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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 a comic book (see right) and as the film 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.
  • Dirty Coward: Quaid, mixed with It's All About Me. He manipulates and tortures people with their worst fears because of his inability to deal with or seek proper help for his own fears.
    Steve took a sour satisfaction in that thought. That Quaid, the impartial experimenter, the would-be educator, was obsessed with terrors because his own dread ran deepest. That was why he had to watch others deal with their fears. He needed a solution, a way out for himself.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Quaid sets up both Cheryl and Stephen with their worst fears come to life, and in the end, Stephen 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.
    • And since he deliberately lives in an otherwise abandoned suburb to keep his victims from attracting attention, he ends up just as trapped as them when Stephen wounds him, with the narration making it clear that Stephen is going to take his sweet time enacting his vengeance on Quaid.
  • Monster Clown: Quaid's personal bogeyman-fear. Stephen 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.