The Night Michael Came Home: A Look at Halloween

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Welcome back! We are in full swing. Soon it will be the Christmas season for real but for now we stick to Halloween. Speaking of Halloween (nice segue there Amanda) here is my look at Halloween and where it stands in popular culture.

Halloween is the series to start off the slasher explosion of the 80’s. This film series didn’t have the same effect on me as Nightmare on Elm Street did, but it stayed with me. How could it not? Every year AMC plays their Michael Myers marathon, and I get sucked in. I also made it a tradition to watch Halloween on Halloween since I was fifteen years old. This is less about societal woes and more about a man who just won’t die. He is human. He has been stabbed, shot at and even his head was cut off (I KNOW. I know. I refuse to acknowledge the backtracking the powers that be did after H20).  He is someone who cannot and won’t stop.

The story of Halloween is as follows: a six-year-old kills his older sister, Judith, after watching her have sex with her boyfriend on Halloween in Haddonville, Illinois. He is put away and watched over in an asylum by Dr. Loomis. Cut to Halloween in the year 1978. Michael is back for revenge, and a new crop of babysitters are his new target. Who will make it out alive?

This first film is classic. It shows how great and suspenseful a horror movie could be. A lot of people call it the start of the slasher but if you look there isn’t much blood. The killings are like a slow countdown to the main event, Laurie Strode. The main babysitter or as we later learn is the sister that got away.

I will admit. I am a fan of the Halloween 1 and 3. I enjoy seeing Paul Rudd in a movie like this but other than that…yeah…not so much. No matter how many times I have seen these films, I still have trouble completely following the mythology that is Michael Myers.  Other than being scary and fulfilling the requirement of killing random babysitters and bystanders there was no reason to look at Michael Myers any further. I had no real connection.

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Then it hit me. Michael Myers doesn’t have a mythology. There is no reason for Michael to kill. There was no catalyst. He is just inherently evil. We don’t know if it is mental or some outside force started this spree (watching his sister have sex sparked something in him), but he is just inherently evil. That is fascinating. Especially since a ton of real life serial killers never needed an excuse.  It takes that idea and brings it to the mainstream. Michael is truly scary because he doesn’t have emotions. He doesn’t have a reason. He is a machine, and nothing will stop him. Appealing to his sensibilities won’t save you. Neither will running away. Michael will get you if he wants you.

That is a pretty scary thought.

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I enjoy the quote unquote final girl as well. Laurie Strode is played by the original scream queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis. This movie follows the traditional slasher rules. Laurie is a beautiful, virginal girl who is highly aware that something is wrong that particular Halloween. Even better she is smart enough to keep the children safe. I think Laurie killing off Michael in H2O (I refuse to go past that movie) would have been the perfect ending. Of all the Myers running around out there, it would be up to Laurie to end the madness. Much like Nancy, she is the only one that can truly get under his skin.

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Dr. Loomis is a pretty big character too. He is the only character to attempt to keep up with his patient. Trying to keep him from killing anyone else. I also had a theory he felt responsible for Michael as a father. A creepy father/son relationship. The movie doesn’t touch on this, but I always felt it was there. Under the surface. There is a great blog post about Loomis being the real boogeyman. (psst here it is check it out)

This series is one of the rare ones where I refuse to acknowledge certain movies past the year 2000 because they were just bad and made for money.  If it were up to me, I would watch up to Halloween: H20 and call it a day.  Good ending for a killer that scares the crap out of babysitters everywhere.

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Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

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New Nightmare: Freddy Has Made it Home or Three Reasons You Should Watch Nightmare 7

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Welcome back fellow horror movie fans! I’m still talking about Freddy and the legacy he left behind in the horror world. I wrote yesterday that I was a huge fan of the Nancy run of the movies. Not that each movie didn’t have its charms, but I felt that Nancy was the great foil for Freddy’s revenge. She should have been the last Elm street kid to go. Alas, that is not how the series goes. I will say that after Nancy, I enjoy Alice as a character. She was part of a very controversial storyline and movie in the series, but she was fun. Someone who started off weak and learned to be strong. I am convinced in some small way she was related to the Thompsons somehow.

