Things That Go Bump In The Night: The Horror Genre From The Perspective Of A Scaredy Cat

Every October and in preparation for Halloween, most people I know tend to watch scary movies. It helps them get into the spirit of Halloween by having a good scare. While most kids love Halloween for dressing up in their costumes and going door-to-door to get a bag full of candy to keep them on a sugar high for days, adults prefer to have their socks knocked off with something terrifying. This is why scare events like haunted houses are widely popular this time of the year. If you’re a gamer, maybe there’s a certain horror video game you love to play and would have a horror video game marathon to get into the Halloween mood. Me? I can’t stand the horror genre.

The VHS cover art that I couldn't even look at as a kid. I still can't look at it without it giving me the creeps.
The VHS cover art that I couldn’t even look at as a kid. I still can’t look at it without it giving me the creeps.

My distaste for the horror genre stems back to my childhood. Somehow, my mother scared me into never watching a single horror film. She plagued my thoughts with tales of watching just one movie will give me nightmares for days. My older sister has always been a fan of horror and loved watching movies like Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street when she was a teenager. I remember one glimpse at the VHS cover (yes, I’m that old) for A Nightmare On Elm Street was enough to convince me to steer clear of horror movies. I like my dreams to be pleasant, filled with bunnies and unicorns, not Freddy Krueger potentially popping into my dreams to murder me.

I’ve been avoiding horror ever since I became a teenager and now the grown woman I am today. Watching people who get cut up into little pieces or die unbelievably gruesome deaths makes me squeamish. I also firmly believe that if I started watching a horror film now, it will give me nightmares I don’t want.

One of my best friends is a horror fanatic, and she once took me to two horror films––the Americanized The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring Jessica Biel. I don’t remember how she convinced me to go with her to not one but two horror films. The experience didn’t go very well for me. I spent most of my time in the theater either covering my eyes during the scary bits or looking down at my lap and becoming really interested in my hands. Let’s just say my best friend got a good laugh out of my reactions and she doesn’t let me forget those times at all. Best friends, gotta love ’em.

Do I really have to *gulp* shoot that?
Do I really have to *gulp* shoot that?

When I became a gamer, I instantly knew which types of video games I’d play and which ones I would avoid. The games that usually make the list of what I would not play are military shooters and survival horror games. One, I’m easily bored by the likes of Call of Duty or Gears of War. Two, survival horror games? That’s already a big, fat NO given my history with the genre in films. Silent Hill, The Evil Within, or anything of this nature are games I will not play.

Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to check out the gameplay trailer for The Evil Within not too long ago. Watching the video already gave me the creeps. Within the first few minutes a big, hulking dude walked into the frame carrying a sawed off half of a person’s torso, dripping blood everywhere. Many of his victims were hanging upside down, as if they were a piece of meat ready to be chopped and sold at a butcher’s store. There was a whole lot of nopes being said in my head. Viewing the short trailer didn’t make me uneasy, probably because I watched it in broad daylight, but I can’t imagine playing this game myself. It already had the kind of scenes you’d expect from your typical horror film. I also don’t want to spend my entire day playing a video game where I’ll be jumping and screaming the entire time I play. I already freak out when I’m playing against a hard boss in a regular game. Can you imagine fighting off a boss with a chainsaw in his hands? It’s too close for comfort.

Zombies I can handle. Decaying flesh and the threat of them wanting to eat your brains at any given moment? No problem!
Zombies I can handle. Decaying flesh and the threat of them wanting to eat your brains at any given moment? No problem!

Oddly enough, there are some exceptions to the survival horror genre. Games like Left 4 Dead are the type of games I can play without any problems. Maybe it’s because the game has zombies in it and for some reason I’m not really scared of zombies. Do I jump when a zombie unexpectedly pops up into my screen ready to eat my character’s face off? Sure, except zombies don’t give me nightmares. Anything involving crazy serial killers or evil spirits who want to kill you seems to make me uncomfortable to play through. I guess you can say I can play survival horror games, but only if zombies are involved. Strange, right?

The horror genre and I will probably never become besties, but this doesn’t mean I can’t get into the spirit of Halloween in my own way. How? By eating leftover candy and watching Hocus Pocus. It’s a good evening if you ask me.

Are you a fan of the horror genre? What do you particularly love about it?

8 thoughts on “Things That Go Bump In The Night: The Horror Genre From The Perspective Of A Scaredy Cat”

  1. Wow, I’m the opposite: I absolutely hate zombies…or anything that eats humans. And it’s funny that I’ve worked on corpses, but I’m afraid of walking corpses. Oh, if you like ghosts, you should play Fatal Frame.

    1. Yeah, for some reason zombies don’t freak me out half as much compared to everything else I see in horror films or video games. I’m not familiar with Fatal Frame, but I’ll look into the game, as long as it won’t give me nightmares of course!

      1. No promises on the nightmares part. Then again, I don’t think you’re as much of a scaredy cat as I am.

  2. While I’m not a fan of horror video games, I don’t mind horror movies, but I don’t seek them out regularly. I think the last “legitimate” horror movie I watched was Cabin in the Woods, which I enjoyed.And I liked a couple of the Saw movies. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky — they’re silly enough and their movies have their bright spots. I’m not a fan of “jump scare” movies like Paranormal Activity, and I never want to see The Ring ever again. You can keep all that stuff that gets inside your head — that’s way more terrifying to me than some guy with an ax. Also, zombies. Not a fan. I like the Walking Dead for everything except the zombies.

    1. I think it’s interesting how most people are okay with the other horror movie stuff, but not so much the zombies. I really can’t watch any of the movies you’ve named, especially Chucky. The last thing I need is to be terrified of dolls and start having the irrational fear of dolls coming to life and trying to kill me. I prefer to enjoy my leisure activities without an ounce of dread or anxiety, thanks. 😀

  3. Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but I think you have to draw a distinction between “horror” and “slasher” (and then you have “torture porn” like I think is Saw, never seen ’em, never will.)

    Any movie that can be paid homage in Scream, by “following the rules” (screaming teenage girl runs up stairs after having sex with her boyfriend and gets whacked) fits “slasher.” Something like the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi, (which scared the crap out of me as a kid) is “horror.” Now IMO you can have “slasher” films that more or less fit the “formula” but are still horror, and half way decent. if that makes sense. Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street? So maybe horror is another subset of suspense. (let’s get technical here shall we?) Taken and The Ring are both edge of seat suspenseful.

    Zombie flicks and some of the crap that passes for “horror” these days just seem to go for gory for the sake of gory.

    1. You’re right. There are certainly movies that can be categorized as horror, but aren’t really scary in the sense of most slasher and torture porn films you get. Then again, as a kid, I’ve been trained or scared into thinking movies like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street will give me nightmares. In my case, there hardly is any distinction and I avoid most films that are already deemed horror or scary. Most likely, my main issue with the genre is having a scary figure who cuts up their victims in millions of pieces. I can’t stomach too much gore that the likes of Scream, Saw, or any of those movies have.

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