As kids we dare each other to be scared. It’s our nature. We are dying to laugh at a friend we just scared the crap out of right?
Remember hiding on your little brother or sister and jumping out yelling BOO right in their face. Then laughing hysterically because you scared them so bad they not only screamed but left a small puddle on the floor and had to sleep with mom and dad for an entire week.
As we grow older I don’t think that feeling never goes away. We still try to scare the shit out of each other every chance we get. We go searching for our own scare frenzy by starting when we are about 8-10 years old and deciding we are old enough to watch scary movies.
I remember being 8 and begging my father to watch The Omen. After much argument and me promising I would be fine he let me stay up and watch it. There I sat on the couch, cross-legged and glued to the TV both my fists clenched under my chin.
I remember the one part that literally freaked the living hell out of me for years.
Driving down the road, the car stalls, she’s got no choice she has to get out. She forgets her purse and goes back for it. When she stands up there’s the raven sitting on top of her care and the scary music sets it off.
I didn’t sleep for weeks and when I tried the lights had to be on.
I watch this today and laugh at the fact that this is what terrified me at 8. How times have changed.
Then, like many of my friends, I decided scary movies where the shit!
Every time we had sleepover’s it was scary movie night:
Teenage years come along and we are no more a grown up for the scare fest on weekends than we were in public school. Only this time it ran around getting drunk, smoking pot, having sex and ordering pizza and putting our own commentary spin on each movie. Even if it meant completely turning off the sound and creating our own dialogue.
Then doing a quick clean up on Sunday’s before the parentals got back home.
What is it in us that drives this need to have the shit scared out of us in such a way?
Scary movies are nothing new, but films like the Saw and Hostel series have offered something different, They focus less on the suspense of the chase and more on the suffering of the victim. They feature levels of gore and violence once reserved for cult films. And despite the extreme gore, they attract us and our simple need to feed the scare frenzy we harbor inside us.
In SAW we just can’t wait for Amanda to die, but she surprises us and survives. The whole time though we are in an utter state of suspense because part of us wants her to beat the trap and the other part wants to see the bloodshed.
If you’re not a horror movie fan, you may be puzzled about why people put themselves through the ordeal of watching such movies. Many behavioral researchers share your puzzlement. The fact that those researchers want to spend time and money on us rather than cure cancer is perplexing. To each is his own I guess. although I wonder how many horror movies those researchers actually watched themselves as teenagers. Maybe we should be studying them, after all they say we are the one’s who are not logical, right?
There are a number of theories as to why we feel the need to watch scary movies. If you ask someone who studies these things they will tell you that the largest audience for frightening film fare tends to be older teens and people in their early 20s. But ask them to answer why. Some believe that these types of films represent the decay of society, show the value of staying within societal norms, or allow people to feel fear within a controlled setting. Well honestly WTF?!!! What would you have us do? Walk into your mouse maze and look for the moldy piece of cheese you left in the corner for us to find while you hide Freddy and Jason in the shadows to jump out and scare the shit out of us with a bloody weapon. Oh and I am sure the Depends are provided freely for when we shit ourselves. They say that scary movies, especially gorier films, are a product of society in decay, and the increased interest or need for us to see more violence. I think This theory bears some scrutiny, and really in the end does not hold much weight. Even the earliest of societies had their “monsters” or stories of gods, men and beasts that committed unspeakable horrors. In Greek mythology there are references some horrific instances of cannibalism. But they consider this HISTORY not the decay of society.
Movie monsters provide food for our imagination’s nourishment. We consciously and deliberately outgrow the fears of childhood as we acquire knowledge and strengthen the ability to temper runaway fears with rational self-talk and fulfill the adult expectations of our peers.
But the fears of childhood and of monsters and the supernatural are never truly banished from our minds as we become adults; they linger like archetypes in our subconscious. Movies and movie monsters allow us to revisit those fears, from a safe zone. And if it all gets too much, too real, too close, we can just close our eyes, and mutter to ourselves “not real, not real, not real.” If that doesn’t work, we can grab a hold of our date, even slump in our seat, or just get up and walk out of the theater or shut the DVD player off.
Movie monsters give us the opportunity to see and learn strategies of coping with real-life monsters, should we run into them, despite all probabilities to the contrary, sort of rehearsal for … life’s little unexpected curves.
Face it, we just enjoy being scared!! It’s that sudden rush of adrenalin that we feel as these quick little scares pop out of the not so empty darkness. We scream, jump, sometimes land in the lap of the hot guy sitting next to us.
For others it’s the chance get out all of their pent-up frustration and anger by putting themselves in the place of the villain and the object, or focus, of their anger and/or frustration in the place of the victim. We may grab a pillow and pretend we are ripping it to shreds only to us it’s not a pillow, it’s someone’s face.
Regardless of why we need to get that weight off of their shoulders, so to speak, putting ourselves in the place of the so-called “bad guy” or “killer” aides in dealing with the stress of everyday life. Not such a bad thing when you think about because no one really got hurt did they?
For others, it’s the gore, plain and simple. It’s being able to see something that most of us, most sane people anyway, have never seen, and hopefully never will see, in our real lives. Most would never want to see a real person being gutted alive, or being torn apart, piece by piece, by hungry zombies. But to be able to see such acts, acts that are essentially “foreign” to us in reality, take place before our very eyes, all the while knowing that the man or woman who is the victim is acting, and the worst part of the act of violence is cleaning that stage blood off of his or her face, after it’s set in and begun to stain their skin, we somehow gain an odd sense of joy.
This doesn’t make us sick Dr. Freud. Most people have some sense of a morbid curiosity, to one degree or another. I’d be willing to bet at some point you did to. Tell us about your Mother why don’t you?…For those who don’t know Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis.
In short, there appears to be something paradoxical about the horror genre. It obviously
attracts consumers. We pay to go to the theater to watch it. We buy DVDs and memorabilia. We attend conventions. Money is spent and money is earned. Everyone is happy right?
A movie is just like any experience. It may or may not have any positive effect at all or any effect at all.
I leave you with some food for thought.
If we did not have horror movies how would we get release?
Would crime rates go up? Would domestic violence be any worse than it is in current day?
Yours in True Grue Family Fashion
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