Ever since the first horror film graced the eyes of a viewing audience with Le Manoir de Diable (House of the Devil) in 1896, cinema audiences and film fans alike have been almost obsessed with getting their scares on through one of the most popular film genres. So many of the most famous horror films to have been released focus on monsters from the deep, ghosts from beyond the grace hellbent on menacing those who still have breath in their lungs, demons who have risen up from the burning fires of hell, aliens who are prepared on doing anything in their power to destroy all living humans and take planet earth for their own, the lost is truly endless. While a number of films that focus on these threats are scary and have managed to disturb audiences for decades on end, for many horror fans, including myself, it is the films that strike a bit closer to home that are the more threatening, mainly for the reason that they are all the more plausible than the ones I have just listed.
When I watch films that focus on demons and ghosts, I will not cover it up that they do freak me out. The thought of something being in your home that you cannot see or control that does not quite belong here is enough to freak anyone out when you are home alone at night and you hear a strange noise from somewhere in your house. No, just me? Oh, well, we will move swiftly on from that, but you see what I am saying. As much as horror films that discuss aliens, demons, ghosts and other weird and wonderful creatures do have the power to freak us out to some extent, when it comes to films that portray mass murderers and psychopaths, it is a completely different kettle of fish. Films such as John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th (1980) and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) are some of the scariest and most popular horror films that have ever been made, a fact that proves both how scary they are as well as how popular they are from how many sequels, prequels and re-makes that have been produced over the past 40 or so years. While no one would probably want to admit that they were absolutely scared witless of the demon disturbances that went on in the Paranormal Activity (2009 – 2012) films, I doubt that anyone would be able to say that films such as the ones that I have just listed didn’t scare them out of their minds. For those of you who are reading this who claim to not be scared by these murderous rampaging films, to say that you weren’t even the tiniest of disturbed by watching it, I’m sorry, but you must be lying. I know people who find nothing scary but were left quivering in their shoes after viewing these horror delights.
The news is so often full of news stories about horrific murders against innocent victims, and films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre play on our fears that we could be the next to fall victim to the murderous minds out there. Thinking about a mad, cannibalisation family running around preying on lost travellers on a road trip or holiday, waiting to chop you up into tiny pieces with their chainsaw isn’t exactly what you want to have on your mind while walking home late at night by yourself. With these films, you cannot get away with thinking that it is just a film. The news telling stories of how a psychopath has brutally murdered an innocent individual or group of people is no reassurance to us that what we see in these films could not happen in real life, particularly when reading up about some including ones I have mentioned that are partially based on real life murders.
Maybe it is the reason for why horror film fans sometimes avoid films such as these, and maybe why some people do not enjoy viewing films that depict the twisted, murderous minds of Leatherface, Jason and Michael Myers, they know deep in the back of their minds that there is a possibility that they could happen the other side of the cinema screen. So next time you watch a film such as Halloween or Friday the 13th, in the words of the advertisement for the original The Last House on the Left (1972), just keep repeating its only a movie…