Last year I made a stupid bet. My friend, a horror movie lover, and I, a musical lover, made a bet that if the New York Mets make the playoffs, he has to watch six movie musicals. Otherwise I would have to watch six horror films. In short, the Mets had an epic downward spiral and didn’t make the playoffs. I lost the bet and had to watch six horror movies in October.
I’ve never been a fan of horror movies as I’m a well known lifelong scaredy cat. I’ve only seen a handful of them in my life. I have seen Scream 1996 because that’s what all the cool kids were doing, but I think I covered my eyes most of the time. I remember watching IT on TV and traumatized and I remember watching it The glow at a WAY too young an age and learned that my older brothers were actually the worst babysitters ever. I mean, I still close my eyes when the silly flying monkeys come on screen The Wizard of Oz. Needless to say, while I’ve been figuratively hiding under my jacket ever since, I’ve been missing out on an entire movie genre. I was given a series of films by my friend that we would watch and as I always stayed true to the stakes of a bet I committed. Imagine my surprise when I not only didn’t hide my eyes, but enjoyed every single one of them. He picked a good selection that covered a wide range of classic horror themes including vampires, werewolves, zombies and aliens. And I have to say I may be a convert now.
First Movie: “Alien”
We started with the classic 1979 film, extraterrestrial. I didn’t know much about it extraterrestrial go in. I knew it Sigourney Weaver was in and everyone hailed her as badass (they were right). I also knew that at some point an alien would pop out of a guy’s chest because I saw him space balls and my brother explained the clue to me. What I didn’t expect was that I would have white knuckles throughout the film. I wasn’t really scared, but I was on the edge of my seat. And I found out it was the sound, or the lack of it. The sound design of this film is perfect. And the use of silence evokes a gripping tension throughout.
Movie 2: “The Return of the Living Dead”
Next we went a little campy and watched Return of the Living Dead from 1985. This one was so weird. I didn’t know what to make of it until I was reassured that it was okay to laugh about it. Why didn’t anyone tell me horror movies could be funny? It was so much 80’s but I’d say it was pretty compelling. By the time I watched it, I was convinced I wasn’t enjoying it as I tried to wrap my head over the gory deaths and gratuitous nudity. And yet, the days and months after watching it, I keep thinking back and remembering moments that were so great they made me laugh. It may need to be watched again as I’ve decided in hindsight that I liked it a lot better than when I first watched it.
Movie 3: “Nearly Dark”
We stayed at a small 80’s camp and watched Almost dark from 1987 onwards. I think this was chosen because, as my friend said, “It’s perfect Bill Paxton Achievement.” And boy was he right. The movie itself was a vampire tale, and it might be familiar to horror fans, but I’m sure I’d never heard of it. Again, this was an over-the-top campy story, but it had a few real jump scares. However, it’s Paxton’s performance that makes it a great film, it’s like chet dating Strange Science had become a vampire and decided to lean into the darkest and craziest parts of the persona. And I loved every minute of it. I don’t know if this film will have much credit in the annals of film history, but for me it will hold a special place in my heart as it reminded me of how much we lost with the death of Paxton.
Movie 4: “A Quiet Place”
We’ve returned to Aliens for the next entry with a more modern movie. A quiet place was all the rage a few years ago, and I’m honestly amazed I wasn’t spoiled by the end. Talk about Jump Scares! The silence that had created the tension extraterrestrial created a whole story in this film and kudos to John Krasinsky to capitalize on it. I’m not sure I could curl up any more than if I was heavily pregnant emily stump, who cannot make a sound, accidentally stepped on a nail sticking out of the ground. It was a horrifying scene, and doing it in complete silence was as horrifying as I could take. Haven’t seen the 2020 sequel yet. Is it worth?
Movie Five: “An American Werewolf in London”
After that we went back to the 1980s to watch An American werewolf in London. I had always heard about this film and was very curious. I certainly did not expect Griffin Dunne Dying within the first 15 minutes, nor did I expect to discover how incredibly hot David Naughton was. One thing I really loved about this film was that there were actual consequences for wreaking havoc and not following the rules, a plot point lost across genres. Also, I learned the difference between a horror comedy and a horror film that happens to be funny. I only knew Griffin Dunne from Johnny dangerous and recently This is us and I knew David Naughton from Dr. Pepper commercials in the 1980s and his smash hit “Makin’ It.” Both were compelling and I think this was my second favorite of the six we saw.
Movie Six: “The Thing”
But my favorite went to the last one we saw, which was John ZimmermanThe 1982 movie the thing. I knew absolutely nothing about this one, which turned out to be the best way to look at it. I didn’t even know it was set in Antarctica. All I really knew was that Kurt Russell was there (and honestly that was the selling point). But it turned out to be an intriguing setting, literally in the middle of nowhere, in a place where you die if you’re out too long. A simple but perfect setting for an alien attack. The best thing for me was the ending, which ends in an ambiguity. I’ve read a lot online about what exactly happens at the end and all I’ve found is that nobody agrees, which to me is the mark of a damn good movie. I think this John Carpenter kid has a future.
So, to my great surprise, I really enjoyed all the films. Not only that, but I also realized that I had to give the genre another chance. This year we’re starting the horror film tradition again The fog and The Omen and I’d appreciate any other must-see horror movie suggestions.
But know this: The Mets made it into the postseason this year and my boyfriend is going to love it cabaret!
https://collider.com/i-started-watching-horror-movies-after-losing-a-bet/ I Started Watching Horror Movies After Losing a Bet