Have I reached my maximum spoop capacity with horror movies?
Come with me now on a journey back to 2009. Barack Obama had been inaugurated as president, shit was going down in Sudan and Darfur, and the airy love-ballad “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha (₭€$₴؋ on the international market) was all over the airwaves. As autumn loomed in the distance, TV audiences were graced with a trailer for an upcoming horror flick. However, instead of laying out every detail of the plot and spoiling every twist like trailers today, this trailer mainly focused on movie audiences. It showed them jumping and screaming. It showed their moments of vulnerable terror as the reeled in fright at the events happening on the screen. It was an exciting trailer and one that made horror fans, like myself, absolutely salivate.
That movie, of course, was Paranormal Activity.
Halloween is approaching: a time when all manner of ghost, ghoul and monster crawl their way from the deep abyss of our fears to roam the mortal realm in search of their next fright. It’s also a time of year where Diabetes awareness gets sidelined. Spooky stuff.
In the spirit of the Holiday, I wanted to bring something up. Namely, I wanted to discuss the single scariest monster of all the catalog of monsters. One that has lumbered his way through American history, always looming just out of sight and evading capture.
A classic in the Horror genre of films is the Slasher sub-genre. Anybody who is even fairly familiar with horror movies might recognize the concept of a slasher film: stalking psychopath terrorizes group of protagonists and viciously murders them, often in creative or convenient ways. This sub-genre itself has spawned many of the tropes and patterns often attributed to the horror genre as a whole, such as the whole “rules” concept presented in detail in the Scream series.
In the past, I’ve had to introduce friends and acquaintances to horror movies. I have watched an absolute ton, as horror is by far my favorite genre of just about any media, but not everybody has been so keen on horror for most of their lives, maybe occasionally seeing some mainstream fair but not much more. As such, I have an arsenal of films to introduce people to different elements of horror, from the seriously artful to the campy and ridiculous. When it comes to slasher films, there is only ONE clear choice as to which sadistic murderer needs to be the first one to stab their way into a newbie’s heart.
Horror in roleplaying games can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s sometimes tough for people to fully deliver on. It’s shockingly simple for a session that was intended to deliver plenty of spooks to become incredibly dull. However, with careful planning and a few simple tricks, the terror can be real and can shake your players’ nerves in incredibly ways.
Here are some tips that have worked for me.
So, I recently watched Veronica on Netflix, the supposed movie “so scary, people can’t make it through more than halfway.” While I still enjoyed the film and it’s retro vibe, I found myself disappointed in the lack of things that were generally scary enough to motivate me or anyone else to want to turn the movie off. Now, I am a considerable horror fan (I avoid the word “buff” because it often invites the gatekeepers) and have watched tons upon tons of horror films, so it’s definitely possible I am just jaded by all the scares I’ve endured. However, I’ve noticed a trend in horror films that is generally bothering me and just sucks the horror out entirely.
Halloween is approaching, so how about we get all lit-major on Nightmare Before Christmas?
Why not, right?
So, the other day I literally woke up thinking about the main “antagonist” in that movie, Oogie Boogie. For the longest time it’s bothered me that this character was not more developed. He isn’t even MENTIONED until Act II of the film, and after that point we continue to know very little about him except that he “eats” bugs, he’s been locked away for some reason, and Jack DESPISES him. However, we’re never given an inkling as to why he is so hated by Halloweentown, enough so that the very sight of his “boys” gives the Mayor anxiety. I feel like there was a lot to be done with that character, but in the end it kind of just feels like a cheap attempt to allow Jack (who very well should be the bad guy of this story) to have a moment of redemption by saving Santa from the very predicament his hubris landed Santa in. It’s always just felt like a tacked on character because some Disney Exec was all “hey, there needs to be a villain so we can sell toys.”