Thrill Me, Chill Me, Make Me Scream

Jack won’t watch scary movies with me.

*Pouty face.*

This time of year I always get all excited about scary movies in theaters and ghost shows on TV. And there is nobody who will watch them with me. Which is so not good, because that means I have to either go to the scary movie by myself or watch it by myself at home on TV and then watch Comedy Central for at least 30 minutes afterward so I can go to bed without thinking I’m going to open my eyes and see a very bad person standing really, really still in the doorway.


I like to watch Ghost Adventures, which I think would be scarier if the host guy wasn’t such a d-bag, but which still makes me think I see a little ball of light in the hallway out of the corner of my eye. Oh, and Ghost Hunters International, in which the people once went to Wolf’s Lair in Poland and taunted. The ghost. Of HITLER.

Such a bad idea. Lose-lose. No good for anybody. What are you doing?!

I want to see Dream House. I figure it has to be good because Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts and Rachael Weisz are in it, and why would they waste their time on a crappy horror flick? They wouldn’t. So I want to see it.

I’ve spent two weeks watching a bunch of previews for the new FX series, American Horror Story, with Connie Britton and Jessica Lange and Dylan McDermott (who is not scary at all, knowwhatimsayin’?). And I’ve thought it looks totally freaky and I’ve been so excited.

Even the font is scary.

And when I got home from work Wednesday night, The Exorcism of Emily Rose was on cable. Ohhhhh, but that movie freaked. Me. OUT when I saw it in the theater a few years ago with my friend Jay. For days, I was afraid to wake up at 3:00am. Weeks, even.

It’s what Jack calls a “devil movie.”

“I’m not watching any devil movies!” he tells me when I poke him about watching something scary with me.


He did actually watch about an hour of The Exorcism of Emily Rose once, on TV. Allegedly. I wasn’t there, so I can only take him at his word. I don’t know which hour, but if it was the first hour, then he was probably pretty skeeved. That’s the hour where all the really OMG stuff happens. Emily Rose goes to college and gets possessed and winds up convulsing all over the place and eating spiders and jumping from her knees to her feet and back to her knees again in the corner of a room with, like, mindbending speed–

That's a pile of bugs near her hand. She's been eating them. Also she's been clawing at the walls.

–or is she just suffering a rare form of epilepsy so severe that it causes psychotic episodes and hallucinations of the Virgin Mary? You walk away from the movie trying to figure out if demons are real and denying them means you’re making God sad, or if all those people who supposedly had demons back in the proverbial Day were actually just mentally ill. And then that leads to wondering whether the supposedly mentally ill among us are actually possessed by demons.

You don’t know.

Alright, fine, you probably know, but it’s still spooky. And since Jack and I are both Catholic, the possession/exorcism thing is more real for us and makes those movies even scarier.

I love that.

I hate fake scary movies. If it’s not something that could actually happen in real life, it’s not going to scare me. Some burned up guy with blades for hands? Please. Never gonna happen. A guy who climbs out of a lake with a hockey mask on? Nope. A leprechaun with a voracious appetite? Dumb. I’ll admit that dolls and clowns scare the bejeesus out of me, which is completely unreasonable, but those are both universally regarded as creepy, so it’s not a failure of logic so much as it’s an inexplicable, but established, wrong. But you give me a call that’s coming from inside the house, or a fleeting human figure flashing noiselessly past a doorway in shadow so that you’re not quite sure whether you saw something or not, or a family man who loses his mind and picks up an ax, or a recurring nightmare that leaves you so sleepless that you can’t tell whether it’s real or not when it seems to start actually happening during your waking hours… I’m a sucker for that.

In the itty bitty hours of Thursday morning, I actually watched the pilot of American Horror Story (after I watched the end of The Exorcism of Emily Rose). And honestly, it didn’t “scare” me as much as it made me sort of go, “What the hell is going on here?” It introduced a lot of craziness that is probably supposed to confuse me, and explained just enough to make me go, “No. Way. That is messed up!

Can’t wait for the next episode.

