50 Interesting But Pretty Disturbing Things, As Shared In This Online Community
Nothing gives our brains the same kind of fireworks as watching creepy things. And if you’re not one of the horror aficionados it may be hard to understand the point of the thrill that horror gives.
But scientists say that the fright horror gives us while watching things like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead releases adrenaline, resulting in heightened sensations and surging energy. So biochemistry is to blame. And that thrill is so powerful, it’s often hard to look away.
This corner of Reddit known as “Interesting But Creepy” is a real treat for not just horror fans, but those who appreciate the darker side of our universe. The posts shared on the community range from interestingly weird to curiously macabre and they will surely give your heart rate the exercise it deserves! Psst! More creepy goodness awaits in our previous feature right here.
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To find out why exactly so many of us are drawn to creepy things, from pictures to stories, both fictional and real, we spoke with Michael Grant Kellermeyer, the editor in chief of Oldstyle Tales Press, an independent publisher based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The publishing house specializes in critical, annotated and illustrated editions of classic ghost stories, weird fiction, and gothic horror from the Classical Era of Supernatural Fiction (1795 - 1935).
According to Kellermeyer, human beings, especially in today's culture, have a love-hate relationship with mortality. “In one sense, Death and the dark side of life are our greatest enemies, but in another sense, it makes life delicious and potent: we are drawn to brushing elbows with death (either in reality - say, by skydiving or doing extreme sports - or by proxy - say, by reading or watching media about people who work in dangerous jobs or who survived disasters).”
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He explained further: “While in previous generations, death was ever-present - certainly not a good thing - 21st-century Westerners are much less likely to have ever seen a dead body (even the majority of funerals either tend to be cremations or closed-casket), so as much as we do not long for more death in our worlds, we do certainly have an obsession with this part of our existence which we are all fated to encounter, but which is so tidily hidden from us.”
Kellermeyer believes that as a result, “psychoanalytically, we try to touch hands with this stranger who is destined to make our acquaintance by poring over true crime podcasts, horror movies, and spooky artwork.”
The editor in chief added that “we love horror (which is by definition an artform concerned with the gradual approach of death, whether natural or supernatural) because it allows us to vicariously experience something that is so taboo in our culture, but which we all - at the final moment of our life - are destined to encounter.”
Kellermeyer argues that a good, creepy story should leave a great deal to the imagination and should focus on insinuations which leave the imagination primed but wanting more.
So he gave one such example: “The great British horror writer M. R. James was a master of the chilling tease, knowing just what to expose in order to pique curiosity, but holding back enough that we can't get a good look. In a story called ‘Wailing Well,’ he has a shepherd describe a family of zombie-like ghosts to a group of boys: ‘Rags and bones, young gentlemen: all four of 'em: flutterin' rags and whity bones. It seemed to me as if I could hear 'em clackin' as they got along. Very slow they went, and lookin' from side to side.’ One of the boys asks what their faces looked like: ‘They hadn't much to call faces,’ said the shepherd, ‘but I could seem to see as they had teeth.’”
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The key here is that we get a teasing taste that tells us something about their nature: “they aren't right - they're ragged and bony and move about in a wobbling, unstable manner,” Kellermeyer told us. Moreover, “they are malicious - they are clearly searching for something and while they have no faces to speak of, by God do they ever have teeth to tear with. A good horror story piques the imagination but lets it suffer in suspense,” he explained.
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As a scholar of 19th and 20th-century horror, Kellermeyer can definitely say that the sources of collective fears are both basic and unchanging and very subject to fashion and the cultural moment. “All fears essentially boil down to four things: fear of losing control; fear of the beast within ourselves; fear of the beast in other people; fear of oblivion and mortality. But the way these fears take shape has changed: in Victorian literature a major source of fear was insanity or losing civility in some manner: become more animalistic.”
The editor in chief explained: “For instance, a truly chilling trope in Victorian literature was a ghostly man seen roaming the countryside without a hat or coat. This may seem silly to us, but to them - in a society where a sane, healthy man wouldn't be walking outside bareheaded in his shirtsleeves - the way that death has made this man's ghost so forlorn was truly frightening: his fate has left him vulnerable and stripped him of his propriety.”
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Meanwhile, for his generation as an elder Millennial, it seemed like creepy kids were the be all, end all. “I actually am not wild about this trope (black-eyed kids, creepy dolls, scowling little girl ghosts, etc.) because it was just everywhere in the horror scene when I was growing up. But it did something very powerful for folks in the '90s and '00s and even the '10s,” Kellermeyer told us in an interview.
He also noticed that these days, it seems to be relationships that trigger us. “Families and couples (I think of Midsommar, Get Out, Hereditary, The Witch, The Conjuring, Haunting of Hill House, and It Follows),” he named a few. “I think our current cultural moment is very anxious about the intimacy of relationships like those between parents and children or between lovers: it can provide security and love, or it can be very much the opposite.”