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Modern Day Scaries

Given all this (sweeping gesture), I can’t believe I was ever scared of a dude in a hockey mask.

Dorothy Woodend 30 Oct 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

What is scary now is not what was scary once upon a time. Or to put it more plainly, we’re living in a particularly terrifying age. Werewolves, vampires and demons pale in comparison to the current variety of spooky stuff. The GOP, the U.S. Supreme Court, viral invaders, cops, Proud Boys and methane gas — all of these things make a killer in a hockey mask seem rather quaint by comparison.

Old-timey monsters give off the flea-bitten mustiness of Abbott and Costello routines. “Who?” I hear you ask, which brings us to our first and most frightening of experiences: old age.

One day you might casually mention a cultural reference that you think everyone knows and get only a blank stare in return. You have entered the zone of cultural irrelevance. Welcome: your stay will be permanent. AOOOOOOOO! All the things that once held meaning or seemed important have faded into mist. You never know when it’s going to happen.

The older you get the worse it becomes, until you’re just a shuddering wreck of a human, muttering under your breath about Kojak, the Bee Gees or bursting into a croaking rendition of the Love Boat theme song: “Exciting and new, come aboard, we’re expecting you….”

It’s okay, old-timer. Just eat your mush and dream of the days when you were cool and hip.

You know, when you shopped at Le Chateau. Wait, what? Le Chateau is dead?!

Amongst the more esoteric things to be afraid of, there’s also a surplus of everyday stuff. So in honour of Halloween, The Tyee offers you a bounteous supply of ordinary horrors to darken your days and plague your slumbers.

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Killer Karens. Illustration by Dorothy Woodend.

Rich people

While a good many folk are struggling to continue their mortal existence through the pandemic, a select few are living the ultimate life as the terrible one per cent. The extremely wealthy have long been up to no good — whether it was bathing in the blood of the innocent to preserve their beauty or filling up their castle moats with flesh-eating crocodiles. They’re different than you and me, with the means to indulge in pervy predilections such as private jets to orgy islands, space rockets to Mars and a bevy of medical interventions to stave off the predations of age.

Today, the rich no longer need to suck on virgins. They have Botox and other fillers to smooth away fine lines and wrinkles. These procedures have given rise to a breed of Killer Karens, demonic-looking privileged women attacking the unwary in parks and stores. These ladies of the night are possessed of the pure venom that only comes from never being denied anything ever. The peeled faces of Botox abusers are enough to scare anyone, especially when they have the cops on speed dial and are apt to call over the most mundane of things.


Fear just might be the most overplayed and ubiquitous emotion at the moment. Everything that politicians can think of to throw at the voting population, they do: taxes, mean dogs, roving gangs, Foreigner (the band), also real foreigners, environmentalists, socialists, communists, newspapers, movie stars and on it goes.

As the U.S. election lurches into the home stretch, some of its major players appear to be rotting from the inside out. But no one could figure out what was happening to U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s blackened hands and purplish lips. But perhaps the most logical explanation is also the most obvious one: he’s a monster. No really, he is.

Real estate

The real estate market continues to be terrifying as it climbs ever higher. Don’t worry about accidentally buying a haunted house; you’ll never be able to afford one even if it has slime running down the walls and a swimming pool full of mouldering corpses. It’s time to downsize your fears and get realistic. How about a haunted studio apartment? But good luck making your ectoplasmic freeloader friends pay their share of the utilities. Damn cheap ghosts.

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Killer onions. Illustration by Dorothy Woodend.


Killer onions have joined spinach, romaine lettuce and tomatoes from outer space as one of the more deadly foodstuffs. If you’re wise, you’ll just stick to processed cheese products and suppositories. Everything you put in your mouth has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, listeria and any number of other toxic things. A healthy die-it isn’t what it used to be.

Your own mind

It’s a thin line between madness and sanity. The story of the NXIVM sex cult made it clear that it doesn’t take much to convince reasonable people to believe the kookiest stuff. Cults are still going strong — think those who still believe in Jason Kenney — and then there’s the conspiracy theorists like the QAnon nutters. The ability of the human mind to willfully embrace delusion is still one of the most frightening things on the planet.

The universe

If there wasn’t enough stuff to be afraid of here on Earth, just look to the stars for a vast, incomprehensible universe of terrifying phenomena. Yes, there is such a thing as Galactic cannibalism. Strange matter, black holes, zombie stars: what kind of God is responsible for this kind of thing? I don’t want to meet him in a dark corner of space, where no one can hear me scream.

Tyee readers, what are your modern day scaries?  [Tyee]

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