Posts Tagged Se7en

The HORRORS of Getting Older

Turned 31 this past week, which is scary enough in that “30 was tough but now I’m INTO my 30s” sorta way, but the experience has me thinking about how I perceive “Horror” films, these days. Generally, the once nerve racking experience has become pure escapism, losing myself in someone else’s impossible horror (zombies, vampires, grab-boids) to avoid the really terrifying stuff (never being successful, mortality, Oprah). However, as a child the experience was different.

Children watch scary movies because they’re curious, or they’re not supposed to, or just because they’re there, but their experience blends the line between the two aforementioned categories above. The child brain returns to the reality of the movie when darkness falls, they have to go in the basement, or during the always horrifying bedtime. Child-like fear is a more intimate personal matter that ignites their darkest imaginations.  So, here’s a random list ranting about horror film moments that affected me in my early scary movie going.

My first traumatic scar, shared by many children of the eighties, was the unexpected encounter with Large Marge in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. While it’s such a cheap scare, the execution of it is perfect, especially in the early 80′s when Tim Burton wasn’t familiar as household-name-creepy. No one saw THAT face coming.

Of course, I’ll never forget my virgin viewing of Night of the Living Dead, specifically those early scenes, Ben trying to secure a house he’s unfamiliar with while keeping Barbabra safe in the process. While he’s off crushing zombie skulls, Barbabra is sitting despondent on a chair unaware a lone ghoul is lurching down the hall towards her. The tension was tough to handle as an eleven year old, and I can clearly remember sitting on my brother’s bunk bed having to keep glancing down the hall to make sure nothing was coming. Today, I find most of that film is goofy and slow when I watch it, and while I think the opening series have a timeless macabre merit, it’s not quite as terrifying as it was that first time.

Disturbing is a another word we toss around a bit these days as an aesthetic, and unfortunately the desire to see something that disturbs us has opened the door for the Eli Roths and Uwe Bolls of the world to produce garbage, but what will disturb one is a very personal matter. As silly as I find it today, the first film I found disturbing was Seven. Today, because I’ve seen about a dozen parodies of the famous “What’s in the Box” scene, I find it hard to take the film serious anymore,  but my 15-year-old super idealistic self was not prepared for the concept of a man’s wife being put in a box. I remember being there with my first highschool sweet heart and instantly thinking about her being decapitated. Tough stuff for a teenager then, pretty tame by my current standards.

I’ m not sure whether I should be sad or relieved that movies don’t still impact me in this raw, unguarded way anymore. Mark Twain once said that common people don’t see the rainbow with the same joy as the Savage because they know how’s it made, and perhaps my desensitization to fear has changed my viewing pleasure of the horror film in a similar way. Good horror films still make me not want to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but the twisted faces I see in the dark usually don’t last much past the same night of the viewing. There’s just no fear like a child’s fear.

Does anyone have a horror moment that still haunts them?

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