Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do I have to like scary movies?

Nick as Richie, '09
Of course I don't, but every once in a while, in the interest of personal growth I revisit some of my opinions. From the time we're very young we start expressing preferences or having preferences foisted upon us by doting kin and pretty soon we can't remember why exactly we are meant to "hate winter" or "love frogs" or "hate scary  movies" or whatever. For example, I used to hate sun-dried tomatoes and now I love those chewy li'l vomit-flavored candies. And I can now tolerate the wet, bland non-flavor of cantaloupe within the context of fruit salad, though you won't see me going for a beige crescent of the stuff at a continental breakfast. I still hate the Mountain Goats.

I don't like the sensation of being scared, it's not thrilling for me. It gives me the same leaden sense of doom as when I have to get up and speak at a podium for a big work meeting but I'm last on the agenda so for an hour it's just me feeling both my lungs squeezed in a fist of bodily terror. Even at the beginning of a horror movie when the family is happy and the neighborhood seems so peaceful, there's a throb of dread in my gut because I know we won't make it to the credits without me feeling really really bad.

But I'm married to a person who loves movies, and the horror genre, and so about twice a year I end up watching a horror movie. The first way that this happens is when it is revealed that I haven't seen some revered classic and this must be made right and I indulge because living with me is not always a picnic and you do what you can sometimes to show your mate you appreciate them.

Nick's skin was thickened by years of exposure to the macabre.  His grandmother was a frequent babysitter and would often take the boys to any movie of their choosing with an admonition not to tell their mom, anticipating the long nap she would enjoy in the dark theatre while Nick and his brother sat in rapt silence. So while at 27, I can still barely deal with the memory of Scrooge's doorknocker morphing into Goofy-as-Jacob-Marley in Mickey's Christmas Carol, Nick at 5 years old was seeing Nightmare on Elm Street in the theatre with his 7 year old brother and zonked-out grandma.

Naturally his exposure to very adult depictions of sex and gore at a young age turned him into an amoral menace to society.....who still "saves" earthworms from the sidewalk after the rain. 

(Meanwhile my dad drove me and my friend back to Blockbuster to return an unwatched movie, having determined that I had conned him into renting something PG-13 for us. Because I was 12, and it's been well-documented what seismic shifts in maturity happen at the stroke of midnight on one's 13th birthday...)

The other occasion where I will sign up for a viewing of a film I know will make me feel awful is around Halloween, because, festive! Sunday night, Nick wisely picked out Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Though this one is utter B-movie camp, I was not immune to its handful of gotcha moments. The next night, Nick picked out Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, the Guillermo del Toro picture that came out a few years ago. A  good choice because I always deal better with monsters rather than demon possession/fucked-up looking girl with jaw that unhinges/ghosts with jerky movements/ghastly apparitions that have their heads installed upside down/whatever. I still had to watch fully half of it through the shutter-shades of my hands. 

I didn't grow up  in a "movie family" and still have a lot of catching up to do to reach film literacy parity with my peers, but I have always been great at watching too much TV. The best way for someone with nerves of candy floss like myself to celebrate the season is to re-watch the great Halloween episodes of TV series. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

"Tricks and Treats" - Freaks and Geeks
"Halloween; Ellie" - Louie
"Halloween" - The Office
"Full Bars" - Bob's Burgers
"Trick or Treat" - Curb Your Enthusiasm
"Greg Pikitis" - Parks and Recreation
Any of the "Treehouse of Horror" series, The Simpsons
"Fairy Tales Can Come True" - Cheers

And nearly all available on Netflix at this very instant! What a world.


  1. I've only seen one actual horror movie, and I saw it to appease a friend. It wasn't even that scary or gory, but it left me with a bad taste in my... brain? I try, now and then, to watch creepy/twisted/violent/disturbing movies (for me, most recently, that was Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Swedish version), but so far it always leaves me feeling the same way, at which point I swear off such stuff... until the next time I decide to challenge my own "rules." (Which I do like to do, now and then - keeps things fresh. And like you mentioned, sun dried tomatoes!)

    I love all of the Tree House of Horror episodes, though. Good stuff.

  2. Addams Family and Addams Family Values are my very favorite halloween movies. I don't do scary movies. There are a few good halloween episodes of Boy Meets World - I love the one with Candice Cameron.

  3. So the other day I watched a movie on netflix called Vamps that came out just last year and has alicia silverstone, krysten ritter, matthew crawley from downton abbey and the guy who says "inconceivable!" Oh, and sigourney weaver! and it was about vampire girls dealing with life in the city. what i'm saying is, i don't really like horror movies but sit me in front of a shitty made for tv campy halloween-ish flick and it is on like donkey kong. see also: hocus pocus. oh, and all things tim burton! but actual horror leaves me pulling the watch-through-my-fingers trick, as you do.