Why have I spent so much time on a genre I really don’t care about? Well, fist off because I wanted to show that there was more than just the zombie/slasher crap that Hollywood seems to love putting out and people seem so eager to buy. But also because I wanted to point out the flaws that were intrinsic even in these films.
Fear of Death: (With the exception of my #1 pick) all of these movies, and certainly all the crap I didn’t include involves the fear of death. People have an irrational fear of death that strangely rather than confront it in their own lives they would rather see it exaggerated and made into farce while at the same time watching others die as if they sacrifice enough people on film death will pass them by. They like to see horror movies because it allows them some control over their own worst fear; it allows it to be turned into a force with a name, a face, a motive or at least a pattern of action. Something that can be fought. Because rather than accept that death comes (as the Buddhist meditation to imagine each day a new and gruesome way you can die, that way when something finally happens you won’t be shocked by it) you must fight against it as if it is something that can be fought.
With the Death comes hand in hand with the Fear of Life. Every one of these movies is also filled with characters who fear life. Don’t believe me, let’s run down the list again
#29: The ‘Burbs a look at life that is stagnant and unloved
#28 Underworld the story of woman so hell-bent on revenge she has never once enjoyed immortality
#27 Sweeny Todd more revenge preventing a man from moving on
#26 Stir of Echoes A man who has not lived and doesn’t know how to react when something requires him to live
#25 Flatliners…this one’s kind of obvious
#24 X-files…was Mulder’s obsession the definition of a fear of living
#23 Little Shop of Horrors poor people afraid to leave the hell of the gutter because they dare not leave what they know
#22 Monster Squad…okay they’re kids, they get a pass for not living yet
#21 Scream, instead of living lets wallow in despair, or worse let’s kill people for kicks
#20 Pitch Black…everyone in that cast had problems
#19 Tremors, same problems as Little Shop, fear of leaving no where rather than risk going somewhere
#18 The Mummy, with the exception of the villain everyone there was strangely willing to embrace life (but this was an odd one out anyway)
#17 Beetlejuice, Winonna Ryder’s character clearly embraces death over living
#16 Se7ev, another bunch all afraid to actually enjoy what they have
#15 Sleepy Hollow, Icabod’s obsession with death to cover not living
#14 The Frightener, the fear of living is the main theme of this movie
#13 Sixth Sense, only by actually fully living is the kid freed of his curse
#11 The Evil Dead films…okay really there’s not theme here so it’s not fair to say I can’t find the fear of life here
#10 Interview with the Vampire: Louis’s hatred of his life is what led him to Lestat
#9 Fright Night, you can’t tell me that boy wasn’t afraid to make some important steps in his life
#8 Lost Boys, just look at the Frog brothers
#7 Alien, any company that is willing to sacrifice human beings to possibly find a new weapon, fear of life
#6, #5 Ghostbusters and Young Frankenstein, okay again comedy, don’t hold it against me when I can’t find anything of depth
#4 Dracula, a man who would rather feast on blood and death than simply live a mortal life
#3 Silence of the Lamb and #2 Psycho, I think our wide range of lunatics would have been far less homicidal if they had wanted to live their lives rather than cause death
#1 The Great Pumpkin…there is a certain fear of life in Linus not wanting to do fun things like trick or treat
Both these fears go hand in hand. Both are tied together. You’ll notice the people who have been afraid to live their lives for 60 years will spend fortunes of their own money (and then demand the government continue paying) to fight a fatal cancer living that last year in fear of death. Rather if they had led a full life, they would have spent that last year accepting they would die and use that last year and their own money to check off all the last things on their bucket list. The fear of death and the fear of life, the fear of the unknown in both cases, is what causes people to demand that someone else provide their food, shelter, employment, education…because if they had to do it there is the possibility they could fail, and it’s unknown whether they will and they can’t handle that unknown. Those who demand that healthcare be provided are afraid of dying because they’re afraid that they’ll die before their life has meant something, an effect caused by the fact they have been afraid to live. Someone who lives their life to the fullest doesn’t necessarily embrace death, but they don’t fear, it’s just the natural next part of life; they’ll fight for every last second that is to be lived, but not for seconds just to survive.
And this is why I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. It’s a holiday of the fear of death. And this holiday glorifies that fear…which in my mind is a terrible thing if not coupled with clear understanding of the evils of this obsession (which most people lack). Which I have no use for. But it’s a holiday of imagination which I have a lot of use for. But overriding everything is the nice knowledge that when Halloween is over I get to start playing Christmas music (I hate turkey so as far as I’m concerned there is no holiday between Halloween and Christmas).