Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my), Things that go bump in the night, the Monster under the bed…
I’ve often wondered: what is it about me that CRAVES horror, and relishes the opportunity to get scared out of my mind? Is there a “profile” of a horror movie fan? And what is it that truly SCARES you? Do you sometimes enjoy your horror seasoned with a sprinkling of humor or a full-blown camp-fest?
My horror “seasoning” began at a young age, with classics such as Pet Sematary, Hellraiser, Silver Bullet, Poltergeist, Pumpkinhead, and a never-ending list of Friday night B movies and cult classics that aired on the USA Up All Night program. (Side note: Can we get that program back? And I have NO idea why I was allowed to watch these films as a child, but I was, and I LOVED every minute of it).
I have gone back and watched most of these films, and many of the scares still hold-up to this day (yep, Zelda is just as scary now as she was then). Others don’t, as it’s hard to get past some of the horrendous acting and effects, but it’s still fun to look back and see what got my goat as a kid.
So, what gets my goat today?
For me (and many others), I guess some of the things that are the scariest are the situations that could actually happen.
Take for example The Strangers; I thought I could maybe give living in the country a go until I saw that movie. Now? Not so much. Yes, I realize deranged serial killers in masks could also wreak havoc in the city, but the isolation of that location is what made it so effective.
Then we have the supernatural. I have heard some people say that because they don’t believe in ghosts, ghost movies don’t scare them. I personally LOVE a good ghost tale, and I’m not afraid to admit that some scare the hell outta me (See: my new favorite supernatural film, Lake Mungo).
And what about tales of the possessed and demonic? Do you have to be a God-fearing fellow for this stuff to scare you? I don’t know, but anytime contortionism and speaking in foreign tongues fits into the equation, I’m sold. (See: Exorcism of Emily Rose)
What about a good creature flick? (See: The Descent/Fire in the Sky) Whether it be monster, alien, or the like, IF handled properly this has to be my favorite kind of scare. I guess this goes back to a fear of the unknown (ok, maybe there ARE monsters under the bed), and the knowledge that we have only scratched the surface of what exists on our own planet and beyond. Throw in the claustrophobia/no escape element and you’re in for a cover-your-eyes thrill ride.
Does humor belong in horror? Absolutely- at least in my opinion. I think that you can’t truly appreciate the glory of the genre unless you can poke fun at it too. Sometimes you’re just in the mood to sit back and watch an over the top gore fest, gratuitous zombie sex, or just plain hilarious effects and dialogue (see: Dead Alive, Slither).
Taking into account what scares us and why, do we as horror fans fit a certain “profile” that makes us LOVE this stuff? What would that profile look like?
This of course is just a small sampling of the types of horror out there. Feel free to add what scares YOU to the comments!