Anyway, I have favorite Nightmare films that I watched more than others. I have noticed over the years that New Nightmare, the technical ultimate nightmare movie (if you refuse to count Freddy vs. Jason and the remake like me) isn’t talked about as much as other films. This breaks my heart because it was a witty and genius way of Wes Craven getting his Freddy back to where he should have been all along.

I consider this installment in the series underrated, and I will give you three reasons you need to check out New Nightmare right now.

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First here is a general plot summary of the film. Heather Langenkamp, who plays Nancy in the original movie, is considering doing another Freddy film. Meanwhile, a stalker is getting closer to her and her family. Little does she know that stalker is someone she already knows and fears.

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Reason 1: The Meta of it All

Nothing makes me happier than seeing subjects become aware of their surrounding and overcoming whatever is blocking them from leaving (Cabin in the Woods for example).  This story disregards the storyline of the past movies and brings it back to the beginning. It is less about the journey the characters have taken but more like ‘What have we did by creating Freddy?’. Which is a look at how Freddy went from just another slasher star to a cultural force in our society. He wasn’t just on our screens he had found a place in our cultural psyche.

There is a scene at the beginning where the morning talk show host was asking Heather Langenkamp (Nancy in the movies) if she thinks these movies have a positive or adverse effect on children. Before she can answer, Robert Englund pops out as Freddy and whores himself out to the crowd while they chant his name like he is a hero. Apparently, according to the fantastic documentary, that scene was based on something that happened to Wes Craven and Robert Englund. Amazing to think that even back during the first movie Freddy already had an effect on us as a society.

Reason 2: True Freddy Comes Back

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Some may argue with me on this. I remember not minding the funny Freddy when I was a kid watching the series. Now it annoys me. There are scenes where Freddy is selling me a power glove from Natendio and making graphics jokes.  I felt Freddy’s change from a scary force to funny, sarcastic killer was a huge negative as the series went on.  I liked the idea of a few sarcastic lines but dark lines. Like, “Welcome to Prime Time Bitch” or “This is God.” Those were good lines. The worst lines for me? “We’re playing with Power Now” or “You’ve got the body, I’ve got the brain.”

In the New Nightmare, a darker, scarier and quieter Freddy is present.  His words are chosen carefully and aren’t there to just make someone laugh. They are there to scare, intimidate and rethink the love you may have had for him in the past.  I look at this as the true Freddy. The Freddy Wes Craven envisioned.  I’m seriously scared of this Freddy, and I want to be afraid of Freddy. Not amused. This film does that beautifully.

Reason Three: A True Love Letter to the Series

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I look at this movie as Wes Craven final word on Freddy. This is what he sees Freddy as and his cast of characters from the first film. This is like a wrap up in a sense. For Freddy to be truly vanquished, we needed to come home to Elm Street. One of my favorite moments that felt like a big kiss from Wes Craven was the scene between him and Heather. They discussed the movie, what both have been going through and he asks her if she could, “play Nancy one last time.” It still gives me chills.

Since everyone was playing themselves and then ultimately their characters it was fun to see everyone on screen again. You see this during the funeral scene.  A lot of actors and actresses from all the films are in this scene. Almost like a family reunion including the portrayer of Freddy himself.

I take this film as the final say on who Freddy truly is and who the real heroes are in this horrible nightmare.

I like to watch the first, third and New Nightmare in a row. Believe it or not, it works as a cohesive storyline.  A fascinating look at one Elm Street kid and how she truly should have been the last elm street kid to take Freddy down. This story is fun, exciting and makes you wonder how far these fictional characters have gotten into our heads.

I will always recommend this series to others, and I hope you check out New Nightmare, and it gives it another chance. It is witty as well and gives great commentary on how our culture worships these villains on the screen.

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Until next time, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

In Defense Of: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

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Welcome back! Continuing with the Halloween theme for the month I will be talking about my favorite Halloween movie series. Just yesterday, I was talking about Halloween. This series is a true classic, but even true classics have their problems. A good amount of the fans of the Halloween series thinks that the third movie or Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the worst.

Halloween III, “focuses on an investigation by Challis and Grimbridge into the activities of Cochran, the mysterious owner of Silver Shamrock Novelties, in the week approaching Halloween night.”

