Monday, October 27, 2014

Waxing Philosophical About Scary Movies

This is a type of post I've never ventured, but I'd love to know what you think about the subject. My aunt and I love scary movies, so we saw two this weekend while I was visiting family. We thought that neither of them was scary (we are very difficult to scare), but they weren't bad. We disagreed about which was the better movie, but couldn't quite put our finger on what we thought was good and bad about each of them.

The REAL Annabelle-Google Image
After the second movie, I turned on the tv and happened to catch the tail end of a special on Turner Classic Movies with Stephen King, in which he discussed his own experiences of movies based on his books and general trends and feelings towards scary movies these days. He touched on what I think bothers my aunt and I most about modern scary movies. He talked about how gore changed horror. We became too reliant on it--and now on jump scares--to terrify us.

The special effects of horror (and other genres of) movies take over and the stories themselves take a less important role. The really good horror movies are the ones that have a great story and some Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. Great movies! Paranormal Activity does rely heavily on jump scares, but the effects really support the story instead of the other way around.
element of the unknown. Those movies where you never see the monster or ghost or you have no idea how to stop whatever is terrorizing the people on the screen are the really great movies. Think about the low-fi movies like

The Blair Witch Project-Google Image
The original Evil Dead still frightens me, despite its awful, awful effects. The story is just phenomenal. I can't bring myself to watch the new one (though I did catch the last terrible few minutes of it last week) because I know the story just doesn't exist in it anymore.

Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead-Google Image
Horror movies are too quick to resolve themselves these days and they're usually terribly predictable. I can't understand why people don't like them. My aunt is the only person who will watch a horror movie with me. They aren't scary! They aren't even substantial in the plot department! I want to be scared. It's a healthy emotion that I need to draw out every once in a while but I can't usually find anything to do that for me, so I'm on a constant search. So I'm curious: if you don't watch horror movies, why not? If you do, why do you watch them?

P.S. If you are like me and seek the thrill of a good scare but can't find it in movies, read some books! Stephen King's older works are delightfully frightening (though long) and there are many other scary books out there like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I could only read in broad daylight. Any other scary book suggestions?


  1. I don't enjoy being scared, so I tend to avoid scary movies. However, I did read House of Leaves and sometimes I'll think about it and still be scared. I don't know why I did that to myself.

    1. Haha, I get scared thinking back on it too. Such a bizarre book!

  2. This is a pretty fascinating post for me. I *don't* like scary movies, and I don't particularly enjoy being scared, but Jake really loves both, so over the course of our relationship, my stance has changed somewhat. It's still basically the same; I don't like being scared. Things that scare me tend to linger in my imagination and keep me up at night, which then effects my sleep patterns, and then I'm grumpy until it all smooths out. It's a ripple effect. If it's vampires, werewolves, or zombies (eg- things I truly don't believe in), this isn't a problem. Things I don't believe in don't effect my sleep. But I can'tcan'tcan't do serial killers, and ghosts are right on an uncomfortable line for me.

    That said, I really like suspense, and a story well told. So I tend to love Hitchcock movies, and the Shining. I love scary movies that cross into a campy fun zone, like Evil Dead and Shaun of the Dead, and slowly I am moving more towards liking 'proper' horror movies, as long as they walk a very careful line. I loved Cabin in the Woods, and really enjoyed the newer Fright Night. Jake's childhood favorite is Lady in White. Okay, this got long. But this is a really interesting topic to me!

    1. This is an interesting answer! I avoid movies with vampires (usually, Let the Right One In was exceptionally good, though) and werewolves, but don't mind the zombie ones much, even though I also don't believe in any of the. Ghost and demon movies are my favorite because the opportunities are endless (and always squandered!). Serial killer movies are typically just too gory and lack a story line, though there are exceptions there too.

      You're the second person to tell me Cabin in the Woods is really good, so I'm going to have to watch it! Lady in White as a title just sounds good, so that'll go on the list too. :)


Thank you for reading and commenting! I love to hear what's on your mind!