You Can Keep Your Chainsaws and Jump Scares, I’m Just In It For the Candy
It’s scary season, and I’ll be over here binging on fun-sized Snickers with my hands over my eyes.
It’s not that I don’t adore Halloween—your girl loves her dress-up, and everyone’s house looks much improved with the proliferation of porch zombies and 11-foot yard skeletons.
But once the ghostie fun veers into blood and gore, I’m out.
I’ve never been a fan of horror movies, and the hype around the genre this time of year has me hiding from y’all’s feeds. Back when my peers were guffawing over Michael Myers and Freddie Krueger I tried to pretend I was down for it, though one midnight showing at the dollar theater during that nasty skinless scene in Hellraiser I left for the bathroom and never came back.
I threw out my Cabbage Patch Doll after creepy ginger Chucky scrambled down a hallway with a butcher knife, and just the trailer of The Blair Witch Project had me sleeping with the closet light on for weeks — when I was in my 20s.
I don’t even know how I even know about the sadistic shit of the early aughts like Saw and The Hills Have Eyes—maybe it was the DVD covers at Blockbuster—but these new previews of M3Gan and Infinity Pool slipping into my Netflix can just stop.
It seems like horror movies are becoming ever more disturbing and disgusting, and I’m mystified—and frankly a little suspish—of people who can stomach them. Like, what kind of freak wants to see loose eyeballs on purpose? But as slasher star power and psycho protagonists gross an average of $1 billion a year with grossing people out, I’m clearly in the minority.
So I asked local horror meister Chris Soucy to help me understand. The co-host of The Most Haunted City on Earth podcast has been telling ghoulish stories on stage and screen for years in Savannah, and though I’m almost positive he’s not a sociopath, I have to speed scroll past daily Facebook posts detailing his bloodbath watchlist throughout the month of October.
“Horror movies allow us to feel fear without the threat,” explains Chris, who grew up on a diet of splatter standards like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Halloween and counts classics (1931’s Frankenstein) as well as Hulu originals (Prey: No Man’s Land) as favorites.
“It can be about experiencing the thrill, or pushing the boundaries of what you can handle.”
While some of us prefer to test the limits of our anxieties by shopping at Kroger during rush hour, Chris heralds the horror genre as a context where societal fears can be explored safely. He points to the modern obsession of zombies as a stand-in for xenophobia and hoarding of resources, echoing the enduring wisdom of horror godfather H.P. Lovecraft—who was famously paranoid and racist—“The greatest fear is the fear of the unknown.”
I’ve never understood how people find gore flicks funny, but this founding member of Odd Lot Improv troupe shares that mining the comedy from the carnage is often the point.
“Fear is the opposite of humor,” he counsels.
“We laugh at what we're scared of when we get past it…on the other side is comfort.”
For scaredy-kittens like myself to dip a toe back into the deadpool, Chris recommends late-80’s demonic dismemberment fest Evil Dead 2, which he promises is cartoony in its over-the-top ridiculousness (the production reportedly used so much fake blood that the crew had to cook it up on set like a meth lab.)
Should the blood n’ guts become too much, he says it’s helpful to watch in a group setting so you can laugh nervously with others, or maybe pinch someone really hard to diffuse the scary feelings. Barring that, he gently reminds, “it’s only a movie.”
I deeply appreciate this as I resist diabolic possession by the real horrors happening in the world. Perhaps training myself with fictional terror can help me deal with the gut-wrenching fears of confronting anti-semitism and other injustice in our community, of the terrorism of mis- and disinformation spreading like a toxic blob, of being slashed to pieces by the poisonous daggers of anonymous social media trolls.
Then again, with the scariest stuff reflecting on our screens, maybe it’s best to keep this weekend’s pre-Halloween carousing in the physical realm: The reliably frightening Alee Haunted House keeps the shrieks alive to benefit local children’s charities, and delightful banjo banshee Rosie is hosting a hair-raising music show called The Infestation, inspired by Savannah’s scariest villains, the cockroaches.
If a time warp is what you’re looking for, you’d best nab tickets to Rocky Horror Show Live at Bay Street Theater ‘cause they’re antici-ci-CI!-pating a sellout, ya sluts. In case your castle doesn’t have a phone, you may not have heard this year’s stupendously sexy cast performed last Saturday for the original Dammit Janet Susan Sarandon, who sang along with companion Megan Mullally and knew all the classic callbacks.
“The phrase ‘never meet your heroes’ does not apply here. They were wonderful!" effuses Travis Harold Coles, BST’s executive producer who reprises his role as Riff Raff along with partner Trey Norris (aka the gorgeous Treyla Trash), longtime cast member and first time Rocky director.
“Not many directors can say that Susan Sarandon came to see their version of the Rocky Horror Show,” Trey marvels. “This is a moment I will be talking about for the rest of my life.” Feel that Savannah Pride, people!
Speaking of true colors, it’s time again for all the weirdos to gather for the 4th Annual Witch Dance in Forsyth Park on Sunday at 3pm, hosted by yours truly. Though our beloved friends of Samba Savannah will be sitting this year out, we’ve conjured a magical playlist featuring the original enchanting jam, German rap star Peter Fox’s “Schuttel deinen Speck,” which translates to “shake your bacon.” Bring your broom and let’s sizzle!
So here’s to a happy Halloween—or a horror-filled one, if that’s your thing (still suspish; keeping my side-eye on y’all.) Amid all the treats and trickery, may we all find the courage to face our fears.
It’s just a jump to the left ~ JLL
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