Creepy Corridors: Why We Love Them In Horror

One of the first films I saw that really brought attention to the dread of walking down hallways by yourself was in The Shining. Little Danny Torrence would pedal along on his toy bike and you would get accustomed to the drumming of the wheels as it moved from wood to carpet to wood again. At first in the film it seems like a cute way for the kid to pass the time. But then as the film progresses, and Danny starts to experience the supernatural activity of the Overlook, that’s when each turn in the hallway makes your heartrate speed up.

Danny Torrence from The Shining

This weekend while doing research on a cruise ship, my family would help to point out particularly disturbing corridors. That is of course one of the benefits of telling your fellow travelers that you are doing research for a horror book. “Oh, Lena, you’ve got to get a picture of that one!” I would hear as they point down a cramped two flights of stairs shoved into a corner of a hallway. Or “Okay, this place just feels like a horror movie,” when we went to find a restroom in a large concrete stairwell complete with exposed ceiling pipes and wiring. I loved it of course, and snapped pictures like crazy. It got me wondering though, what is it about these places that really puts us on edge? Why do we instantly think that these places are ideal for horror scenes?

The first obvious answer is that there’s limited sight. Stairwells are particularly bad about this, and you could easily have someone several floors up following or watching you if the middle of the stairwell is open. In The Shining, little Danny Torrence turns each corner, not sure what he’s going to encounter each time. The tension increases throughout the film even though it’s literally just a kid on his bike.

The second answer is how cramped they are. That tiny stairwell down to the next floor that almost looks like it was forgotten? There isn’t much space to move there, and if you got partway down the steps and saw someone wielding a chainsaw running toward you, there would be little time to get out of the way. When you’re on a ship as well, there’s a very real sense when you’re out on the ocean of how isolated you are. The only way to leave the ship in a hurry is with the lifeboats on board, which is both exciting and frightening.

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See? Very cramped stairwell

Finally, the longer the hallway, the fewer places to run. The first time I went on a cruise I was daunted by how long the halls were for rooms. Staring down the hallway and seeing the length of space you would have to walk just to get to the main section of the ship was surprising. I’d seen ship cabins in videos before, but rarely those long halls. You get a real sense that there’s very little space to run there. There’s either forwards or backwards because every door you pass is locked. Again not only are you isolated, but you’re also very visible.

“Cruise Ship Hallway” by Satanizmihomedog on DeviantArt

Writers and film directors have recognized the innate fear that these spaces carry and have been exploiting them for decades. That stairwell with the exposed pipes and wires that we found could have easily been a filming location for the Nostromo ship from Alien. On the ship it was built for utility, but in the world of writing, it’s a perfect place for an ambush. These hallways don’t have to apply to ships either. I’ve seen plenty of buildings with halls so narrow that turning that right corner could have you running into someone if you’re not careful. Danny Torrence found that out the hard way.

What kind of hallways or stairwells have you found particularly creepy? Do you have any pictures? I would love to see them!

Halloween Look: The Black-Feathered Queen

As a regular cosplayer, I think being able to dress up as a character is perhaps my favorite part of Halloween. When I was younger (before I even knew what the cosplay scene was all about), I would agonize over what I wear come October 31st. Often I would want to do a cool costume, but was was too self-conscious to be able to go all out. I felt like there was an unspoken mold that I needed to squeeze into.

Now that I’ve been attending anime conventions for a few years, have the make-up and special effects tutorials of Youtube to rely upon for expertise, and a lot more self confidence under my belt, I can finally try out those over-the-top looks I always wanted to as a kid. The other day I tried out what I thought of as my “black-feathered queen” look. I’m pretty pleased with the results!

The Inspiration:

This look was inspired by the Instagram group @elysian.fantasy.artistry who does just incredible fantasy photography shoots. I’ve been following their work for a few months now, and they never disappoint.

