Sunday, October 26, 2014

Teens and Horror: A Perfect Marriage

When it comes to horror, Hollywood knows teens are an easy kill (pun intended).  Look how they flock to the theaters to spend an evening with Michael, Freddy, and the freaky Ring girl who lives in VCR’s.  And unlike their curmudgeonly, adult counterparts, teens don’t thumb their nose at sequels, especially when it comes the trinity of slice and dice: Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  Compound that with their new penchant for torture porn like Saw, Hostel, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s easy for us adults to shake our heads and go Hmmmm.

So why are teens so disproportionately attracted to the adrenaline rush?  Why the insatiable thirst for blood and guts? Reflecting back on one’s own adolescence, it’s clear why. 

There is an undeniable parallel between a horror and adolescence.  Imagine the monster and then imagine it being the angst of adolescence itself – a metaphor for all the anxieties associated with that six-year time gap between childhood and adulthood.  When teens watch horror, they live vicariously through the protagonist.  And while they writhe and scream in their seats, they’re experiencing a personal connection – their own need to survive and conquer on a deep psychological level.  

Of course the odds are stacked against the hapless cast.  They will either succumb or conquer the Big Bad.  And just like Michael and Freddy, Adolescence comes after teens with a vengeance, leaving no prisoners.  It’s just they and Pubescence Personified alone in the Alley of Adolescence, like the blonde girl in A Nightmare on Elm Street, running away pointlessly as Freddy runs his knife fingers up against the walls.  Parents can’t help.  Friends can’t help.  Even the environment is impotent.  Those safe confines of home, school, and the suburban neighborhood no longer protect.  Adolescence rules and hungers for the teenage immortal soul!  But with a little knowledge, skill, and courage, the teenage years can be dealt with sans the bloody sequel.    

So next time you see the walking hormonal hoards lined up to see the next Paranormal 15, root for them!  After all, everyone wants to be the hero of their own adventure.  

An Excerpt from the Award-Winning Cheerage Fearage

Fly high and Die!!
The silver moon threw light on the two girls as they eagerly peeled off their clothes, tossing them in heaps on the wooden dock.  They jumped off into the vast lake, giggling and squealing at the shock of its coldness as the dark water swallowed up their tanned, limber bodies.

Although fierce competitors on the school’s most exclusive faction, the two girls were the best of friends with much in common.  They ran with the same elite crowd, dated the same square-jawed jocks, and chose the same stylish trends to be mindlessly imitated by featureless masses.  Quite simply, they were perfection personified coupled with a “rules-don’t apply-to-us” attitude that even the teachers chose not to challenge - the outcome resulting in unequivocal classroom suicide.

“Nervous about tomorrow?” asked the sandy blonde with an I-know-better grin.

 “Yeah, right,” shot back the redhead.  “It’s in the bag, sister.  Fly high or die.”

 “You know I love you best, right?"

 “Of course.  It’s you and me forever.”

They traded playful splashes and squeals until without warning, the blonde gripped the redhead’s neck taking her under.  She held down the thrashing body, welcoming the newfound power and control that had evaded her for so long.  Vindication was only moments away….

Responding to a startling kick to the shin, she released the girl without delay playing it off with a full-bodied laugh.  “What are you doing?” the redhead yelled, spastically choking.  “You trying to kill me?”

“Relax,” said the blonde.  “You’re my best friend.  I would never hurt you.  You know that, right?”

But the redhead didn’t answer – at least not with words.  Her shrill scream was cut short by the blonde thrusting her under again, this time with even more force.  She yanked tufts of the covetous red hair everyone always spoke about, the crowning feature that solidified her title of reigning school beauty.  Brutally jerking her head to the left and wrenching it to the right, she forced the girl to swallow massive amounts of water.

The redhead’s adrenaline now metastasized into rank primal fear.  She kicked and scratched for dear life causing the blonde to tighten her grip.  Overcome with sheer panic followed by pure helplessness, the redhead relaxed into an inevitable surrender.

With the determined patience of a professional assassin, the blonde counted slowly to fifty, waiting for the shapely, agile form that had cruelly beat her out of every competition to go still and flaccid forever.  She delighted in feeling the strong steady pulse slow to a mere fleeting throb and then finally to complete nothingness.  When the time came, the blonde released the body into the dark water without pause or sentiment, and gracefully swam back to the dock, crawling up the ladder with a smooth, athletic gait.

Mission accomplished.

Giddily content, the blonde patted away streaming lines of lake water with her tank top, tossing it back on along with her vintage cutoffs.  She left the other’s clothes balled up below the “NO DIVING” sign and never looked back.  The long-suffering second-in-command was now the captain of the Valentine Cheerleading Squad.

It was official.  The queen bee had be dethroned and destroyed.

Now available from Wild Child Publishing:

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