I never had the pleasure of seeing Season of the Witch until I was much older, and AMC had their massive marathon. I even live-tweeted the event. After the movie was over, I came to one conclusion. It was not that bad. In fact, I enjoyed it.
So, I am here to defend Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

*Thunder Crashes in the Background*

Ok. Let us get started.

Original Story
Originally, the Halloween series was not meant to follow Michael Myers. It was supposed to be a different story set on Halloween. Stories about the horrors that await people on Halloween. They stuck with Michael Myers because he became more popular than expected.
I think this story was a nice break from Michael Myers. There is only so much you can do with a crazy killer. I am convinced that Michael Myers had that random mythology forced upon him because he was not meant to have a complicated backstory. He was supposed to be a killer after a family member. That is it.
With Season of the Witch, we get an original story. We get new characters. We get a new horror to worry ourselves silly over. It had a message. It was about corporate greed and how we as consumers are just as greedy. I believe it is more horrifying because you are less likely to run into a serial killer (God willing) but you will fall for corporations and be just as greedy as they are. It makes you think, and it is scary in its own way. I appreciate that in a horror story.

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Speaking of corporate greed the cornerstone of this movie is that damn commercial. Silver Shamrock is a big part of the plot and is scary. However, I will not lie. I want a mask of my own. It was smart of the story about corporations and the people who fall for companies tricks to have great advertising. The Silver Shamrock song is addicting and catchy. I am going to post it here, and I dare you not to get addicted!

Ambiguous Ending
With Michael Myers, they added that ending where he disappeared to make it more mysterious. That mystery is broken when he shows back up in the second film, though. This movie gets to have that strange ending. The end of the movie always makes me wonder if those guys managed to stop the commercial in time. We don’t know as an audience, and it drives me nuts. I will not lie, but I am convinced they didn’t. It was a dreadful night for thousands of parents.
That made the story even more fun to watch for me. If the series did manage to do the anthology angle, and Michael Myers went missing, I think that would have made the movie perfect. Knowing Michael Myers was still out there would drive me crazy. After all the movies, I have seen of Halloween; I am not as scared of Michael Myers anymore.
I am afraid of the unknown. It is unknown if the commercial was stopped which makes it ten times better.

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Many do not love Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but I enjoyed it. At some point, AMC will air that movie, and I enjoy the ride every time. Until then I will look for a pumpkin mask and wait for Sliver Shamrock to play on my television screen again.
Stick around because next week I jump into another Wes Craven series, Scream.

Until then, the randomness has ended. I hope you enjoyed.

Why the First Scream is Always the Best Scream

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Welcome back to Scream week here on the randomness! I went through the Scream series as a whole yesterday, but I’m sure you noticed something important. I was kind of leaning towards the first Scream than the last installment.  This is because I am a fan of the first three (the ones from my teenage years) than the fourth movie and television series (my late twenties). The last two aren’t the worst or the best, I just never got around to checking them out. I figured it wasn’t the best since most movie marathons for Scream leave out the fourth installment. Same goes for the television show. I’m too old for MTV (I’m pushing it watching Catfish each week) and it wasn’t loved by fans.

Long disclaimer. Sorry. So, I will be giving three reasons why the original is the best Scream.  Why three reasons? I can talk about this all day but no one has time for that.

Let us begin!

Characters

Each of the characters in Scream does fill a certain requirement. We have the promiscuous one; we have the innocent (final girl), sweet boyfriend, nerd, and jock. What I do like about these characters are that they are more than that label. They are highly aware of where they stand, but they had more going on than just fulfilling a stereotype.

As an example. The innocent or final girl Sydney is more than just the final survivor (even though she technically isn’t…shhh).  From the beginning, she was resourceful and knew more about the world than people expected. She does not trust her instincts in the beginning, but she sure does by the end. She is not just someone we can root for she is someone we can watch grow. She learns how to trust herself and her instincts.

I will not lie. Randy (the nerd) is my favorite character. He is the one to go through the horror rules and spells out where we, the audience, are in the horror movie formula.  I think I like him the most because that was me as a teenager. I was (ok..am) a movie nerd.  Trying to find the pattern in my life and relate it to movies. I do not do that anymore…yeah…oh god.

