Colin Davies’ A-Z of Horror: C is for Curse

And so, the A-Z of horror, according to me, continues. In this blog, I want to examine an element of horror that is more terrifying than a terrifying terror trying to terrify a Trevor. Now that’s terrifying! And if you can get what it’s going to be from that, you can probably tell everyone what the song Purple Rain is about. Enough of this silliness; it’s time to talk about…

 

C is for Curse

 

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a curse as a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something. It can also be an offensive word or phrase used to express anger or annoyance. Though it appears in horror, it is the former definition I am looking at today.

 

Curses have been in horror from the very early days. For example, in The Epic of Gilgamesh (2100BC), the curse brings about terrible tidings on a trapper and his Harlot.

 

May the trapper not get enough to feed himself.

May his profit be slashed, and his wages decrease,

may… be his share before you,

may he not enter … but go out of it like vapour (?)!”

After he had cursed the trapper to his satisfaction,

his heart prompted him to curse the Harlot.

“Come now, Harlot, I am going to decree your fate,

a fate that will never come to an end for eternity!

I will curse you with a Great Curse,

may my curses overwhelm you suddenly, in an instant!

May you not be able to make a household,

and not be able to love a child of your own (?)!

May you not dwell in the … of girls,

may dregs of beer (?) stain your beautiful lap,

may a drunk soil your festal robe with vomit(?),

 

As you read this, you may notice parts missing, and notations made such as (?), these are due to the age of the tablets this, the oldest written pros found to date, was carved on.

 

Curses were used in the Bible, once to summon a She-Bear to mutilate from kids for calling the Priest baldie. Other to evoke the wrath of God on to Heathens. Shakespeare had “a plague on both your houses.” (Romeo & Juliet, 1597). While Universal Pictures, so keen to jump on the Egyptian wagon, had the script for Dracula (1931) reworked as The Mummy (1932) were screenwriter John L. Balderston added the idea of a curse that cast itself on anyone who dared enter the tomb.

 

Another great film to use a curse is Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur from a screenplay by Charles Bennett, which was based on the short story Casting the Runes (1911) by M.R. James. This story plays with the curse coming from the occult. A curse is placed upon the protagonist, and more matter what he does, he cannot escape the demon that was now coming to take his soul. Drag Me to Hell (2009) from director am Raimi is another film that follows a curse being cast this way.

 

So, how do you avoid a curse? (with loads of cursing)

Don’t piss off a god
Or one of its priests.
Gypsies don’t like it
If you shame them at feasts.

Avoid annoying your mate
Or disease you’ll incur
And if there’s a mark on your door
You are fucked, that’s for sure.

Break into a tomb?
Mummy won’t like it.
In the dark of the night
Come to fuck up your shit.

So, try to be good
Try to be kind
Don’t be a twat
And they won’t curse your mind.

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