Why I Love Horror by Charity Langley

What got me into horror… I’ve thought about this question long and hard and have come to the conclusion: I have absolutely no idea.


My love for all things dark goes all the way back to my childhood. Now before you jump to conclusions, my parents didn’t immerse me into horror as a kid. I wasn’t raised to love it, but I wasn’t raised to hate it either. (Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more children were raised that way?)


I honestly don’t remember much of anything before kindergarten, but my mother swears I was addicted the suspenseful, bright and shiny HBO intro as a toddler. The moment I heard the music start, I would escape from my crib and sneak into the living room. My mother often tells a story about how she and my dad were halfway through “An American Werewolf in London” when she noticed me on the floor next to the sofa, sitting on my knees enthralled with the onscreen gore.


She swears it’s the quietest I’ve ever been.


I wasn’t inundated by rules, schedules, and curfews as a kid (I once lied and told a date I had a curfew just to end the date-from-hell, but that’s another story). I grew up in a home where we were all pretty much able to watch whatever we wanted, but when my sister and brother came along, mom and dad scaled back to save money. For most of my life, we only had 13 channels. Our viewing was limited to a couple of news stations, PBS, and a few religious stations. Rabbit-ears didn’t work well where we lived, so Dad bought the most basic cable package he could. Needless to say, I didn’t (and still don’t) watch much television.


We also had a VCR. My grandmother loved buying us whatever box-office hit was on the store shelves when she went shopping. To this day, I don’t think I could sit through another viewing of ‘Jurassic Park’. My parent’s copy has a few glitchy scenes (if you grew up in the VHS era, you know what I’m talking about). My younger brother liked to stop, rewind and watch the same sections of tape over, and over, and over again. His all-time favorite scene was when the lawyer was eaten by the T-Rex while sitting on the toilet. He thought this was hysterically funny. Did I mention that little bro wasn’t school-age yet?


See, I’m not completely alone in my creepiness. It clearly runs in the family.


Since there wasn’t much television to watch, I resorted to books. I did (and still will) read almost anything I can get my hands on, but most of my books were handed down to me. My grandfather, on my dad’s side, was a locksmith and was a serious reader in his downtime. He always had a huge box waiting for me. Every visit was like Christmas morning. He liked dystopian sci-fi, and psychological thrillers. The best part, and something I’ll always be thankful for, he never edited the box. I got every book he’d read, kid-friendly or no.


One of my more memorable hand-me-down reads, was a book called “Mercy” by David Lindsey. For some reason the simple red and black cover with a feather in the center of it caught my attention. I read this book near Thanksgiving of 1991. I might be telling my age a little here, but I was in the fourth grade. I won’t go into too much detail, but the book revolved around a series of rather interesting sex-killings that prompted me to ask my mother many, many strange questions about reproduction. I’m very lucky my mother’s philosophy was: “If you’re old enough to ask a question, then you’re old enough for the answer. Otherwise, you’ll probably be getting it from your idiot friends.” Interestingly, I don’t remember my mother ever asking where I’d heard of, or why I wanted to know these things.


While most little girls in elementary school were infatuated with the New Kids on the Block, or busy crimping their hair. My friends and I were writing and illustrating our own ghost stories. Sometimes we each had our own, and some we started, swapped and finished each other’s endings. By middle school, I was writing my own ‘choose your own adventure stories’ as part of my daily journal writing.


Yep, I was that kid.


By high school, I was writing full-length novels (really terrible ones that will never see the light of day). No matter how mundane I started, my storylines always wandered off into the craziest, macabre, most bizarre places.


I surprised myself on many occasions.


At some point, I came to the realization that my writings came from my overall perspective on the world. When most people are posed with the glass half-empty or half-full question, they have an immediate answer. I, on the other hand I believe the answer cannot be derived from the glass itself, rather the action that put it into its current state… was an empty glass filled halfway up = half-full, or was it full and poured/drank = half-empty. Everything is subjective, beauty and ugliness can exist in the same space, so can love and hate.


With that said… it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Dark/Horror Comedies are my preferred film genre 😉


I know that I’m about to upset a whole group of movie watchers, but I hate average slasher-flicks. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. I always wait until they hit cable and fast forward to see if the deaths were imaginative. What irks me about these movies is that many of them don’t flesh out the guy with the chainsaw.


I find actual serial killers endlessly fascinating. Unlike flat antagonists in slasher flicks, there’s always more to an actual serial killer than the one track mind of death and destruction. We know the glass is halfway, but was it empty and filled with distorted ideas, or was it a whole glass worn down by a string of horrible life experiences?


