Something about his eyes tapped into the very essence of what scared me.
I was only 8 years old when the movie “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” hit all the movie theaters. Looking back, it was a silly film, horribly acted, poorly scripted, and still, to me, horrific.
The general premise of the movie was simple, but true. A serial killer that wore a white hood over his head terrorized Texarkana, Arkansas for a period in the forties. He only struck at night, hence the title of the movie. He killed, to my knowledge, 6-7 people, and terrorized two more.
The most horrific part of this movie, to my 8 year old brain, was the fact that he was never caught.
And those eyes..
His eyes would alternate between hollowed out and bulging as you would alternately view the movie, depending on the lighting.
Having seen the trailer for the movie, I was scared to death he was still out there… and looking for me.
This horrific image dominated my nights as a child, and I would spend untold hours laying awake at night, peeking at my bedroom door, waiting for that white hood and those eyes to lunge through it.
Now, I am a grown man, father, and husband. I still sleep lightly, and double lock my doors. It makes no difference the guy would be in his geriatric years.
He only needs those eyes and that hood to scare the heck out of me.
Ironically, this is the story of how I came to write horror. It put me in touch with what scared me, of course. More than that, it put me in touch with the darkness of mankind.
I really have wondered through the years why it scared me so. I think now, looking through an adult’s eyes, it was the fact that the darkness that lies inside us all, was behind that mask.
For most of us, that darkness is ignored and pushed away because we have a check and balance system. With people like him, the balances are not there, and the darkness is released.
What horrible stagnation of feeling a person must have to look into the eyes of another human being, and feel nothing as he erases their existence?
He must have been animalistic in nature, and driven by pure evil.
Who among us hasn’t wished we could slam our car into the jerk that just cut us off in traffic? Yet, we do not. That is the essence of it all. What stops us? How do we give that gene, or that essence if you will, to those with the darkness?
It is this, and other questions of darkness I will be looking to explore in my next novel. It will be titled “Those Eyes” and the first chapter will be up soon.
I wrote this as a sort of intro, to see if there was interest in such a book. Any comments, suggestions, or insight would be appreciated as I plan to do this very soon.
“What scares you, little boy?”