How Frightened Can You Get?

by barbarab

This article will explore not only a few movies that frighten us, but the probability of one specific thing that is able to scare us with just the thought of it!

Were You Prepared For the Scare of Your Life?

Or, what did it take to frighten you senseless?

It is wonderful to be a baby boomer! As a baby boomer, I got to see all the best scary movies right when they were first born! Do you think it strange that a baby boomer would write, much less think, that last sentence?

Do you think it strange that a baby boomer would use such terrible grammar to describe the experience? Well, it is all part of the ambience so hold your britches!

It is true though. Scary movies in the 1950's and 1960's really did seem to come to Life, as if the birth of them occurred as the white screen was still wobbling from being pulled down from the ceiling and the sound of the film clacking on the reel first began.

Couple that with the way movies were shown and you have the mixings of a true Rosemarys Baby...wait...I am getting ahead of myself aren't I? Went nearly fourteen years and into the color realm!
Sorry, back up a decade or so.

First of all, the "devil is in the details" after all so let us set the stage!

Imagine a huge movie theatre that only showed ONE movie and it played for an entire week. A movie palace, with two balconies, red, plush carpet, thick deep seated chairs that were fit only for the tallest of your group; short people had to perch on the edge of their seats for the entire show. Perhaps that is where the term came from; do you think? "This movie will have you perched on the edge of your seat!" Well, perhaps not.

This theatre has ushers, not the singing kind, that masqueraded as high school students when the movie house was shut. The ushers carried flashlights to shine in unsuspecting couples faces or they were so polite and showed you to your seat if you came in late to the show. Ushers were unpredictable, you never knew which direction their flashlights would take them!

Theatres with a room above all the chairs and movie goers, with a film projector, a reel to reel projector often prone to overheating and then...the film would break! Which led to interminable waits until the master of projectors spliced it back together! Remember sitting in the tippy top balcony, right beneath the projector because there were no other available seats? You could smell the glue used for splicing, the cigarette smoke would pour out of the little window, you could hear muffled talk from the projectionist but above all that would be the dull growl from the projector overriding all other sounds.

If you are really old, you can recall Saturday's spent inside the movie house from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon! All you needed was a pass from the nice ladies at the make up counter in Loveman's and you were in for free! If you did all your chores that week you even had a quarter to spend at the concession stand.

Why was it called a stand? The Alabama Theatre was ritzy. They didn't have a stand, they had a huge booth with a counter you could not see over! The only thing that stood was the popcorn maker and it was off to the side, red and yellow, it had four feet shaped like claws on the bottom, remember that?

What was the first movie you saw inside a movie theatre?

That isn't fair, exactly, especially if your first memories are of entire Saturdays spent inside the movie house. Ooops, showing my age there. Movie house instead of movie theatre.

The first things you watched were cartoons, then you had to listen to organ music. The organ rose out of the floor, music pouring up before it was even visible. No wonder the first thing I wanted to learn on the piano was Bach's "Tocatta in D!"  Then more cartoons and probably a talent show from one of the churches, yes churches were the only thing going on in the summer, cause let's face it,  kids were not in the movie house during the school year! The second round of organ music, the door prizes handed out, which really took a long time, more cartoons and finally, Finally!

The Feature Film!

Now, this baby boomer had to be prodded awake by her big sister by that time, the coca cola and popcorn and excitement having taken its toll, but the first movie I remeber watchingwas a scary movie.

Dracula with Boris Karloff. Who can say that was not a frightening movie? The very idea of an old guy sucking the blood out of you is enough to guarantee many sleepless nights for an elementary school kid! 

The Thing. Now that was a good movie! Black and white, grainy picture, a theatre house full of screaming kids and some-Thing in the snow and ice of a forlorn landscape! Ooooohhh makes me shiver just to remember it!

Remember Wolfman? I couldn't look at Paula, our dachsund, the same way again! What can I say, I was impressionable as a kid!

But of all the movies my sister and I watched in that wonderful place of dreams, the best one, the one our parents would have died if they'd known we seen it, was "The Haunting of Hill House."

What a truly magnificent movie. That terrifying movie lives in my memories as the best scary movie of all time. Not just a house, not just a dare to stay in the house, not just being alone, in the dark, where no one can hear you if you call for help, not just the help itself being out of the house by dark, they do not stay there after dark, no one stays in the house after dark...oh my, nothing presents itself in such a shiveringly real way as that run on sentence from the old housekeeper does it?

I bet I know your innermost fear that was derived from The Haunting of Hill House." Or rather, allow me to ask this question, do you sleep with your bedroom door open? Or shut?

Oh Land Sakes Alive As I Live and Breathe!

Do Not Close The Door!

The door will breathe!

"Who was holding my hand?"

See? Told you so! I can spot a fraidy cat a mile away!


Poor Movie Is So Old It Can Longer Be Found!

Never mind, let us delve into the deep psychosis/excuse me/pysche of what frightens us.

Everyone is different. Everyone intreprets what they see, hear, feel on different levels of their brain. What is a traumatic event to you may be nothing but a momentary bit of saddness to your sister or brother.The same is true for what frightens a person. Whether you believe it is a deep rooted ancestral fear or one from your earliest childhood, the things that go "bump in the night" are not the same from person to person.

There are many things that can cause fear in a movie. Music is the first thing that affects me no matter what type of movie I am watching. It is the fault of Bach, then Dracula, after all.

If you are not a baby boomer then, tell me what Da-Dumm, Da-Dumm, Da-Dumm reminds you of...right...Jaws. John Williams may not be a baby boomer but he certainly delivered a multitude of music scores designed to pin us to our seats, didn't he?

