November 3, 2020
I think it is appropriate with Halloween barely in the taillights to talk about scary movies. As Melissa and I recounted some of our own movies it was interesting to see how different we were. For me it has always been science fiction movies. This stems from a movie I watched when I was in grade school (by myself on a Saturday afternoon) about a race of aliens that used robots to invade the earth. The bots would sneak up behind the humans and zap them with gamma rays, causing them to disintegrate. Our house had a secondary entrance that was at the base of the stairs leading to the second-floor bedrooms. For three years I ran up the stairs just in case there was a robot at the door waiting to zap me.
When I looked online about movies it said the scariest of all time was The Shinning. Even if you have not watched Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, you probably know about The Shinning by Jack Nicholson’s (apparently ad-libbed) “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny.” Given that this is a Stephen King adaptation the winter months do not go well. The Overlook Hotel, it turns out, does not like people. The reason this is the top is because The Shining “just feels evil.” From Jack Nicholson’s deranged performance as a man descending into murderous insanity to Kubrick’s relentless direction as we hypnotically follow Danny navigating the hotel corridors on his trike, this is a movie that never lets you feel safe. While I liked the movie, it did not have any robots, so I was not scared.
Melissa said her nemesis was a movie about a grizzly bear that had developed a taste for human flesh. This was a 1976 thriller about a park ranger’s attempts to halt the wild rampage of an 18 ft tall, 2,000-pound man-eating grizzly that terrorizes a National Forest. While this is widely considered a Jaws rip-off, Grizzly scared Melissa to death. This was not helped by the fact that she saw it as part of a slumber party when she was twelve. The father of the girl she stayed with dressed up in a bear outfit and broke in on the girls at one in the morning. Melissa had nightmares for three months.
Thoughts: I previously mentioned Halloween is based on the idea of the proximity of the world of the living and the world of the dead. As we transitioned from summer into winter, we faced the fear that the sun would never return. Even though this was irrational, it was not more so than the thought that alien robots would zap us, or grizzlies would maul us. Most scary movies prey on our primal fears. My fear of robots as a child stems from an innate fear of the unknown. Melissa’s fear of a grizzly steams of an innate fear of the predators that stalked us when we were undeveloped primates. Both are scary. We are amid a scary time as a nation and world as well. We need look beyond the surface to embrace the underlying fear. That is the only way to make it better. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.