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Oh, the Horror!

Dr. Wilson speculates that our attraction to violence and morbidity stems from our need to “express pity and fear in an artificial setting” which enables us to “drain these emotions from out systems and subsequently feel purified, relieved, [and] refreshed” (49).  This idea of achieving catharsis through purgation is not recent speculation; it is an Aristotelian concept.  Dr. Wilson writes:

An aesthetic experience of the macabre – in pictures, books, films, maybe even video games – is useful, therapeutic. The child loves violent fantasies as she would a wizened mentor, a skilled guide. We, as adults, can learn from this: the morbid builds morale.

Do you find watching or reading horror to be cathartic?  If so, what’s your favorite book or film?  Do you remember the first horror/slasher film you saw, either at the theater or at home? If you have children, do you let them watch scary movies or read scary stories?

Category: Discussion, Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck

9 Responses to Oh, the Horror!

  1. Molly Keener says:

    I typically shy away from true horror films, although due to sleepovers and dates, I’ve seen my fair share. Usually if I can watch at home with all the lights on, during the day, with a blanket in my lap, I’ll be OK. But some trailers on t.v. freak me out enough that I close my eyes, cover my ears, and make my husband tell me when I can watch again.

    However, a well crafted suspenseful thriller movie can fun for me. I still get scared and anxious and tense, but I can handle the psychological creepiness better than the gore and violence.

    In the past couple of years, my book club has taken to reading horror/suspense around Halloween, and some I’ve been OK with (Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House), but others I’ve abandoned (Daniel Hecht’s “City of Masks”).

  2. Hu Womack says:

    I love films that build up fear and tension. I have a low tolerance for graphic violence and gore, but films like “Psycho” or “Rosmary’s Baby” fill that need in me to be “safely scared”! Even then, I tend to watch a scary movie through my fingers or listen to the TV instead of watching!

    • Molly Keener says:

      Oddly, I did not find “Psycho” scary, just comical. I think by the time I finally worked up the nerve to watch it, it had been so hyped up for me it didn’t live up to expectations.

  3. Kelsey Browne says:

    Rosemary’s Baby is by far my favorite horror film. The anxiety buildup that Mia Farrow executes remains classic and there’s just nothing else like it. I wish this film was the sole reason for the director’s infamy but it’s still a favorite in my book. Both my film and literature classes have drawn examples from this film and I highly recommend it!

  4. Anna Dulin Milholland says:

    Most cinephiles don’t consider “Jurassic Park” to be a horror film, but as an eight-year-old in a crowded movie theater, I was terrified. Through most of the movie, I sat with eyes closed, ears plugged, and my knees close to my chest. Unlike the cartoon “Sharp Tooth” of the Land Before Time, this T-Rex seemed too real. The velociraptors were the real villains, though, and they received the starring role in my nightmares for many years thereafter. To this day, I can’t watch the Kitchen Scene without averting my eyes.

    For the most part, I do love reading and watching horror. My favorites include: “The Shining,” “Jaws,” “Sleepy Hollow” (really, anything Tim Burton), and psychological thrillers like “The Silence of the Lambs.” Many of the horror films I saw as a teen, I saw with friends, at sleepovers, and generally without my parents’ permission (excluding “Jurassic Park”).

    • Molly Keener says:

      Anna, I didn’t even make it through “Jurassic Park” in the theatre! I’d just moved to a new town a couple weeks before, and was invited by a group of girls to join them and their mom at the movies. I knew I didn’t like scary movies, but that was more the Freddie/Jason variety I recalled from the ’80s. Fortunately for me, the mom kept me company in the lobby without complaint, and her daughter has been a friend for close to two decades now! Oh, and now I watch “Jurassic Park” whenever I catch it on t.v. :)

  5. Stephanie Skordas says:

    I was a kid afraid of the dark, so I started reading Stephen King books and watching scary movies so that the next time my imagination ran away with me, I could really convince myself “It was only a book!” or “Only a movie!” but basically — “NOT REAL!”

    But along the way, I really liked the way Stephen King wrote, so I started reading him more for his writing than his monsters.

    The first scary movie I remember seeing was “Jaws” — my mom made my cover my eyes at certain parts — fraidy cat kid, remember?

    • Anna Dulin Milholland says:

      Stephanie, I love “Jaws.” Such a great film. I, too, covered my eyes at times, especially when the “duh-nuh” music started. I love the scene where the men on the pier barely escape…thrilling!

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