Believe it or not, I'm a huge fan of horror movies. Huge. I want nothing more to be scared shitless when I sit down in a dark theater or turn off all the lights in my living room. Unfortunately, it never happens. Never. Not since 1989, when I was in Japan watching Aliens (yes, Aliens) in a creepy Japanese house while everyone else was either asleep or out experiencing Japan. Sure, it almost happened once since, but the movie in question ended right when the hairs on the back of my neck started to take notice and stand up.
Long story short: horror movies don't scare me. Only three have scared me, and each of those were watched for the first time prior to 1989. Still, I can recognize a good horror, and do maintain a list of favorites (The Descent is the most recent of the genre that I would call a good film... great, even).
Further to the point, horror itself doesn't scare me. Not movies, not books, nada (I will, however, confess to a video game that scared the piss out of me: Silent Hill 4: The Room). And I do so want to be scared. I like the sensation of fear, as do many, and would prefer it to be an artificial sensation enjoyed in the company of media, rather than in reality. I even write horror... quite a bit... and always try to approach a story from the goal of scaring myself. Until recently, I've never succeeded, and I fear (no pun intended) that I'll never succeed again.
Ah, well... in honor of my recent tendency to wax nostalgic, here are the three movies that did, a long time ago, manage to scare me.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow - I can't remember exactly how old I was when I saw this made-for-TV horror film (they sure don't do made-for-TV horror like they used to), but I do recall that my sister had seen it at least once before I did. Perhaps the fear experienced from watching it was due to her egging me on, but I definitely have genuine memories of being frightened of scarecrows for a while... at least until the next time I saw The Wizard of Oz, anyway (remember when that was on TV once a friggin' month?).
For those who aren't familiar, Dark Night of the Scarecrow revolves around the friendship between a gentle giant who has the mind of a child (Bubba) and a young girl (Marylee). Obviously, such a relationship is viewed with suspicion by the local populace, and one day, when Bubba saves the Marylee from an attack by Doberman Pinscher, Bubba is naturally blamed for it. Bubba's mother hides him in their farm's scarecrow, but the "vigilantes" track him down with bloodhounds, and shoot poor Bubba full of holes while he's strapped to the scarecrow post.
I'm pretty sure you can figure out what comes next.
Sure, the film is largely B-fare, but the ending is a bit creepy. If you can find the movie, it's worth a watch.
A Nightmare on Elm Street - oh, yeah... I'm fairly certain that this film is on a lot of lists, so I don't feel too bad about it being on mine. What I do feel bad about is that it made it on my list after only having watched one scene of it. You know, the scene with the really long arms? Yeah, that one. Heather Langenkamp running up, down, and through a horror cinematographer's dream house. And Johnny Depp getting sucked into a bed mattress didn't make for sleepful nights, either. Worse still, I remember going to an overnighter thrown for my Little League team, and sleeping next to a speaker that, in the dark, looked remarkably like Freddy Krueger wearing his fedora. Yeah... let's just say I was exhausted the following day.
It wasn't until years later that I actually watched the film in its entirety, and it no longer even comes close to scaring me. In fact, the creepiest part to me now is that random goat at the beginning.
Aliens - don't laugh at me. Today this film is one of my all-time favorites, and isn't frightening in the least. I might even claim I can recite the damn thing, as I've seen it so many times. But, in that dimly-lit living room, in that foreign country, alone, 11 years-old, and still a bit impressionable... I couldn't stand for almost 30 minutes after it finished, I was shaking so bad. And it wasn't even a proper horror movie. Can you imagine if I'd have watched the first Alien instead? Oh, man... I'd have been emotionally lobotomized, I think.
Anyway, those are the three. Make fun of me if you'd like, but the next time some crappy-ass torture porn or 70s/80s remake/ripoff sends you scrambling for the light switch, expect no sympathy from me.
Oh, and if you're wondering, the film that almost got me since was The Blair Witch Project. The shot of Mike standing in the corner did it for me... but then the credits rolled. I was pissed.