So let's do this thing! Here are some Unexpected Horrors....the Television Edition!
The Magic of David Copperfield X: The Bermuda Triangle
You may not know this, but among other talents and past professions, I am a magician. I've loved magic since I was very young. My hero as a child was David Copperfield. Watching his yearly specials on TV filled me with wonder and helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life. Clearly the magic thing has really panned out as I'm not performing nightly in Vegas and I certainly don't have my own TV show, but I did work on a professional level for a time and I will still perform a miracle here or there for the right person when the mood strikes me. But enough of that. You're not here to be amazed by prestidigitation.....your here because for some strange reason you keep reading my work. Cthulhu, bless ya!
So, what does Mr. Copperfield and his illusions have to do with Unexpected Horrors? Well, in 1988, David aired his tenth magic special in which for his grand finale, he would vanish into the Bermuda Triangle and try to re-appear. Now, keep in mind when I was watching this, I was 9 years old. I bought the whole thing hook, line & sinker. For those of you who have never seen David perform, he is one hell of a story teller and has a flair for the dramatic. His whole introduction to the Bermuda Triangle and the mysterious forces that are alleged to be there made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Then, the "experiments" began.
See, David is actually out on a barge on the water and according to him he's standing smack dab in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. He tells of a ship that vanished 33 years earlier. He explains that he is going to run a few experiments before attempting to vanish. On the barge (which is shaped like a pyramid) he's got a smaller pyramid made of tinted glass. The front panel hinges open and inside there is a small lit pedestal. First he places a bolt with a nut threaded on it on the pedestal. This allegedly was part of the ship that had vanished. The nut mysteriously unscrews itself and the bolt & nut vanish. Next David takes a compass and places it in the pyramid. It starts to rotate wildly as smoke starts to fill up in the pyramid and the light intensifies. It too, vanishes. Finally, a small wooden maqeutte, or doll, is placed into the pyramid. It begins to move by itself. It seems to fall to it's knees, it's hands almost seemingly clasped in prayer. Then the fucking thing catches of fire! HOLY SHIT!! FUCK!!! Now keep in mind there is scary as shit music playing throughout the whole thing (it was part of the Aliens soundtrack, if I'm not mistaken) and by this point, I was just about shitting my pants. THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE WAS REAL AND DAVID COPPERFIELD WAS PROVING IT!!!!
My young mind nearly snapped in a million pieces. The most mind blowing was yet to come though: David took the burnt maquette out of the pyramid and started to examine it when it suddenly flew out of his hand and stuck to the glass of the pyramid. This happened a couple more times and finally David gripped it tightly. Still it flew to the glass, this time with David's hand still grasping firmly. His hand punches through the glass. Blinding light and smoke are pouring out. THAT MUSIC IS SO INTENSE! David has to put his feet up on the glass to gain leverage to pull his hand out. It's covered in black goo. Suddenly the glass gives way and his feet go through. OH DEAR GOD, SOMETHING IS PULLING HIM IN!!! SHIT SHIT SHIT, FUCK FUCK!!!!!! David is now completely in the pyramid except for his arms. They seemingly vanish into thin air as the pyramid panels all open and show that he is completely vanished. Then a freakin' FIRE starts on the base of the pyramid and crew rushes in to put it out.
I was absolutely terrified. DAVID COPPERFIELD JUST VANISHED INTO THE GODDAMN BERMUDA TRIANGLE!!!!!!! At this point, we hear radio transmissions from the crew....one guy is shouting to get the fire put out on the barge, another guy is instructing rescue divers to jump in the water and look for him. There's boats racing around on the surface, divers underneath....more radio transmissions that David is nowhere to be found. Scary music is still pumping away. This is some intense shit going down here! As the first rays of the sun crest the ocean, the boats start to circle another platform on the water. A voice instructs the camera crew not to cut away. A large screen starts to roll out between three large columns. Yep...'nuther triangle! After the screen rolls out, we see David float out from underneath on a small triangle platform. Phew! He's alive! Thank god for that, but man....that was kinda anticlimactic, wasn't it? I mean why did he need that big ass rig to make himself reappear? He pulls himself back towards the screen. The screen falls. SWEET MEPHISTOPHELES! IT'S THE VANISHED BOAT FROM 1958!!!!!! Crew members and divers alike stare slack-jawed at the boat. So did I. David stood there with his trademark "Yep, I'm the MAN!" look and pose. The special ended. I was convinced that I had just witnessed the paranormal. The hair on the back of my neck stood up again. Goosebumps encased my body. I couldn't sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I saw that glass pyramid and that maquette moving on it's own.
It's a blast to look back at the special now and see it for what it is. As a magician whose been around for a while, I understand the principles of the various magical effects that went into making this. As a matter of fact it helped to lead me to a dark little corner of the magic community. A little subset group of conjurers who perform what they like to call bizarre magick. But that's a story for another time.
For now I will leave you with a video of the 10 minutes that terrified me more than any other piece of magic before or since. Enjoy!
The Musical Tone from A Current Affair
You may laugh at me for this one, but this scared the ever loving crap out of me every time I heard it: It's the musical tone that they played on A Current Affair....especially on the promos for the show. It didn't matter if it was a story about an unsolved murder or if it was some light-hearted fluff piece, they would also play that damn piece of aural terror that would literally freeze me in my tracks. I've mentioned elsewhere in other posts about the neurotic fear of abandonment that I had as a child. Well, when I was start to get really panicky that I was never going to see my family again, that stupid freakin music tone would suddenly play in my head and I would imagine the Current Affair promo in my head "A missing family....a young boy left all alone. What happened to them? Coming up on A Current Affair...." Sssssshhhhhhhwwwwwhhhhmmmmmm!!!! Yeah, I know that's pretty fucked up. I was a kinda fucked up kid, what can I tell you. On the plus side I've grown into this well adjusted adult that you have come to know and love!
Don't believe me about how scary the damn this was? LISTEN!!!!!!!!! That shit would pop up ANY time during the day....even during cartoons! Talk about unexpected!
The Theme from Unsolved Mysteries
While we're on the subject of musical horrors, let's not forget to mention this soul destroying malignant melody. Yes, I'm talking about the Theme from Unsolved Mysteries. Dear Christ in Heaven, this music was enough to turn my hair white whenever I heard it. I knew that music brought one thing and one thing only....Robert Stack standing in a scary ass graveyard in front of a mausoleum at 3am wearing a trench-coat and telling me about some poor bastard that's vanished off the face of the Earth, UFO's, Ghosts or an unsolved murder. You know now that I've given it a moment of thought, it's not surprising that I had deep seeded fear issues as a kid....I WATCHED THIS SHOW! I suppose you're going to want to give it a listen, aren't you? Yeah, I was afraid you'd say that. You may be wondering why I decided to put this one in: Well, to be honest I suppose that it shouldn't really be counted as an "Unexpected Horror" but for some reason, this one always got me by surprise. I would be happily playing with transformers on the floor and my mother would be watching TV. Everything would be fine and then WHAMMO! Instant trauma. I didn't expect it most of the time. So, there!
Well there you have it. Three more examples of stuff that scared the crap out of me in my youth. Three examples of things that still give me goosebumps when I think about them today. I listened to that damn Current Affair sound effect like 20 times hoping it would lessen it's effect on me. Nope. Now I just want to find someone maternal. Doesn't even have to be MY Mom....I just need a hug.