Ed Gein is one of my favorites. With a suffocating, downright evil mother like Augusta Lehrke the poor kid didn’t stand a chance.


I’m also a very logical person, so studies of the mind greatly intrigue me. As someone who could never needlessly hurt anything (I’ll carry snakes from my garden, put crickets back outside when they accidentally bounce in), I am drawn to the inner workings of a person so twisted and broken that they are compelled to inflict pain and commit such gruesome acts.


If the fictional accounts of the silver screen give you nightmares, just wait until you delve into the realm of history. Read up on HH Holmes and his ‘Murder Castle’, and you’ll probably never think of a hotel the same way again.


I also love a good zombie movie. The original “Night of the Living Dead” will always be one of my top ten. It delved into what an average person is capable of in times of crisis. Some rise to the occasion, some are cowards, but does any of it actually matter in the end? In the same fashion, “28 Days Later” also probed the darker parts of human nature. From where Selena hacks Mark to bits, to the soldiers ready to repopulate the earth, it’s clear that humanity is its own worst enemy.


Fashion, celebrities, and ‘reality’ television seem to dominate everything these days. The world has become a wasteland of useless idleness that numbs us to true reality. Most of our daily lives are devoted to outside forces continually inundating us with reasons to be beautiful, cookie-cutter, fluffy bunny, cupcakes. Personally, I prefer to observe our species as a whole.


While most choose to wear sequined blinders and pretend that we’re all inherently good, it’s the mysterious, unknown, mangled and unspoken recesses of the human psyche that will always hijack my interest.


Charity is the author of Wicked Intentions which is available for purchase on amazon.com

You can follow her on twitter









How Can You Watch That Stuff?!

This is a question that I am often asked; apparently, it’s somewhat strange for an adult woman to enjoy horror. It’s a long held misconception that men are the primary horror movie audience. In actuality, it’s usually women driving the ticket sales. Some believe that males will, eventually, wander away from the horror genre as they mature, while females never leave. Why? Perhaps it’s because women tend to be more emotional creatures and this allows for a more visceral experience for us. Maybe it’s because most horror movies feature a female at the center of the story who, eventually, becomes The Final Girl. The Final Girl makes it to the end of the movie by overcoming her fear and kicking ass! Is there another genre that this story thread is so common in?

As a young girl I would hide in our living room, peeking around the corner into the family room where a horror movie, that I wasn’t allowed to watch, was playing. The fear and excitement elicited by doing this was something that I was both repulsed by and attracted to at the same time. They say that “seeing is believing” until the ages of 5-7; well, I believed that I was going to turn into a werewolf. Witnessing that epic transformation scene in An American Werewolf in London has stayed with me my whole life:I truly believed I was going to turn into a werewolf. This overreaction caused me to take a bit of a break from peeking around that corner.

Curious to see what all of the kids were doing in the back room at a family reunion, I stumbled upon A Nightmare On Elm Street 3:Dream Warriors. I was so terrified that I simply couldn’t look away. Consequently, I lived in complete and utter fear of Freddy Krueger for quite some time. He truly was my nightmare. So, why would I feel compelled to return to this genre that had, thus far, traumatized me?

Some believe that horror films appeal to those of us who are wired to enjoy high levels of psychological arousal. The mental, emotional and physical responses to a horror movie linger long after the end credits have rolled. I find this to be a wonderful distraction from our everyday horror. If forced to pinpoint the moment that horror became a way of life for me, it would be when my parents divorced. I lived a very “Leave It To Beaver” life and then one day, poof!, it was all gone. Pick your “favorite” parent because your life is about to drastically change. (This truly is the most traumatic thing that occurred in my childhood and I am very aware of how blessed that makes me.)

So, where was I to place all of my fear and aggression? Into horror movies! Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface were all, ultimately, taken down by that Final Girl. How cool is that? As I grew up, I began to fear more realistic threats and I found horror movies a safe haven to explore these feelings while simultaneously knowing that everything would be o.k. It’s just a movie. Horror movies almost always have a resolution and watching a girl overcome the most ridiculous and terrifying things thrown at her, made me feel as if I could also master a threatening situation. I find the real world to be a truly terrifying place where I have little to no control. While watching horror I can overcome fear, buck up and take the bad guy down. As an adult woman, I abhor showing weakness in the work place or social situations. I find that movies such as I Spit On Your Grave or Martyrs allow me to feel that very specific female frustration and just let it go; it’s very cathartic. So, why do I watch this stuff? Because I can. More than that, I truly, madly, deeply love the horror genre. I love everything about it. I love the adrenaline rush, the ethical questions posed, the awesome F/X and the absolute audacity that some people just don’t die and they don’t need to run to catch up to you.