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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Horror Genre

By Jodi Clager | Think Pieces | March 19, 2014 | Comments ()


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As a child I was terrified of all of the trappings of Halloween. The costumes, the movies, the elaborate displays of terror set up by neighbors, haunted houses — they all pushed me into the fetal position for days. I would stay indoors during trick or treat, pleading my parents to ignore the knocks at our front door heralding the arrival of the newest demonic imp snarling a demand for candy.

I can only guess about the origins of my fears, but I suspect that as a child living with an alcoholic parent I had plenty of the unknown and uncontrollable to deal with and no interest in adding to it, thank you so very much. So I averted my eyes to the posters in the video store promising kills and terror. I avoided leaving the house on Halloween. I took great pains to close my ears to any stories that came close to the border of horror. Then one day, likely my early teen years, I decided to take control of the things that frightened me. I decided to inoculate myself to fear that served no purpose.

I must credit my wonderful and loving Aunt Karen for being my guide into the insane and entertaining world of horror. She has saved my life, literally and metaphorically, more times than I can count and I would like to thank her for shaping my warped mind. Though I cannot remember the first movie Aunt Karen introduced me to, I can remember so many that we watched together. Motel Hell, IT, The Evil Dead movies. Paperhouse. Jacob’s Ladder. Many of the Friday the 13th movies. It just goes on from there, you understand.

Through viewing them in a safe environment with her, delving into the tropes and expectations, discussing and analyzing the themes, and then being able to see that it could be a nice diversion from real-life distress, I came to embrace horror movies. They came to symbolize something other than the lack of control in my own life. They became something safe and loving and something I could enjoy in the best of company. They were, and continue to be, an escape from the real world for me. They remind me of my ability to overcome obstacles in life and how I can change myself if I just set my mind to it.

I’m hoping to instill the same ideas in my daughter of embracing the uncontrollable nature of horror while strengthening her sense of self. I want her to revel in the idea of zombies and slashers while knowing that it’s completely unacceptable to abide the same level of fear in her real life. I want her to know that she can come to scoff at those things that once made her terrified.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • SVR

    I finally realized my family was a little bit different that time we all watched Silence of the Lambs on Thanksgiving. Horror shared with family and friends is the best kind of horror.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Motel Hell is a classic! I wish more people had seen it so they'd get my gargling noise imitation cuz that's some funny shit. At least to me.

  • coryo

    People always try to make me feel weird about the fact that growing up, watching horror movies was time my mother and I spent together bonding. It's a tradition we keep up to this day, much to my wife's chagrin. I'm glad someone else gets it. And I will one day do the same with my children, as she did with me and her father with her.

  • Emm82

    I did the same thing with my mum, friday night was movie night - usually horror or sci fi, and we still make time to do it now I'm in my 30's. It's not you! I'll be doing the same with my son.

  • elsie_the_first

    I love horror movies and hoped I'd be able to share the love with my kids, but they just roll their eyes at me and leave the room when they see he watching a scary movie.

    Also, I just rewatched Nightmare on Elm Street the other day for the first time in forever. I made my husband watch it with me and he hates horror movies.

    I usually end up watching my movies alone. :(

  • Emm82

    Nightmare on Elm Street - you've got taste! It sounds really old, but kids today know torture porn, not horror. I made my 17 yr old cousin watch insidious with me, yet I couldn't shake the thought it was Poltergeist in sheeps clothing. She was terrified! My husband will watch some, but I tend to watch them with my mum as long as they are the Sam Raimi types, she loves them.

  • Uriah_Creep

    IT

    The horrifying story of young neckbeards trapped in cubicles attempting to deal with computer malfunctions.

  • jennp421

    You make me miss Joanna.
    Just kidding, great article! The first "scary" movie I ever saw was The Birds. I still like the idea of scary movies, but somehow, the older I get, the less I can handle them. I have to stick to creepy books and ghost stories (which is probably the horror movie sub genre I can least handle - that and demon possession).

  • BlackRabbit

    Ooo, can we recommend some to you? I nominate The Thing and Below.

  • Bob Genghis Khan

    Great read. Good luck though, because it seems to me all modern-day horror films are centered around A) a scary kid, B) a scary house, or C) a scary kid in a scary house.

  • John W

    Horror is my favorite genre. There's nothing like reading a collection of short horror stories. Alone. In the dark.

  • Snath

    This is beautiful, and exactly the kind of thing I want to teach to my own children.

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