I blame it on Carrie.
There have been some great horror movies over the years. Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, The Shining, and the Exorcist all come to mind.
I’m a big, tough burly man and I sheepishly avoid them all like the plague or some crazy man with a chainsaw roaming through the street. If a horror movie is on, I flip the channel as quickly as I can. Click, click, click, I press down on the remote control so fast, you’d think I had mistakenly stumbled across Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel showing one of their array of Christmas Love stories.
Yes, it’s true, I can’t stand horror movies, scary television shows, or even creepy haunted houses for that matter. I have my reasons. I hate the blood and the mystery of the situation. When I watch one, I’m constantly on guard. I’m as excitable as a cat on a hot tin roof (Yes, a cliché and a bad one at that, but we are talking horror here.) I haven’t even mentioned the spooky music, the disfigurement (think Frankenstein), or dark evil forces that pervade most horror films.
But there’s a bigger reason for my issues with horror movies. Let me first paint the picture: I’m 7 or 8 years old. I regularly hang out with a friend up the street. Her parents decide to go out one night and ask the girl’s old sister to babysit. She doesn’t want to stay home, so to keep her little sister busy, she asks me to come along with them to the drive-in movies. Now I’m thrilled beyond belief to be invited, the movies are a big thing. At this point in my life, I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve seen in the theater or drive-in.
We get to the movies and I’m on Cloud Nine. The showing is a double feature. I can’t remember the first movie. I vaguely recall a reshowing of Disney’s animated classic, Robin Hood, but I could be wrong. For the record, the movie ranked as one of my favorites as a kid. If only, we had packed up and left at that point. Of course, we ordered another popcorn and stayed for the second feature.
I hate the horror genre, but I have one important exception: The Walking Dead or the movie, Zombieland, I figure if you can’t outrun a brainless zombie, then you have to be pretty dimwitted.
And just like that, my night out came crashing down, sort of like that scene in The Shining when Jack Nicholson takes an axe to the door. At this point, you would be wise to ask, what was the second feature? Brian De Palma’s 1976 movie of Stephen King’s widely popular book, Carrie. The film starred Sissy Spacek as shy teenager Carrie White who is bullied and mocked by her peers at school.
If you’ve never seen the movie, think lots and lots of blood. The main bully rigs things so that Carrie gets elected Prom Queen where he spills pig’s blood on her. She, of course, gets revenge on the bully by going “supernatural” on him and the school.
Bullies. Blood. An ending grave scene. I have no idea what my friend’s sister was thinking. I’m sure my mom and dad had no idea or they wouldn’t have let me go, but I’ve never been able to watch another horror movie the same way. I get queasy at the mere sight of blood. I hear spooky music, not the silly kind you hear at Halloween, but the movie soundtrack kind and start turning my head on a swivel, watching out for crazy lunatics appearing out of nowhere.
I get jumpy. I get skittish. I expect the worse around every corner and we’re not even past the opening credits.
Oh, I’ve managed to stick out the occasional movie, such as The Nightmare on Elm Street to keep up with friends and to be a so-called manly man, but I hate them. Call me a wimp, call me a “scaredy cat!” Go right ahead, I understand.
My biggest problems with horror movies is that I have an active imagination and put myself in the main role. I’m running in the middle of the graveyard. I’m running from Jason and his old fashioned hockey mask. I’m trying to get away from Freddy Krueger. I’m locked in some strange warehouse, fighting the purge.
I know it’s crazy. I know it’s just in my head, but I’m right there with the central characters in the movie or one of Stephen King’s or Edgar Allen Poe’s books. (The funny thing: I can’t read Stephen King, but I’ve found his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, to be one of the best books I’ve read on the topic.)
When I’m forced to watch or see a horror movie, I’m trying to figure out how the axe murder gets out of the insane asylum or why no one comes when the main character screams for help? Unfortunately, the movie director in every one of these movies is trying to figure out the exact opposite thing. And when the movie ends, I find it hard to take myself out of the situation. I leave the theater on guard.
So, Halloween has returned for another year. I love buying candy and seeing all of the crazy children’s costumes. I love it all, but you won’t find me watching any of the traditional horror movies. I’ll keep my distance. Instead of Halloween, I’ll have my TV on some mindless comedy. Who’s up for something silly like Caddyshack or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
C’mon, let’s have some fun!