Why do we fear the Monster Movie?

Photo from Wikipedia.

Someone’s opinion on horror movies is a very private and subjective matter. I for one believe that 95 percent of all horror movies that get made, have been made, and will be made are absolute rubbish.

Terrible bodice-rippers armed with a glinting hatchet and an unsettling smile. The kind that makes you think you are in on its little joke until you turn around and there’s another jump-cut that leads to a particularly gory death.

The thing is, horror movies are very important to people because no two people have the same opinion or thoughts on what make a horror movie good. There can be close enough overlaps between people’s tastes that bring them together to enjoy a similar movie, but when it comes down to it all horror movies rely on the simple linchpin of scary. Is it scary? Who is it scaring? Why are we scared?

Obviously, the single most important crux of a horror film rests on the assumption that whatever it is that is driving the plot is menacing enough to strike fear in the hearts of the viewers. Because that’s the whole point. People don’t go see the new slice-and-dice paint by numbers horror thriller because they are mildly amused at the nubile teens slashed to pieces. They do it because it touches a deep part of them and shakes them to their core.

Fear tends to break down into two types – the fear that irks and bothers you and the fear that makes you physically incapable of breathing.

I have a certain friend who saw the first Child’s Play (a run of the mill 80’s slasher movie about a spirit of a killer possessing a kid’s doll that has spun-off into a ludicrous amount of sequels) movie when he was at the ripe young age of way too young. And even to this day he is completely unsettled around dolls of any type. He will flinch when seeing certain dolls. I can watch Child’s Play and laugh myself silly. It’s a movie about an evil spirit possessing a doll that can easily be run through a shredder. This fear holds no sway over me.

Every horror story tries it’s hardest to tap into a shared collective fear. An overarching fear that can bring people together through their collective revulsion.

Aliens involve the fear of the other. It’s the horrible feeling that comes with meeting new people and wondering whether they are actually going to play nice. Zombies evoke the fear of large amounts of people and falling irreversibly into a group that does nothing but wrong to other people.

Murderous monsters that rend normal people limb from limb are bad enough to begin with, but what really sets people off is the deep unconscious dread that resides within ourselves to begin with.

Horror movies take the most shameful part of ourselves, what we really dread in society and then turn them inside out and reveal them to the world.

So what is your favorite Horror film or monster? What do you think this means about you and your fears? E-mail us at adam.raby@rexmail.queens.edu, or tweet @ChronicleQueens with your opinion.

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