Several years ago I wrote a column about how I had been driving down a gravel road between a couple corn fields one evening and saw an animal moving around in the ditch.
The thing that made it scary was I couldn’t tell what kind of animal — or person — it was. In the twilight it was just a dark shape moving about in the ditch — expanding, contracting, jumping up, then crouching down like no animal I’d ever seen before.
There was something alive in that ditch, and my eyes and brain couldn’t interpret what it was.
I slowed way down as I got closer, then heaved a huge sigh of relief when I realized I was looking at a large plastic garbage bag caught on a bush, jumping about as it caught the wind.
Ho-ho! Silly me!
Well, reality caught up with me last week. It was late evening, and my wife and I were out walking Rufus the Wonder Dog and Raffi the Dog of Destiny.
As we strolled down a residential street I saw a couple black garbage bags piled up on the boulevard in front of a house, and didn’t think anything of it.
When Rufus saw the bags on the curb, he did what Rufus does when he sees a possible threat to Raffi: snarl and lunge at the offending objects / people.
“Rufus, it’s okay. It’s just a couple garbage bags,” I said, tugging him away. “Hey, Rufus! It’s just a couple of garbage bags! Settle down! Geez!”
Then the garbage bags sat up. It seems the bundle was actually a teenager lounging on the curb playing some sort of computer game on his phone.
I almost jumped a foot when I realized it actually was a living creature a few feet away.
Somewhere, in a ditch far, far away, that stupid plastic garbage bag is laughing at me.
. . . . .
Speaking of things that scare the crap out of me, there needs to be a law about scary movie trailers. Some of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had have been inspired by movie previews I’ve seen in theaters or on TV.
When I was about eight years old I went to a childrens movie one Saturday afternoon in San Bernardino, California.
What I didn’t expect was that before the movie, in a theater packed with small children, the idiot theater manager would show a preview for The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.
About a block from my home was a gravel road that led to some old decrepit shacks. After seeing that trailer, I somehow or other convinced myself one of those shacks was home to a werewolf. That gravel road terrified me until we finally moved away a year or so later.
Page 2 of 2 - In my early 40s I revisited San Bernardino and sought out that stupid gravel road just so I could stand by it, not get attacked by a werewolf, and let go of that fear.
Another trailer I saw as a kid was for the classic surreal Exorcist rip-off The Devil’s Rain, starring Earnest Borgnine as a Satanist who turns into a goatman at crucial plot-points.
The highlight of the story comes when Evil Goatman’s followers are outside one night and melt as they get drenched in the aforementioned Satanic rain.
Watch the trailer for The Devil’s Rain on YouTube sometime. Then imagine being a 10-year old watching it in a darkened theater, sitting there with no idea what was coming next.
I had nightmares for years inspired by that stupid two and a half minute long trailer.
Luckily I’m far more mature now, and not subject to such childish fears anymore.
And if the trailers for last year’s movie The Woman in Black made me jump out of my chair a few times, as least they were mature, thoughtful jumps.