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Why Horror is Good for You

Munchscream1 Matt’s recent post on Frankenstein Conquers the World has got me thinking about a topic that pops into my head with some regularity these days:

Why being a horror movie fan is good for you.

Needless to say I’m preaching to the choir writing on this topic in a place like this, but all the same, I think it’s important to point out that being fixated with horror movies doesn’t necessarily make you a moron. In fact, it’s conducive to depth – to being a more thoughtful and well-rounded person.

Why? Here are two reasons.

Reason 1): Horror movie fans are more in touch with the realities of life.

For anyone who hasn’t noticed, the world is a terrifying place. Horrible stuff happens all the time. As Nobel-Prize-winning psychologist Ernest Becker put it in his book The Denial of Death: “Man is reluctant to move out into the overwhelmingness of his world, the real dangers of it; he shrinks back from losing himself in the all-consuming appetites of others, from spinning out of control in the clutchings and clawings of men, beasts and machines. As an animal organism man senses the kind of planet he has been put down on, the nightmarish, demonic frenzy in which nature has unleashed billions of individual organismic appetites of all kinds — not to mention earthquakes, meteors, hurricanes, which seem to have their own hellish appetites. Life can suck one up, sap his energies, submerge him, take away his self-control… Above all there is the danger of a slip-up, an accident, a chance disease, and of course death, the final sucking-up, the total submergence and negation.”

Got that? So anyone who tells you you’re wasting your time watching horror movies just isn’t in touch with what life is really all about.

Reason 2) Horror movies keep you in touch with your childhood.

This is where Frankenstein Conquers the World comes in. I haven’t seen FCtW in a little over 35 years, but when Amazon delivers my DVD copy of it next week, I’ll have a chance to re-visit my childhood psyche in a way that non-horror movie fans would have a hard time equaling. When I originally saw this movie, I saw it as a seven-year-old who took it all completely seriously. Frankenstein really was a giant Japanese teenager, and he really was conquering the world. So present was I, psychologically, for that first viewing, that when I watch the movie again now, I know (because it’s happened a number of times before with other movies) that there will be moments in the movie in which I’ll suddenly BE seven years old again. This kind of Proustian re-visiting of one’s childhood self can happen in all kinds of other ways, of course. But there’s an intensity in visiting a favorite horror movie seen very young that fans of other movies – musicals, etc – just can’t equal.

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