However, the ending is happy as Scrooge overcomes his faults. The true meaning of the season shines through.

There's something else about the story I want to touch upon. The Christmas Eve in this story contains a certain magic that makes it similar to the props that push plot along in other stories. Consider the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It's full of magic and wonder, which is similar to Dickons’ idea of Christmas Eve. Both fill the reader with a sense that anything is possible.

Because of the real contrast of night and day--a bit of magic experienced by everyone--Christmas, Winter Solstice, and all the holidays around that time of year are possessed with a certain sense of wonder brought on by the natural magic of the earth’s orbit. Maybe these holidays are not haunted with the same specters as Halloween, but they are arguably haunted with mystery. I think I love A Christmas Carol because it portrays that marvelous yet terrifying charm contained in the essence of winter nights and winter holidays.