Meanwhile, Jack and I are watching Game 5 of the NLDS together tonight. He’s from St. Louis. I’m from Philly.

This is going to be terrifying.

How do you react to scary movies? What’s your favorite scary movie?


26 thoughts on “Thrill Me, Chill Me, Make Me Scream

    • Hi! Yes, “The Shining” is one of my favorites, too. I watched it on the Outer Banks in NC back before it became a popular place. It was deserted and silent at night and I mistook the lamp on a night table for the head and shoulders of Jack Nicholson in the middle of the night. To me, the most terrifying single part of that film is that crazy flash of the guy in the tux and the guy in the bear suit (or whatever that is) through the doorway. What is going on there, anyway?!

    • Haha… well, I don’t question Jack’s manhood. 🙂 “Devil movies” make him uncomfortable because of the spiritual questions they represent, and I get that. But I’d still like him to watch something with me so I can be scared and feel safe at the same time. He doesn’t get it. Sigh. Thanks for the visit! I’ll check out your blog, too! Hope you come back!

  1. Great Post!

    Horror movies have always been my guilty pleasure so when I saw the ads for American Horror Story, I was excited… a horror tv show!

    The pilot episode was bizarre, but I will still tune in to episode 2. I think it has serious potential!

    I look forward to your next post!!

    (also, totally watching Exorcism of Emily Rose this weekend)

    • Hi there! Thanks for reading and commenting! Always fun to hear from new peeps. I have such a weird relationship with horror movies because I love them and then I remember they completely mess with my head and I’m all, “Why did I do that to myself?!” I’m interested to see how the writers maintain this whole mess with “American Horror Story” as a series, but I felt like they set it up to prove that my dear Dylan is going to lose his s*&t. And I think the burned guy is the only sympathetic, non-evil character in the bunch they introduced. We shall see!

  2. I can only do scary movies when I dont realize they are scary and then its too late. I do not intentionally watch scary movies. I agree, though, that the realistic things that could really happen are the real scary ones. The Ring freaked me out….even though I’ve never seen or heard of a little girl climbing out of a television. Actually Unbreakable kept me awake for at least a month and no one I tell that to thinks that movie is scary at all….but it scared the proverbial crap out of me.

    • I haven’t seen “The Ring,” but I’ve heard the same sentiment from everyone who has. Even though it was rated PG-13, everyone who saw it was completely creeped out. And I can see why “Unbreakable” gave you the heebie-jeebies. M. Night Shyamalan does that. Messes with your mind.

  3. Sometime I want to do a horror marathon and rent the cheesy movies that freaked me out as a kid to see if they are actually dumb. On the list: Happy Birthday to Me, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the original Halloween. Also, there was some movie about a girl and her mom who went off a bridge that haunted me for years, but I can’t remember the name of it. Circa 1986.

    • I have no idea what movie that could be. I’ve never heard of Happy Birthday to Me but I googled it and it looks like it probably would not scare you again now that you’re older. But I think you should totally do it; rent ’em all, watch ’em, and then go searching for something way scarier when they all sort of suck. 🙂 (But that stupid piano music from “Halloween” does still creep me out, I admit.)

  4. I’m scared of scary movies, don’t like to be scared, don’t like to continue being scared later. But I’m very impressionable when it comes to theater movies, I guess it’s the sensory overload of big screen and loud speakers. But I will come out of a scary movie looking over my shoulder, just knowing that I’m about to get axed. Weirdly, reading through the comments, I realized that I’ve seen a LOT of the movies people have listed, even Happy Birthday to Me.

    I’ve only seen a couple in the theater, Ghost Ship and Prince of Darkness. With Prince of Darkness, my friends and I did a double feature so we wouldn’t be freaked out going home. We saw that one early and followed it up with Baby Boom. I know, we’re wimps.

    • I knew there would be at least one person who didn’t like them at all. That’s okay. I mostly love the idea of them, and the season they herald. Being scared is fun sometimes, but being completely freaked out by the debate over demons vs. mental illness was not fun! And you seeing a double feature is about the same as me watching Comedy Central after I watch something scary. I don’t fault you for that!

