At this point I’m sure after reading the title of this blog you the reader are thinking I’ve lost my ever lovin’ mind. Maybe I have, then again maybe–in a singular moment of clarity–I’ve discovered the truth every so-called writer of romance needs to know. Love is not about flowers, candy, and kisses so sweet as to leave us in a diabetic coma. It doesn’t magically appear as a fully formed apple on the perfect tree. The path to love is as dangerous and dark as any horror story. And even if by some miraculous twist of fate you find the love you seek, holding on to it can create a horror story in and of itself if you have no trust or faith. Love is capable of destroying us as easily as one of Lovecraft‘s creations if given half a chance. It can also strengthen us if we face the truth of what it is and find our way to the other side much as the hero or heroine of any horror/supernatural tale written.
One of the first horror stories I read as a kid was The Black Velvet Ribbon. There are numerous versions of the story under various titles and if you’re unfamiliar with this tale you can read one version HERE and a more detailed version is found HERE. The story is that of a young man who meets and falls madly in love with a beautiful young woman, wedding her within a short time. He’s a demanding man and although he’s happy he cannot let go of what he sees as one small flaw. She wears a black velvet ribbon around her neck and NEVER takes it off. This singular thing drives him to the point he cannot stand it any longer. He proceeds to demand she remove the ribbon and she refuses with a smile, explaining that he’ll be sorry if she does so. Well, that comment only inflames his ire and he insists every day for weeks that she do so. She always answers the same way and soon his obsession with the ribbon blinds him to the otherwise happy life he has. One night he can stand it no longer and waits until his wife is asleep, removes a pair of shears from her sewing box, and cuts the ribbon off. I’ll give you two guesses what happens next and the first one doesn’t count.
The point of this odd story? Accept the love you are given flaws and all? Perhaps, but then every reader might walk away with a different take on the result of the man’s obsession.
There have been many stories written over the years which entwine love and horror, from Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe to My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews and beyond. Even Shakespeare realized love and obsession could lead to horrifying results. The old adage there’s a thin line between love and hate is true. So many of our emotions are connected to love in general. Love itself can give birth to darkness when twisted just a little too far in one direction. How many horror/supernatural stories have you read or watched that involve love gone wrong on a visceral level.
For me horror/supernatural is about the human condition in one way or another. It takes the simplest of things and creates a vision of what could be if we wander off the beaten track. The spirits of rejected lovers lost to the ether in search of a love that never existed beyond their own obsessive delusions. The love of a young couple torn apart by their family until both are forced to face death. A man’s lust for his brother’s wife that results in murder and the spirit of the murdered wandering the ramparts of the castle that was once his home. A father’s love so all encompassing he tries to recreate the innocence and perfection of his defiled child.
Yes, love and all its variations are powerful. Powerful enough to create horrors that are sometimes–just sometimes–beyond our imaginations.