One thing that makes horror work brilliantly is surprise. It’s deeply engrained in all of our story telling but it’s a key element in horror. Yeah sure the jump scare or the BOO! is a big part of that. But it’s more subtly used in good story telling when a couple of seemingly incongruous elements that we wouldn’t think would go together are suddenly thrust together.
I tend to love it when an element of horror story telling is subtle or juuuuuust odd enough. This week I was working with some students and one of them told me about a temple in Kyoto with bloody footprints that have been there for four hundred years. It’s pretty freaky to think that a murder that happened so long ago can be brought back to us afresh because that person’s blood is still there. Stranger still that their, or the killer’s footprints are still visible.
On the ceiling.
Ok so how do you think the footprints got there? Some wild battle where ninja were running up the walls? A crazy melee where one man grabbed another and tried to flip him, but the guy kicked his feet against the ceiling trying to get out of it? A ghostly thing that lurked along the ceiling like a madwoman, hair dripping down in the faces of people trying to run from her wretched gaze?
Actually the floorboards come from Fushimi castle.
In 1623, the castle was dismantled, and many of its rooms and buildings were incorporated into castles and temples across Japan. Several temples in Kyoto, such as Yōgen-in (養源院), Genkō-an (源光庵) and Hōsen-in (宝泉院), have a blood-stained ceiling that had been the floor of a corridor at Fushimi Castle where Torii Mototada and company had committed suicide. (Thank you wikipedia.)
SO! Perfectly logical explanation for all that. But I still like the idea of a bloody horror from beyond the grave stalking along the ceiling, blood and water dripping down, hair whipping about. Sick, slick eyes