Building of the Plot

The plot is not something to write home about. It centers about teenagers paying for their parents past mistakes. The final kills and revels happen at a teenage house party. What does truly do love about the plot is the suspense. After the first kill in the movie, it slows down. It introduces the characters and slowly builds the tension. There are little outlets of pressure let out here and there but by the time you get to the final house party scenes, the tension explodes in spectacular ways. You, as a viewer, are moving through the story with the characters instead of the killer. You are just as confused and lost as they are. When they get a new piece of information, you do. You are along for the ride with them. When the tension builds in that small town and within the characters, you feel it. I LOVE that. One complaint I have about many horror films is the lack of tension. There is tension being built in scenes where the killer is not even around. In other horror films, the tension only shows up when you hear a noise or see the victim through the killer’s eyes.

Scream does more than that.

Different Horror Generation

Much like other Wes Craven films and Kevin Williamson’s writings, there is an underlining commentary in their work. This time, it is about how teenagers are more aware of their world than adults think they are. They are sarcastic and engulfed in pop culture. The ‘in jokes’ on horror are funny but in real life that is how my friends and I talked. Even now I will make references to movies when something weird happens in my life.

The movie is also a commentary on how desensitized we are to violence now. Compared to the heyday of horror, people are not as grossed out or as easily scared. It takes a long time for many of the characters to become scared. There is a character named Tatum that mocks the killer. It was meant to be slightly tongue and cheek, but it shows that it will take a lot more to scare us as an audience. Is that a good thing or is that the worst thing that could have happened to us in society? The movie obviously doesn’t answer that, but I like to think about that question when something horrible happens.

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That is why Scream is one of my favorites in the series.  I won’t lie, the second and third aren’t bad but nothing beats the original run of Sydney and the Ghost-face killer.

Stick around because next week we will be talking about some real horror.

The Investigation Discovery Channel.

Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

Do You Like Scary Movies? (A Look at the Scream Series )

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It is beginning to look a lot like Halloween here on the Randomness! Let us continue with another franchise that I love to pop in when the weather starts to change, and we think about what goes bump in the night.
He sees you when you are sleeping. He stabs when you are awake…Scream if you can!

What can I tell you? I am a bit of a Wes Craven fangirl. Scream is a series that became popular when I just in the fourth grade but rose to prominence when hit the slumber party circuit. I remember being scared (I scare easily people) but I was still drawn to the series. Much like my other favorite series by Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street), there is more to the characters and story than their stereotypes.

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Let me slow down. Let me talk about the series as a whole. Scream was written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The first film premiered in December 1996 and was a huge hit. Why wouldn’t it be? The guy from Dawson’s Creek, Freddy’s creator and the Weinstein’s were a part of the project. From there were three more films released and a television series for MTV following new characters. According to one article, the series became notable because of its use of recognizable actors. That was unheard of and has become a big part of Screams success.
The series follows Sidney Prescott and her friends in Woodsboro as a mysterious “Ghost Face” stalks and kills each one of them off. In the mix are Gale Weathers (new reporter) and Dewey Riley (deputy sheriff). It is a bit traditional slasher mixed in with some comedy.

That is why I think I truly enjoy the series. I liked that the characters were relatable. They knew pop culture and knew the horror genre. By the time, these movies were made the whole horror genre was oversaturated with the same type of movie. Of course, these characters would be highly aware of that horror genre and the formulaic way movies would run. It is almost a commentary on how much the slasher/horror genre has permeated society as a whole. Teenagers are not so stupid anymore. They aren’t running into woods just because they can. They aren’t falling so easily. They are highly aware of the horrors life can bring. I also found myself rooting for them to live and not die. I hate to admit it but after the eight Jason movies, I have watched in my life, I was rooting for characters to die. With this movie, I cared which is rare for horror films.

