Halloween is a time to embrace the spooky, the creepy, the frightening that Hollywood's most twisted minds have to offer. But what if you, like me, are a big fucking wimp about all things horror?
I'm not afraid of many things that I encounter in my daily life; I have no problem talking to strangers or asking for things or talking in front of large groups, I'm recreational long distance runner and thus I'm not afraid of physical pain, I walk home by myself at night in the city without fear, I volunteer with dogs at an animal shelter that could probably rip my face off if they wanted to (and I have the dog bite scar across my stomach to prove it), and they don't scare me either. What does scare me is a bunch of actors in makeup acting like monsters or murderers or possessed little girls or, I don't know, The Lollipop Guild. It's really out of hand. Real things don't scare me. Fake things do.
On a normal day, my embarrassing inability to process artificially provoked fear doesn't impair my ability to enjoy life, but, as Halloween approaches, it becomes more and more difficult for me to go anywhere without being faced with some stupid terrifying horror movie poster that makes me almost shit my pants. Bars start playing soundless horror movies while the establishment's regular music plays and I have to avert my eyes. TV commercial breaks are punctuated with unannounced flashes of horror movie previews. Coworkers forward those stupid "scary" emails that cause me to shriek in my desk chair, which causes people to laugh at me, which causes me to want to not hang out with them, ever.
I've always been this way, but I partially blame my sheltered upbringing and weak stomach for my adult inability to handle scary things. I never had to. My parents meant well; they wanted me to enjoy my childhood and didn't want me to have to grow up too fast. I understand this, but the tradeoff was that, as a result of their efforts, when I attended my first boy/girl party in 7th grade and someone popped House IV in the VCR, the night ended with me locked in the bathroom in hysterical tears.
It's a hand! An alive evil hand! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!
I couldn't sleep for weeks.
That experience put me off horror films for the next few years. I'd avoid situations that would find me in front of a screen where fright would be dramatized. Like the time I told my friends that I couldn't see The Blair Witch Project because it was "against my religion" (Uh, Catholic). Or the time in high school when my cross country team casually suggested we watch The Sixth Sense, and I kept getting up and leaving the room whenever I felt like something scary might happen. Embarrassing!
One summer, I did service work in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and my host mother insisted that The Shining wasn't scary and that we should bond over the shared experience of watching it. While I was able to successfully not cry or throw up during the film, I blame Jack Nicholson for the residual terror I felt while driving through Colorado several weeks later. To review: a movie. Made me afraid. Of the state. Of Colorado. That was 8 years ago, and after that, I gave up trying to overcome my irrational aversion for the horror genre.
While I count Halloween among my favorite holidays, I'll never be able to stomach any "scary" film more intense than Hocus Pocus. I've accepted this. I'm sure I'm not the only one with a comically weak stomach for horror, but it sure feels like it this time of year.
Image via Lane V. Anderson / Shuttershock.