by Mimi Sebastian
It’s almost Halloween. Squeee! I use the holiday as an excuse to indulge one of my major loves, the horror genre. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone who has perused my blog (mimisebastian.com). I tend to binge watch horror movies leading up to Halloween. Maybe because the allure of Halloween and what it’s about heightens my enjoyment of the scares. I mean, I always watch Halloween on Halloween.
A couple of years ago, during October, I posted a myriad of “horrifying” top tens on my blog, ranging from monsters to movies. I will probably do something similar this year. As I write a multitude of ideas pop into mind: top ten horror female villains. That would be fun! But as an entre into October I discuss my seminal horror movie-going experiences. Horror movies make for some of the best theater going experiences. A good horror movie is visceral and can elicit both physical and vocal reactions, which is fantastic in a theater when you are encouraged to belt out your fright along with everyone else. While I can enjoy a good tear-jerker, I never really want anyone to see me cry but group screaming is wonderful therapy and lots of fun.
So here we go!!
At eleven, my brother and his friend took me to see Poltergeist. Probably not the best movie for an eleven-year-old, who existed mostly in her own thoughts and imaginings, to see, but what the hell, right? Thank god for pre-helicopter parenting. On a side note, all three of these horror movie-going experiences were with said big brother whom I love dearly so there ya go. Thanks bro! We arrived late and had to sit in the neck crunching first isle. It probably contributed to my squeals and squirms. Everything is so much louder and in your face. I think everyone in the theater pretty much lost it during the clown under the bed scene. I remember the arm-rest-clutching total silence when the kid noticed his creepy clown was gone from its shelf before the theater erupted into screams and laughter. Ahh, creepy clowns, how we love thee…?
In the still burgeoning internet age, when people weren’t quite as savvy about what the Internet meant or it’s potential to mess with your mind, a little old movie called the Blair Witch Project came out, purporting to be based on real life events. We had gotten past the idea that the movie itself was real found footage, I mean who the hell, except the biggest of movie buffs, knew that such a thing existed? Cannibal Holocaust anyone? Although Cannibal Holocaust was made in a documentary style. The entire build up to Blair Witch was brilliant and so when I walked into the movie theater with bro and sister-in-law, none of us had any idea what to expect. So much harder to accomplish today and maybe we are less rich because of it. The “oh &*%#@” permeated the incredibly tense atmosphere in the theater, especially at the tent scene. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. Unlike the uproarish nature of Poltergeist, the Blair Witch watch was more intense because it felt more real, and hell, some people probably still thought it was real. I crashed at my brother’s place that night, on his couch downstairs, staring out the slide glass door at the woods beyond his house, all night, clutching my blanky.
Finally, alas, my final great horror movie going experience was a while ago. Life, kids, life, kids, life have interfered with my ability to see a horror movie on opening night, and honestly, I’m not as up to some of the gore these days. I saw The Conjuring in the movie theater, clutching my husband’s arm and enjoyed it immensely. (I should have kept the blanky.) I reaaalllly want to go see Don’t Breathe and the Blair Witch sequel. I’m excited about horror’s resurgence and the crop of new filmmakers carrying the mantel from Wes Craven, John Carpenter, William Friedkin, Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi, such as Adam Wingaard, James Wan, Ti West, Fede Alvarez, but I digress. So with brother and sister-in-law, I saw the first Saw movie. Everyone cringed and squirmed in their seats during the entire buildup, but at the final scene, the twitching bodies in the theater erupted into seizures. I have predicted many a horror movie’s main twist but this one had me until the end. And when I figured out seconds before it happened, I still couldn’t believe it. Thanks James Wan.
Halloween, I am ready.