Thursday, May 29, 2008

One thing I don't get

Among the many things I don't get is why people like horror movies. They basically do nothing for me. I kind of understand why people like the ones that are so stupid they are funny, but then why not just watch a comedy? As for ones that are actually scary, or on that rare occasion truly horrifying, who wants to be horrified by choice? I have been reminded of my lack of understanding by the upcoming movie The Strangers where, I believe, some people break into a house and torture and terrorize the couple inside. It reminds me of a movie I saw on TV when I was about 10 where some people broke into a house and terrorized and denigrated the female owner including a scene where she's bawling as they make her eat dog food. At the time it scared the bejeezus out of me (Is bejeezus a word outside of Louisiana?), and now I just think "watching a woman sob hysterically as she's treated like a dog is supposed to be entertainment?"

And yet I know that many completely normal, healthy people like a good horror flick and like being scared. Probably several of you fall into this category. I just don't get it myself.

You're all a bunch of freaks.


Sammy Jankis said...

Well, throughout evolution, mankind experienced moments of true horror on a semi-regular basis. Predators. Unexpected disasters. etc. What in modern society can elicit those same adrenaline pumping moments? Car accidents? Cars have only been around for about a century. Perhaps some people's bodies are missing out on the surge of endorphins that our ancestors experienced on a more regular basis? I'm not big on torture horror, but I do enjoy the sensation of truly seeing something so scary that it makes me tingle and squirm and want to get away.

Precie said...

Depends on the flick. And on how you define horror. I'm not planning on seeing The Strangers. Too close to home, no pun intended.

But I'm VERY interested in seeing Shyamalan's The Happening, which I would also classify as horror (at least based on the R-rated trailer, not the softer TV trailers). One of my favorite films is The Exorcist (the original theatrical release, not the CGI'd update). Perhaps it's akin to schadenfreude for me...not so much pleasure in other people's misery as in a "there but for the grace of God" feeling or a "scary but could never really happen" least in my case.

pjd said...

I'm with you on this one, Paca. When I worked at a video store in Vegas many years ago, the three most popular store categories were, in order:
1. Horror
2. Adult (x rated)
3. New Releases

There are categories of the horror genre that I just don't get. Splatter and slasher films, mostly.

But consider that Alien is listed under Horror as one of its genres. I'd say that was one of the scariest, and most enjoyable, movies I saw as a kid. (The original. The later ones devolved into female space Rambo.)

I also saw two other "horror" movies in a hotel room on a business trip: What Lies Beneath and White Noise. I liked them both for their eerie spookiness.

For me, aliens and ghosts and monsters can be great in a thriller that has good plot (and a really spooky soundtrack). But movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street... I just don't get it.

blogless troll said...

Don't like the slasher and gore films. I just don't get it. The two movies that creeped me out as a kid were Twilight Zone: The Movie (especially the thing on the airplane wing), and Cat's Eye (which had a gnarly little creature coming out of the wall at night to suck out the kid's soul or something).

Ello said...

Seriously, the last scary movies I saw was the Ring and the Grudge. I had nightmares for months. I made a vow then and there never to watch horror movies since then and I've kept it!

McKoala said...

I relate to pjd's categories. I just don't get the point of splatter and slasher films. It's fun to watch torture? Not for me. Also, while most people can watch them and not, um, take them as an example of how to act, I think some people find them inspiring in the way that they display pain and violence, which is a sad way to use that word, but nonetheless.

A movie like Alien, which combines horror with a gripping story, genuine tension and even some emotional truth, I have a lot of respect for, although I cannot watch it comfortably. I've seen it once from between my fingers.

The 'eerie spook' category interest me the most, although I still avoid seeing them for the sake of my heart and nerves which will jump for weeks, despite the careful employment of techniques such as a brightly lit room, looking through my fingers and hiding behind the sofa. There are a lot of intriguing eerie spook movies that I would like to see, but I'm plain scared to do it.

writtenwyrdd said...

I am with you on this one. A psychological thriller is one thing; but Saw, The People Under the Stairs, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and their ilk just irritate and gross me out.

On the other hand, I love vampire movies. From Dawn To Dusk and those are great, IMO.

Robin S. said...

I like the oldies in this category-
more suspense than horror, I guess, but not the newer gore crap.
So I guess I'm not anti-horror as a genre, I'm just against how it's evolved.

Like those Saw movies -I can't even watch the commercial for stuff like that. To me, it's pointless. Well, there's a point - but I don't care about it.

bunnygirl said...

I've never cared for horror movies of any kind. Even books are borderline. I can't read anything that was written with no other purpose than to frighten or disgust.

There's enough real horror in the world without having to invent more of it.

Bernita said...

"Bejeesus" is a word outside Louisiana.
Can't watch 'em myself.

katze said...

I'd like to second writtenwyrdd's distinction: psychological thrillers are ok by me, quite enjoyable at times... but forget the other kind of horror movies. I don't know why cruelty and torture are supposed to be entertainment. I would never go to see a movie like "The Strangers" or any of the Saw series. But I also don't understand the appeal or value of shows like COPS or Cheaters or Jerry Springer for largely the same sort of reason: showcasing the worst of what humanity has to offer seems like very poor entertainment indeed.

I do love a good Stephen King book, though. But I would tend to categorize his books more as thrillers than as horror.

ril said...

I liked horror movies and horror fiction when I was a teenager (13 -16 range, I guess). Maybe started a little younger, even. Special treat on Saturday night, stay up and watch the horror double bill on BBC2. Mostly Hammer stuff (Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, et. al.) The original Wicker Man. That sort of thing. Loved it, and almost guaranteed to get at least one gratuitous shot of a pair of bare boobs. Hey, I was a teenager.

The first Hellraiser movie, was great (to me, back then). Still have it on VHS somewhere, though haven't watched it in years.

I think horror flicks are made for teenagers, really.

Part of the problem now is escalation. The B&W Hammer greats didn't need much more than a cheesy Mummy or campy Vampire to put the chills up. But like video games (and I think the draw is perhaps similar), people get desensitized and want more, more, more. It's a huge game of one-upmanship; it's a different kind of horror and not in a good way.

The Asian horror movies seem to it the old way -- spine-tingles and creepiness rather than fluids and meat. The Ring and Juon: The Grudge are both great ghost stories without a slasher in sight.

I don't watch horror movies these days, though. I'm no teenager.

Loved the books of James Herbert and Stephen King, too. Read all their stuff back then. The first novel I never finished was homage to these guys. But then my brother leant me "The World According to Garp". Don't know where he got it, 'cause thats not his usual thing, but I loved it, and it completely changed what I read and how I write.

ChrisEldin said...

I don't get them either. But I'll agree with WW's distinction about the psychological thriller. I love those (like Cape Fear--the older version).
Thriller is a separate category though, right? Now I'm wondering what bumps it into the horror category. Never heard of slasher and what was the other term? Ew.

I do wonder about the impact this kind of violence has on the psyche. I remember when I was getting my graduate degree in education, one topic was about modeling behavior.
There was an experiment with children where they watched three things depicting violence:
1) cartoons
2) clowns hitting each other
3) real people hitting each other

(All actors, folks!)

Now, I may not have depicted those details as accurately as it really was, but the bottom line was that the more realistic the violence, the more agitated, aggressive, and even antagonistic the children were. And the effects took a couple of weeks to wear off.

interesting topic.

Show me a good Johnny Depp flick (LOL about your comment! You insightful paca, you!)