What Scares You?

October brings with it all sorts of scares. Television, movies, plays, books, all set to frighten—I even saw Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in ballet.

As I mentioned before, I ordered my movie queue to give my month a shiver. Talking to a friend who also adjusted her movie line-up for a few frights, we chatted about what scares our family members and us. She listed the films that she added for her family, such as Casperand The Addams Family. She reminded me that her daughter is not a fan of fear; therefore, her list is tame.

My movie file includes a broad range from cheesy to chillers, though I omit the slasher films. I love Hitchcock-ian suspense thrillers. I enjoy a good ghost story, such as The Others. Monsters always please. Vampires have the charm,  Frankenstein’s experiment garners plenty of sympathy, and the werewolves spread a little gore wherever they go.

But why do so many of us enjoy being frightened? Why do we voluntarily expose ourselves to demon-possessed children, cursed houses, and witches’ spells? Why do we watch as murderous clowns run rampant through suburbia?

Aren’t these the same goblins that terrorize our nightmares? I wonder if that’s not what draws us to them.

Because they have niggled their way into our brains, they somehow fascinate us. Perhaps in the same way that our dreams work out the problems we face every day, our inner desires want to face the specters that plague the shadows in our minds. The monsters we thrill to on screen are the same monsters we face in reality.

I have run across vampires in my life. They are the charming people who we welcome into our lives and homes. They often present themselves as distressed, in need of our help. Once inside they suck the joy out of our lives by dismantling our families. I suppose that I hope that a vampire tale will help me to recognize them more easily.

I know a few werewolves as well. They change from a calm person to a fierce presence at the snap of a finger. Their fanged words leave marks in their victim’s minds that take ages to fade. I try to avoid these people whenever I can.

I know a few monsters that have been created by the torture of others. They wreck the peace of whole cities with their actions. They stir up strife because they cannot reconcile their actions to their own choices—others are always to blame for their havoc.

Maybe I watch the films about monsters because when they are imaginary, I can rationalize away the impact the real ones have on my life. Possibly it is so that I can pick up a few tips on how to defeat them. A silver bullet? A stake through the heart? Yikes!

I don’t know about you, but I’ll probably just run and hide!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

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