Why I love scary books and movies

Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t. ~ The Daily Post

If you’ve followed me on any social media outlet for any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that I love Stephen King (I recently went on a King pinning spree … sorry, guys).

I have a vacation in my mind where I fly into Maine, rent a car, and spend two weeks meandering toward Florida, stopping when I feel like it. My first stop would be a drive-by of King’s home. Because LOOK AT IT.

You may have picked up on the fact that I adore scary movies. “The Twilight Zone” is one of my favorite television shows of all time, and no New Years Day is complete without watching Syfy’s “Twilight Zone” marathon for anywhere from one to seven hours.

My favorite kind of “scary” is not blood and gore and creeps with chainsaws. Movies might make me jump when the piano sounds the chords after your heroine closes the refrigerator door to have the scary burglar standing behind it is NOT the stuff real fear is made of. No, I prefer the inexplicable. I don’t believe in demons, ghosts, or aliens, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a scarier flick than “The Exorcist,” “Paranormal Activity” or “The Fourth Kind.”

I watched this for the first time with my bestie when we were in high school. She went home and told her younger siblings about it, scaring them so much that her family created an Exorcist jar, where you had to put money if you said the E-word.

Now, despite my degree in newspaper journalism and eight years in the profession, I hate the news. I don’t watch it. It’s too depressing to watch about kiddie rape, kidnappings, murders and all the assorted fun you can find on the 10 o’clock news. It leaves me feeling helpless and more than a little sick in my gut. So I don’t watch. Because why do I need to know that another hundred people have died in a third-world country from hunger? I can send my checks to buy some food, but and it’ll make a tiny difference, but really, those people are still going to starve to death. And sure, knowledge is power, but frankly, I don’t need that much power all up in my face, reminding me that the world can fucking suck.

This is my apology for that creepyass picture of Regan from “The Exorcist” up there. See. Puppyface.

I’m a pretty empathetic person. One of the myriad reasons I don’t ever want to live in a major city is that I’d be poor; I’d want to give money to every homeless person I see, buying him or her a Dunkin Donuts sandwich (why do homeless people always hangout at Dunkin in Chicago?). I can’t pass someone going through this without tearing up, so I do the face-to-the-ground, I-can’t-see-you walk, which makes me feel like an ass. I don’t want to be that person. But I can’t be the person who walks around with her wallet in her hand, money compartment unzipped, either. So I avoid it.

And yet, when Stephen King tells me about a group of vampire-like individuals who feed off the stuff released when they torture children who have the shining, like Danny Torrence had in “The Shining,” I eat that shit up (“Doctor Sleep”). When a group of kids can band together to fight an evil, otherworldly force that sometimes takes the shape of a clown, that’s the damn best book I’ve ever read in my life (“It”). When a man wakes up with horns and finds that he is gaining the powers of the devil, I wish I had an English class to talk it over with me (“Horns,” not King, but his son, Joe Hill).

These stories are an escape. They can completely absorb my mind and transport me into a different when and where. Not that I need transporting–I love my life– but reading to lose yourself is delicious. Hours that feel like minutes due to a book is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Holding my hands over my ears during the scary parts of a movie (yes, over my ears, not my eyes — it’s the music that makes me jump more than the visual “boo!”) is fun for me.

A friend recently told me I’m the most harmless person she knows, in that I’m friendly, nice, easy to talk to and all sorts of other sweet things to say about a person. But I adore “American Horror Story” and “The Conjuring,” which maybe doesn’t fit with a girl who collects Donald Ducks and has a growing affinity for chickens in her kitchen. Maybe it’s a contradiction, but maybe not.

All I know is, these scary books and movies and television shows — these good stories — are part of the reason I love life so much.



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