Bwock bwock bwock-ock!
I admit it. I can be a big chicken.
Now, I don’t think I have any true phobias. Nothing paralyzes me from participating in day-to-day activities.
I don’t like spiders, but if one of those little sons of bitches shows up in my house, I have no problem grabbing a wad of Kleenex and smooshing the sucker. I experience dizziness that borders on vertigo at the top of a skyscraper, but that didn’t stop me from visiting the observation decks of the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009) in Chicago with my son while on vacation there 10 years ago.
Air travel makes me nauseous, but I just take a happy pill and get on the plane anyway. And I’ve had an irrational fear of dying in a car crash ever since my parents were involved in a drunk driving accident in the late 1970s, but I still get in my car every damn day.
And sure, I experience many common, human fears — fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of not being enough, financial fear, etc. — but I push through them. What’s that saying about courage? Being scared shitless and getting the job done anyway? Yeah, that.
On the whole, though, I do not like to be scared. It’s not thrilling or fun for me. I generally would prefer that the noxious feeling is over as soon as possible.
I rode a few roller coasters back in the day, but I never liked them. I think I did it just to prove I could, so my friends wouldn’t see what a yellowbelly I was. When my son got tall enough to ride the ones at Disneyworld, I buckled in with him. I closed my eyes the entire way down the track and pretended to enjoy it for his benefit. Never again, thank you very much. You go, I’ll watch.
But the thing that really brings out my inner Camilla (Google “Gonzo’s girlfriend” if the reference is lost on you) is horror movies. I hate, hate, HATE scary movies.
I blame Michael Jackson.
Let me explain.
It was 1983. Nine-year-old Amy was at my best friend’s house for a sleepover. Her family had cable, which was a rare treat (my dad finally caved and got it at our house in 1987). Cable meant MTV. That night happened to be the world premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. It was a huge deal at the time, and we were all excited about it. Her entire family and I gathered around the TV to watch history being made.
It started out OK, with a cute storyline about Michael taking his girlfriend to the movies. I got a little nervous when he turned into a monster and all those zombies started dancing. But then, this dude opened his mouth and fake blood streamed out … and I promptly freaked the hell out. Screaming and crying, my friends’ parents had to call my mother to calm me down. I was traumatized and had nightmares for months afterward.
A few years later when I was 12, at another sleepover (different friend, this time for a big birthday party), the girls decided to turn down the lights and watch the original “Nightmare on Elm Street.” I would develop a lifelong crush on Johnny Depp soon thereafter, but I was too petrified to even notice he was in the movie at the time.
I was so scared, I actually hid behind the couch. This experience proved harrowing for two reasons — one, because Freddy Krueger was one creepy bastard who (not ironically) haunted my dreams for years, and two, because a couple of the catty bishes at that party relentlessly teased me about my reaction in front of the whole class. I don’t know which was worse for this nerdy ‘tween.
Oh, and do not get me started on “The Exorcist.” I’ve watched MJ’s video and the Elm Street movies in recent years with no adverse affects. Even I can admit they are pretty campy by today’s horror standards. By I will never, EVER, lay eyes on Linda Blair’s head-spinning, pea- soup-puking ass again.
I was coerced into watching that demonic shitstorm at yet another group gathering. (Do you see a pattern here?) By that time, I was 18 or 19 and was not nearly as sheltered and naive. Despite that, I still had to leave the room midway through. To this day, the evil ickiness of it gives me bad dreams if I spend time thinking about it. (Pretty sure they’ll be back tonight. Ugh.)
The funny thing about all this is that violence in film doesn’t bother me much. Some of my favorite movies are bloody as hell. “Goodfellas.” “Pulp Fiction.” “Fight Club.”
It’s not even monsters that bother me, exactly. I kind of like vampires, in fact. “The Lost Boys” remains a guilty pleasure, although the first time I saw it, I covered my eyes a few times. Eventually though, my teenage hormones overrode my fear. Hello? Cute fangers?? I mean, srsly.
Today, I love the series, “True Blood.” I’ve read all the books it’s based on as well. Eric Northman is one hot dead guy. Mmmm.
So if it’s not the creatures and the gore, what is it that chills me to my very being? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the perfect storm of psychological terror and the element of surprise. If a serial killer, monster or other psycho sneaks up on another unsuspecting movie character, you can bet your sweet ass I will jump out of my skin, too.
And I will be checking closets and pushing furniture against my bedroom door if I watch a flick that leaves me with the sense of dread that this shit could actually happen to me. I would like to think I am intelligent enough to dismiss the existence of demons and ghosts, but I'm a spiritual person who believes in forces greater than us humans. So, you never know, man.
What it boils down to is this: I do not need or want to be thrilled and chilled for entertainment purposes. Me no likey. I do like to be stimulated, however (get your mind out of the gutter!). I seek out movies and activities that make me exercise my brain, no matter the genre. But I also like fluff on occasion, too. Everyone needs an escape from the seriousness that life tends to throw at us, right?
Call me a scaredy cat, chicken, wimp, whatever. I do not care. Freaky-ass horror flicks fill my brain with disturbing images, and rather than allowing me to escape from reality, they take me prisoner. THIS little homey don’t play dat.
So, you go see “Paranormal Activity 75,” and I’ll be in the theater next door, watching the new Johnny Depp movie.
Assuming it’s not a scary one, of course.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.