How to Get Away with Horror

Take a quick look at the calendar – October 31 is coming up. Movie enthusiasts from all over the internet have been planning this year’s horror movie marathons since… well, last year’s Halloween marathon.

Halloween is the weekend for adults to get their freak on (in more ways than one) completely guilt-free. Scary movie viewing parties are going to be rampant, as are invitations to attend – but if you’re the type to get scared just from the first strings of the Jaws theme song, these parties might be a little difficult to sit through.

We’re here to help, scaredy-friend. We at What’s A Geek have come up with a short survival guide on getting through the blood and guts and suspense coming your way at the end of this month. Good luck!

One of the many iconic scenes from The Shining. Image from Indiewire.

GET PHYSICAL.

When watching horror films, always be mindful of your most important body part. No, we don’t mean your heart (or your brain, or something else for that matter) – we mean your bladder.

Scary movies work best when the build-up to the scare is sustained and uninterrupted; it’s hard to appreciate the terror mastercraft of Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) or the subtle horrors of The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) when someone’s getting up every ten minutes to pee.

If you’re a horror neophyte watching with a veteran, don’t be shy. Ask them to let you know when during the hack-and-slash is a good time to relieve some bladder pressure. Trust your friends to take care of you – nothing’s as satisfying for horror fans as sharing a scare moment with friends.

Night of The Living Dead, courtesy of Wikipedia.

SET UP CAMP.

The easiest and (relatively) gentlest way to get into horror movies is to watch old school campy monster features.

They’re not always terrifying, but they’re always entertaining, and watching classics like Creepshow (George A. Romero, 1982) and Night of The Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) also helps to educate on the tropes of the genre.

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If nothing else, the practical effects from the ’60s up to the ’80s will make you more appreciative of good CGI.

Image courtesy of www.imagefloss.com.

BE PREPARED.

In this day and age, looking up an actor or director’s filmography is incredibly easy. Take advantage of it and look up movies based on what interests you.

Do you like flowers? Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz, 1986) and The Day of The Triffids (Steve Sekely & Freddie Francis, 1962) could make you think twice about that new bouquet you’re thinking of arranging. Love dolls? Dead Silence (James Wan, 2007) and The Devil’s Dolls (Padraig Reynolds, 2016) are a few on a long list of doll-ownership discouragement material.

You don’t have to spoil yourself on the movies, but knowing what you’re getting into will remove the anxiety of knowing absolutely nothing about the movie, and open you up to the anticipation for horror based on something that interests you.

It Follows, starring Maika Monroe. From IMDB.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.

Watching horror movies with a friend, be they seasoned horror fans or fellow newbies, is the number one means to get through a scary movie in one relative piece.

Here’s the thing, though: don’t just ask anybody.

Ask someone you trust not to spoil you or make nasty comments about serious matters – race, misogyny, rape, the list goes on. These topics are unfortunately unavoidable in horror; good horror movies take the viewer out of their comfort zones by design.

If you’re uncomfortable with body horror, you won’t want to watch Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008) without someone to hold hands with. Likewise, if you’re uncomfortable with movies that have sexual exploitation scenes, movies like The Girl Next Door (George M. Wilson, 2007) and It Follows (Adam Wingard, 2014) are likely best viewed in the company of trusted friends.

Horror movies can be stressful enough, and having you viewing partner laughing at you for being uncomfortable is neither fun or healthy for anybody.

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Image courtesy of Blood and Guts for Adults.

PACE YOURSELF.

Don’t be afraid to say “stop.”

If a scene is triggering an unwanted emotion or memory, tell your friends and tell them right away. Horror movies are the safest way to get a scare from the comfort of your own home, so don’t compromise that! Know your own viewing limits, and recognize when and if they’re being met by what you’re watching.

If extreme graphic torture isn’t your cup of tea, don’t shy from turning down viewings for Ichi The Killer (Takashi Miike, 2001) or Inside (Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo, 2007), as they are highly explicit in that regard. If you don’t like graphic sex mingling with your horror, feel free to skip They Call Her One Eye (Bo Arne Vibenius, 1974), or the first ten minutes of the first Hostel (Eli Roth, 2005); you’d be getting more than eyeful (pun highly intended).

There’s absolutely no shame in pausing a movie to emotionally regroup, or to completely shelve the movie for a later time. The thrill of horror movies isn’t meant to chase after you in the daylight.

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING…

Don’t be afraid to be scared. You might find a hidden horror fan in you. Waiting patiently. Getting ready to meet to find your loved ones…

 

Now that you’ve got that all down, brace yourselves: We’ve got some killer horror movie recs coming up, so get your popcorn ready and your throat medicine at hand because Halloween’s rolling into town, and we want you to scream.

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Dana Martinez
Dana Martinez
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