I tend to ask silly questions, questions people avoid asking because it either may prompt a negative reaction or actually provoke discussion. Now you’re wondering what the question is.
What will it take to horrify people?
In my Monday Mayhem series, I’ve always included something to stir an emotional response. Given I’m writing horror in the context of terror, I wonder many times what horrifies a person.
Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense. He once explained how a person simply sitting in a chair could turn into a scene filled with anxiety and breathless moments. Of course, it’s not very suspenseful when someone sits in a chair. It’s actually quite boring. But, as he once said, place a bomb under that chair, and all of a sudden the scene becomes interesting, suspenseful and replete with horror. Will the person remain calm? Will they run? Will they try to defuse the bomb? What will run through their mind during the last seconds of their life? How did it get there? Who put it there? Why did this person have to be the one sitting there?
Once again, I ask, what will it take to horrify people?
I’m an avid YouTube watcher. I have several set-top devices that can stream video directly to my TV or display device. Most of my viewing, though, happens on my computer. I enjoy searching for fascinating videos I feel no one else has seen before.
The other day, I came across a genre of videos I first found funny but under later analysis found equally shocking. They are zombie pranks. You can search for it yourself and you will see a multitude of content specifically geared toward humor.
The very first video I saw Zombie Experiment NYC deals with zombies roaming the streets of New York City. If you’re thinking actors in zombie suits and makeup, you must’ve seen it before. The video quality and presentation is top-notch. I later found AMC produced it as their answer to Dish Network’s removal of its network.
What I find utterly fascinating is the reaction of people on the streets to these zombies. Some are dressed in city worker clothes, much of their costumes authentic, dripping in blood, skin in pieces, yet some folk do not react at all to the zombie invasion. Seriously—I write about zombies, and if one of these actors approaches me with death in its eyes and hunger in its jaw, I’d run for the hills!
Another video I found is London Zombie Prank. It’s one guy in London dressed as one of the undead, blood and all, horrifying the British in their parks, streets and historical sites. Funny stuff. But, again, what if the guy was real? I saw folks laughing at the thing. One fellow ran after the zombie. No fear.
The last video, which I will not link to, had a guy in a zombie outfit crawling into the middle of dimly lit road from a cemetery. You read that right. Cars passed, yet no one hit him. He should be thankful.
I’m not sure what to make of the reactions of the people in the videos. Perhaps laughter is the body’s mechanism to cope with shock and disbelief. Perhaps standing around doing nothing in a horrifying situation is the mind’s way of shutting down to other gruesome acts. Not sure. Or is it we’ve become so desensitized that we recognize truth from fiction? Your guess is as good as mine.
What will it take to horrify people? Have you ever played a prank on someone?