Horror Imagery

Posted: March 11, 2015 in horror
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(I have been woefully slacking on this blog, I know. Life surged up and kept me overly distracted. Now, back to the important business of horror…)

One scene. One image. One thing that truly affected you. Widened your eyes, caught your breath in your throat, brought your hand over your mouth. A picture that climbed under your skin and made a home in the back of your brain.

Something that haunted you long after the image faded from your retinas.

I watched Hellraiser for the first time last week. I know, I was gravely deficit in my horror history by not indulging it until now. Yet at my more mature age (I was 4 when it was originally released) and my expanded horror expertise, I feel like I could more fully appreciate the horror brilliance of it.


And the brilliance of Hellraiser lies mostly in its imagery. Frank, from the point of his resurrection onward, is visually impressive. His initial resurrection scene enthralled me. His creature clawing after his victim was completely unnerving. I was dazzled, and the film lingered with me.


That effect, that successful bit of horror got me thinking about horror as a genre. To me, the ultimate purpose of media in the horror genre is to evoke a fear-based reaction in the audience. By definition, what you see (whether with your eyes or with your mind) should be frightening or disturbing.

When I craft horror, I definitely (attempt to) lean heavily on these ideas. With my book, Savages, I aim to make my reader uncomfortable with the terrifying savagery hiding under our humanity, personifying it with a crucified sacrifice. With my book, Ode to Master (working title, soon to be retitled!), I climb into vivid detail of skin removal, hoping to make my audience’s skin cringe at the words.  With any luck, I am successful, but I rely heavily on creating horror through images.

When I think back through the library of horror exposure in my memory, there are a few stark images that stay with me.

From reading horror, it is Gerald’s Game. Unfortunately, my brain tends to offload the details of a book very quickly after I finish it. I can remember if I liked it or if I thought it was amazing, but the specific scenes fade away. I wish they did not, but gray matter real estate seems to be at a premium these days. Yet one image from Gerald’s Game lingers with me. Jessie is handcuffed to the bed after her husband dies. Eventually, she lubricates her hand with her own blood to attempt to free it from the cuff. Complete with skin peeling. My hands crawl just typing the glimpse. That picture lives in my nerves.


I have seen numerous horror movies, good and bad. I have cringed; I have laughed. I could probably list plenty of disturbing scenes and gory flashes. Yet the first one that comes to mind is the baby removal scene in Inside. Thankfully, I had not had children by the time I viewed said scene because, after two babies, I cringe at the mere recall of that bloody mess. Again, I feel the memory of the image in my body.


These are just two, the first two on the crest of my brain. Yet they are burned deep behind my eyes.

What horror image haunts you best?

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