I had the idea for how it would look early one morning before I headed in for work. I took a few minutes to (badly) jot out the details before heading out the door. At the time, I didn’t even think about a crown, but that was added onto the concept later.

How I Made It:

The black feather shoulder pieces I made for my female!Scarecrow cosplay for DragonCon this year. There’s a wonderful Youtube tutorial that walks you through how to make these with feathers, hot glue, and shoulder pads. Basically I used the yellow contacts from that cosplay and the feathered shoulders, then added the black face paint and feathers to my face, with a dash of gold sheen and gold glitter.

The headpiece was more of a struggle than I expected. I took an old New Years plastic crown we bought for a few bucks at Party City last year and tore off the purple fur that was glued to the base. Then I hot glued black feathers all around it in layers, similar to how I did for the shoulder pads. Once that was done, I found a few yellowish green feathers from an old Steampunk outfit I had and added them to it as well to give it some dimension and some height.

Needless to say, I burned myself a lot…

Final Thoughts:

It’s not perfect, and you can definitely tell this is a makeup test and not the final product, but I’m really happy with how spooky it looks! It should definitely be an eye-catcher when I wear it to a Halloween party in the next couple of weeks. What I’m most pleased about is that it didn’t cost me any additional money, though honestly I had the pieces lying around because I do cosplay. The gold sheen Kryolan makeup was actually something we just picked up at DragonCon a month or so ago at the Arda Wigs booth (for quite a good discount!)

Although I never intended for my love of cosplay to spill over onto my writing blog, I suppose it was only a matter of time. It’s a hobby that I’ve grown to truly love, so I’ll probably be posting more cosplay pictures and discussions here as I create/break/repair/attempt things, mixed in with my normal writing updates. This blog has been straight writing for (at least!) five years now, so maybe it’s time for it to stretch its legs a little.

Do you have any cool makeup looks or costumes you’re hoping to try out for Halloween this year? I’d love to see what you’re putting together!

Stay spooky, dearies! ๐Ÿ’€โค๏ธ

Here Come More Monsters

I’m still reeling over how well Creepy Campfire did for days, but now it’s time to ramp up for the next horror story to crawl (scurry? creep? fly?) out of the woodwork.

Pete Kahle, the awesome editor of this series, released this trippy, disturbing cover for Not Your Average Monster #2!

Not Your Average Monster 2 Cover - SMALL

Isn’t it great? The longer I look at it, the more creepy monsters I see in the background. It really reminds me of The Mist, one of my all-time favorite Stephen King stories, and that makes me so damn happy!

Pre-orders should be up in the next couple of days, and I’ll be sure to post links so be sure to check back. In the meantime if you’re interested in getting your hands on a review copy, head over to the Bloodshot Books Facebook page and let him know.

Six Sentence Sunday – Old Freight Elevator

Some more from my Secrets of Leekston novel, my latest major WIP. Definitely will be ramping up the work on this as NaNoWriMo creeps ever closer. It’s a complicated novel with many paths and twists, but I’m really looking forward to it! Oh and if you’re participating in NaNo this year, add me! My username is: lenaf007.

Setup: Work at the Memorial Hills Research Facility is just as shady as it sounds.

It was nearly dawn when he came into work, having spent the last week at an extended stay hotel. His hours were too long, too sporadic for him to be able to stay home for long. Not without rising suspicion in his family and friends at least. It was a small price to pay for the reward he gained working at Memorial Hills. The place was a wreck on the outside, but once you took the old freight elevator down a hundred feet or so, the walls were no longer cold stone, but sleek metal instead. There was a slight jolt as the runners moved over from the rough tracks to the clean ones, both of which were inspected daily of course – nothing could be left to chance in a place that attempted so hard to look unkempt and unruly, to look like a place that not even the homeless would care to tread.

I love creating the mood of this place, though I’d never want to actually step foot inside myself. I know what happens there…

Be sure to drop by Six Sentence Sunday to see what other juicy teasers have been posted!