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Beacon Senior News

Night Gallery: Horror stories scarier than the pandemic

Oct 05, 2020 11:25AM ● By Sam Beeson

The theme music came on. Chills shot down my spine in anticipation of the horrors the next hour might hold. Eagerly, I waited for the rock star of all things horror to come on screen and greet me, just like every week.

“Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures, on a canvas, suspended in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”  

The show was called “The Night Gallery,” and I was its biggest fan. It was based around a fictitious art studio where paintings were featured that told a horrifying tale. The show was an anthology series that usually featured three unrelated paintings that went with three different and unique stories.

A lot of them were awful—as in wasted-sections-of-my-young-life awful. But those hits were out-of-the-ballpark screamers!

Some of those grand slams included “The Caterpillar,” an insect that is used to murder in a particularly gruesome fashion; “Brenda,” a troubled teenage girl who developed a friendship with something inhuman; “Green Fingers,” an evil land developer who discovered a little old lady who can truly grow anything she plants; and “The Dead Man,” a doctor’s experiment in hypnosis that goes terrifyingly wrong. 

But the one episode that really screwed me up was called simply, “The Doll.” It’s not really a spoiler if I tell you it’s about an evil doll that comes to life, right? But that doll…it scared the young daylights right out of me! To this day, dolls and mannequins in general still give me the willies. 

 All in all I never truly believed in the supernatural, even though I loved it so. I often wondered how interesting life might be if ghosts existed, or if some strange sort of monster were to crawl from the seas and wreak havoc. Even an alien invasion would have been interesting to my young mind. Just something a little different, a little weird, and a little scary.

Then along came 2020.

This Halloween I expect to see (if trick-or-treating is safe to do), more than a few COVID costumes. I picture giant gray round heads with red flowers sticking out and a few “murder hornets” with toy chainsaws and plastic knives.

I admit, I never expected a pandemic to replace my fear of dolls. Still, that’s the thing about good horror—you don’t see it coming.

So this Halloween, I’ll put on a mask and pass out candy to the COVID monsters and killer wasps that might come to my house. I expect we probably won’t see as many kids as we confront this new and scary world.

But I still love the horror story. And if there are no little monsters at my door, I’ll probably be watching “The Night Gallery” on TV. 

Because that kind of fear I can deal with. 

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