Maybe it’s that I read The Tell-Tale Heart a few too many times. Maybe it’s that I watched every episode of ER repeatedly. Or my love of Cristina Yang. Or maybe it’s that my parents were really into skulls, and this is the next logical progression. Whatever it is, if I had one horror “thing”, it would be hearts.
“Villains!’ I shrieked. ‘Dissemble no more! I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
Probably not the show you expect to hear about on a horror blog, the episode Heart in a Box of Grey’s Anatomy pretty well sums up my viewpoint on the heart.
Cristina(to heart in the box): Off pump cornary bypass. … No. (marks it off her list) En Bloc transplant, heart and both lungs. … Yes. (circles it on her list)
Jackson: I don’t get it. I mean, Webber talks about this thing like it’s a magic eight ball. It’s a heart… in a box.
Cristina: Okay, when you take a heart out for transplant, what do you do?
Jackson: Put it on ice.
Cristina: Okay, you put it on ice and run to place it in the reciepent’s body and then you wait and hope for this cold and dead heart to come back to life, right? But she–
Cristina: She has never stopped beating. She has never stopped being warm, she has never stopped living.
Jackson: Sure, it’s pretty–
Cristina: It’s a friggin’ miracle, okay? You’re standing before a miracle and once you realize that, she’ll change your perspective. Okay, here’s what I do. I look at an item on my list and I look at heart in a box and if that surgery on my list isn’t half as cool as heart in the box then it is not worth my time. She lets you know what’s most important to you. That’s what heart in a box does. And she’s nice to talk to.
I can’t think of anything more beautiful, amazing, and horrifying than the idea of something sitting in my chest, fueling my existence. How frighteningly fragile we are–and at the same time, how tough our hearts must be to keep beating for so long. What freaky little things they are.
Like Cristina does in that episode of Grey’s Anatomy, when I’m struggling with a scene I often stop and ask myself “Is this as cool as the idea of a heart in a box?” and if I didn’t have that excited sense of awe, I soon find it and rework the scene with that feeling pumping through my veins. What could be more inspiring than the thing that powers the pulse of life?
I can’t be alone in this, because hearts are abundant in fiction.
Some of my favorite hearts have been in Frankestein monster type characters, like in the Mockingbird Lane pilot where Herman’s heart takes center stage.
The end of that episode can be seen in a gifset here where Eddie Izzard (Grandpa Munster!) replaces Herman’s heart and sucks a little blood through a straw. It’s a scene of wonder, let me tell you.
And of course, vampires. I don’t know that anyone can forget that freaky scene in season four of True Blood, where Eric rips out a dude’s heart and then smiles and suckles it like a sweet vampire baby.
So, what say you? Hearts. Horrifying things of wonder? Is there anything more perfect than that beating thing you’ve caged under your flesh?