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Stacie Ponder – Dressed to Kill and Silent Hill Elevate the Horror of Enclosed Spaces

Dressed to Kill and Silent Hill Elevate the Horror of Enclosed Spaces” width=”560″/>

I’m not a particularly phobia-laden gal. Heights don’t bother me all that much. I can’t say I’m too wild about bugs, although that’s a mild fear I’ve tried to conquer by visiting the Orkin Bug Zoo at the Smithsonian (why an extermination company would sponsor a bug zoo is a bit beyond me, but oh well). I have this… thing about detached wet hair, but really, how often does one encounter detached wet hair in a day, J-horror films aside? Overall, I’d have to say that my biggest phobia has to do with elevators and the fact that I simply don’t like them very much. I simply don’t trust them. They shudder and shake and they make weird noises. Every time I’m in one, I’m sure the cable is going to snap and the stupid thing is going to plummet to the bottom of the shaft and I’ll splat… although if cartoon blood came splashing out of the crashed elevator like it did in Earthquake, it might be worth it. I’ve certainly been in some wonky elevators that have made passengers noticeably anxious; heck, I even got stuck in one for a good ten or so nerve-wracking minutes. My distrust of them doesn’t always prevent me from getting in them, but when I do you can bet that I’ll be reading the inspection certificate and wondering to myself, “Does the combined weight of me and my fellow passengers exceed the limit? Dammit, why did I have so many Goldfish snack crackers today? Those little orange bastards will send me rocketing to my doom!”

I’m not sure, exactly, from where my mild elevator phobia was born. I wasn’t trapped in one for hours and hours as a child. I’ve never been attacked in one, nor have I ever seen anyone attacked in one. I wonder, did it come about after I watched one of these horror movies too many times? If there’s anything they’ve taught me, it’s that the ol’ plummet-splat should probably be the least of my worries when it comes to elevators.

The Shining
(1980) – From a purely aesthetic perspective, there’s a lot to love in
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s haunted
house/daddy-goes-nutso novel. Art and terror combine to produce one of the most
terrifying and bizarre images in the entire horror genre: The tidal
wave of blood that rushes from the Overlook’s elevators. The scene
occurs during Danny’s first vision: Blood silently pours from the
closed elevator doors and it just keeps coming. It begins to fill the
hallway, washing away furniture and splashing up over the camera. The
impossibility of it — where is it all coming from? — and the eerie
silence set the tone for the rest of the movie, and that tone is one of
quiet but unrelenting terror.

Dressed to Kill
(1980) – It’s been many a moon since I’ve seen Brian De Palma’s
slasheresque thriller, and as such my memories are quite hazy. Well,
all but one memory: I certainly remember Angie Dickinson being slashed
to death by a razor-wielding kookadook soon after she steps into an
elevator. It’s a bloody, horrifying sequence that’s been burned into my
brain enough that if I’m ever followed into a lift by someone in
sunglasses and a blonde wig, you can bet I’ll leave a trail of fire
behind me as I blast outta there.

The Lift (1983) – Did you know that there’s a whole movie
based on the premise that elevators are jerks? There is, and it’s so
nice that writer/director Dick Maas made it twice: In 1983 as The Lift in his native Netherlands, and again, in 2001, as Down (aka The Shaft ),
this time an American production featuring stars like Naomi Watts.
Whether you’re on one side of the globe on the other, it doesn’t really
matter… evil elevators will kill you whether you scream for help in
Dutch or in English. We are, after all, the world.

Final Destination 2 (2003) and Resident Evil – The elevators in these movies take a little more, shall we say, proactive role in offing helpless passengers. In Final Destination 2,
these Rube Goldbergian machinations of Death trap a woman’s head between the doors as they close. (Death is hard to outrun.) In Resident Evil, the
more straightforward machinations of a corrupt computer program trying
to purge Umbrella Labs of all human life lead to a woman getting her
head stuck between the doors of an elevator as they close. No matter
how your head gets stuck there, I can tell you that the result is the
same: you go “Ow!”; your head goes “plop.”

Silent Hill (2006) – It’s one thing when you want an elevator to
take you up to your luxury penthouse suite or down to your luxury
basement rumpus room; it’s quite another, however, when it
zips you to the doom that’s waiting for you in the depths of an eeeevil
hospital riddled with all manner of eeeevil nurses and creepy beasties.
That’s what elevators do in Silent Hill. The elevators in Silent Hill are a real bunch of jerks, despite their cries of “Hey man, don’t blame me — I’m just doing my job here.”

I’m not sure whether
repeated viewings of any of these movies would be a help or a hindrance
to my elevator phobia healing process. Perhaps I should just heed the
advice that’s slathered all over the poster for The Lift in what’s undoubtedly one of horror’s greatest taglines: Take the stairs, take the stairs…for God’s sake, take the stairs!

A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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