What I liked was how Scream tried to make fun of the formula of horror films. By this time, there was a formula being used by all studios, and oddly enough it worked. However, by the 90s it was getting old. I think Scream was so interesting because they recognized that there was a formula (through the character Randy). The characters don’t give it much credence because horror movies don’t happen in real life…right? I liked Williamson and Craven both knew and treated the audience like they weren’t stupid. One thing that bothers me about some horror genre films is how the audience is treated like they are stupid. By this point, audiences were in the know, and this film series treated them well.
This series tried to change the way people look at horror films. I do not know if everyone was enamored with the series, but I knew I was. I was interested in how Sydney was going to get out of each dangerous situation and who was going to make it next.

Stick around because tomorrow I talk about my favorite in the series, the first Scream and why it deserves a look every October.

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Until then the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street Dream Warriors

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Welcome back! This month I will be talking about the horror movies that I watched growing up and loved to this day. Yes, even me, someone who was scared of Chuckie from Child’s Play, have favorite horror film franchises. First up?

Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street Dream Warriors

If you do not know about The Nightmare on Elm Street series, here is a general overview. Groups of friends keep having nightmares about a man who is burned, wearing a green/red sweater and claw glove. Soon, those dreams are becoming a reality, and slowly each kid starts to die in their sleep. This man was Freddy Krueger, and this group of kids was only the beginning.

I saw the first movie of this franchise when I was 12 years old.  I had a slumber party, and someone brought the film with them. That was a requirement when you came to my house. Must bring one movie of your choosing. The movie scared the crap out of me, but it stayed with me.  Even though I was scared, I went looking for the other movies to watch on my own time. There are a few movies that I have not seen since my original watch through, Nightmare 2: Freddy’s Revenge comes to mind. Some I look at every year in October like a favorite Christmas movie, Nightmare 1,3 and 7 for instance.  This series has stayed with me because it aged well enough that I now pick up on the issues being discussed. Makes this series go from being just scary for kids and teenagers to a look at societies woes as an adult.

Let me preface this by saying that I am talking about the Wes Craven/Nancy run of movies. I’m not a fan of the series when it killed off the last of the Elm Street kids.  Like Wes Craven said in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, there is no coherent storyline when it comes to this series. Too many hands in the pot. So, I will be talking about my love for the movies where I feel Freddy was dealing with a true nemesis or hero of the story, Nancy Thompson.

Why do you like this series so much?

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I think the reason I love this series so much is that it was not just some slasher flick. So many slasher flicks out there have a killer just killing for the hell of it. This set of movies had a purpose and a message for each film.  The production team did not rely on the typical morality tale that is throughout most 80’s slasher films. You know, the virgin is the final girl while the ‘slut’ falls on nothing and is dead instantly. It is dehumanizing actually. I love that all the characters in this series are flawed in little ways. Even Freddy’s true nemesis, Nancy has flaws that usually would make her dead meat in any other film.

Nancy and Freddy: Heaven and Hell Personified

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Speaking of Nancy Thompson, she is one of my favorite final girls. Yes, I know she dies in the third movie but let’s not kid ourselves. In my head, even in death, she tormented Freddy Krueger. Without that, New Nightmare would not have had the impact it had on fans of the series (more on that soon).  I think she is truly my favorite final girl because of how she ultimately dismisses Freddy in the first film. It was a stabbing or shotgun blast to the head. No. It was a speech about how she takes all the power she ever gave to him away. Without that fear for him to feed off of he has no authority to hurt her in her real or dream life.  It doesn’t end violently she just walks away, and he is gone. If this were the only movie to exist with this villain, I would have been satisfied. Nancy as a character was relatable and was the only one to try to make a plan. She did her research, she figured out what the parents of Elm Street did and came up with a scheme to end the madness. While her friends/boyfriend just dismissed the notion of a dream killer, she knew better. It was nice seeing a final girl have some gumption and earn the final girl spot. She didn’t stumble into it because she obtained from sex. Please. That is a stupid requirement.

