Memory Monday: Scary Movies details my childhood love of horror movies and notes that a particular source of terror was The Beast With Five Fingers.
The Beast headed the gallery of imaginary Monsters who terrified me in those fuzzy minutes between lights out and sleep. My overactive imagination attributed all kinds of horrible forms and supernatural powers to these nighttime creepers, but there were some limitations as to what and where they could be.
1. Monsters did not live under my bed. They might sneak into my room and creep under my bed to hide, but it was not their usual abode. And if a monster was very large, well, he obviously couldn’t fit under there.
2. Monsters did not take animal shape or resemble animals in any way. Animals weren’t scary, though large and ferocious ones might be intimidating.
Monsters tended to take near-human form. They might be horribly scarred, like the Phantom of the Opera (not Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom, but more like Lon Chaney) or they might just be parts of humans: that creeping hand, a scary head, or a guy that gave The Beast With Five Fingers a run for his money – the Circle-Running Half-Man. Or, there might be some resemblance to a clown.
Scariest of all were the monsters I couldn’t quite see. They were the ones, I was certain, who crawled into my room at night after the lights went out.
And my little kid’s eyes could see some monstrous shapes in some pretty mundane things. So I had to make sure that my room contained nothing that could morph into a monster in the half-light. That meant, right from the get-go, nothing with a remotely creepy appearance, even in full light – no clown dolls or sock monkeys for me, thank you.
But even the most innocuous or beloved item could turn into a sinister specter in the shadows. My child-sized Saucy Walker doll (Memory Monday: Favorite Toys) was a particular problem. She was usually perched on the little rocking chair next to my bed. And whether she was in profile or full-face, she was scary in the dark. I could not hide her away for fear of hurting my parents’ feelings, and covering her with something only heightened the fright factor. So, I would have to keep getting up and adjusting her until she didn’t look scary any more. Then there were things like brushes, chotchkies, and small toys that could cast shadows resembling gnarly hands. They had to be adjusted, too.
Somewhere between all this getting up and adjusting and getting up and trying to sneak a peak at late-night movies earned me the reputation of an inveterate night creature. Funny how parents seem to be intolerant of that sort of thing.