The Rabbit & his Shadow

RAHS1Just over forty years ago, I was brought into this world at Huddersfield’s Princess Royal hospital.

Like all newborns I’d like to think I entered the world full of innocence and without fear.

I don’t remember much of those early years in the mid-1970s but I do remember my first exposure to absolute soul-numbing horror.

As a toddler my Mother would often take me to visit her parents who would then read to me.

I love reading, I always have but in those days I would beg my Granny to read me a specific book; a book that both terrified and enthralled me.

After a recent conversation regarding the book, my Mother has kindly sourced a copy – all the way from the states – and so I present to you, the book that stands as a prologue to my love of supernatural horror.

The Rabbit & his Shadow.

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This tale of paranoiac horror was my first exposure to the concept of malign “other” that was a springboard to a world of imaginary darkness so terrifying that even now, as a grown adult, I haunted by the story’s theme.

From the age of 3 or 4 right up to the age of 7 (when I was reading the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) I would ask my Granny for the book – so strong was the hold this tale had over me.

The story is a simple one (surprisingly enough for a children’s book).  It follows the woes of an innocent, yet nameless, rabbit who is being stalked by a dark and sinister shadow rabbit.

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Published as “A Happiness Story Book”, my adult eyes notice that the intention of the book is to show a transition in the rabbit from its initial unhappiness through to the joy of new found friendship at the end of the tale.

This is far from the case through the eyes of young Armaitus.

As we follow our tormented protagonist through the tale, we see it driven to despair as it tries to rid itself from the ever present pursuit of his shadow.

So desperate is the rabbit that it even tries to kill the shadow creature to gain some freedom from the beast.

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As a child, each step in the rabbit’s descent to despair carried me along with it.  Already open to the paranormal world about me, this tale taught me that I was not alone, even in the darkness, and that was somehow comforting in its discomfiture.

If I could gain this feeling from a book then it would suppress my own night terrors maybe… again, this was far from the case.

The tale ends with the rabbit risking its life to seek advice from a wise owl, an owl that chooses to offer advice rather than rend the tiny mammal in its razor sharp claws.

rahs6The rabbit attempts and succeeds in reconciliation with its nemesis, who displays an unnerving ability to both talk and move independently of its host.

Reading this tale again I realise that, subconsciously, I learnt an important lesson from this book.

It is better to embrace your demons and learn from them than flee and fight them in futility.

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The Blair Witch Project – (Contains Spoilers)

Blair Witch ProjectIt was hyped as the be all and end all of horror films; I remember my mind being set against The Blair Witch Project even before seeing it.  I’m all for innovation in film but the concept of the film, as was hyped, already had me on edge – even before the jerky camera work and ham acting.

I guess in a way, the film didn’t disappoint me; but only because it did, in actual fact, disappoint me so much. There are times I like to be proven correct in my assumptions and this is one instance where I could say with satisfaction:

I knew this film would suck!

The biggest problem I had with the film were the young paranormal investigators. Granted, they were never billed as professional paranormal investigators but still, even Micah did some research in Paranormal Activity (albeit poorly executed research).

Instead of choosing to research their target and equip themselves, these hapless buffoons set out on a camping trip with a camera and some tents. Then – surprise, surprise – when they pique the interest of whatever malevolent entity is out there (we never really find out what it is), they get pWn3d.

Worse than that, our intrepid autodarwinates actually exhibit zero common sense. I might choose to ridicule their lack of paranormal awareness and preparedness; and I can appreciate that some people may think:

Come on Armaitus, everyone knows that this ghosts and goblins malarkey is all stuff and nonsense.

But even the most die hard skeptic should be able to see that the films protagonists have a combined IQ of 12. In my head, Ray Mears cries himself to sleep because people like these exist. When lost in the woods (woods that you have studied for some time I might add) and you come across a river – you follow it out. You don’t run around, allowing some half baked forest witch cloud your inner sense of direction with corn dollies.

The one positive I took away from the film was the way the entity was portrayed. The entity acted exactly as I would expect a malevolent entity, that has just had a group of intellectually challenged come barging through their territory and poking around, to act. The use of mimicry to lure them out of their camp, the hidden body parts of their missing comrade and especially the way it turned them around on their forest walk (something I’ve actually experienced in the past).