Getting your scare on
It's Halloween season once again. I say "season" because advertisements for candies and costumes started in August and will continue to the end of October. In Oregon, Halloween also marks the real beginning of winter. Like clockwork, it starts raining on Oct. 31 and doesn't stop until May.
Halloween is supposed to be scary and this view is heavily aided and abetted by Hollywood. I don't watch scary movies as a rule, and can count the ones I remember on one hand. I remember them because they were horrifyingly unforgettable.
My list begins with the original "Dracula." This was a black and white film produced in 1931, starring the great Bela Lugosi. There have been many reincarnations of this story, but the original is the best. The cinematography does an impressive job of setting the mood, which is stark, dark and foreboding. There is no musical accompaniment in this version and the silent background lends a sense of you-are-there realism that is riveting. The film is eerie, provocative and hauntingly beautiful. Also, downright spine-chilling.
Next up on my list of truly memorable scary movies is 1982's "Poltergeist." This is the story of a suburban family whose house is haunted by poltergeists who take joy in creating havoc by moving furniture around and playing with the TV. The story is creepy and shocking and disturbing in an undefinable way. My husband and I saw this movie together and after we returned home in a somewhat nervous state, I left on a short errand. When I came back and entered the kitchen, I was greeted by a bunch of chairs piled in a heap in the middle of the floor. Sundry objects were strewn haphazardly around the room, creating a small tornado effect. I have to admit, the scene gave me quite a jolt. This was my husband's warped sense of humor at its finest.
At the head of this scary movie list is "The Exorcist," which was made in 1973. An apt description of this film would be that it is profoundly disturbing, incredibly intense and absolutely horrifying. I am quite sorry that I ever saw it! A very bad decision on my part, as it is still with me all these years later. But that is also the mark of a great and genuine scare-your-socks-off movie. My husband and I also saw this film together and we chose, for some ungodly reason, to attend a midnight showing. When we arrived home to our San Francisco flat in the foggy hours before dawn, we were beyond spooked. As we ascended the creaky stairway of our Victorian era apartment, the phone suddenly began to ring. And ring…and ring. We just looked at each other. A pointed gun could not have induced either of us to answer that phone. The night that followed was memorable in that neither of us slept one wink.
I would suggest that if you really want to get your scare on, then ditch all that candy and go see a classic scary film—or at least something other than a Freddy Krueger movie (Freddy XXII)? Maybe, though, just maybe, you might want to skip "The Exorcist."
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