Frankie D obviously didn’t watch enough movies. There’s a lot more to fear than that; a plethora, cornucopia, a national deficit more. I’m not talking about worries in life; like the fear of not being successful, the fear of rejection or the fear of getting cancer. I’m talking about fear! The fear that you will go to work to find your office over run by zombie coworkers, that hot girl you finally get the nerve to ask out is really a scissor wielding Lorena Bobitt copy cat serial killer or that mole on your face that your boyfriend says makes you “different” is actually an evil twin sister waiting to grow and take her revenge for you getting the good genes. You know, stuff like that.
I think I once heard an anthropologist say that the reason we like to be scared is that at the end of the experience we feel more alive. That experience has taken us to one extreme on a “life scale” and catapulted us to the opposite end. We faced death, gave him the finger and escaped his warm embrace. (I always imagined death’s embrace as warm because if it’s warm and comforting it would be harder to leave; pretty messed up huh.) Anyway, I think that there are basically two types of horror the “man that’s F’d up” and the stuff that is psychological or very personal. I think good horror falls more into the latter category and great horror is a little bit of both.
An example of “F’d” horror would be the Saw movies. Those movies never scared me and I didn’t enjoy any of them but I did find myself saying “that dude’s head is in a vice and that pointy stick is going where? Man, that’s F’d up!” The second category is what always got me.
As a kid I would stay up late into the night and watch episodes of Unsolved Mysteries and In Search of… hosted by Leonard Nimoy. These shows would help nurture the fascination for UFO’s and aliens that the books in my elementary school library had already started. They would also scare the living crap out of me. I loved all that kind of stuff as a kid; UFO’s, Sasquatch, Nessie, ghosts, the Bermuda Triangle, the whole nine yards. What stuck with me the most was the stories about UFO’s and abductions. I would lie in bed at night and literally pray that I wouldn’t be beamed up into a space ship by little grey men that could read my mind. (Mind reading how awful to think about) There used to be this channel on TV; the TV Guide channel is what I think it was called. It would scroll what was on TV for the next two hours or so and if you missed a channel as it passed you had to wait a couple of minutes for it to come around again. (This was way before digital cable guides) Anyhow they would show trailers on this channel and that’s when I first heard of a little movie called Fire in the Sky. Mother of pearl that messed me up fun time.
To this day if people are discussing what scares them like snakes, spiders, and clowns I always get the weird look when I say “being abducted by aliens terrifies me to the core.” I slowly recovered from that trauma when in college Signs came out and did it to me all over again. I’ll be honest I let out an audible gasp when you see the figure on top of the barn and when you see the birthday party video from Mexico every feeling of dread came back. It reminded me of all the home video footage of UFO’s and ghosts that I saw on Unsolved Mysteries.
That wasn’t the first time that I had been so scared in such a public theater. In high school I went to Pampa’s only theater which was a crappy four screener that switched ownership every few months. I was 16 and a friend and I thought we would see the space adventure movie we had kind of heard of call Event Horizon; in case you haven’t seen it, it’s not a space adventure movie. The nice paleontologist from Jurassic Park rips out his eyes and some crazy shit gets said in Latin. After the movie I ran inside my house and told my parents I had just seen the scariest thing ever and apologized for seeing a rated R movie. I didn’t sleep well that night. When The Ring came out I saw it with my roommate in college who had already seen it. He sat next to me with his knees to his chest and he kept punching me saying things like “Oh shit, oh shit this is crazy. Fuck it; I’m not watching Boyd look! Look!” If I had seen a little girl that night I would have dropped a load in my pants.
Since then I have seen only a few horror movies that I liked. Frailty, The Orphanage and The Descent are all pretty great. May is awesome and comes highly recommended as well as Inside. Inside comes with a warning: if you are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant in the near future and have a problem with blood, you might want to wait on that one.
Of course there are the horror staples like The Exorcist which I’ve never made it all the way through. (Demon possession also really scares the crap out of me) Alien is great too, but since the franchise has become so saturated now, I don’t know if it still holds up as well as it used to. The Evil Dead is one of my favorites but I tend to watch that in awe of the filmmaking that went into it. I could go on and on with stuff like Steven King, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter’s work but you already know it all.
New horror seems to be lacking; especially since it’s a lot of remakes and reboots. Friday the 13th has already been made with another one on the way along with Nightmare on Elm Street and I think another Hellraiser might be coming out. I watched the new Friday the 13th and it wasn’t scary at all. A Haunting in Connecticut wasn’t terrible until about half way through the movie when they started to figure out the mystery of the house then it became unbelievable cheesy.
So what scares you? Have you seen any good scary movies lately?
I saw a trailer for The Fourth Kind and it’s all about alien abductions. It might be bad but I’ll see it then regret it as I lie in my bed that night. I hope to one day direct another horror movie. It was in college; my first film actually, you can see it here part 1 and here part 2.
Let me know what scares you!