Friday, April 14, 2006

Horror Movies

(This entry is dedicated to A.J., the Lake Geneva Gang, my family, Callie, Allana, Steve, the Corvallis Crew, and anyone else who has enjoyed a scary movie moment with me and understands exactly where I'm coming from.)

Isn't this picture fantastic? This is the original cover art to Friday the 13th, Pt. 2. I love it! So, I had a bunch of people over to watch movies last weekend (Sliver, Flatliners, and Witchboard). It got me to thinking about how much I love horror movies--and why. I think about this A LOT. I'm a sweet guy, overall. Pretty nice. Pretty spiritual. Pretty genuine. But so many folks in my life--including me sometimes!--can't seem to marry my "nice" qualities with the fact that I love horror movies of all kinds. Possession by the devil? Check. Axe murderer in the woods? Double check. Stalker of dreams with razorsharp fingernails? Checkcheckcheck. I'm still brewing up (in my witch's cauldron) all the factors that might go into my love of these films. I did grow up with them from a young age. My mother likes more of the classics, but I can remember sneaking downstairs when I wasn't supposed to and turning on a late-night special hosted by Elvira: Mistress of the Dark or by Rhonda on "USA Up All Night!" (Come on, fellow horror geeks, YOU remember Rhonda!) Sometimes I was intrigued and fascinated, provoked and challenged--Flatliners is a perfect example of this--but other times I was just plain scared out of my wits. Cue sweeping score then evil-Jason-child jumping out of the lake at the end of the original F13! So why did I continue to build to my collection? Why did I like to see scantily clad women bite the bullet? (Or should that be "bury the hatchet"? Just a little slasher humor, folks....) Why am I still obsessed with hauntings, serial killers, demons, buried secrets, and lots and lots and lots of blood-gore-mutilation? Hmm. For me, it's kind of cathartic. I think it's that way for lots of people in society whether they realize it or not. And I don't think I'm alone in my views. In fact, I took a film course at UW-Madison where we studied the horror genre and various cultures' obsession with it. A really great book for you all to check out would be Noel Carroll's The Philosophy of Horror (also titled, Paradoxes of the Heart). He does a fantastic job gathering questions and possible answers. I just checked; it's readily available. I highly recommend that you, my fellow Comrades of Gore Love, snag yourself a copy. In any case, we have Morality shoved down our throats in this society--what to wear, what to say, what kind of job to hold down. We are told what's "right" and "wrong." And so often horror movies are a reflection of society's current value systems. Any of you who've seen Scream and its sequels know this. The straight, white, Christian, virginal, non-substance-using types are the ones who survive scary flicks. Sex = bad. Drinking and drugs = bad. Old news, right? But I do like to push deeper into how minorities are portrayed in these films (the opening sequence of Scream 2 with Jada Pinkett has to be one of my favorites ever) or into the question of why women survive these flicks most of the time instead of men--particulary if men are supposedly "dominant" and "more important" in our culture. Shouldn't they be the ones surviving? Are these films indeed more feminist than we think? Carroll excellently explores these ideas in his book. I also contemplate how our society is obsessed with outward appearance, the physicality of things. Who of us--whether we'd admit it or not--hasn't at one time or another looked away or flinched a little when we've seen someone with a disability, maybe, or someone who's been in a fire? (Having worked with people with disabilities for three years, I saw people give my clients plenty of these looks. Thank god for that job. I sure did get to dive inside myself and rip out my prejudices and explore them.) Oftentimes the killer in scary movies is disfigured, and wears a mask to hide this "flaw." Or else it's a big blood-sucking-acid-spewing-monster-from-space who taps into our primal fears of spiders, snakes, insects, anything we rebel against instinctually. Some of the most important questions get raised when we're not sure who's the monster and who's the victim. Carrie is a great example: Sure, she slews a bunch of her classmates with her telekinetic powers, but only after being driven to the brink by many of their vindictive, callous, and extremely cruel torments. I used to wish I had Carrie's powers back in the day! If someone pulled the Fag Card on me--their physical and/or verbal abuse--I could wave my magic psychic wand and zap off their dick or something. I'm not saying these people deserved to die--no, no, no--but we all have had moments of anger, a desire for vengeance, a need for redemption. And these movies allow us to release these pent-up feelings in a cathartic, ritualized way. It's so much more fun to watch my grainy VHS tapes and newly remastered DVDs with friends, while drinking beer and chomping on some popcorn. We get to laugh and shriek together, feel fear--and safety--together. There's nothing like a packed movie theater or a room filled with Fellow Fright Lovers to make us realize that the Bogeyman exists, sometimes in Real Life, sometimes in our Hearts, and sometimes on a reel of film. But we can beat him; we just are trying to understand him first. So I say down with Freddy and Jason and Chucky, down with Killer Clowns and Death-Defying Hitchhikers and Sewer-Dwellin' Alligators. Go ghosts! Go gore! Go geeks! Go C.H.U.D.!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clown House......fucking scary as hell!!!! I used to think "IT" was scary, don't get me wrong it totally is. Though if you really hate clowns and want to NEVER get over your fear of them go rent "Clown House" Silly me thought that watching the movie would help me get over the fear...someone once told me it would help, they were so fucking wrong!!! Well anyway go see it.....and lock your doors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell your a dreamer, imagnations galore. We are all so much alike. Not completely discontent of who we are, could be, should be, might become, but just enough to send us warping into thoughts of change, perhaps to an angry, blood hungry wolf in london thirsty for new desires. Maybe a vengful, disfugured child who was "accidentally" drowned, left wet and motherless by carnage filled lake. Or even, by chance a lonley woman, stranded with her obsession for reading, gifted a famous stranger begging for mutilation and despair. We all dream to be something we are not. It just happens that some of us identify with the deranged (myself included). I'm am not gay, Sir Nathan, so I can not even begin to empathize with your situation. The only tease-oriented complaint I might have is my size. To put it mildly I am about three inches taller than Chucky. I wish I was larger, more in charge, I wish I could jam myself back into your past and slice, dice, chop, and burn down those people that hurt you, riduculed you, slandered your sweet and kind dispostion. We must join together in our imaginations, Freddy and Jason bonded together to stomp the uneducated, insensitive youth of your childhood. Not good versus evil, but our evil versus a much greater evil. We can stab lovemaking teens through a hammock, or we may fill a waterbed with Depp's blood, but nothing we do will be as gruesome, violent, or disgusting as the immediate dismissal of another's prefrences. Stay strong, keep that slasher imagination breathing, and keep this blog bleeding. This may be my favorite web-site. As long as it exists, I will as well.

My identity stays secret for now. But, as you have probably deciphered, I am short.

Alice, couldn't be more right. Clown house is a britches soiler.

--Snotty McPotty

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me of Rhonda on "USA Up All Night" - loved her! Especially the way she would say "up".


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