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I am far too easily frightened to see horror films, but if I ever write one it will involve demonic possession. To me (and easily frightened people are like highly sensitive wine connoisseurs when it comes to what is frightening) the idea of an ordinary body, heart, and mind being overtaken by a demonic spirit is the most terrifying thing imaginable.
“The Exorcist,” arguably the most terrifying movie of all time, opens with a Roman Catholic priest finding an strange amulet on an archeological dig sight in Northern Iraq. He realizes a demon he thought long vanquished (a devil clearly related to the devil) is roaming the earth, unquenchable, looking for someone whose guard is down. Cut to an innocent girl in Georgetown….
I might open with an aged Tibetan Buddhist lama doing a ceremony that involves chanting and bells before a thanka depicting a wrathful diety wearing a skull necklace. The Buddhist priest is in a Tibetan monastery in the middle of the Catskills or Adirondacks at night. But the frightening demon-looking-thing the elderly man seems to be worshipping is not actually evil or demonic but a benevolent god, a kind of sacred body guard symbolizing the fearsome effort it takes to vanquish evil, a sacred protector dressed up to fight fire with fire, to meet the violence in the universe and in humanity head on.
A truly terrifying indigenous North American legend of possession is the windigo. The Algonquin (or Algonguian) people of the Atlantic Coast of North America (including the setting of my imaginary horror film) told of a demonic spirit that possessed humans, making them monsters filled with an insatiable desire to devour human flesh. I once heard the Algonquins looked upon the Northern European invaders with horror, thinking they were all possessed by the windigo. What else would fill them with a cannibalistic drive to take over a land and a people? A whole people who have forgotten who they are, who are driven by a cannibalistic drive to take what is not theirs, to take over the lives of others, can you imagine such a horror?
My imaginary horror film will cut from the scene of the Tibetan Buddhist lama invoking a spiritual protector to this: a local man driving a pick-up truck on a deserted road in the mountains comes upon a horrific scene. A bloody dead body is splayed out on the ground and a dark skinned man who looks Tibetan or possibly Native American (Algonquin) is just coming to consciousness near the body. He is also covered with blood. He cries and wails as he takes in the carnage. Given the clothes and the backpack, the body seems to be that of a college student, and the possibly Tibetan, possibly Algonquin seems to know him. He wails in sorrow and fear, then begins chanting, invoking supernatural protection against the crime of possession that has happened here….
Before the summer wanes, why not have a bit of drive-in movie style fun. Stay tuned….