WHERE THIS EVIL HAILS FROM: The 1983 Disney film (back when Disney sometimes did dark) Something Wicked This Way Comes based on the 1962 Ray Bradbury novel of the same name. True evil never dies, guys. It just reinvents itself.
WHY THIS EVIL MADE ME FILLE THE FEAR: Our Grade 5 teacher showed this to my class Halloween of ’83, a golden time of pre-helicopter parents and trust in the education system when teachers could get away with shit like this. I slept with the light on for a year. Mr. Dark, played brilliantly by Jonathon Pryce in full Victorian garb oozing charm and darkness in equal spades, was far more terrifying than your typical slasher because:
a.) He had a helluva lot of tattoos, and in the ’80s only sailors and criminals had tattoos.
b.) He was kind of hot, and hot evil is way scarier than ugly evil, especially when it’s also polite and wears a well-cut suit; and un-ironic top-hat.
c.) He ran a carnival. Carnivals are creepy.
d.) I thought he was supposed to be the devil, which is why I slept with the light on for over a year.
HOW THIS EVIL STILL DOES: The main themes of the film–be careful what you wish for, vanity never ends well, evil preys on insecurity–were probably over my head when I was 10, but as a middle-aged mom, I totally get why Miss Foley rode the Carousel and tried to become young again. And then she ends up blind! She can’t even see how pretty she is! Irony, you guys. Irony is scary stuff.
I, too, have my regrets ripe for exploitation. Mr. Dark’s still around you know, only now he’s peddling creams and procedures, photo hopping pictures of pretty enough women into perfection to make the rest of us feel badly about our mediocrity, and snake-charming us out of cash and the natural confidence that should come with aging. He’s still hot and charming, and far more relatable now than ever. Plus, it’s kind of on my bucket list to have my image tattooed on a British guy. If Mr. Dark showed up, I could be persuaded is all I’m saying, and that’s frightening to this forty-something fille.