If anybody were to ask what is the best time of year for movie fans, the assumption would be from October to January, as one would reach the conclusion that it is award season and everybody wants to familiarize themselves with what will potentially be nominated. As a movie fanatic, I must correct you by saying that is bullshit. The award shows are nothing but parties for Hollywood A-listers, and one can never hold the Oscars as the maxim for defining superior movies. Can one really say that Chariots of Fire is superior to the first Indiana Jones installment, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the movie it defeated at the 54th Academy Awards? Or that Dances with Wolves is better than GoodFellas? Or, the most obvious, How Green Was My Valley is a cut above Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece that is considered the greatest movie ever made?
If it is not award season, then what can it be? Summer for the blockbusters? No. Just because it is popular does not guarantee a good experience. Christmas? No, Christmas is the time of year that I always hope passes by the quickest, due to the fact that I have worked three seasons in retail… Okay, maybe that one is subjective, but it’s my blog so we will continue with my proposal.
The best time of year for movie fans has to be September and October. Why? Halloween. And Halloween is horror movie season.
The movies, along with so many other forms of storytelling, serve as a means to satisfy our natural desire for adrenaline-related sensations. This is evident in our forms of play, which is seen in all animals. We, humans, have the ability to introduce creative aspects to our forms of conflict. All stories most require some obstacle to be overcome, otherwise nobody would pay attention. Hitchcock summed it up perfectly by saying “Drama is life with all the dull bits cut out.” The Master of Suspense also brought up how many times a woman will share that she went to the movies and had a “good cry”, and if it had been a “bad cry” she would not have paid the money for the ticket. We love to play with our emotions. The grandness of the conflict can range from finding the missing groom in time for the wedding, as seen in The Hangover, or saving an entire civilization in the fight against the personification of evil, as seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Nobody wants to encounter danger or drama in real life, but when we know that we, ourselves, are safe, imagining some character being confronted with conflict gives us pleasure, but not in a sadistic way (though maybe there are some folk out there who do think like that).
And what better way to experience a rush of adrenaline than a common theme throughout horror movies: the endurance and survival through an interaction with a terrifying force? Whether the conflict has a miserable or happy ending, or whether we are watching for the first time or the hundredth time, we simply want to experience that rush that comes with this simulation of emotions.
I have seen The Shining countless times that I know the story every which way. But I love watching Jack Nicholson descend from family man to madman, and the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel trying to take control of Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd as they flee Jack’s rage, and I observe something new every occasion.
But horror movies work in September and October because it is Halloween season, and it is festive to be scary. Again, none of us like to be scared in real life, but when we know it’s all arranged/play/or not real, we love it. But none of this excitement happens with Christmas, either. Sure, people like to delve into magic and wonder, but it does not give us the rush of a horror film. And I include the month of September because I believe that Halloween, as a season, deserves more than 31 days (at best).
As the season goes by, I plan on re-watching all of my favorite scary movies. From mainstream Hollywood’s earliest scares with the Universal Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Mummy), to the pioneering Psycho, the one horror flick to win the Best Picture Oscar (The Silence of the Lambs), to the obscure masterpieces such as The Changeling (not the 2008 movie with Angelina Jolie, I mean the ghost story with George C. Scott), Suspiria, Night of the Demon, and one of my favorite silent films: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s begin to scare ourselves beyond comprehension to get that natural rush that all living animals experience! May we look to Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula greeting us as this season starts as he says “I bid you welcome!”