I want to start off by saying I do not like scary movies. Suspense films? Sure, I can do those. What I am referring to are films of the horror genre, namely the slasher, serial killer, psychopath, lots of blood and gore type of films. For the record, there has been the occasional film that gets me to invite them over for a sit down and while we spend 90 to 120 minutes together. You know, things like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, and, um… Ghost I guess.
When I was young I remember trying to watch the classics like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and the camp site one… oh yeah, Friday the 13th. The problem was I just couldn’t get into them. It was even a scary movie that gave me had my first nightmare. Granted, I was 7 and the film was Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. The wolf man in the film scared the hell out of me. In my dream the wolf man kept trying to catch my mom and eat her. I woke up in tears and ran to my parent’s room to make sure she was in bed and ok. Just to be on the safe side I even spent the rest of the night in bed with my folks… damn you Abbot and Costello and your evil wolf man.
I did make ample my efforts in my teens and early twenties to watch and enjoy horror films. I got the watch part down, but I never got to the enjoy part. It just wasn’t a good fit. So I stopped trying to get to the enjoyment phase of the films and moved on the films I would enjoy. I still have a number of friends and a lot of co-workers that are have much love, devotion, and adoration to the genre that is the horror film. I have one friend that is so dedicated to the cause that almost his tattoo collection consists of creatures from the horror film genus.
He loves the gore and goo and splatter of red paint being thrown against walls. He also has an ever growing list of the best horror movie kills. I know one of his top ten kills was is from the 2005 release of House of Wax. It has two levels of satisfaction for him. The first was the simple gore factor involved in how the person was inhumed in the film. The second part of his appreciation comes from the fact that it was Paris Hilton who was the one meeting her demise.
I was originally not aware of this, but after hours of horror movie conversation I’ve learned that there are actually a number of factors involved for the horror minded to enjoy a horror film. Here is what I have picked up so far:
- Rule 1. The film must be rated R. This reassures the fan that the film maker was willing to cater to the classic staples that make a horror flick a horror flick. This equates to graphic deaths scenes, lots of blood, and ample and consistent use of colorful metaphors, i.e. profanity, oh and a scene or two of your standard 10 to 21 year old nakedness.
- Rule 2. The film must cater to the classic staples that make a horror flick a horror flick, namely graphic deaths, lots of blood, and ample and consistent use of colorful metaphors, and a scene or two of nakedness. I know this may seem a bit redundant, but for the record we are talking about horror films here and if there is one thing you can count on when it comes to horror films its redundancy. Think I’m kidding? Well then answer me this one little trivia question… How many Friday the 13th films are there? I don’t know either, but I imagine it’s somewhere in the 20s, with plans to make more.
- Side note: Interestingly enough to the devout horror fan the “lots of blood” factor only seems to add to the comedy level of these types of film. It was explained to me that, “A lot of blood makes it funny because it’s so obvious that it’s fake. For myself, a lot of blood only grosses me out and wants to make me close my eyes.
- Rule 3. The killer needs to be masked or have a deformed or scarred face… or both. I think this has to do with the “what does this crazy person look like” factor that keeps the viewer entranced throughout the film in hopes that the killer loses their mask at some point and you get a view of the crazy hiding behind the mask.
With all of that now explained, you can begin to understand my befuddlement when I walked into my office one morning to find my co-worker and office mate a touch grumbled because of a horror movie he had watched that weekend. The first thing he told me is that he had watched one of the scariest movies he’d seen in some time. Not sure what to do with the sudden lull in conversation I congratulated him. It seemed like the proper response to someone who was such an advocate of horror. I figure if someone that dedicated to watching scary movies can find something that scares them that would be a bit like that Charlie giving the everlasting gobstopper back to Willy Wonka, or Picasso painting something that wasn’t blue.
According to my own imagination, Picasso’s blue phase was a result of purchasing a year’s supply of paint from eBay and didn’t read closely enough to realize that the supply of paint only consisted of blue and white paint. This realization put Picasso into a deep depression, which he did paint his way though. Still, it wasn’t until he actually sold a blue painting that he was able to finally purchase a different colored paint and bring a little color and joy into his life. Yeah, I know. I really should have become an art history professor.
As it turned out my friend was bothered because the movie which had sucked him in and freaked him out was rated PG-13. To the devote horror fan a PG-13 horror movie is actually cinema blasphemy. The only feeling I can think of that would compare to this is that moment when you realize that all of your fame and hit songs as a recording artist are a result of 10 to 13 year old girls being in love with you. And in another year or two they will be burning everything they own that has your picture on it because of the immense embarrassment they will suffer at the realization that they were so into you. That’s right New Kids on the Block, I’m talking to you. You might want to call Miley Cyrus and tell her what to expect.
Yeah it was weird. For something so trivial it was kind of a big deal to the lad. He even admitted that had they changed nothing about the film and just given it an R rating he would have felt much better about the whole thing. The movie was 1408, and in a sentence, the film about a writer staying in an evil hotel room for the night. That’s really all I can give you about the film. Have I seen it? No. Will I? No. Do I recommend it to others? No idea. Does it have John Cusack in it? Yes, so that’s cool. And a bonus for all you Cusack fans… that like scary movies. I only bring it up because I did find it rather amusing that my friend, who is a horror movie aficionado and a zombie movie connoisseur, would be bother by being scared by a PG-13 movie. I tried to help by telling him if he really wanted a scary movie, try watching any of those Land Before Time cartoons. G rating aside, they are horrific.
I did offer to buy my friend a beer in hopes that it would help him feel better. It seemed to work. He had a Homer moment where he started smiling and then under his breath said, “Mmmmmm… beer.” It’s nice to have friends that are easy to shop for and who are always willing to improve their mood at the prospect of a free beer. And from what I’ve heard, beer makes almost every movie better.
Any thoughts on today’s Smirkiness?
Google Images, key words: watching horror movies, Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, rated r, Willy Wonka, and beer.
I don’t really watch horror films that much myself. However, I have watched The Thing, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, and plan on seeing Romero’s Dead trilogy. I did see The Strangers in theaters, and I was legitimately scared by parts of it, so I’d say it was a good film. Saw III and IV, not so much, but they are pretty funny, I think.
Ahh Army of Darkness, how could I have forgotten that film. Thanks for reminding me about good old Ash.
Paranormal Activity. I hear this movie is just plan disturbing and horrifying. I would watch it, but I am the type who avoids those kinds of movies, unless it’s on HBO and Trueblood follows it.
Then there are alien abduction movies, which are just wrong on many levels. The recent one is on the list to see (the Fourth Kind???) when I feel like being nervous in the dark for the next five years or so, which is odd since I write sci-fi you would think I am impervious to that type of thing.
You amaze me with your mind reading talent across the generation gap! I was just mildly wondering if you actually sleep!!
Yes I do sleep, just enough most of the time and never more than I’d like. Unless of course I have a cold or something like that and the cold medicine keeps me in a surplus snore regiment. 🙂
1408 was another one of those rare Stephen King stories adapted for the big screen but doesn’t totally suck. Maybe Hollywood should stick to his collections.
I’m not a fan of horror movies either, suspense yes, but not all the gore. Plus I like to laugh while I’m being scared, hence all the Bruce Cambell movies I’ve seen. I saw Zombieland by myself (my kids were embarressed for me), also Sean of the Dead. In my early 20’s I saw George Romero’s first “Dead” movie (the black/white one) which totally creeped me out. My daughter has seen and loves to go to every “scary” horror flick that comes out; she says nothing scares her and she’s waiting to for the movie that will. I told her to rent “Deliverence” and talked to me after.