Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do you like to be scared?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

It’s time for Matthew McBride to get out his chainsaw and DSD's own Steve Weddle to dress poor Gumbo in a silly costume. Yes, holiday fans – today is Halloween. Growing up, Halloween was always special. Mom started working on making costumes for my brother and I long before the big occasion. Halloween was and still is her favorite holiday to dress up and have a scary good time. I come by my love of the holiday honestly.

Not surprisingly, Halloween brings out my love of haunted houses and horror movies. Walking through darkened hallways waiting for people with chainsaws to jump out at you is always a good time. (Yes, I realize I am completely twisted. I’ve come to terms with that part of my personality. Honest.) Haunted houses and horror movies are sheer fun to me because they aren’t real. The zombies, vampires and other worldly creatures are enjoyable to watch, but I have no tangible fear of them. Freddy Krueger and his ilk give me an adrenaline rush without any negative, truly fearful emotions murkying up the waters.

Cinematic thrillers are a different story.

I have a love/hate relationship with big screen thrillers. I love to watch them, but the best of the genre always leave my heart pounding long after the credits roll. The characters feel real. Their motivations to do terrible things ring true. The need to catch the bad guy before he kills the kids at camp make me lean forward in my chair and gnaw my fingernails down to nothing. These movies capture what I love best about the crime fiction genre: the realness. (Is realness actually a word? It sounds totally made up, but it fits what I am talking about so I’m going with it.)

We talk about this kind of thing all the time on DSD. Crime fiction takes ordinary people and plunges them into extraordinary circumstances. As the reader, we immediately identify with the characters and hope to God they make it out alive by the end. And the stories stay with us long after the final page is closed and the story has played out.

My favorite scary cinematic thrillers are ones that fit this mold. The first of the Friday the 13th movies, the original Psycho, The Hitcher are all movies that scare he crap out of me in the best possible way. So – help me out. Today is Halloween and I want to celebrate by scaring myself silly. Which scary movies would you recommend that I try? What are you favorites?


Chris Rhatigan said...

Rosemary's Baby. Movie scared the living hell out of me.

Fiona Johnson said...

Cloverfield when they go in the tower that's leaning over..something about that really scares me...

Barna W. Donovan said...

For me some of the most successful horror or suspense films are the ones where you are not merely shown things that are shocking or violent or gross, but where the film makes suggestions about life, the state of the world, human nature, that are disturbing or unnerving, or just put thoughts in your mind that shake your very view of the world. A really good scary movie is the one that takes you places where you don't want to go and think about things you don't want to think about.

To that end, I would suggest a film called Frailty. Until the very end, it plays out in a way where the viewer's not even sure if it's simply a serial killer suspense film or if there really is something supernatural going on. The plot involves a father who tells his two sons that God has told him that he needs to kill people who are really demons in disguise. The best part of this film, where it packs its real punch, is the way it pulls the rug out from under the viewers who - having probably seen enough films about religious fanatics - think they know where a film like this will go.

Although Frailty has a couple of good moments of violence, it ultimately scares you because it *suggests* something that's uncomfortable to consider in our modern, rational, secular world.

Let's just say that when it came out in the fall of 2001, it generated a great deal of anger and offense in some viewers. I say it was merely effective in creating that unease, in taking the audience somewhere they really, really loathe to go.

Clara Kensie said...

Poltergeist. If I watched it now for the first time it (probably) wouldn't scare me, but I was 12 when it came out in 1982. It was the first horror movie I ever saw and I had to sneak in to see it with my friends because my parents wouldn't allow me to see it. I should have listened to them. That clown popping up from under the bed, with his plastic clown face suddenly twisted into an evil grin, haunted my dreams for weeks afterward. I had to admit to my parents that I saw the movie just so I could sleep on their floor, because I was too scared to sleep alone.

Now I love Poltergeist, and most horror movies as well. I love being scared, but I can't think of a horror film that scares me enough to keep me awake at night now.

Mike Dennis said...

I saw THE EXORCIST when it came out in 1974. I'd heard it was plenty scary, but that didn't bother me any. Nevertheless, I went to the early afternoon show, just to be on the safe side. I didn't sleep well for three weeks afterward.

Now, just the other night, my wife was making strange, eerie noises in her sleep. I told her about it in the morning and said I felt like I was sleeping next to Linda Blair. To which she replied: "Who's Linda Blair?"