Are they my top five? It’s hard to say. Ask me again tomorrow and I might very well give you a completely different set of names. I’m writing this in broad daylight, so it’s entirely possible my perceptions are a little skewed. Still, just thinking about the subject is giving me the shivers. Maybe it’ll do the same for you. In fact, I’m curious to know whether or not you agree with my choices. Fear is so subjective after all. I’ll leave you to ponder that while I go and hide behind the sofa.
1. The giant maggots from Doctor Who – The Green Death. When it comes to Doctor Who, I’m from the Jon Pertwee generation. This story’s all about mutant bugs spawned from toxic waste and it aired when I was eight years old. Giant green squirmy things in an abandoned Welsh coal mine? Ugh.
2. The xenomorph from Alien. Oh, to hell with it – I never really bought the term ‘xenomorph’. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just called the alien. Best. Monster. Ever.
3. The pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’ll take the 1956 Don Siegel version every time, although the 1978 Philip Kaufman remake is no slouch. The alien duplicates are scary precisely because they look exactly like you and me.
4. Mr Barlow from Salem’s Lot. Accept no substitutes, especially if they’re glittery teenagers ridden with angst. Stephen King knows how to make vampires so scary the blood just drains right out of you.
5. Chernabog, the Satan-figure from the final sequence in Fantasia. He’s scary because he’s huge and malevolent and because he makes the screaming souls of the dead dance in flaming agony on the tips of his fingers. Most of all, he’s scary because he knows what a monster he is, and despises what he sees when he stares deep into the dark pit of his own soul. If you don’t believe in sympathy for the devil, just observe the look of chilling tragedy on Chernabog’s face when the bells that herald Ave Maria begin to toll.
So how about you? What makes you put the light on whenever you climb the stairs?