What scares the scary?
What’s the longest time you’ve ever gone between starting watching a film and finishing watching a film? My record, as of today is 34 years. In 1981, back in the days of videos, there was about 3 video recorders in the entire village. There was this thing called the Video Club. Once a month, we would all gather expectantly around a little TV screen in a cold, damp musty hut to watch the latest video release. Sometimes they were brand-new films; sometimes they were ‘classics’. Once a month, someone would bring this hallowed piece of technology to share with us cave dwellers. Teasing us with a glimpse of the future.
On the night in question, it was a classic of sorts being shown. Certainly now it is considered to be a classic of the genre. Back in those days it was just before the heyday of the Video Nasty. It had been made about eight years before, back in the early 70s.
At the time of its release, I remember one of my brothers being obsessed with an album he’d bought called “Tubular Bells” He played it constantly, every waking hour. It drove us all to distraction. It was only when I heard that music over the (slightly less) tinny television speakers that the penny dropped. If you haven’t already guessed which film I mean, you should probably twig if I say “pea soup” and “Your mother cooks socks in Hell” (okay, I was paraphrasing wildly with that last one). Got it now?
I didn’t actually get through it all in one sitting. It got to said projectile pea soup scene and my nerve broke. I ran back home. And I mean ran. Bearing in mind that home was nearly 2 miles away up a 30 degree hill, and walking it usually took a good 25-30 minutes. I did it in 10.
I did not sleep that night.
In fact, I bizarrely decided to sit up and read through my copy of the New Testament, with anything to do with demons and exorcisms being duly noted and mentally filed away for future reference…
As you do.
What made matters worse – and more ominous – was that that night there was a particularly vicious storm that whipped up out of nowhere the moment I got home. There were foul gale force winds and rain that felt like lead shot against my bedroom windows. I wondered if old Nick was personally trying to tell me off. Let’s face it – I was scared. At one point the wind blasted a dustbin lid into my window and I think I may have had a teeny accident…
So, 34 years later, I decided to watch it, intending to make it through to the end this time. I sat there with my bag of popcorn, ready to be terrified all over again. My iPad to distract me from the more horrific moments. The Remote Control within easy reach just in case it got too much for me again. The ‘off’ button is always the last resort, isn’t it?
To my surprise, I had actually watched over half of it originally. My main memories of it were nothing like what I experienced this time around. If anything, it was quite tedious, and I had to resist the temptation to hit the Fast Forward button. I was willing to hurry up to get to the pea soup, and disappointed the spider walk scene never made the cut.
After two hours, I found myself thinking “Uh, is that it??” I had been prepared to be terrified all over again. I realise that, actually, it wasn’t scary at all. There could be a number of reasons why this was the case.
- More than 30 years on, I’m older, more experienced, and life has taught me there are things worth being scared of. This wasn’t one of them.
- Also, being older, I am more spiritually mature and can see this for the piece of fiction it is. Perhaps the Devil just doesn’t scare me any more.
- Thanks to Special Effects and the increasingly warped imaginations of filmmakers, films are able to be a lot scarier now and they used to be. You can show a lot more now than you used to do back in the 70s.
I was so prepared to be frightened, and what frightened me back then probably does not frighten me now. Do we get frightened, or more frightened of being frightened? That’s why we don’t like walking in dark rooms, or putting our hands into feely bags. Think about this – how often have you seen a film in the cinema that was really scary at the time, and then you saw it again on DVD at home and wondered what the fuss had been? Or missed a film that everyone overhyped the horror of, and then you watched it at home, only to be bitterly disappointed? I know I’ve been to see films where camaraderie sprang up within the audience as we jumped and shrieked together and shared the jump moments together. Everyone feeds off each other’s fear.
Now who’s the vampire? Just saying…
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BOO! Made ya look…