by Crystal Connor
Lol, I’m sorry I couldn’t help it. This post is about Winter Horror, which is the theme this month on HorrorAddicts.net.
As both a horror author and fan one of my favorite things I enjoy writing about is and being entertained by is the psychological side of horror.
I’m not sure if you know this but I am classically trained as a Marine Diesel Engineer and the 1st time I went to Dutch Harbor I fell to my knees once on the dock. The captain had no idea what was going on and when he asked I replied, “I’m repenting because if I don’t a frozen wasteland just like this will be my Hell.”
If you could have seen the look on his face! Lol. The idea of being trapped and cold in a hell frozen over inspires me to go to confessional, and I’m not Catholic, I’m a Christian … but still. My sinning ass needs all the help I can get.
I think the three greatest contributors which has the potential to make the winter months so truly terrifying are Freezing Temperatures, Being Lost and Isolation, the induction of the fear that follows.
I think this is the reason I am such a fan of trapped environments. My all-time favorite of this troupe is when environment one is trapped in is a vast and open space, hellscapes of snow and ice.
Let’s explore these elements with a little shameless self-promotion served on the side…
Barrow, Alaska is one of the coldest and remote settlements in the North America. With wind chill, temperatures can reach almost minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I said minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Just let that sink in for a moment.
It doesn’t matter if its 65 degrees or God forbid, even colder than that, once I’m cold, I’m cold and the only thing I really think about once I’m cold is getting warm again and I’m in a pretty crappy mode until that happens. And until that happens its safe to say I’m not thinking straight because all I’m always thinking about is how cold I am and longing for the time I spent in warmer climates.
Studies have shown that temperature may sway how much trust people put in one another so it’s not surprising that people link temperature with psychological mindset (cold-bloodied killer)
Now being lost is completely different from being trapped or isolated. When you’re lost, at least at first, it’s the confusion that interrupts clear thinking. But you can always cling to hope when lost.
If your off hiking somewhere, or take the wrong turn during a road trip and don’t show up when and where you were expected you’re going to be missed and this is what eventually helps a person to stop randomly wandering around and talk themselves into some sort of game plan to get them found or at the very least, help them get their bearings back.
This is where the wisdom of walking along a fence or river or just being still so that whoever is looking for you can actually find you comes in.
But if your judgment has been impaired due to being cold, and you’ve been subjected to the imagination of novelist such as myself, once it gets dark all bets are off. Of course you’ll worry about the bear’s, wild dogs, and other dangerous animals but not as much as you’ll think about the ghosts and strangers lurking between the clumps of trees, no matter how unrealistic these fears may be, and that will more likely than not make a person make drastic decisions that will make their situation worse.
First of all you know exactly where you are and others might too, but when things go wrong you can’t get out and those on the outside who know where you are probably don’t know you’re in trouble and wouldn’t expect it as your exactly where you told everyone you’d be.
And this is the reason I say a person can be cold, scared, and lost … or … cold, scared, and isolated. I’ve never seen or read a book where people where both isolated and lost at the same time.
One of the great things about using isolation as a horror element (Claustrophobia, agoraphobia, taphophobia, merinthophia, autophobia … the list goes on and on) and the adverse psychological effects it has on just basic thinking, not to mention, critical potentially lifesaving decision making is what makes isolation so terrorizing on so many levels. Not only that, but all kinds of studies have been conducted on human subjects in regards to extreme isolation and solitary confinement … the results of all of which is why this type of sensory deprivation is considered torture.
This is the type of subject I can write all day long about so instead of letting this post get out of hand I’m going to give you guys a little homework! lol
Homework for couch potatoes:
Three good reads that I think you should read if you haven’t already (or read again if its been awhile) about winter horror using the elements of isolation are:
Trapped by Dean R. Koontz http://www.amazon.com/Trapped-Dean-R-Koontz/dp/0061050040
The Shining by Stephen King http://www.amazon.com/The-Shining-Stephen-King/dp/0307743659
In The Foothills of Mt. Empyreal The End is Now by Connor Titus http://www.amazon.com/In-The-Foothills-Mt-Empyreal/dp/1494964198
Three movies using the same elements
Adam Green’s 2010 Frozen
John Carpenter’s 2011 The Thing
Antonia Bird’s 2009 Ravenous
Home work for outdoorsy type:
If you rather not sit inside all winter and would rather risk your life by actually testing the patience of the gods of winter, you could try (but I am going to suggest that you don’t) your hand at navigating your way through:
Death zone, Mt. Everest, Nepal
Dudes it’s called the Death Zone, even experienced climbers have perished here, and since rescuing or carrying an injured climber back to basecamp is impractical, they are typically left behind to die. About 150 bodies have never been recovered but despite its names there are worst places to die a wintery death.
Muir Snowfield, Mt. Rainier, WA
Like they say, there’s no place like home! Rainier’s summit requires a formidable alpine climb, and more than 90 mountaineers have slipped or frozen trying to reach 14,410 feet. But a whopping 294 fatalities have occurred elsewhere on the mountain
Right in my own back yard, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
A staggering 189 men and 51 women officially remain listed as missing since 1997 by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management after trekking into Oregon’s wildest places, said Georges Kleinbaum, search and rescue coordinator for the office. “It only takes a mile before you get totally turned around and don’t know which way to go,” said Kleinbaum, adding that 1,036 search and rescue missions were conducted across Oregon last year.
You really can’t talk about the horrors of winter without mentioning Christmas. My 2nd favorite all time sub-genre of Horror is Religious Horror and actually I think that might be 1st. As a believer there is nothing more frightening to me than the idea of God turning his back on you, succumbing to temptation and forfeiting your admission to Heaven.
If you don’t have a weekend to spend reading a book but a have a few hours to kill check out Christopher Borrelli’s 2007 Whisper besides the child being the offspring of Satan, the religious undertones are subtle
However if you prefer your Christmas horror to be terrifying and religious-less I highly recommend Paul Andrew Williams 2008 The Children which is part of the 8 Films to Die For franchise. You can watch them both on either Amazon Video or Netflix
If you like your horror in quick short dosages I have something that fits the bill, clocking in at just 12 minutes and 9 seconds this little audio gem will fit nicely in your standard 15 minute coffee break The Christmas Wish http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after/
And on that note, happy holidays you guys and as always thanks for stopping by! See you all next year!
Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to ‘dramatization specialist’ because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Crystal’s latest projects can be found both on her blog and Facebook fan page at:
Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! audiobook from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!”