All my life, since the first time I was ever allowed (okay, I snuck a peek at it, I wasn’t actually “allowed”) to see a horror movie, I have absolutely loved them. Now the first thing I need to do here before I go any further, is qualify what I mean by horror.
Unlike the film industry, I don’t call movies like “Friday, the 13th” or “Saw” horror movies. I call those slasher movies or, in times of uber-disgust, blood ‘n guts films. Some movies do walk a fine line for me, such as one of the two movies in the tie for my all-time favorite films, “Halloween” (the 1978 original starring Jamie Lee Curtis). Because while there is a ‘yuck’ factor to that movie , it’s less on the grisly side and more on the horror side as far as I’m concerned.
For me, horror is something scary, not something so totally disgusting that you want to empty the contents of your stomach for, let’s admit it, no good reason. My other favorite all-time movie, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” shows some chocolate syrup on Marion Crane’s body, in black-and-white no less, and you never see the knife penetrate her skin. Yet that film has got to be one of the creepiest, scariest horror films ever made. Similarly, “Halloween” is Creepsville because you never know where Michael Myers is going to show up next, who he’s going to get, if he’s ever going to kill his sister…and there’s an actual story behind it.
“Friday, the 13th” (the original movie from 1980) goes over the line into slasher for me because truthfully, if they hadn’t actually shown all the gross stuff, I think the film would’ve been even scarier than it was, especially with a female serial killer being behind it all – that hadn’t been done before.
No, for me, horror movies are better defined by the aforementioned “Psycho,” or my favorites from the Hammer House of Horror with awesome actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Oh, how I adore those two men! “The Mummy” and “Frankenstein” to name but two. Horror movies are movies that are horrifying not because they make you turn green and run for the nearest toilet, but because they scare the begeezus out of you. Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” was terrifying, especially if you’re already afraid of heights. And then of course we have all the variations of Dracula which, when not done with sparklies (facepalm), are fantastic horror films.
“Saw,” “Hostel” and even “A Nightmare on Elm Street” are just plain gross. Whether the stories behind these are good or not is irrelevant to me, because all that is completely overshadowed by the major squick factor. And now that I’ve clarified what I mean when I say horror movies, let me get back to the point of the post…yes, there really is one, honest.
Am I just creepy? Or are there way more people like me who just don’t admit it, or hide out in small enclaves on the internet? Nothing gets my juices flowing like all the creepiness associated with Halloween. Indeed, it’s my favorite US holiday. Ghosts, goblins, witches, monsters, demons, dark magic, conjuring of spirits, graveyards, haunted houses…this is like describing my own personal heaven. I have often wondered if Stephen King would be there as well, given what’s made him famous over the years. So I think maybe he’s creepy like me, too. And maybe all the people who read his books and see the movies that come from those are creepy, too. Like “It.” Tell me that isn’t a horror movie. It is, because Pennywise is one scary-ass mother***ker.
People these days are always so certain that they’re the only ones out there with a certain quirk or kink or however you want to put it. We all sit here in our own little bubbles day after day thinking “Oh, my God, if anyone found out how much I want to meet a demon, they’d put me in a straitjacket.” And of course there are much more innocuous thoughts like “Oh, my God, if my coworkers knew I had an ankle fetish none of the women would ever wear skirts and sandals again!” (Um, I made that last one up by the way. I personally don’t even know if that fetish exists, but I suppose it must!)
But the truth is, that the answer to my question of am I just creepy, is yes…but the answer to 99.9999% of everyone who asks if they’re alone in some quirk or hidden enjoyment, is no. Society – whether via the media or our own immediate families or workplaces – teaches us what is ‘normal’ and what is not, and if we fancy something that falls outside what the definition of ‘normal’ is, then we have to keep it hidden to avoid ridicule. It does not mean we’re alone!
While revealing your ankle fetish at work might not be the best move for your career, the fact is that if we all stop believing there’s something wrong with us because we like something that seems uncommon…if we all just say to ourselves, yeah, I’ve got a real thing for ankles…well, so what? Pretty soon it’ll get out there into the ethers that a bunch of people like ankles, and then we’ll get a rash of ankle movies.
I’m being a bit facetious here, but the point is valid. After all, we have horror movies galore that go way back to the day when films were silent. And before that there were horror stories in books and magazines, and even before that there were legends and stories told verbally by the fire at night. So evidently there has to be some creepy-loving commonality amongst human beings or horror writers and moviemakers would fade away because nobody would go watch their stuff or buy their books.
Along the same vein, obviously there are people who love the blood ‘n guts films. They enjoy seeing victims eviscerated, intestines and brains flying all over the place, people getting covered in blood head to toe, eyeballs popping out of heads…and I need to stop before I make myself ill. The point is, if you walked up to a friend and said, “I really wish I could see that guy’s intestines spill out of his body” about some random dude walking down the sidewalk, they’d look at you wide-eyed, wondering if you were going to carve them up while they slept.
Yet you and your friend would think nothing of paying through the nose to go to a movie theater with a bunch of other people to see a movie where this sort of thing happens frequently. It’s socially acceptable to pay to go watch a movie about that just as much as it is socially acceptable to watch a movie about a guy having to saw his own foot off thanks to the depraved games of a guy who likes to watch people saw their limbs off.
Um, I’m willing to bet my editor is turning a lovely shade of green at this point, so I’d better move along…
Am I just creepy? Of course I am. Am I alone in that? Nope. But did I hide it for years because of the environment and family I grew up in? Yep.
I mean, I write novels about vampire-like beings that consume human blood and souls to survive, so I’ve obviously outed that I have a creepy side. But whatever it is about you that you hide from people…while I’m not saying go ahead and do it and damn the consequences (wouldn’t be very healthy for that guy whose intestines you fancied seeing!), what I am asking you to do is simply acknowledge it as a part of your personality, your makeup, and don’t be so freaked out. I’ll guarantee you that your next-door neighbor…the kid who sits in class next to you…the man in the cubicle behind yours…your boss…your teacher…and in all likelihood your significant other…are all hiding something they like to indulge in thoughts of that they ‘re sure you’d think them crazy for. You’re not alone. None of us are. It’s high time we all realize that, rather than continuing to go through life thinking there’s something wrong with us.
Now, don’t go committing crimes and then point to me and say, “Well, she said I should let it out!” I’m not saying it’s OK for people to become criminals, or hurt other people. I am asking you to simply think about what you hide, why it is you hide it, and convince yourself there isn’t anything wrong with you…you’re just you, and to paraphrase the immortal Lady Gaga, “You’re on the right track, baby, you were born that way.”
What say we all be creepy together? I know a demon or two I could invite to the party…