A Halloween challenge

U-News Staff

Halloween is the season of terror.

Fear is a driving force in life, no matter the time of year, and it is no surprise there are things out there that scare us. Snakes, for example, petrify me.

What one person thinks is scary and what another thinks is scary are often two different things.

With it being Halloween, being scared is “en vogue” right now.

Hollywood knows this, and to capitalize on it, they will be releasing their newest slate of schlocky horror movies to be digested by the masses.

These movies aren’t scary, however. They’re horrifying.

There’s a fundamental difference between something being scary and something being horrifying. You can be scared and not be horrified, and be horrified and not be scared, for example.

Hollywood, and the mainstream media in general, like to churn out tired, gore-filled horror movies, and people now think these are classics of the genre.

I beg to differ.

You will not find a copy of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Saw” in my film collection, because I simply think these movies are silly. They’re not scary; they’re horrifying.

According to Oxford Dictionary, for something to be horrifying, it must “fill with horror or shock greatly,” and for something to be scary, it must be “frightening or cause fear.”

There’s a huge difference there.

Rivers of blood running down the screen does not make a scary movie, and I wish Hollywood would get that.

However, throngs of eager kids lined up to see the newest version of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in April, dumping $63 million into the coffers of producer Michael Bay’s pockets.

The “Saw” franchise has grossed over $368 million domestically, and a seventh installment is due out on Oct. 29.

Why are these movies so successful?

Since the days of the slasher-filled 80s, Hollywood has flooded our Halloween airwaves and cinemas with images containing buckets of blood, screaming, scantily-clad women and paper-thin plots.

Hollywood did this, and now there is a huge divide in the social consciousness on what being scary actually means.

Just look at anything Alfred Hitchcock did.

Did he need to bathe Janet Leigh in gallons of blood to get the point across she was being murdered in the shower?

No. What you see as blood in this black-and-white film was actually chocolate syrup.

The effect of this famous shower scene came from the tension leading up to the murder, not the murder itself, and Hitchcock was a master at scaring you with very little effort.

If you want a real treat, track down a copy of the 1963 film “The Haunting.” This film uses a wide variety of tactics to elicit fear and anxiety from the audience and does it all with no gratuitous gore whatsoever.

On Halloween this year, I challenge you. Instead of renting the latest D-grade horror flick from the local Redbox, go check out something much more fulfilling, like “Poltergeist,” “Psycho,” “Alien” or any number of genuinely scary movies.

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