I recently came across a tweet asking what people’s earliest memories of being scared was via movies/games/tv shows/books and it got my brain going with all the stuff I was exposed to at such a young age.
Most people were replying with seemingly innocent childhood pieces of media that looked slightly strange like weird characters or sad storylines. I asked my friends and they gave some examples like Coraline (quite a few people said this for both the book and film), Eggman from Sonic, the eels from Mario 64, various creepy characters from the Teletubbies. There was some more understandable ones like of people being melted in Indiana Jones; Raiders of the Lost Ark and Terminator 2 as well as the Childsnatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
(my handmade Coraline doll which I adore)
However mine are all from things that are supposed to scare adults never mind children. (my dad gave the answer of Salem’s lot so I guess it runs in the family)
The earliest one I could remember was one night (when i was definitely younger than seven) i woke up and crept downstairs to find my mum watching “House of 1000 Corpses”. Now as you can tell from the title this isn’t a particularly kid friendly film. All I remember is a guy with creepy clown makeup, a car scene and then some one was chopped in half. It took me years to actually find the name of the film and I have yet to watch the full things because i think won’t live up to my terrified memory of it (like most horror films due to bad quality or SFX that hasn’t aged well.)
Some other instances in which I accidentally watched a horror film at a young age, is waking up on holiday in our hotel room to find my dad watching Final Destination 3 and in particular nail guns freaked me out for a long time after that. Another time I walked into the conservatory and quickly back out once I saw a creepy pale girl with very dark hair crawling in a very inhuman way…which i later found out was The Grudge.
PSA: I have since watched all films in each of these collections and am a big fan.
When I think about books the only on that comes to mind is something that is actually meant to scare people. We had a german children’s book called Struwwelpeter from 1845 (I did have to google this) which is supposed to warn children from gaining bad habits or behaviours. A few examples are: a story about a girl who plays with matches and then gets set on fire, another is about a character who will chop off your thumbs with giant scissors if you suck on them…safe to say I learnt some lessons from this book.
Now onto present day. I am a massive horror film fan and being scared. I am that weirdo who likes the thrill of being scared but in a safe environment, not through things like bungee jumping or rollercoasters. I genuinely think this may be in part due to the fact that I experiences scary characters and plot lines from such a young age. However I’m not completely immune to being scared and still have a slight fear of the dark and what hides in it but it takes a lot to actually make me feel truly scared while watching a movie.
(just a small selection of my dvd horror collection)
In recent years there has only ever been two films that have scared me so much that I straight up refuse to watch them again which is quite an impressive thing. Trust me when I say that the hype over The Witch and Hereditary was completely valid. That being said I did watch both in the cinema which made the experience much more immersive and intense. Both of these films strayed away from conventional jump scares and overly used gore and kept its viewer (or just me) wanting to sit as far back in my seat as possible.
I always highly recommend watching any horror film when it first comes out on the big screen. Horror film memories that come to mind are hiding behind my school blazer while watching As Above So Below, genuinely screaming out loud at jump scares from both Insidious 3 and It. Another amazing cinema experience was the film A Quiet Place, having a whole room of people holding their breath along with the character incase you get heard is such an incredible feeling.
So it is still manageable to scare me after 10 years experience of watching horror films but they have to be super good.
(I’m also addicted to collecting cinema tickets)
I’m quite glad there is a change in the way horror films are being done with help from latest advancements in CGI and SFX as well as a combination of creative ideas of getting core of what makes people uneasy. One thing for me is if the music/sound or lack of doesn’t match up to whats going on with the characters, that really unsettles me for some reason.
I shall continue to love the horror genre, especially for movies. Ranging from the god awful ones that all mesh into one because they all have the same plot points (which i might make another post about altogether) to the absolutely terrifyingly brilliant ones that keep me thinking about for days.
I’ll also make sure to not watch horror films when my kids could easily see them to prevent them being traumatised.
all pictures from my instagram: @corporealdays
horror experiences by: Jade, Charlotte, Dan, Tom, Salman, Georgina, Adam, Neil, Allan.