Continuing with characters there is a reason Freddy Krueger is one of my favorite horror movie icons. He is truly terrifying. He isn’t a physical force. He is in your head. He is in your dreams. That is truly screwed up. Freddy Krueger isn’t just running around attacking in the dead of night. Freddy is in your dreams and can attack you when you fall asleep. Your most vulnerable. That includes the brightest hours of the day. Even worse, Freddy knows all your deepest darkest fears. The things that you place deep down into your subconscious Freddy will bring to light. While being chased by a knife-wielding maniac with nothing to lose is scary so is someone who will never truly go away presenting your deepest fears to you. Freddy is already dead.  There is no real way of getting rid of him. That is a lot scarier to me as a kid because I had some gnarly nightmares growing up. If I can have that scary of nightmares, who knows if it wasn’t a mysterious force directing them? It felt more plausible than a scary knife-wielding maniac. Though, now, it is possible that I die at the hands of a manic the way the world is today.

The Ideas and Issues That Run Through Elm Street

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I guess what I am saying is these films have staying power because the ideas behind them never age. They do not get laughable with age like all the 80’s clothing and pop culture tidbits that are scattered around. The idea that sometimes to end the nightmare you need to stop giving power to the person or situation. Easier said than done. I noticed issues like the generational gap between child and parent, eating disorders, abortion, alcoholism and teenage fads and consumerism. Freddy and the various character react to these issues that were plaguing the 80’s, and I can guarantee they still plague this current generation as well. The movies were not coming right out with it, but these ideas and issues were in the Elm Street movies and did jump out at me once I was much older.

So, my gushing is getting out of hand here. I think I will always hold this series or franchise in high regard.  It has so much going for it than just some slasher film (not that I hate the typical slasher film…more on that soon).  It had strong messages that went beyond just appealing to the 80’s mindset. Even today, a lot of the issues and ideas presented in these films get people thinking and debating. That is the mark of a good movie in my book.

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Stick around because coming up I will be defending my absolute favorite installment in the Nightmare series. I feel it is underrated and deserves more credit.  Tomorrow I will be supporting New Nightmare or Nightmare 7.

Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

Tales from my Childhood: The Chuckie Diaries or Why I Stopped Being Worried by Horror Films and Now Enjoy Them

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Welcome back to the randomness my dear friends! I want to tell you a story.

I was about six years old. One of my favorite things to do was go to Blockbuster to rent some movies with my family. I would be completely overwhelmed by all the choices and all the movies that I haven’t seen yet. I would wander the aisle in amazement of the choices. However, one fateful trip to Blockbuster put me face to face with an evil I have never seen before.

Chuckie. Blockbuster, back in the 90s, would put posters up around the store. At some point in October, they put up a Childs Play poster that faced the doors. I walked in with my family like normal and my eyes went right to it. That doll face scared and his smile skewed with an emotion I have never felt before. The poster was simple, but something about it scared me to my core. I refused to go into the store, my mom sitting in the car with me while my dad rented movies for the weekend. I refused to go into that store until they took down the poster for the Christmas holidays.

Since then I have seen the Child’s Play movies and laugh at my weird reaction to that poster. Those movies are terrible. They aren’t scary, but something about that poster evoked a feeling I didn’t understand or want to understand. Something about that poster brought out something that even humanity doesn’t want to think about.

Horror films do that to us. Well, most of us. Some are just weird and find horror movies (even the genuine dark horror) funny. Regardless, horror movies make us face something that we don’t want to. The dark side of humanity. When something goes wrong with the human race.

I didn’t want to face that feeling at the tender age of six but as I got older, I got less afraid of embracing that feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big scary cat when it comes to horror films. It is easier for me to analyze a horror film than just sit and enjoy. I have to rationalize the story to truly enjoy it.

I guess that is one reason why I have started to like horror. Some just enjoy looking at that side of humanity. Some just enjoy horror ironically. Some actually look at the story as a morality tale. There are a lot of documentaries on the subject that look deeply into horror films with the people who made the genre famous.  Never Sleep Again and Fall to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film come to mind and are available online.

Either way, we as a society enjoy watching horror play out in front of us. Maybe because we know it is fake. We know that the likelihood of that happening to us is very slim (unless you are a fan of the Investigation Discovery channel like me). Maybe we just like to feel scared.

For the next month, I will be looking at my favorite horror film franchises, why they are truly great at making us scared and defending a few films from those franchises. I WILL make all of you love Halloween 3: Season of the Witch if it kills me.

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Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.