Harley Hay

Harley Hay: Scary movies can scare the pants off of you

Some people just love to have the pants scared off of them by scary movies. This can be pretty awkward, especially in public but movie-goers have been flocking to theatres and small screens to get their fix of terror, horror and other apparently pleasant sadomasochistic experiences since the invention of the six inch carving knife and the chainsaw.

One survey conducted on the interweb (so it must be true) showed that 62 per cent of people think it’s “fun to be scared.” It said that being scared by a movie can “flood you with adrenaline” and give you what they like to call a “thrilling rush.” All well and good, I suppose, if you are willing to lose your ability to sleep at night, walk down dark back alleys, or go down into the creepy basement where you suspect the lighting is always on the verge suddenly going out.

I’ve told the story before, but I’ll never forget my first horror movie. I was just a kid still in the single digits of life and my much older sister and her best friend were all excited about going to a really scary movie downtown. It featured the Prince of Scary Horror at the time, Vincent Price, and it was about a werewolf. For some reason I absolutely had to go to that movie and I pleaded, cajoled, begged and whined to my mom and dad, my sister, the universe and Vincent Price himself to let me go along to see my first scary movie.

I finally won, of course. Hard to imagine, but I was quite adorable back then, and significantly spoiled, so when the big night came I rode my bike with great anticipation alongside my sister and her best friend as they walked excitedly all the way to the Crescent Theatre from our old place in Parkvale. I lasted approximately 4.2 minutes.

I didn’t even make it through the opening credits. The theatre darkened, scary music began seeping in, then Vincent Price’s even scarier voice crept up louder and louder and… and… BAM! The humongous screen exploded with a hairy scary giant ugly blood-soaked werewolf roaring and leaping right at me!

People screamed, my sister screamed, and I’m pretty sure I screamed. All I know is my ten cent bag of popcorn launched straight up skyward and suddenly I was on my feet and tripping over a whole row of legs and feet trying desperately to escape.

“I hhhave to go,” I stuttered, much to the consternation of my sister who was of course charged with my ongoing safety. Muttering something about having to do “homework” I stumbled frantically out of there and onto my bike and suddenly found myself furiously pedaling home like I was being chased by a werewolf. Which, basically, I was.

I didn’t go to a scary movie again until I was nearly 40, and I’ve certainly avoided werewolves my entire life.

So I was thinking about all this as I sat down in a dark theatre last night to watch a scary movie. The movie was Scream – the 2022 version as opposed to the original 1996 version (and versions 2, 3, and 4) that had the whole world screaming. You know, the one that introduced to all of us scaredy-pants the totally creepy Ghostface slasher dude who chases teenagers with a large knife which he attempts to insert into most of their important internal organs.

I wasn’t a very good movie, really. Sure, I screamed a few times, but the only really scary thing was the price of the popcorn. And this time I made it all the way through to the end. And I still had my pants on.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.