Years ago I interviewed Kōji Suzuki, author of the novels that spawned the Ring movies, manga comics and television shows. Ringu, the first book in the series, was published in 1991 and introduced us to the idea of a videotape (remember those?) that killed people seven days after they watched it.
The book and the movie were sensations, but in the interview Suzuki told me something really interesting. It’s hard to imagine the Ring movies without the spooky, grainy videotape images, but the writer let it slip that VHS tapes weren’t his first choice as a conduit of evil.
A haunted toaster. Good sense prevailed and he went with another commonplace object, one that almost everyone in the nineties had at least a passing familiarity with.
Suzuki made videotapes the spookiest inanimate horror object ever, but they’re not the only ones.
We can all imagine the fear that comes along with being chased by a werewolf. Or waking up to find Dracula staring down at you.
They are living, breathing (or in Drac’s case, dead and not so breathing, but you get the idea) embodiments of evil. But how about inorganic objects? Have you ever been terrified of a lamp? Or creeped out by a tire?
There have been loads of haunted houses in the movies. In most of them, however, the house is merely a vessel for a spirit or some unseen entity that makes its presence know by making the walls bleed or randomly slamming doors. Rarer is the house that is actually evil.
Stephen King wrote about a house that eats people in the third installment of his Dark Tower series. On screen Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg visualized the idea in the appropriately titled Monster House.
In that animated movie three teens figure out the house across the street is a man-eating monster.
By the time they got around to the fourth instalment of the most famous haunted house series, the Amityville Horror, filmmakers had to figure out a new plotline apart from the tired “new owners move in to the house, get freaked out leave,” storyline. In The Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes, a cursed lamp causes all sorts of trouble when it is shipped from the evil Long Island house to a Californian mansion.
Much weirder is Rubber, the story of a killer tire (yes, you read that right) with psychokinetic powers — think Carrie with treads — who terrorizes the American southwest.
It’s an absurdist tract on how and why we watch movies, what entertainment is and the movie business, among other things.
But frankly, mostly it’s about a tire rolling around the desert and while there is something kind of hypnotic about watching the tire on its murderous journey — think Natural Born Killers but round and rubbery — that doesn’t mean Rubber is a good movie.
Finally, think bed bugs are bad? How about a hungry bed? The title of this one sums it up: Death Bed: The Bed that Eats.