Here’s one that came to me during a discussion about the film Cabin In The Woods. All you need to know about the film for this discussion is put quite clearly in the trailer for it, a bunch of people are subjected to some sort of clandestine experiment in terror in the aforementioned cabin.
The discussion about the film surrounds fear and specifically what would be the one great fear that a person has. Now, under my own personal examination I thought that if I was going to have some sort of terror made real it would have to be a certain demon from an episode of Samurai Jack. The episode is called Jack and the Haunted House.
The entire episode has Jack exploring this house that he comes across. The entire episode is constructed that throughout the whole thing you know something is wrong. Jack is constantly on alert, everyone who lives in the house is either too afraid to say what scares them or is clearly under the influence of whatever this thing is.
The good things is, unlike a lot of other suspense horror works, when the creature is revealed it doesn’t disappoint.
Please don’t kill me!
Now that picture doesn’t even do the demon justice. First of all, imagine that image oscillating at an incredible rate as it moves. Also, when it roars you hear the raw sound of a scream of pain synthesized in, purposefully kept in at an unnatural resonance just so that it can eat your courage. The ink brush style and heavy animation made it look unnatural and wrong in Jack’s world and combined with the odd resonating sound that occurred in the background whenever it moved, to say the least it was scary. This thing was scarier then Aku, hell it was scarier then most horror villains out there. From the episode we knew that there was a good chance that it wouldn’t just kill you, it’d kill you and wear you like a puppet! I know that sentence wasn’t very well constructed but that’s how scary the damn thing is!
At least that’s what I thought until I realized that despite all the times that I’ve been terrified, there is one true monster that I actually had confronted and when I was forced to face it I lost all of my sense of reason.
He’s known as the demon Chernabog, officially. Many known him simply as the demon from Night On Bald Mountain in Fantasia.
Every year on Halloween this guy was like a rite of passage for most kids during my era. Shown in special broadcasts during that time, Chernabog emerged from his home in the mountain, revealing himself to be the top of that same mountain, and showing his incredible supernatural might by summoning dead and demons alike as his playthings with only the simple sound of a church bell as his only anathema. I don’t think I need to explain to you why this guy was scary. He was created by Walt Disney during the height of his talent and genius showing the brilliance of his animation studio. It’s among the two animations people remember most from Fantasia. The other being The Sorcerer’s Apprentice of course.
However, I wouldn’t be forced to face my fears of the demon lord until years later as a university student playing Kingdom Hearts. In the final stage of the game, called the End Of The World. By this point in the game we’ve learned that all of the worlds of the Disney multiverse (and Square Enix oddly enough) are slowly collapsing into one last maelstrom. Throughout this final world we are shown elements of the various worlds visited previously as set pieces in this ruined land without hope or joy. Even were we to win, there is no true guarantee that the damage will be undone. After the gauntlet of enemies was past I found myself in a dark place, devoid of light and highlighted by mist.
Then, suddenly a very familiar tune played from my childhood, one of fear and terror as a mountain unfurled it’s spiny black wings revealing Chernabog, standing before me to block my way as Night On Bald Mountain played.
And I subsequently completely lost my shit.
I charged, not in rage or passion, but blind terror, not giving one whit of my allies well being, pausing barely to cast the Aeroga as a shield as I swung at Chernabog, not dodging or blocking, simply flailing at him in fear as this massive behemoth of evil assaulted me. All of my tactics and special powers for the game were forgotten as my singular will was set to smiting him with simple blunt trauma. And by this point I’d made it a moment of pride to keep my allies constantly healed, to use proper hit and run tactics while dodging, I really did my best to play as though I were the character Sora in-game, only to have it all shattered by Chernabog.
Then, after a time, I paused to find that he was left battered, nearly beaten and I flew away momentarily to collect myself before delivering a more focused and dedicated final blow, deciding that at least in the end, I would dispatch him while I had complete control of myself.
But I never forgot.
I don’t know what that says about me as a person given how I reacted. Maybe it’s good that even while afraid I could still defend myself. I’m a little proud of the fact that I did manage to collect myself after a bit, even though it was all just a game. Still it is something to say that I’ve had the opportunity to face a childhood fear and beat the living crap out of it.
Fit that one into a children’s bedtime story.
So I take that instance for what it is, hoping at the very least that it shows I have relatively good survival instincts if in moments of terror I’m driven to defend myself. I guess I can walk away considering that a positive.
And so too does this work exist.