Saturday, November 01, 2014

Fright Week: Fear of Mirrors



When I was a kid, I watched this scary TV show called One Step Beyond. It was kind of like The Twilight Zone, except the stories were more haunting and supernatural.

An especially frightening episode was called The Clown. Everyone loves the circus. Everyone loves a clown.1





John Newland, the show's narrator: "Laughter is an international language, and the clown, the prince of laughter."

"Look, a clown!"

A jealous husband behaves in a physically and verbally abusive fashion towards his young wife any time she's near another man. Why, he's even jealous of Pippo the Clown, a simple and silent entertainer who brings balloons and joy to the diner patrons.

Mr. Abusive sees the clown touching his wife's blond hair and freaks out. He grabs Pippo's scissors and cuts off a chunk of her hair. The wife screams and runs away into the carnival campgrounds, which is conveniently nearby. Pippo acts in a menacing fashion and scares the husband away.

The wife wanders around the carnival grounds and into the clown's tent, where she cries into a wig. Pippo returns and tries to fix her hair and cheer her up. She eventually starts laughing and hugs the clown.

Then the obnoxious lout hears laughter and enters the trailer, finding his wife with the clown. "You dirty cheap one, I've had it..." He grabs her and slaps her and throws her down to the ground.

Pippo gets defensive and angry and starts choking the husband, who grabs those handy scissors and stabs........ HIS WIFE! Killing her!

Pippo picks her up, husband drops the scissors and slips away, and guess who becomes the leading murder suspect. The simple clown, who keeps trying to revive the dead girl by making her laugh.

The Strong Man: "Help, help, somebody help, the clown's killed a dame!" [it's 1960]

The husband wanders around in a daze, stopping in front of a pawn shop with a mirror in the window.




Mr. Killer glances away from the mirror for a moment and guess who appears, trying to strangle him.




He whips around to see the clown and.... there's no one there!!




This happens a few more times, where the clown appears in the mirror, the guy turns around and there's nobody there...




Now this was very scary and horrifying when I was a small child. I was afraid to look at a mirror for weeks. The thought of seeing Pippo the Clown standing behind me, strangling me, was terrifying. For a brief period I had Spectrophobia (also known as Catoptrophobia), a fear of mirrors:
Generally, an individual that deals with Spectrophobia has been traumatized in an event where they believe they have seen or heard apparitions or ghosts. The individual could also become traumatized by horror films, television shows, or by nightmares. This fear could be the result of a trauma involving mirrors. It could also be the result of the person’s superstitious fear of being watched through the mirror.

"Traumatized" is a bit excessive... I got over it. Watching the episode today, I see how campy and cheesy it is, with its soundtrack of "vampy" music as a stand-in for the wife's sex appeal. Her aura of youthful innocence was over the top, and the husband comes off as a creepy pedophile.2







And fortunately, I never developed a fear of clowns...




But I have to say, I didn't make it through the OCULUS Trailer, not on Halloween night. And I think I'll have to try the ‘strange-face in the mirror' illusion another night.


I hope you enjoyed Fright Week. Check out the other spooky posts:

The Stranger in the Mirror

The Waking Nightmare of Lord Voldemort



Footnotes

1 Everyone knows about coulrophobia, the very common fear of clowns.

2 The Flaming Nose TV Blog informs us that the actors playing the husband and wife were 40 and 18 years old, respectively. No wonder he comes off as an abusive pedophile... The strangling clown gif is also from the Flaming Nose.

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