Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wimpy Activity

I am a huge wimp.

Let me rephrase that. I am a huge wimp when it comes to all things scary.
Growing up, this was especially true of horror movies. This phobia was particularly difficult seeing as I came of age in the 80s, the decade that birthed the modern horror flick. My friends saw just about every one. So naturally, despite me never having seen any of them, I knew all of the grizzly details.

I was 10 years old when I saw Poltergeist on cable. Even though I knew in advance nearly every scare, and even though it was a sunny Saturday morning when it was on, that movie had a profound effect on me. I tied a rope around the doorknobs of my closet for over a year after.

During horror movie nights at summer camp, I would be forced to spend the evening hanging out with the kids who were “docked”—a suspension of sorts for campers who had gotten in trouble that day and were not allowed to participate in that evening’s activity. When my bunkmates returned I was subjected to mockery while they spent the rest of the evening talking about all the gruesome scenes they had earlier witnessed in The Thing or Creepshow.

Only a handful of my closest friends knew of my fears and I tried very hard to keep it that way. This was not always easy to do. One weekend night in junior high there was a screening of Aliens at the house of a girl I kind of liked. As we gathered around the TV, I purposely positioned myself in a corner that had an obstructed view of the screen. I sat there trying not to listen and wishing for time to accelerate when somebody popped up behind the couch and screamed “boo.” Weather or not, this was actually intended for me will forever remain a mystery. Instinct took over and before I knew it I had leapt over the couch. My next memory is that the lights were turned on and I was sitting on top a guy whose head I had pushed through the drywall. To call the aftermath mortifying is an injustice to that word.

Now that I’m an adult, and a movie geek, I’ve shed a lot of my fears about horror movies. I’ve seen a handful of them and for the most part, have emerged unscathed. I can openly and honestly admit my wimpish tendencies.

There is a movie out right now called Paranormal Activity. Over the past few weeks, it has been shown to sold out audiences at midnight screenings. It is fast becoming a phenomenon, similar to The Blair Witch Project of a decade ago. I don’t usually listen to platitudes, but Paranormal Activity is being called one of the scariest movies ever. Like Poltergeist, it takes place in a regular suburban home. I have heard it’s the kind of flick that creeps the skin and haunts you long after you’ve left the theater.

As a fanboy, I am compelled to see it. But as a wimp, I’m afraid. Most of the time, I go to movies by myself. Nearly all of the time, I see them at night. After the movie is over, I would have to walk alone through a subterranean parking garage to my car and arrive at a darkened house where everyone is sleeping.

Total. Wimp.

I am not the type to miss out on a pop culture phenomenon, but in this case I’m afraid that I may have to make an exception.

12 comments:

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I saw Fire Starter with Drew Barrymore at a slumber party when I was about 9 and I was the only one who stayed awake (and had NO idea how to turn the movie OFF). I was scared beyond belief for years. Not to mention my father was a firefighter for 30 plus years. When I have nightmares it's about fires.

My sister and I went with a neighbor lady to see one of the Jason movies when I was ten and I was so scared I had to sit in the lobby. I've never liked horror movies and I'm more than happy to miss out on pop anything if it includes one of them.

Eric said...

Its crazy how our parents let us watch these horror movies when we were pre-teens..

I'm intrigued by PA, but the wife is pregnant and unless I want to induce early labor. It's waiting for DVD.

ZenMom said...

I'm in the same boat - but I think people cut me a little more slack because I'm, you know, a girl. ;P

You know I love scifi movies, action movies, and a very small handful of whatcha might call "scary movies". Mostly older ones. None of the modern stuff.

But I will not - cannot - watch most "horror" movies.

I. FREAK. OUT.

I did go see Zombieland - and I actually liked it! But I'm going to have to take a pass on Paranormal Activity. I still haven't forgiven the person who made me watch Blair Witch.

If you do go - Take a friend!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Andrea...I have had my share of being in the lobby of movie theaters recovering from a freak out. Like the time I saw my first red band trailer for An American Werewolf in London? It freaked my head off.

Eric...Oh my parents didn't let me watch the movie. I watched it when they were still sleeping.

ZenMom...See, Zombieland didn't freak me out cause it's so over the top and it's a comedy. It's the real stuff that gets me.

Floor Pie said...

High-five from a fellow wimp! Poltergeist freaks my sh*t out to this day. (I got my first-ever period while sneaking it on cable when I was home alone, which makes it extra creepy somehow.) I can barely even make it through the "Family Guy" parody. Although recently I've developed a theory that Poltergeist is really just an allegory of homebuyer's remorse.

Do your kids share your aversion to scary movies or not? My kids are 5 and 2 and they are into all this spooky Halloween stuff that gives me some serious boo-boo jeebies. That's what happens when you live down the street from Archie McPhee, I guess.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Floor Pie...As an adult, Poltergeist sure works as an allegory for buyer's remorse. But as a kid...it preys upon every scary thing out there: the clown, the thing in your closet, the tree outside...!

And you live down the street from Archie McPhee???? Coooool!

Lady Mama said...

Okay well, if you're a wimp, that makes me, um, a super-wimp? I avoid horror movies - anything remotely scary and I won't sleep that night. I remember watching one of the Freddie Cruger movies when I was about 8 (at a friend with lenient parent's house) - and I remember being pretty horrified.

dadshouse said...

I love scary movies! I'll even watch them by myself when my kids are at their mom's house. Scary stuff? Bring it! It's just a movie.

My son is like me. My teen daughter is like you. (Ha. Sorry.)

Daddy Geek Boy said...

(A silent tear runs down Daddy Geek Boy's cheek)

wendy said...

I..Can...Not....watch scarry movies. Gives me nightmares forever.
I have enough "imagination" of slasher dudes and blood sucking spiders, that I don't need any help from the movie industry.

Power to the Wimps

Beth said...

DGB, I am *just* like you. I accidentally saw Poltergeist with a friend when I was about 12 (I had no idea what a poltergeist was). I didn't sleep well for days.

Last Halloween, at the tender age of 39, I caught a few minutes of E channel's scariest movie countdown. I saw a 20 second clip of The Exorcist (which I of course have scrupulously avoided my whole life) and had nightmares from that. Srsly.

My kids are just like me. I think my husband (who loves horror movies, especially zombie ones) wants a do-over. :)

Mommy Monster

Vancetastic said...

If you still haven't seen it and the wife does not make it a priority to see it (not sure about that one yet), I'll go with you. Actually, the wife could come as well, but that would interrupt our date, DGB.