Let’s Get Analyzed!

I think I would have a field day if I were a psychiatrist psycho-analyzing myself. Don’t you think you would too?

I would have the obvious analyzations such as being bullied in junior high (who wasn’t?) led to my insecurities about my looks for the following 55 years; dating the same guy for three years in high school only to be dumped when I graduated (who hasn’t?) was a waste of time; or I could have been a writer 40 years ago if I knew anything about the savings and loan business. Those kind of growing up stories we all have. I grew up and survived and found the right guy in the end.

But I wonder how my 65-year-old mind would be dissected today?

Since I can’t fall asleep these days (guess my body’s waiting for retirement to sleep), I get hooked on the strangest things. Not long ago I finished 80 episodes of King’s War, a Chinese TV series with English subtitles. I’ve always been a scaredy cat but now I’m downloading horror movies to watch before I go to bed. I’ve recorded all these cooking shows to watch but all they do is make me hungry so I watch Cabin in the Woods instead. I’ve not made my way through those awful Saw movies, but I saw a predecessor which kind of laid the path before my feet, and it wasn’t bad.

What happened to the introspective, insecure girl who used to watch movies like A Hard Day’s Night and Camelot?

What happened to the woman who felt ethereal? Cosmic? Enchanted?

Perhaps I’ve just gotten older. Perhaps those movies that once pulled my heartstrings would bring an incredible amount of memories back that I just don’t want to deal with.

I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I open that door of emotions I’ll never survive. Not that I have any crushing loss in the past — as a matter of fact, if I had a huge loss, that might make more sense. For I would have something big and real to cause my pain and confusion.

It’s the little things that upset me. Memories of friends I’ve let go. Things I could have done differently with my kids. Cousins I lost touch with. Jobs I should have worked harder at. What should bring me hours of fond memories actually makes me sad. And I don’t want to go through all the uncomfortableness of reconnecting with people long gone out of my life.

I figure handling Freddy or some foreign samurai is a lot easier than trying to remember the girls I used to go to the dances at the Navy base with. Maybe I’m ashamed to know that I don’t remember what I should remember.

Scary movies are safe playgrounds in the fact that I would never go or do the stupid things the characters go or do. I would never explore that tunnel or turn around to see what that guy by the truck was doing with that body wrapped in the sheet. I can handle movie madness because I wouldn’t do anything so shallow or crazy.

But I would do the stupid things I’ve done.

I really do have fun watching the Chinese movies and TV shows. They take me to a time and place I never knew existed. Maybe that’s what scary movies do, too. Take you to places you’ve never been. Nor would ever go.

But I will always go back to my past.

 

Something Is Out There

20161210_215909I was watching TV the other evening. A horror flick. Or SF. Or both. No matter.

Predator. You know — the Sci Fi movie with Arnold and a bunch of special forces macho men. You know the story line — the alien who comes to Earth to hunt humans for sport.  Well, there was one scene closer to the beginning of the movie that made me pull out a camera and take a picture of the TV screen — a scene that flashed the words blog topic into my brain.

The men are walking through the jungle, in and out of clearings, when one of the soldiers stops. Just stops and looks ahead. At the trees, at the jungle. Silence. When asked what was up, Billy said there was something out there watching them. Something you couldn’t see.

That kind of terror gets to me much more than blood and guts.

The fear of the unknown.

Some people can sense something’s not right way before it hits you like a pie in the face. We all have intuition, but some just live with it turned on high, while others barely crack the surface.

Do you ever sense things that are — unnatural? Nebulous? Out of our sphere of reality?

I don’t care for the scientific explanations. I understand them, I agree with them. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering — what if something was watching us? Something invisible, fifth dimension-ish and all that?

I’ve seen dogs avoid places in the wild; some would rather pee on themselves than check out some particular place. I’ve heard stories of birds avoiding certain trees and wild animals refusing to walk through certain areas.

It’s like seeing something out of the corner of your eye. If you turn and focus, the thing is gone. But for that fleeting moment you swear there is someone there. It is hearing songs on the wind when everyone else hears a lawn mower. Or seeing a glow in the woods that everyone else says are lightning bugs.

I know that none of these abnormalities exist — at least not on a scientific level. The guy I dated 40 years ago dashed a lot of my airy faerie ideas out of my head when he insisted science is much more fascinating than imagination.

But through the years I’ve regained some of my fascination with the “unknown.” I love to entertain the impossible. The improbable. The ridiculous. For within those worlds lies even more remarkable truths. At least for the person experiencing them.

