Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Look At Our Childhood Fears

A while ago I proposed a question on Twitter asking “why are kids so terrifying in horror movies?” I got this idea after I watched the film The Children. Well, the idea for the post was for somebody else to take a chance and write the answer to this question because I didn’t know it. Well, my question was answered but I also received an answer that wasn’t really what I was looking for BUT it answered a question that I had always secretly asked myself.

“Why is it, that when we see somebody get their arms and legs chopped off we don’t flinch… but when we see a needle go into somebody’s arm or we see somebody get their fingernails pulled back, we are immediately terrified?”

It’s a question of childhood and primal fear that was answered quit well by a buddy of mine on Twitter known simply as… ANGRYSAM.

Here is his take on this question:

“A Child's Fear: Special Post for Paradise of Horror

By: “Angry” Sam Lucchese

So you're sitting there watching a great horror movie with blood and guts and gore exploding, chain saws cutting off limbs, humans and zombies dying gruesome all over the screen and yet you're not scared. Not really shitting in your pants scared. Somebody's head implodes blasting brains out both ears, and you're thinking, "What a cool effect, I wonder how they did that?" Then a cute little kid, girl or boy, it don't matter, appears in a scary spot and the child whimpers or giggles or cries out in fear, and suddenly you feel afraid. A stupid kid is standing, innocent, singing a song, as a killer sneaks up behind with an axe, and you're freaking out of your skin. Finally you're left thinking, "Why the hell did that just scare the hell out of me?"

Fear is not suffering or pain. Fear is the memory of past pain or the anticipation of a new, unknown suffering. But technically, fear can't hurt you. It is an instinct intended to help us survive a dangerous situation. And, as far as horror movies and thrillers, a lot of people who love watching them aren't afraid of freaks with chain saws. I mean how many times in your life has that happened to you? For me, the answer is never. But, when I hear that kid I remember fear. I was a kid. I was afraid, of simple things, the dark, thunder, and strange noises, whatever. I'm not saying I was this frightened little whining kid crying for mommy, but yeah, there were moments when I was about 6 or 7 and thought I was gonna die. And no matter how old or tough we are, it is that base fear, primal instinct that kicks in, making us remember a child's fear of a killer sneaking around the corner, smiling a toothless grin as he prepares to lop off our head with a rusty shovel.”

“Angry” Sam has brought up several great points and ides in this short essay that he has written and I agree with him 100% on them. Realistically speaking, how many of us have ever had our limbs cut off by a maniac or have been tortured by inbreeds? None of us but we have experienced needles, toe stubbing, eye surgery, broken legs/ankles and small infections. We can relate to these incidents and we know the pain and when we see them on film… we remember that childhood fear and pain. It’s a great study in psychological fear and what makes us so afraid of the small things in horror movies.

I am not sure if “Angry” Sam is a huge horror fanatic but I think the he really banged the nailed on the head with this and whether or not he is a horror fan, it was a pleasure to post his idea up.

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