Friday, October 12, 2012

Scary Movies by Sheryl Steines

Sometimes the funniest family traditions come from the desire to annoy certain said members beyond belief, and in my case the holiday of Halloween may just be the perfect time to attempt this. 

I’ve always been a Stephen King fan.  Certain books of his have scared the $#@$ out of me.  Particularly Pet Sematary, though Misery nearly killed me. As it happened, certain aspects of The Shining weren’t particularly sunny or lighthearted.  The whole thing with the kid and his talking finger; just creepy. 

So during a television run, my daughter, who loves creepy, scary stories, sat down with me to watch The Shining.  I still say the little boy was unnerving, but my daughter in her teenager way says to me, “It wasn’t scary mom.” I give her a dirty look.  “Nothing, no creeps, not even Danny (the little boy)?” I ask her.  She shrugs her shoulders and walks away. 

Mind you, this is the same child who watched Jaws and cheered for the shark.  It occurred to me that she isn’t reacting to the movies the way we reacted to the movies when we first saw them.  Does that make us lame?  Are children now so desensitized that it will take more than that to make them run screaming from the room? 

So I had an idea.  A rather brilliant idea, I thought.  As with every year, last year was no different during the month of Halloween, when they run every scary, disgusting, terrifying horror movie that’s ever been made.  Hmm.  Which movie would make my kid cry in fear?  I’m not kidding.  I wanted to scare the pants off of her.  Halloween? Nope.  The Exorcist?  She might be grossed out by the split pea soup, but no, she’ll probably root for for the devil.  Psycho? Hmm. 

The first time I watched Psycho was late at night while out of town visiting friends.  I was sixteen and oftentimes still showered at night.  Let’s just say I didn’t that night, as I lay awake in a strange bedroom.  As I lay in that unfamiliar bed, with strange shadows and sounds, I swear I could hear the swish of the knife and that music.  Oh that music that always sends a shiver up my spine.  I think I gave up showering at night after watching Psycho.

So there we sat on the couch, the night of Halloween last year, picking what I was sure was going to be the first scary movie night.  I push enter, excited at the thought that I’m going to scare my kid.  Will she hide in my lap, will she cry?  As I watched the movie, I could feel the suspense in my gut.  First Marion Crane gets it in the shower, then Milton Arbogas, the private investigator.  All the while I’m screaming in my head for him to get out.  You’re next, I think to myself, trying not to spoil the movie for my daughter.   The sister and the boyfriend come.  I know the ending, and I watch the sister walk to the basement.  I could feel my heart beat faster, my eyes widen, because here it comes. The secret to the movie is found in the basement.  The skeleton, my heart jumps. 

“That’s boring, Mom,” she says to me with a shrug of her shoulders.  I’m dumbfounded.  Nothing.  Not even a small jump or gasp, or a "cool movie."  Damn.  Maybe I should have gone with The Exorcist.  At least the split pea soup might elicit a response.

So what am I going to do?  Every movie she sees she laughs at or shrugs off.  Do I try the movie Halloween next?  To be perfectly honest, the music freaks me out so badly that I’ve only managed to watch the first thirty minutes.  The Exorcist?  Carrie, The Chainsaw Massacre? It’s now become my mission to find the perfect movie that scares; that one movie that makes your heart leap out of your chest; the one that’s going to take my fourteen year old and turn her into a pile of goo.  And that’s how the best of the holiday traditions get started.  This year, I’m so gonna get her!

About the Author

Sheryl Steines is equal parts driven, passionate and inspired. With a degree in English from Wright State University, Steines dedicates time everyday to her art. Her love of books and a quality story drives her to share her talent with her readers as well as make the time to talk to book clubs and students about her process.

Sheryl has eclectic tastes and enjoys character driven novels. In her own writing, the Annie Loves Cham series is driven by her love of the characters and her desire to place them in totally new situations. She enjoys testing their mettle.

Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise. Her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy.

Sheryl can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. She also encourages her readers to email her and let her know what you think of Annie and Cham!
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  1. Great post, Sheryl! But I can't help wondering if she'd be more scared if she read the books instead of watching the movies. It's hard to be desensitized to our own imaginations.

    1. Thanks Melissa,

      I've been trying to get her to read. She's not much of a reader and incredibly picky about her books. I want her to try Stephen King but so far, she's not going for it.

  2. Yikes, I've never understood how anyone can shrug off a scary movie. I'm so wimpy that way!


    1. Yeah. My kid is hilarious that way. Watched Psycho and gave me a shrug. Go figure.

  3. Great article Sheryl, I can actually relate to this a little when I think about how I was around that age. Among other movies, I watched The Exorcist and Aliens alone in the dark late at night to try to scare myself. It got my pulse racing and I was creeped out of course, but it was a bit of a game to me and nothing really really scared me (like I'd hoped)...

    Except (the original 1979 version of) The Amityville Horror. That one really got me scared for the whole day and night afterwards. Reason why it scared me so much, is that I believed I was watching something that actually happened, and due to the lack of special effects for the most part, as it was actually happening... So maybe that one will get a reaction ;)