Tales From the Bottom of the Film Business

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thank Heaven For Little Hellraisers

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that in the past year or two, there have been an inordinate number of horror films that feature a scary little girl menacing the characters. I know, once there was Chucky, there was Damien, I know the remake of The Omen is coming out this summer. But disproportionately of late, it's been the creepy little girls who are out there getting us all on edge.

Now mind you, I'm basing this observation purely on the advertising since I haven't seen, nor do I intend to see, The Grudge (Japanese or American version), Silent Hill, An American Haunting, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or Stephen King's Desperation, the premiere television movie (Oops, just missed that one. Damn) or any of the others I'm forgetting. Truth be told, I have not seen what I would call a horror movie since high school. I'm not talking about The Shining or Rosemary's Baby, which any self-respecting film geek would place under the rubric of "classics," but the kind of movie that you see not based on any merit but solely for the purpose of scaring the shit out of yourself and a small group friends. Back then, I used to go see them with my small group of friends from the girls' lacrosse team. These excursions were always organized by Anne, our goalie and the only one who had a driver's license through the first half of our senior year, a girl for whom a wardrobe that came exclusively from the pages of the L.L. Bean catalogue concealed a darker nature. But they were equally inspired by the fact that, as the worst players on the team, we all had something to prove. My friend, Beth, and I spent most games sitting the bench, praying that our coach wouldn't put us in, and that if she did, that running up and down the field as fast as we could would keep us from getting our asses kicked, not by the other team, but by our own. Now these girls were scary. Whoever thinks that gangs are the scourge of our youth knows nothing about the suburban teenage girls who play lacrosse, the same ones who, when pint-sized, tortured me throughout much of my childhood. (Not that I'm saying anything bad about lacrosse per se. Many of these girls also played field hockey, I just didn't have the stomach for two sports.)

Anyway, I think my last horror movie was the original Nightmare On Elm Street. Yeah, really dating myself with this one if I haven't already. A classic of the genre, no question (Although still not a "classic." If this gets me into trouble with some of you, bring it on, I need the site traffic). But I came home after seeing the film to an empty house – my parents were out and my brother was at college – went to brush my teeth and found myself frozen in front of the bathroom mirror, afraid to look behind the shower curtain but even more afraid to leave and turn off the light because I absolutely knew somebody was there. I think that experience told me I was done. Or else maybe it was that scene where the kid gets sucked into the bed and the blood just erupts out of it and all over the ceiling for what seems like an hour. Or maybe it was that I finished high school and went away to college where we had better things to do on a Saturday night than go to horror movies or hang out in diners or figure out whose parents were going to be out of town the following weekend because an empty house, some weed, and a couple of jugs of Jerome's Vodka made it a party. Granted, in my dorm freshman year it was a bowl of Everclear punch and an awful cover band that made it a party, but at least at that party you might be discussing Iran-Contra (dating myself once again) or what John Donne wrote about love and compasses, although probably not. But something completely different about college was that I was no longer afraid of the girls who'd made my life hell. They were still there, lurking, in sororities. But unlike in suburbia, I suddenly knew plenty of people who were happy to not be like everybody else. Moreover, as one of my first R.A.s, Liz, convinced me during my first week there, I wasn’t a girl any more; I was a woman.

Which brings me back to the question I've been thinking about: who's making and watching these movies that are coming out Hollywood? Who still finds these little girls so scary? And the answer I've come to: little boys.

Well, like, duh.


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