So last night my husband insisted we watch “Pet Cemetary,” which is further proof that cable is not so much about providing good entertainment as providing bad entertainment at all hours. I’d never seen it all the way through. I didn’t miss much.

However, it got me thinking–horror movies are always about stupid or at least not terribly sensible people. I mean, sure, everybody raises the dead ONCE. Maybe even twice, if you were drunk and it was late and there was nothing good on TV, although usually you have the sense to stick to the less intelligent species. (If you want to make a few dozen zombie flatworms, of course, that’s your business.) But you gotta be a real numbskull to be dabbling in necromancy with your higher vertebrates on multiple occasions, particularly when they’ve already gone on a rampage with the killing and the stabbing and the giggling and the cameo appearances by Stephen King.

Of course, on further contemplation, this is probably because sensible people would short circuit a plot and make for a really short movie/story/whatever. If Faust had read through the contract and said “You know, this is bullshit, I’m not signing, I’m gonna go take up pottery and date that hot chick next door,” then it would have been two chapters long and never seen print. Had the residents of the Bates motel said “Shit, this place looks kinda creepy and Norm is really weirding me out–I think we passed a Holiday Inn a few miles back,” no story. And don’t get me started on the Blair Witch Project. Jesus H. Christ, follow the goddamn river for a few miles and you’ll come out in a Walmart. And if you’re being stalked by a madman, maybe you could, I dunno, build a really big fire and put your backs to it and put down the camera and pick up a whomping stick? There’s three of you and one of it and anything solid enough to chop your buddy’s fingers off is solid enough to go down when you smack it in the head with a log.

Now, the people in “The Birds” I feel for. There’s a limit to what human ingenuity can do in cases like that if you don’t have a whole bunch of birdseed on hand. But generally, the denizens of horror movies do not seem to be a bright bunch. I never saw “Scream” but supposedly it is based on this premise, so maybe I’ll have to rent it one of these days.

Not surprisingly, given the movie, I dreamed that I was being chased by the living dead, being led by–for reasons I am not entirely clear on–an undead Mark Twain. James claims that Twain is out to get me for having read so much terrible American literature, and I can’t say he’s wrong, but I’d think the man would have plenty of places he’d want to stop first, like Jean Auel’s house. (The first one was good. The rest…well, anyway, the first one was good.) Being me, I took down quite a lot of said living dead, although that slippery bastard Mark Twain got away…there was something confusing involving a southern family and a car that shot lasers out of its headlights. I did not bury the dead in a pet cemetary, because I figure once they’re zombies, it’s not really my job to give them a decent burial while they’re trying to eat me. It was a surprisingly non-scary dream. I woke up and went “Crap! I almost had that bastard Twain!” The symbolism of this is unclear, but perhaps it’s better that way.

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