I watch a lot of horror movies. I am particularly fond of giallo but I love B horrors. A good old fashioned slasher is usually good fluff while the recent trend of more methodical movies like The Witch have been a nice change of pace. You cannot go wrong with body horror (though I would suggest avoiding the body melt). And when all else fails, you can rely on a good old fashioned haunted house or ghost story.
As I have become older, I have grown into horror. The first time I saw a scary movie (it was either A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th Part 3), I did not like it. A part of the reason was because I was a frightened child, but I also found them to be silly. Yes, there was lots of blood and the big bads were spooky, but I just could not get into them. I was too young to care about story or character development, but they just did not appeal to me.
I have written in the past about how tape trading was a huge part of my wrestling fandom. But before there were wrestling tapes to exchange, there were hidden horror movies. I would go to the swap market with my mom and sister. There were plenty of vendors with video cassettes. It was not long before I found out some of them had more movies hidden away.
These movies were usually something called “Video Nasties” and I had to have them. Why the sudden turnaround? What made them different from the horror movies that I had already decided I did not like? I wanted to see them because I was not supposed to. Most parents did not allow their kids to see scary movies. Video Nasties were banned by entire countries. How could I not watch them?
I sought out the best of the worst. This led to truly terrifying movies and gave me a deeper appreciation of the genre as a whole. When I went back and watched the movies I was not impressed with before, it was with more experienced eyes. While they were not necessarily better, I could also see what the films were trying to do and where they were born from.
This was when I first realized how strong the horror community is. In today’s digital age people put together groups on Facebook dedicated to musicals or online watch parties. It does not seem like a big deal that a bunch of strangers with similar tastes got together to share what they had. But before the Internet made our world a smaller place, it was cool to find a horror “underground”.
A person could find whatever they were looking for and movies they had never even heard of. Unlike many of today’s gaming communities that have a high barrier of entry, horror fans would welcome everyone with open arms. They would toss around suggestions and tell you what to avoid. Since there are so many sub genres, a newbie would be pointed in the right direction to cultivate their tastes. It was just as tight as the wrestling tape trading circles I frequented.
Over the years, I began to gravitate to horror fans. It was not my favorite genre and I did not go looking for them; it just kind of ended up that way. One of my closest friends in high school loved the Evil Dead franchise. My wife loves Hammer films and Sleepaway Camp. One of the hosts from our film podcast Adventures in Movies! is a self described Halloween person. There has yet to be an episode where Blake has not been able to squeeze in a scary movie reference.
Which leads me to the Sundance Film Festival. Along with some amazing documentaries and impressive narrative films, the Festival had midnight screenings that showcased some great horror films. It was at one of these screenings that I realized how great horror fans are. At the end of the first weekend, it was snowing hard. Ice covered the ground and it walking the streets was dangerous and crowded. Each screening that day was especially dreary and quiet.
Indonesian horror movie Impetigore premiered amongst all this. Even under the best conditions, the Sundance screenings tended to be serious affairs that saw little reaction from the crowd. I was ruing how quiet the audience would be for Joko Anwar’s film. Instead, the crowd went wild when the title screen went up. They cheered each actor and company involved with the film. It was as if it were the first showing of the entire festival. It all brought a smile to my tired face.
I have talked often about the importance of the movie going experience. The single best thing about going to a movie theater can be the audience. It can make a good film that much better and a bad film fun. Recent experience has shown me that it does not have to be a certain theater or genre; this experience can be found at any time. But the only time you can count on it happening is at a horror movie.