It's everywhere! Stroll through your neighborhood. Walk down the aisles of your local Walmart, Kmart, Walgreen's, Lowes, Target, Halloween store, etc., etc., everywhere, anywhere ...you can't miss it. There is just something about having your hair stand on end or your heart race out of control, or a sensation of lacking oxygen to the point you feel you may faint. How about the feeling you get riding on the Demon or one of the other roller coaster at Great America amusement park (not very amusing for me). It's a feeling that you can't explain that starts with a tingling in your toes and works it's way up to the trembling and quaking in your stomach, up to the tightening in your chest, to the knot in your throat until it emanates in a blood curdling scream you didn't even know you had inside you. People want to be scared.
Let us start with the way we are decorating our homes. We are decorating in ways never dreamed of 10 or 15 years ago. I have learned that Halloween decorations are outselling Christmas decorations now. There are elaborate graveyards complete with headstones, massive skeletons swinging from trees, monsters that come up out of the ground (thank goodness in Tucson the ground is so hard, I haven't seen any of those around my neighborhood yet), witches hanging from rooftops, doorway hangings that absolutely terrify toddlers. There are orange and purple light sets that decorate trees, rooftops, windows, bushes and fences. And don't forget the old stand-by haunted houses, haunted mazes, haunted amusement parks...well I think you get the idea. We want our senses challenged in macabre ways.
Take a walk with me down memory lane of the horror movies and how popular they have always been. My husband still remembers and talks about his older sister taking him when he was very, very young (too young to be viewing a movie like that one) to the movie theater to see Wolfman with Lon Chaney. Can you say Frankenstein or The Mummy with Boris Karloff or Dracula with Bela Lugosi? I think these were the original 'scare me to death' movies that helped spawn many of the ones that are enjoyed by many people today.
All the above leads me to – you guessed it – wonderful ‘scare me to death’ - 'thrill me and chill me' novels. How about a little hair-raising with Stephen King? Too many to count! The Stand, It, Salem’s Lot, Cycle of the Werewolf, The Shining, and the one that had me looking under my bed in the middle of the night…Pet Semetary. The list is endless. What about Dean Koontz’s Sole Survivor, Shattered, Demon Seed, Intensity or Watchers. Mr. Koontz also has too many to count! I think you are getting my drift though….there is nothing like using your own imagination when reading a book. You get to put whatever leading man or woman in the starring role. You get to make a scene as bloody or suspenseful as you can take. A good author leads you and guides you but gives you enough leeway to use your imagination. A well written book will have different slants to tantalize every reader. That is why book discussion groups are here to stay. You may see something completely different from what another reader sees and the only way this gets brought forward is by discussing the book.