SMOKE: Creepy Parking Garages
Originally published: 13 April 2005
I'm actually quite fond of parking garages, to be honest. Especially really, really large ones which go round and round, stacking levels on top of one another.
But only when they're full of cars - big parking garages with no cars in them are kinda spooky, and the perfect scenario for movie thrillers.
All movie parking garage scenes are the same - it's just one big scene that sits in stock footage and which directors haul out whenever the occasion demands.
There are never a lot of cars in the garage and the victim usually starts out confident, but they invariably get the feeling that someone is watching them - which of course they are. There's always somebody watching.
All is fine until the footsteps, though - hollow footsteps on concrete that reverberate off the walls of the enclosed garage and echo menacingly in a decidedly criminal manner.
The victim hurries their pace (their car is always parked at least five miles away), but the footsteps hurry up as well and then the victim breaks into a run. Panic sets in. And panic is never something you need when you're desperately fishing for your keys and trying to get them into your lock.
As soon as the victim goes for the keys the footsteps stop, which is even more eerie than hearing them. You just know some absolute bastard is going to spring out at any second to wreak unimaginable pain and suffering on the poor victim, and you are rarely wrong.
Either the swine gets the victim before they make it into the car, or - more popularly - the victim stresses over their keys, finally get in ... and can't start the motor.
At that point our murderer will usually tap politely on the window, and if you're unlucky the director will cut from the action at that point. Further explanation of ensuing events is unnecessary - we all know what's going to happen.
I say "unlucky" because I'm a big fan of extreme gore and welcome any opportunity to see some Pig getting their head staved in in a deserted parking garage. Don't cheat me out of my extreme violence, man - you lose me the moment you do.
So there - you've seen that scene a thousand times as I have, no doubt, and it never fails to loosen the bowels somewhat. There's just something innately terrifying about parking garages - they are places where only bad things can happen. Nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.
Kinda like libraries, actually - there's a very similar feel to them.
In fact - libraries can go fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned. I've never spent one single minute in them in which I haven't been entirely uncomfortable, wanting to be somewhere else and fully expecting an albino to be tracking me down through the dark shelves of books.
Do you remember that movie? It was called Foul Play and starred Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase and Dudley Moore, and it was supposed to be a comedy/thriller.
Forget about the comedy. When I watched that movie I was nine years old and I can honestly say that no movie since has ever scared me as much as that - in particular the albino scene in the library.
My memory remains sketchy on most of the plot or even why there was an albino in a library, but basically Goldie was fleeing from the swine and made the fatal mistake of ducking into a library.
The whole 'echoing footsteps' scenario - stolen directly from the parking garage genre - was a strong feature of it, but the worst moment was when Goldie pulled a book out of a shelf for some reason - and there he was!
That scumbag albino was peering directly through the hole in the shelf left by the book, and I promise you this - I've never shat myself as big as I did when that moment happened.
My mother was actually quite upset about me watching the movie (I saw it at some kid's birthday party) because for about two years after that I couldn't sleep at night.
Albinos. By the thousand.
I guess that libraries - like parking garages - are places where you always feel completely alone, and other places like that (dark alleys, abandoned warehouses, forests and cliff tops, for example) are always good settings for your thriller.
But I don't mind South African parking garages too much, actually. The reason for my lack of fear is simple: South Africans walk normally. They don't walk spookily. In fact - I can tell the difference between a lunatic in a parking garage and a South African - just by listening to their footsteps.
The footsteps are the key to peace of mind in a parking garage - if they make a normal walking noise you can relax, but as soon as they start getting madman-esque you need to start worrying.
Mad footstep behaviour in parking garages is characterised by slow, measured steps at first, which quicken their pace if you quicken yours and which slow down when you do.
If they stop when you do then you'd better pray you don't have a faulty starter in your car, because if you do you're going to end up as lumpy bits sliding slowly down the inside of a bloodied windshield.
"H-h-hello? Is anybody there?"
Of course there's someone there, you silly bitch. He's ... behind you!
All Smoked Out,