Don’t Look in the Box: Horror Films’ Most Chilling Gifts
The fear of the unknown is a major motif of the horror genre, seen in everything from monsters hiding in closets to sharks lurking below the ocean surface to alien terrors visiting from beyond the stars.
Sometimes, though, our fears are small enough to be contained, albeit briefly, in presents, packages, boxes, and more, before they’re unleashed upon us. We strongly advise you to not look in the box, but if you do, here’s what you might find.
Fluffy from Creepshow
Whether this creature secured during an Arctic expedition in 1834 is a yeti or some other form of wildlife is unclear, but what is clear is the horror that befalls any unlucky soul who gets too close to his crate.
Perhaps most troubling, though, is that his 150-year confinement seemed to not make him any less spry, leading one to wonder how many faculty members and students he’s been snacking on at Horlicks University for the last century and a half.
The Box from “Button, Button”
Richard Matheson’s classic short story “Button, Button” posed a fascinating question: If you were given a box with a single button, and pressing the button gave you a large sum of money, but someone you did not know would die, what would you do?
With the story adapted several times, the internal struggles and final fates of the central characters differ greatly, as various outcomes are seen in the original short, the 1980s Twilight Zone adaptation, and the 2009 film version. There’s even an excellent parody of the premise. We likely keep coming back to the story since the central idea is so potent and so disturbing.
The Dybbuk Box from The Possession
Containing a dybbuk, a malicious spirit from Jewish folklore known for possessing humans, the box taken in by the Brenek family in The Possession brings them nothing but disaster, leading to madness, illness, and death.
The box, and the film itself, are actually based on a bit of modern folklore, however, despite the dybbuk’s old-world roots. A man named Kevin Mannis constructed an elaborate backstory for an otherwise ordinary minibar when he listed the item on eBay in 2003. Since then, the story grew and was developed by subsequent buyers, and Mannis actually sold the rights to the story so The Possession could be made, all making for an interesting case of reality and fiction blending.
The Puzzle Box from Hellraiser
The Puzzle Box, also known as the Lemarchand Configuration, is certainly one gift you want to steer clear of… unless you’re looking to enter some of the darkest places you could imagine.
Successfully solving the Puzzle Box brings forth the Cenobites, who have such sights to show you. Led by Pinhead, these creatures are demons to some, angels to others, being experts in the field and delivery of pain. Best to just stick to Wordle.
John Doe’s Package from Se7en
David Fincher’s Se7en stands out as one of the bleakest and best horror films of the ‘90s, and much of that is due to the characterization and depiction of the villain John Doe.
Driven by an obsession to “turn each sin against the sinner,” Doe engages in elaborate killings based on the seven deadly sins, with his grand finale culminating in having a gruesome package delivered to Detective David Mills. What’s in the box? Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out – but you won’t forget.
Belial from Basket Case
Belial doesn’t get out much, unless he’s being carted around by his brother in a wicker basket. Originally a deformed conjoined twin, Belial seeks revenge on the doctors and nurses who separated he and his twin, as his brother helps with the introductions.
In his original appearance, Belial isn’t too impressive, being pretty much a hunk of rubber in a monster shape. In the sequels, however, better makeup and practical effects make him a more compelling and visually appealing monster.
The Good Guy Dolls from Child’s Play
Contained in their brightly colored packaging, and featuring doe eyes, rosy cheeks, and disarming smiles, the Good Guy dolls of the Child’s Play films make for the perfect gift… unless you get one haunted by an evil soul or sporting some haywire programing.
Whether it’s Charles Lee Ray looking to cast some voodoo spells or a corporate AI gone rogue, some of these dolls cause a lot of mischief and mayhem for the people who cross their paths. But if little Andy is determined to get one this Christmas, just make sure it isn’t set to evil.
Gizmo from Gremlins
Though he’s cute, cuddly, and loveable, Gizmo the mogwai is one of horror’s most dangerous gifts. All it takes is a little bit of water and some midnight snacks to have a pack of gremlins on your hands, creatures who love nothing more than causing death, destruction, and mayhem.
That gremlins have been defeated in the films so far owes a lot to ingenuity and luck, because if they’re ever able to make it to a major body of water the planet is likely doomed.
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