Image by Charles Walker, in public domain. See Wikimedia Commons.
I do–I love supernatural horror! Granted, it’s hard to find stellar films and T.V. shows in this horror category, but there are still some greats that stand out for me, such as the fairly recent foreign films “Let the Right One In” (I have yet to see the remake) and “The Orphanage.” As for T.V. I enjoyed “Hemlock Grove,” a Netflix original, and I have grown to like “Grimm,” although I prefer less CGI and more costume/makeup, or better yet, leave-it-to-the-imagination type effects. I think “American Horror Story” is brilliant, although I couldn’t finish watching this past season, because although I can stomach all manner of demons, monsters, aliens, etc., serial killer stories give me a serious case of psychic indigestion. So sadly, I had to give up watching. But I loved the first season, and am looking forward to the witch-themed new season about to start.
I suppose my love of supernatural horror began as a child: I loved borrowing books at the library about vampires and other spooks, and read collections of ghost and macabre stories all summer long, when I could stay up late and take pleasure in scaring myself. Later I read a lot of Stephen King–my favorites of his were Misery and Pet Cemetery. It’s been a while since I’ve read straight out horror fiction, however, so I can’t comment on what’s out there now. If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them.
Anyway, I thought I’d do a little tribute poem, seeing as it is October and all, and proclaim Supernatural Horror as our October theme.
I got the idea for this piece from The Writer’s Portable Mentor, by Priscilla Long which has a chapter on form that assigns an “abecedarium” in which you use the alphabet to develop a themed list. I went beyond that to compose a piece in verse that contains a list of some common but evocative elements from the supernatural horror genre. This extra constraint made the exercise harder, of course, but it was a lot of fun to compose, and a great brain teaser.
It would be even more fun to annotate the composition with references, e.g. the use of “hounds of hell” in the T.V. show “Supernatural,” killing by fire in the novel (and film) “Carrie,” the La Llorona story used for an episode of “Grimm.” What’s your favorite (or least favorite) possessed puppet or doll story? Recognize any of your favorite tropes, themes, motifs?
On a technical note, you’ll notice I had to go back to “A” and “B” at the end to complete the last verse, but I think it worked out well. I started with just a plain old ABC list, brainstorming elements off the top of my head, but a lot of those changed as I went along.
Here you go:
October Ode to the Odious: An Abecedarium of Supernatural Horror
© Lisa E. Coté
Apparitions, fleeting, formless,
Barrows with a secret tomb;
Cryptic signs, perplexing warnings,
Disembodied demons loom.
Elementals raised by magic,
Fear, foreboding, hounds of hell;
Gothic castles, grisly golems,
Hands of glory light the spell.
Incubuses, sordid nightmares,
Jilted lovers’ ghosts prevail;
Killings, both by fire and water,
La Llorona’s guilty wail.
Missing memories, hapless monsters,
Necromancers raise the dead;
Ouija luring naïve seekers,
Puppets pulling strings of dread.
Queerly quiet forest clearings,
Reckless hero’s hopeless quest;
Secret sects with sacrifices,
Tortured souls who cannot rest.
Unseen forces, unctuous odors,
Vampires, voodoo, vanity
Wendigo with raging hunger
Yeti stalking frozen wastelands,
Zero hour in zombie zoo;
Apocalypse foretold by seers:
Beelzebub is after you!