I hate scary movies.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. I actually love watching them. I love the suspense, the jittery feeling in your stomach the whole time, the build-up creepy music and the excuse to cement my arms around my husband’s chest for two hours.
And then I hate them.
I hate them when I wake up to a dead-quiet house and have to go to the bathroom, passing our huge master bath mirror, which I just know is reflecting something haunting behind me. I hate them when I have to turn off all the lights in the basement before I bolt up the stairs. I hate them when I’m slowly closing our blinds to the dark shadows outside in the field behind our house.
Mostly, I hate them when my husband’s away on business and suddenly images from every scene of every scary movie I’ve ever seen come screaming back with complete clarity.
I have (luckily) learned over the years that a few hours of adrenaline rush to watch a spooky show are not worth the days and days of dwelling and worrying and crying for my husband to come home. So I choose to stay away from them, for the most part.
But what really makes me mad is when previews from movies I haven’t seen stick in my head.
That’s exactly what happened a few nights ago when my husband was out of town.
There I was, just minding my own business watching my man Simon on “The X Factor” and eating a giant bowl of Honeycomb when suddenly the program ended and a picture of a woman sleeping alone in her bed came up on the screen. The door to her room slowly started to open, and an image appeared in the doorway and that’s where I lost it.
Realizing I was now being lured into the evil world of "Paranormal Activity," I lunged for the remote, trying to change the channel, plug my ears and close my eyes at the same time. Which is hard to do, I might add.
After a few seconds of panic, I ended up finally finding the “mute” button and singing a song loudly to myself while my fingers stumbled over the channel-changing buttons. Finally I was able to click on an ESPN channel and sat there rubbing my tingling cheek furiously for five minutes. (I have this totally weird physical reaction whenever I see something scary; my left cheek suddenly goes numb and tingly.)
After a few minutes, I changed the channel back, but by then the image of that woman sleeping alone was burned on my brain. I was terrified.
And I hadn't even seen the movie!
If we have the capability of blocking certain channels, I think there should be a way to also block certain commercials.
With Halloween just around the corner, there are dark movies aplenty on TV and in the theaters. Even if I do have an unhealthy love-hate relationship with scary movies, it’s with the semi-scary, jumpy ones. I don’t do evil, sinister ones. In fact, I remember coming home from “The Ring” in high school and sitting on my parents' bed and crying for an hour, begging them to let me sleep in their room as if I were 5 years old again.
So what are some good, fun, spooky movies that won’t leave you feeling like you need to watch a few episodes of Barney afterward? (I've admittedly done that.)
Here’s a short list of some of my favorites, as well as a few suggestions from family and friends that’ll surely get your spook on.
The Harry Potter series
I love the Harry Potter movies. And these aren’t silly, kid shows. They are actually quite spooky, but not in an evil kind of way. They are well-made, full of drama and amazing visual effects (that were even nominated for an Oscar this past year) and a great story. Note to parents: This series ranges in ratings from PG to PG-13. The movies get darker as the story progresses.
“Wait Until Dark”
This is a great old-fashioned movie featuring Audrey Hepburn. Newly blind and alone while her husband is away, Hepburn is terrorized one night by a man who believes a doll filled with drugs is in her apartment. This is a good scary movie that gives you thrills and chills without serious withdrawals.
Tom Cruise stars in this thriller in which he works for "PreCrime," a specialized police department set in the future that apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs.” Some scenes are very intense, and it’s somewhat of a disturbing storyline. But it’s Steven Spielberg at his best, and the movie was nominated for and won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing and several Saturn Awards for Best Writing, Best Supporting Actress, Best Science-Fiction film and Best Direction.
“What Lies Beneath”
Michelle Pfeiffer’s character is married to renowned scientist Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), who may have a shady past. Pfeiffer is suddenly haunted by a woman who claims to have been murdered by Ford, guiding Pfeiffer to a list of clues that may put her own life in jeopardy. This is about as ghostly as I get — and I think I even slept with the bathroom light on after this one, but it’s a great date night movie.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”
This is a classic, all-age appropriate show. Something to watch every year with the family. A great start to the Halloween season.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.