Zombies scare me.
I know that this is part of the point of zombies; they’re not usually in a story to make it more cuddly or increase the romantic angst, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies notwithstanding. But I tend to have a really bad reaction to zombie movies or books (World War Z in particular) that’s disproportionate to the source. It’s to the point where I’m unwilling to play even as fluffy a game as Plants Vs. Zombies because I know I’ll have nightmares later on. That’s pretty damn sad.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure it’s not the zombies themselves that I’m scared of. It’s what they represent to my subconscious. Contagion, panic, friends turning hostile and murderous. Those are the things that get to me. And I know some of this has to do with my own personal issues (it’s probably no coincidence that I had my first zombie-related nightmares after getting some bad medical news).
It’s been discussed at length that trends in horror tend to correspond to similar undercurrents in popular culture. Trouble is, I don’t know enough about horror or popular culture to make a sweeping statement about the zombie zeitgeist. But for a number of reasons (one of which is, admittedly, along the lines of “holy crap I need something to write a blog post about”) I’ve been thinking about fear, specifically the kind of fear that makes you freeze up rather than panic. And I’d rather not reduce every monster down to its sociological underpinnings, not least because that kind of analysis strips away all the nuance. (I get irritated with attempts to map stories out as allegory for the same reason.)
What interests me is that point of personal contact — the individual shiver, the image that’ll stay with you till late that night and the next. For me, it’s the idea of losing everything and everyone, the despair that permeates a lot of zombie apocalypse stories.
So what monsters scare you, personally? Nameless horrors for their implications of an uncaring cold universe? Werewolves for their unbridled id? Ghosts for their implacability? Haunted houses for their shifting geographies? Or are there certain setups in horror that trigger it for you, rather than the monsters themselves? (Or are there monsters that scare you for reasons that have nothing to do with their symbolic roles?)