Once the music fades to pianissimo and the stage is set, the first ten minutes of any scary movie will either leave you sleeping crooked in your seat or wide eyed, mouth open, nails ripping at your cuticles afraid to move scared! The first ten minutes...Back to Jaws of course, and Night of the Living Dead perhaps? "Barbara, they're coming to get you Barbara!"

Wait another minute, what decade did I just drag everyone into? Rather rudely as well. The movies of the 1950's may have set the tone for scary movies but they were all cookie cutter were they not? One after another those movies were based on one stable theme. Imagination, not true, totally based on fiction, things that may frighten but would never turn out to be real.

"And then suddenly!" Sorry, not a scary movie but frightening in it's own way, "Sea Hunt" does not fit into this, nor any other, genre.

When the 1960's arrived not only did it bring color to the film, it dashed the big movie palaces as well, though it would take another decade for them to collapse. Given the basic outline for Horror, the movies evolved into many subtexts, different genres, yes, that word again. Horror alone was not enough. Now the watcher is free to choose what truly fightens them, from the occult, unatural nature, Goth, aliens and psychotic killers all lining up ready to perch! 

In the South, the flurry of movies dealing with religion and possession ran many a church goer under the bedcovers with a flashlight and the Bible, searching Revelations for a sign; or a good luck charm. Who does not recall a certain birthday party on a long stretch of grass and the camera panning rapidly to a figure on the balcony, "Damien! It's all for you, Damien!" Though that movie would not have been popular without Linda Blair, would it?

The next decade was a break from horror/scary movies, though Stephen King was writing furiously and preparing us for what was next to come. In the time after, Genertion X would rule the big screen and the imagination of writers grew. It grew so large that today's generation grew up rather jaded by it all. Nothing really scares them. In order to frighten, the movie must trick them into believing it was "based on fact" or "filmed on location during a seance" to even get a delicate shiver out of them. I watched with curiosity when "The Blair Witch Project" rose in popularity...couldn't the kids see it was all a con? On the other hand, "Silence of the Lambs" had me cowering and my kids were laughing the entire time! Go figure!

To start a list of what frightens us, let's start with a general list of ideas.

1) Buried alive.

2) Possession, unable to make our own decisions.

3) Ghosts that can harm us.

4) Inanimate objects with a power of their own.

5) Evil in the form of a mortal being, free to do whatever he or she wants to do to us.

6) Animals with evil agendas of their own.

7) Beings from another world, bent on our total destruction.

8) "The end of the world as we know it" with only a few random sane souls left to beat off the undead.

All of the above is good, pero es no enchilada grande, amiga.






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What If Our Fear's Became Reality?

How could we survive without the natural world?

I and many others spent our formative years learning to crouch and cover our heads under our school desks at the sound of a siren. We walked in single file down to the boiler room of our elementary schools, sure that would be the last sunlight we would see again. Strangely enough, as a child, it wasn't frightful, it was just the way it should be. No one knew better, we all did what we were told to do.

That may be the seed that grew into the overall fear of today. The fear that what we have done to one another and to our world will come to haunt (ha) us all one day.

It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature, after all.

That is why "The Day After Tomorrow" is truly scary. It describes destruction in scientific facts and teams it with special effects amazingly real to watch. Plus, for the baby boomer, there is an older parent whose child is in the path of destruction, so naturally, the parent swears to walk through Hell to bring him home. Let's see, Washinton, D.C to new York City is just a tad over 200 miles, in THE blizzard of all time, even at twenty miles a day would be 10 days, not 48 hours but hey... Hollywood!

It all ends well and why shouldn't it? We are the baby boomers! We never quit! We are the good guys and we always come out on top! Put us to the test, we will prevail!

All of the above I have believed with deep certainty...until this week.

This week an iceberg nearly "the size of Rhode Island" crashed into the the Artic sea. That happened on August 8, 2011. Was this the first such warning? Not in the least. My favourite scary movie was probably based on the extreme number of icebergs breaking off and cracks forming in the earth's crust over the past 25 years. In the movie, our neighboring country shelters us. Tell me true, is that a plausible ending in today's world?

Mankind has done so much to ruin the world, any alien of any worth has no wish to invade us; we have already invaded, and eaten, ourselves.


Updated: 08/10/2011, barbarab
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barbarab on 08/18/2011

I agree! but seems to me the ones we watched as kids were better than the ones today!

happynutritionist on 08/18/2011

I loved scary movies when growing up...they were nothing like the movies now which are REALLY scary and to me almost too much, but for their time, they kept us on the edge of our seats.

barbarab on 08/10/2011

thank you sidewalkphilosopher!! psycho was bad...but any of S Kings...gracious I read his work voraciously!! love king!!
now Anne Rice shes the one I wanted to put down and couldn't..The Witching Hour...the one and only book of hers I have read/she has a pull that no southern girl should be pulled into!!!
never have been able to watch the interview with the vampire either and I love vampire stories!!!
whew...but I had a good time writing this with the twist at the end like any good scary story :)

SidewalkPhilosopher on 08/10/2011

For me, Psycho in the 60s. Then, in the late 70s I read Stephen King's, The Shining...scared myself to death...I couldn't put it down and yet I was shaking. Crazy!! I can't watch the movie at all. And Thirteen Ghosts was pretty bad, too. I don't watch too many scary movies anymore because I spend too much time alone...I scare myself! :o}} Enjoyed the article!

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