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Literature / Dread

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Dread was a short story written by Clive Barker as a part of the Books of Blood. It tells the story about how an older college student starts to do a little bit of a strange fear experiment that doesn't quite end as he had hoped.

Was adapted into the film as Dread that was a part of the After Dark Horror Fest, which kept a good chunk of the story, but made some alterations, much like a lot of Clive Barker films have done.


This story contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ax-Crazy: Quaid is haunted by his own fear of a ragamuffin ax-man. By the end Stephen returns this way.
  • Break the Haughty: Quaid becomes obsessed with breaking the intelligent and attractive Cheryl when she claims to have no fears to trigger. He succeeds.
  • The Chessmaster: Quaid is the one who sets up everything that happens.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Quaid sets up both Cheryl and Stephen with their worst fears come to life and in the end Steven brings Quaid face to face with his.
  • Freudian Excuse: Quaid himself is plagued by his own fear of an ax-swinging Monster Clown, and terrorizes others in hope of purging his own dread.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Due to Quaid's choices, he ends up having to face his own dread when Stephen returns to his captor dressed like the killer with an axe.
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  • Monster Clown: Quaid's personal bogeyman-fear. Steven ends up tossing on a ragtag bunch of clothing and accidentally replicates this look for the climax.
  • Only One Name: Quaid.
  • Sadistic Choice: Quaid puts Cheryl through this. She as a vegetarian is left in a room where her only thing to eat is a piece of meat.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Everyone becomes this under Quaid's "experiments".
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Since the story is about Quaid trying to trigger the deepest dreads of his subjects, phobias are central to the plot:
    • Cheryl is afraid of meat.
    • Stephen is afraid of silence and isolation, a phobia caused by him suffering from temporary deafness in childhood.
    • Quaid himself has a recurring nightmare of a Monster Clown axe murderer. It turns out that the purpose of his experiments is to find the cause of fear in order to overcome it.