It’s Halloween time! While I love carving pumpkins, finding the perfect costume and eating all things pumpkin, I do not, repeat: DO NOT like scary things. Suburban yards littered with coffins. Fangs, blood, gore and leaking brains are not my idea of fun. Even a trip to Target with a giant devil/ghost hanging over the doorway is enough to send me screaming. But hey, whatever works for you!
After watching the Exorcist when I was about 12 years old, I was convinced that I was possessed by the devil. No, I never peed on the floor while my parents hosted a dinner party. Nor did my head ever do a complete 360. I may have puked a substance reminiscent of split pea soup on my mom at one time or another, but do not remember doing so. Complicated by the fact that I was attending Catholic school at the time, the whole priest/devil thing was intense. At one point, I asked one of my nun-teachers if it was possible to be possessed by the devil. She told me yes, and that she herself had required an exorcism as a child. Great. More nightmares.
Last night, we started to watch a kid movie called Paranorman with my 9 year old daughter. Supposedly made for kids, this shit had a kid talking to his dead grandmother (who bounced around his room), coffins and skeletons coming out of the ground and a scene where the kid pulls a book out of his uncle’s rigor mortis-ed hand. What the fuck? If that’s suitable viewing for kids, I’ll be under the couch.
This week, the new version of Carrie is hitting a box office near you. Frankly, I would rather poke hot coals in my eyes than see this movie. If it’s anything like the first, I’ll be a blithering idiot for the year following my viewing of this flick, and I will be of no use to society. BUT…I have friends who watch the shit out of this stuff and LOVE it. I mean, they go to zombie live performances where they get sprayed with blood, have horror movie clubs and read scary books too. Why? When the keys of the piano start playing in that high pitched soundtrack to Halloween, I have to cover my ears. But they are like, bring it.
To all you horror loving folk, what you are experiencing has a name. It’s called the excitation transfer process. Sharing the scary is one reason for loving the scary. Most people who love the horror stuff love it in groups. This way, they can enjoy going out to eat or getting a drink afterward. Have you ever gone to a scary movie and afterward hung out with a group and you were just laughing and having a great old time? Because it wasn’t you that got chased by a zombie and your brain chewed out? Talk about relief! Your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration all increase during the frightening foray into murder and mayhem, but they continue to stay elevated as you are having a beer and enjoying your not-death. And what do you know? To your brain, that translated into a good time.
In the instances of say, a fearful young girl watching the Exorcist, well the neurological response is not so favorable. Not surprisingly, some of us are just wired differently. About 10% of the population love the adrenalin rush (aka: physiological arousal) of horror flicks. They may also be the same people who love roller coasters and other high-fear experiences. Men also are much more likely to love horror movies than women, who sometimes go to horror movies simply to snuggle up to someone. However, very few enjoy watching a scary movie alone.
Also, scary movies may be one way that our primitive brain is still trying to master control over dangerous situations. Or, we may be subconciously attempting to deal with violence in our own world. Or we just can’t look away. Like that wreck on the side of the road. In any event, highly empathetic people resist scary movies altogether. A-ha! That must be me.
At a Halloween party today, there were zombies, skeletons and a cute/freaky Easter bunny. And it was dimly lit. And I found myself wanting to bolt. Candy is awesome, but I don’t want to be trapped in a room with a guy in a hockey mask. I have seen too many movies, people. Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Exorcist…What do they all have in common? The suburbs. Face it, some scary shit goes down here.
And so, last night I turned off Paranorman. It was freaking us all out, anyway. We turned on Spy Kids 2 which was quite literally the worst movie I have ever seen. But it wasn’t scary. And any movie with Steve Buscemi can’t be that bad. I got in a good cuddle with my 9 year old. And I surfed the internet on my I-pad. And I forgot about all the dead people and cemeteries and body counts. Instead, I focused on one thing I really love about Halloween: the glow of a bright harvest moon.
Are you a scaredy-cat?
Thanks again to Barbara Paulsen of Mt. Hood Mama photos. These photos are so eerily beautiful.