Tuesday, October 13, 2015

31 Days of Halloween - Please Scare Me

Dear friends, I have a problem. I have not been really and truly scared by any movie in my entire adult life. Why is this such a problem? Mostly because I love horror movies, and miss the feeling of fear I had when I was a kid. It's that exciting thrill that makes you feel alive. It's that endorphin rush you get from the fight or flight response. And it's also fun to be a little scared of something that you know can't really hurt you. I've been creeped out, unnerved, and uncomfortable but that's hardly the same thing. I have friends who are scared of zombies and zombie movies. I'd like to have something like that. I'm scared of large hairy spiders, snakes and alligators (I spent some time in Florida when I was a kid; they kind of force you to be scared of snakes and alligators), and of adult things like unexpected bills. The point is, I want to be afraid of fun stuff again. Not "the GPS went out while I'm driving out of town for work" crap, but well and truly "can't we just leave a light on tonight?" afraid. Maybe this vast network of people can help.

Let's start with what used to scare me when I was young to give you some reference. The first time I was really frightened by anything I saw on TV or in a movie was probably the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow cartoon. I know it wasn't supposed to be scary, but for a cartoon it did a great job of building tension. It was either that or the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Fantasia. That demon thing was terrifying. Rewatching later didn't have the same impact, or any impact, as when I was a child.
Then there were all those anthology movies that came out when I was young enough to be influenced by them. First, the Trilogy of Terror (the original one from 1975. There was a crappy remake, but I don't count that one). I didn't see it when it came out because I was only a year old, but I saw it on TV when I was pretty young. That part with the African doll that came to life and terrorized Karen Black freaked me the fuck out. Same with that clown doll in Poltergeist. My dislike of dolls and clowns probably stemmed from these two movies. I wasn't a child when I saw it, but the last thing I can remember being scared of in a movie was Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT. I think I even had a few clown based nightmares so that's pretty good right? But let me get back on track. Parts of Creepshow and Creepshow 2 were scary as hell. "The Crate" segement in particular was troubling. Until that time I'd always thought of tasmanian devils as cartoon whirlwinds. After that I was in constant fear that one of those monsters was under every set of stairs I saw (and under my bed, in my closet, just everywhere). In Creepshow 2 "The Raft" segment messed me up mostly because at the time I saw it we lived on a lake that featured a raft just like the one in the movie. It probably didn't unnerve many people as much as it did me, but that's just situational I suppose. I sure stayed out of the lake for a long time after I saw it though.
And to go back to snakes for a minute, let me not forget Dreamscape. That snake monster that the guy from The Warriors turned in to gave me nightmares for years. I was super excited when it came out on Netfilx I was super excited, until I saw it again. It did not hold up to an adult viewing. But then there a lot of things that used to scare me that just don't anymore. Michael, Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface, etc., etc., etc. None of them have them same impact now. Is it just me?
Don't get me wrong, I've loved some of the horror movies that have come out since I've been relatively grown up. The remake of Dawn of the Dead, Cabin Fever, 28 Days Later, and many others that don't spring to mind right now. More recently, The Conjuring and It Follows have been really creepy if not downright scary. I want to see The Green Inferno and Crimson Peak, but I don't hold out much hope for scares (for the record, startling isn't the same thing as scaring). Eli Roth is usually just gross, and Guillermo del Toro makes some disturbing images; nothing too frightening there.
So after reading all this if you can think of something to watch that will actually give me back my sense of fear me please let me know. And please, no TV. I've seen YouTube videos that are scarier than anything I've seen on TV. American Horror Story in any incarnation is just not scary. Any help will be appreciated while I lie in bed at night, cursing your name, unable to sleep for fear of death. I want to think that every van is a rape/murder van, every odd noise is a killer coming to get me, and that every shadow might hold  an unspeakable monster. I know I'm weird, but that would be awesome!
FYI: I'll start doing a thing of Halloween programming next week when AMC starts it's FearFest. I can't deal with SyFy's "scary" crap anymore. It all just sucks so much. I really hate ghost hunting shows, and they do so damn much of that now. At least AMC shows some decent movies sometimes.


Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been revived as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet.


  1. Beth,

    This tends to be hit or miss, but when it hots it really hits.