I have never seen the clear, wavy distortions of a Predator before they become visible. I’ve never seen a unicorn drinking from a stream or a faerie dancing through the night.

Or have I?

We all see things that aren’t there. As we get older and memories fade, what we think we remember isn’t necessarily what happened. The conversations change, the situations change — we rework the past to fit our current psyche. So what I thought my father said before he died might not have been what he really said. The punchline of an old movie might not be the quote I spout out to friends and family.

To be honest, I am spooked by things I don’t understand. I don’t like walking through the woods in the dark, or driving down unfamiliar deserted roads at night, or playing Mary Worth in the mirror. Whether it’s an overactive imagination or the true sensing of something beyond reality, I prefer to deal with the unknown my own way.

Avoidance.

I figure don’t tempt the gods.

I’m Coming to Get You…

scaryWhat does it take to scare you? Rather, what does it take in a movie to scare you?

Things have certainly changed since Boris Karloff chugged along as Frankenstein. These days readers and movie goers have seen just about everything there is to see in the blood and guts world. I mean, most of what is considered “horror” is really more “disgust.” How much you can do to the human body and still let them live. Even when the story is clever, there’s nothing about losing limbs and buckets of blood that make those little hairs on your head stand up.

Writing horror isn’t easy. It’s not easy to twist plots and rattle windows and whisper in someone’s ear and have them be truly frightened. Portraying that same creepy feeling on film is not easy, either. I get it. But the more we grow spiritiually, emotionally, and psychologically, the more it takes to catch us off guard.

My son gets Netflix, so I decided to take a ride down the horror road and see what I could see. Half of the movies I’ve seen, half I have no interest in. Maybe it’s being older, but just because someone has pins in his head doesn’t make someone scary. Yet, the way Hellraiser talked, the way he held himself, the way he slowly pried his way into the lives of the unsuspecting — now that was pretty creepy. It turned pretty bloody/gutsy, but the earlier ones threatened more and showed less. I tried one from France: some kids climbing over a locked gate and mountain climbing into the horror pit where some hillbilly wacko lived. (Teenagers are always so dumb.)

I’ve tried old ones (The Scream series), I’ve tried new ones (The Walking Dead). I’ve tried ghosts, monsters, psychos, and snakes. Some make it to kinda creepy, others are just d-u-m-b. The Saw series is nothing but bloody psychological terror, one fingernail at a time. But it’s not horror.

Back in the day, movies like Psycho and Halloween  brought “real life” horror into the realm of the everyday. The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead put normal people in abnormal — and often deadly — situations. Alien and The Thing took those same situations and put them in outer space or in the future.  Devil possession, zombies, psychos in masks — how can you deal with those?

But as the years passed, what was once novelty became remakes, each one more technically savvy but emotionally empty. By the time Halloween VI or Alien Resurrection came along, nothing was new. We’d been there, done that. Only the stars had changed. And the ability to frighten us.

So what kind of movies twinkle my creepy twinkie?

It’s obvious that humankind wants to be frightened now and then. Controlled frightened. Like frightened for the length of  a movie only.  The Grudge was pretty scary, with dead bodies scurring across the ceiling and up the stairs. The first couple Aliens were pretty scary, even though by the second one we knew the formula (pick off people one by one). Even though my husband and kids disagree by miles, I loved Cabin in the Woods, because it brought all possible endings and villians to the end. I’m hooked on The Walking Dead — I mean, sheriff driving around, looking at overturned trucks and abandoned cars, wondering what’s up, and the next thing you know — Armageddeon! How can you not be creeped out by that?

I loved the old “The Haunting“, and pffffted the remake. I wasn’t scared by windows turning into eyes and canopy beds coming down to squish the heroine — I loved the old black and white because you couldn’t see the adversary. Who can forget the lion’s head doorknob turning evvver-soooo-slooowly? Or the banging and breathing of the bedroom door? You never once saw a bloody hand or face or someone’s entrails spilled on the floor. It was your imagination that frightened you.

And that, I think, is the heart of anything scary. The victims on the screen have to be you, but not you. To be tortured would be cruel beyond imagination. To have a child see dead people everywhere — that’s another story. To be able to capture your imagination and be three steps ahead of it is the true heart of a scary story. To not be able to tell what is real and what isn’t — that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Movie or not.

So tell me — have you seen any good scary movies lately?