  5. I am a total, complete, scary movie wus. The original “Night of the Living Dead” from 40 years ago still scares the crap out of me. My youngest loves scary stuff, and I don’t get it at all.

    • I can’t say I understand it. I’m just weird. When I was younger I hated scary stuff entirely. Apparently I’m getting more adventurous in my 30s. Whatever that means. Also I might see it as a challenge. When I was a teenager, my father told me that the only movie that has ever scared him was “The Exorcist,” and that I was only allowed to watch it when I’m in my 60s and then only if I have a good heart. I still haven’t seen it. But I saw “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and I can’t imagine “The Exorcist” being worse.

  6. So glad I ran into this. I, too, couldn’t wait to see the pilot of American Horror Story. Ten minutes into it all I could say was, “This is some freaky s*#@!” It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen on prime time TV. It made me almost uncomfortable to watch (and I’m not talking about Dylan’s nakedness either). Not sure I enjoyed watching, but it was all I could think about the next day. Will definitely watch the second episode!

    • Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. I think I’ve seen you on other blog comments… I’m glad you clicked over! I have said for a while (since the days of “Nip/Tuck”) that FX’s unofficial motto is “We Will Disturb You.” Every original series makes you go, “What… the… HELL.” I used to watch “Nip/Tuck” and actually say out loud to no one, “Why do I watch this?! This is so– I’m not even the target audience here. I’m soooo not the aud– why am I watching this?!” But I kept watching. It’s like a car wreck. I’m so excited for the next episode!

  7. I don’t like horror movies like all the Freddie Kruger movies or Exorcist, but I so love some scary movies. Ones that come to mind that were terrific were Psycho, The Birds, and Rosemary’s Baby. Ew! I just got shivers thinking of that last one.

    • Oohhh, “Psycho” is fantastic. I haven’t seen the others, believe it or not. I should, though. Maybe if I find them on, late one night, and there’s time to watch a little Comedy Central afterward…

      • OMG! You absolutely HAVE to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s “The BIrds.” It is a classic! I never see it on TV, so you may have to get it on Netflix or something. Let me know what you think after you see it.

  8. NO scary movies for me please. My bf LOVES them – I don’t.
    It’s almost Halloween. That = scary films all the time.
    I have to hide in the bedroom and avoid the TV…… But, that usually means listening to the sound of shrieks and screams – I think that’s worse…..
    I’m such a scaredy cat!

    • I like them this time of year more than any other. I watched “Psycho” last night at midnight. Heehee. PS don’t hide in the bathroom. You’re trapped in there. That’s what happened to Vivian Leigh in “Psycho!”

  9. You sound like my daughter … she’s always complaining that her husband won’t watch horror films with her. Muri’s never watched them and I don’t think I’ve seen a true horror film since Aliens (I suppose that’s actually Sci-Fi, but it was scary enough for me). It’s peculiar that a Stephen King fan wouldn’t like horror films but for the most part I haven’t even liked films made from his best books. Even though I enjoyed Nicholson in The Shining, I was disappointed in the film because some of the scariest details of the book (the topiary garden, for example) were changed to work on the screen. Too often, movies seem to depend on things jumping onto the screen, creepy music and gore instead of the creeping psychological dread that a good book brings. What’s Paul Simon say? “If I took all the girls I knew when I was single, and brought them all together for one night, they’d never match my sweet imagination.” For me, same’s true for scary stories.

    • Funny… though I’m inclined to completely agree on the virtue of books over films in almost any other genre, I can’t say it’s true for me when it comes to scare tactics. I read a lot of Stephen King in my early teens (before my mother borrowed my copy of “The Stand” on a long car trip and forbade me from reading any more of King’s stuff until adulthood). The only one that ever frightened me was “Pet Semetery.” There’s something about the visual and musical (music is very important!) elements of a scary movie or show that brings it alive for me. That said, I do completely agree with you about the psychology of anticipation that happens with the turning of pages and the dangers of an imagination that paints a better picture than a film. That’s why I, too, was always disappointed in Stephen King movies.

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