I have a strange obsession. For the last, oh… 16 years, I’ve had an affinity for horror films. Good, bad, terrible… I love them all. It’s funny because my parents wouldn’t let me watch anything scary when I was younger. They wouldn’t even let me watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. And they were right to be so cautious with my young mind. To give you an idea of just how bad it was, picture an 8-year-old girl who couldn’t walk down a dark hallway because Darth Vader would surely be waiting in the bathroom. STAR WARS isn’t even scary! Skip ahead two years. My father sits me down to watch JAWS. In the weeks that would come I had stopped going in our swimming pool and I can vividly remember my dad standing outside the bathroom door shouting “No sharks are going to come up out of that shower drain, now take a Goddamn shower!”
After that I would sneak peeks at scary movies when they were on television and regret it later under the safety of my blanket in the dark. Not much has changed. I still watch scary movies, but now I do it frequently and with reckless abandon. I think I’ve seen every scary movie that has come out in the last five years. I guess I never understood why so many of my friends wouldn’t watch them with me. Then I saw movies like 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and THE STRANGERS and it hit me: a lot of scary movies are just horrible! That’s why there are so many of them. They are – for the most part – low-budget, they are easy to make, the acting is almost never good. The makeup for these movies isn’t complex at all. So why am I so compelled to watch them?
I saw THE RING about four years after it came out. I was not mentally prepared for what I saw. Those of us with active imaginations are well-aware that these things can’t really happen. A little girl is not going to crawl out of your television. Ever. But at 3 a.m., that doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters at that point in time is survival. I watched THE RING with my old roommates. I remember pretending that it didn’t scare me when it ended, but boy was I ever terrified. I would have these nightmares that were so bad that I wouldn’t be able to focus at work. I used to talk to people about the movie all day long. Most of them would tell me they thought the movie was stupid and that they didn’t like it.
My next step was finding Samara – the little girl from THE RING – on MySpace. Someone had made a profile for her. Several, actually. I befriended Samara and sent a carefully written letter to her expressing my fear and asking for reassurance that she would not kill me. The person behind the profile must’ve thought I was a lunatic, but wrote back telling me that she wouldn’t hurt me and that we could be friends. Fast-forward to 4 am. I am laying in bed, eyes wide open, staring at my bedroom door. I tried to sleep with the door open and closed. But every time I closed my eyes I could’ve sworn I heard soggy footsteps making their way to my room. At the end of this time in my life I was placing my television in the hall outside of my locked bedroom door and my dad was offering to let me sleep with a gun in my room. I told him I would likely shoot the dog and we quickly nixed the gun idea.
I believe so passionately in movie magic that my gullible brain is willing to accept anything as something that could actually happen. So why do I enjoy these movies? PARANORMAL ACTIVITY had me hearing pounding footsteps where there were none.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003) is another one that I’ve watched 8 billion times. It still frightens me. I still wake up in the middle of the night in fear that I’ll open my eyes to Leather Face wearing some kind of crazy skin mask and wielding a chainsaw. There comes a time when lunatics like me must ask themselves one very important question: why do I do this to myself? It’s been years since I first scared myself to the point of missing several nights of sleep and I still don’t have a good answer for that question.
I know there are others like me out there. Those of you who hesitate before walking down a long dark hallway or descending the stairs into a basement. The ones who dread the day they encounter the psycho with the mask and the shiny sharp knife while babysitting. For us, I fear there is no hope. The adrenaline is perhaps the reason for our infatuation. The fear we experience is like a drug. You can’t get enough but it keeps you up at night.
I say, screw it. Scare the shit out of yourself. Why? Because it’s fun! Yes. That’s the ticket. It’s fun to contemplate what would really happen if you did Bloody Mary in the bathroom at work. It’s fun to need your friends to talk to you in the movie theater bathroom because you swear you just heard a noise in the stall next to you.
Alright you horror addicts. Here’s some good news for you. I’ve stumbled upon two (potentially) great horror flicks coming out next year. They even come out the same weekend! You’ll be awake for days! Just drinking and drinking until finally you forget who you are much less anyone who might be hiding under your bed.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK stars Harry Potter with a little 5 o’clock shadow. Who doesn’t love creepy dolls and old, mutilated photographs?
Next up is THE INNKEEPERS. I’m a sucker for old-timey music in scary movies. Sara Paxton headlines this one. I think this movie is probably going to suck big time, but who knows. Sara Paxton is totally related to Bill Paxton. If that means anything to you.
And for all of you maniacs who want to literally have the shit scared out of you, I give you THE DEVIL INSIDE: