Today, we’re delighted to have This Dark Endeavor author Kenneth Oppel guest blogging … and with Halloween just a week away, this is a very timely topic! Thanks Ken, for stopping by!
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What’s Really Frightening
As a general rule, the unseen is always scarier than the seen. In two of my favourite thrillers, Alien and Jaws, you see very little of the actual monster.
Apparently, during the shooting of Jaws, the mechanical shark kept breaking down; and in Alien, the latex alien suit looked like cheap crap.
While hugely upsetting to the directors at the time, it forced them to rely much more on techniques of dread — showing little details (the alien’s mulltiple jaws, a bit of goo), people’s reactions, or the aftermath of the monster’s power. And these techniques are, in the end, much more successful at creating real horror and dread in the audience.
We will fill in the blanks with our own fertile imaginations — and what’s more, each of us will personalize our terror with our own various worst fears. Let the audience do the work for you.
My stories are filled with all sorts of monstrous creatures — I just finished one for Such Wicked Intent, the sequel to This Dark Endeavour, and it’s a very tricky thing, deciding how much to show. Because once you see something scary right before your eyes — it loses some of its power.
It might have multiple jaws and claw like hands and gills and oodles of slime (like most standard issue Hollywood monsters of late) but it’s still a physical creature and can doubtless be defeated in some clever way. But the things that inhabit our nightmares are much harder to vanquish because they are inside us, and even a part of us. So the monster within is always scarier than the monster without.
Just a few thoughts as you prepare for Halloween