Friday, April 10, 2009

Having a "Shape" Moment

I've taken to walking the last mile to home from the light rail. It's a good time to collect my thoughts (or, more frequently, make another go for the high score on Bejeweled). There's one lonely stretch of the walk that's always a bit disconcerting -- walking along the half-mile of yellow concrete that marks the boundary of the country club. Not only is the walk visually monotonous, but it's also poorly lit and there's occasional cul-de-sacs from which any nightmare might leap.

Tonight as I walked along, a quarter mile in and a quarter mile to go, I heard a laugh some distance behind me. I noticed it particularly because of its unusual range -- it began high and ended low. I also noted it because it wasn't a laugh of mirth, but of mischief. I turned and looked behind me. There was no-one there. I thought. I didn't see anyone and yet it felt like there must have been. I turned again and although the scenery did not change one iota, there was clearly another person trailing me by about half a block. I had seen them the first time, but somehow I failed to register them as a person.

Somehow, this caused me to think of John Carpenter's Halloween, a film unsurpassed in its ability to create tension from the absence of its villain in a shot. I recalled being fourteen years old, having just seen the movie for the first time, and imagining Michael Myers was there every time I didn't catch him out of the corner of my eye. It's a powerful movie, one of my favorites, and it's good to know that it still has a hold on my overactive imagination on a brisk April night.


John Kenneth Muir said...

I had a moment like that long ago that I'll never, ever forget, on lonely railroad tracks near the house where I grew up.


Simon Powell said...

I agree entirely. After being bombarded with excess in cinema, it takes a while to realise how effective restraint and absence of the villain can be.

Case in point, as a child, long before I saw any horror films, the scariest thing I had EVER seen was the episode of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" that dealt with the Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction case. For years after, every odd sound, or light behind my bedroom door convinced me "they" were coming to take me away. Watching it again now, I'm amazed that, apart from shadows and some very brief cuts, you rarely see the "aliens" during the whole segment. Yet it still managed to scar me deeply as a child. (In a good way, obviously.....)