Horror movies have been around since the late 1800s and, as expected, have changed with the times. Watching a scary movie, like Dracula filmed in 1932, is not at all like watching Dracula Untold in 2014. Now, I know that Dracula may not be considered “horror” to some, but technically it is. I’m talking about the imagery and characters, laying out the differences. I don’t find either of these scary, but having read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I’m more in love with the literary aspects anyway. With this said, I don’t watch today's horror films--at all. It’s not because I’m scared of what lurks in the dark, it’s the potential nightmares. I like my sleep and appreciate the dreaming part. The things that scare people these days are the catalyst for my nightmares.
I remember watching scary movies at my cousin’s house when I was in my early teens. Try not to laugh, but at the time, Nightmare on Elm Street was pretty damn horrific. Someone who infiltrates your dreams and kills you? I'll pass. Everyone knows when you die in your dreams, you die in real life! Which, of course, was the reason the film was probably made. That may not be true, but I really don’t want to find out. I laugh at the thought of being scared now about Freddy and his scissor-hands now--mostly. The other movie that stands out is Carrie. Adorable Sissy Spacek with telekinetic powers she uses against those who hurt and make fun of her. That movie scared the hell out of me and still does. It's probably a combination of the imagery and music. Don’t get me started on the very end of the movie. I can barely type this without thinking of it. I still hesitate at cemeteries to this day.
What scares me more are the horrors of the psychological thrillers. The idea that what is happening on screen can actually happen in real life chills my inner core. The other night I walked into the room to find Michael watching Misery. It’s the film version of Stephen King’s book where a famous writer who is injured in a car accident is held captive by a lunatic fan of his work. She keeps him hostage and breaks his ankles with a sledge hammer when she discovers he’s been able to get out of his locked room. What transpires in this movie is terrifying to me. Not being able to leave, no one knows where you are, drugged (not the good kind), and knowing the person who's responsible for you is bat-shit crazy. No, thank you.
Any movie where I can imagine myself waking up and being in the same spine-chilling situation is essentially a horror film for me. I had to leave the room when Kathy Bates’ character lifted the sledge hammer, and when the writer was trying to get back to his room that he escaped from because she was coming up the driveway. Yes, I physically leave the room as hearing it is just as bad. I am involved enough in the plot to empathize with the victim and feel their anxiety. Another film that has stuck with me is Dead Calm. Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill play a married couple out on their yacht and encounter a man, Billy Zane, who needs rescue. They are terrorized by this psycho drifter, as was I. Let’s just say sailing a boat around the world is out. Almost a decade later, I could barely watch him in Titanic and felt he was a wise choice for the part he played.
I can’t say I’ve made valiant attempts to watch scary movies as I’m just not that brave. I already know how it will end--with me scared to fall asleep. Michael did get me to watch The Shining and I’ve pretty much talked myself out of remembering the scary parts (you know what they are.) We stayed up late watching The Exorcism of Emily Rose a couple of weeks ago--based on a true story--I might add. Every time I went to cover my eyes, just knowing something was about to happen, he’d say, “it’s okay, nothing scary happens.” After the black spirit materializes in a window, AND people’s eyes were spilling black ooze, I remembered his version of not-scary and mine is way different. I knew better, but I was determined to be fearless and quite possibly impress him. I don’t think he was impressed, but he was amused and hopefully saw my angst as endearing. I know based on your religion, being possessed by a demon is possible. So, let's go with that theory.
How is it I am with a man who searches for movies that will scare him? According to him, he’s been pretty unsuccessful so far. He’s shown me video clips of Paranormal Activity. Nope, not happening. He’s mentioned one that’s creeped him out a bit--The Strangers with Live Tyler. This happy couple is on vacation in the husband’s childhood summer home and hears a knock at the door. Over the course of the movie, they are terrorized by three people in masks. When a scared Liv Tyler cries out, “Why are you doing this to us?” The reply is, “Because you were home.” What?! Just watching the trailer scared me enough to never watch it. This is the kind of shit that can really happen, so don’t answer your door!
A few other films that have left their spine-tingling scar on me, but probably shouldn’t have:
I know there are many more I have purged from my mind. And, there are some still up there, but I refuse to open that door in my memory palace. I know what lies behind it and just writing about it....yea, no.
Empathy is said to be a good trait to have, but perhaps some of us carry it too far with the characters we see on screen. Having an overactive imagination doesn’t help either. I can’t count how many times Michael has told me, “Breathe!” when watching a movie. And then, he reaches over to reassure me all will be okay--kind of like a kid afraid to sit on Santa’s lap. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do when watching a movie, be deeply entranced. I do wish I can put all of these images aside and remember that it’s all about the entertainment value. It would definitely expand my catalogue of things to watch, as well as give Michael someone to help seek out the scariest film. Needless to say, his quest will have to be solo. I think it’s nice to have our individual interests. I read it can be healthy for a relationship.
I am a woman-child at heart; continuously evolving to find my place in life. I am a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I am a lover and a dreamer--an explorer and a traveler. But it's my passion for writing that allows me to explore my ingenuity. This is something that undoubtedly carries over to the many roles that make up the ever evolving woman I am.