Horror movies serve a useful purpose. Not only do they entertain and offer a form of escapism from the drudgery of everyday life, but they can also serve as a warning to the viewer and help them to make better life decisions.
For instance, the slasher movies of the 80’s were packed full of morals. When a knife-wielding maniac is after you, what are your best chances of survival?
Well, it is now widely known that you should avoid the following:
smoking dope, having sex, playing practical jokes, being a jock, being an air-head…
Basically, if you’re the virgin who frowns upon rebellion, drugs and sexuality you’re more likely to survive.
But other horror movies have gone as far as to make everyday occurrences seem dangerous. And by viewing one of these flicks, it’s possible that your habits could be changed forever – no matter how unlikely the events in the movie are.
Here are five examples of films that once watched, could change the way you think forever (in a bad way).
This is a classic example. A film that once viewed, is likely to pop into your head every time you even think about going into the sea. Although you can probably count the number of annual shark related deaths on both hands (just 447 fatal attacks worldwide between 1580 and 2010 according to the ISAF ), thanks to Jaws, the risk of you being eaten when in open water is always very real – even if you’re only paddling ankle deep or standing in a particularly deep puddle.
There are lots of stories about the mass panic that Jaws caused upon its release. People went out lynching sharks in fishing boats because all of a sudden they realized just what they were capable of.
But far more devastating than the impact on the shark population was the psychological trauma that was suffered by those that saw the movie. People were scared to swim in the sea, people were scared to swim in public pools, and people were scared to take a bath (probably).
There was no denying that Jaws was an excellent film, playing on our psyche in a most effective way. But soon enough, this model of horror was jumped upon by just about every other film producer, playing on our every phobia and generally making us question whether it’s even safe for us to get out of bed in the morning.
Read the Love Horror review here: Jaws (1975)
Following on from the Jaws model is Arachnophobia, a film that took a great deal from the shark movie and brought the fear of nature out of the water and right into our dry, cosy, previously safe homes.
When a giant, killer spider from the Amazon hitches a ride to a small, sleepy American suburb it’s not long before it has reproduced with the local house spider and a deadly brood is killing off the human population.
Spiders are far from popular with people. In the west it is estimated that 55% of females and 18% of males have a phobia of them . And although they creep us out, we like to avoid killing them as much as possible as they’re generally seen to be ‘good guy’ insects – killing flies and stuff. But maybe the reason that we actually leave them be is because we’re so scared that they might jump on us, bite us and cause pain and/or death. Ultimately, they just can’t be trusted.
Arachnophobia was widely seen as family entertainment and did well to water down horror to acceptable levels and thus make it suitable for network broadcast. But the long term psychological effect was huge and the TV networks inadvertently amplified the fear of spiders in an effort to raise viewer ratings.
After watching the movie any unusual looking spider that you found in your home could be a killer, cobwebs soon became potential death-traps and when discovered, it soon seemed like a good idea to incinerate any spiders nests with a match and an aerosol – just to be sure.
I bet you feel all itchy just thinking about it.
3. The Mist
John Carpenter did a good job at making us fear The Fog in his 1980 classic, but when we had just assured ourselves that ghost leper pirates weren’t a real threat, along came a film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist to keep us on our toes. That’s right, ghosts are unlikely, but a government experiment resulting in the emergence of mutant, space dinosaurs is just the sort of thing that we expect after exposure to Cloverfield, The Thing and Jurassic Park.
It seems conceivable that humans have tampered with nature/interdimensional travel enough to unleash a surreal mutant apocalypse and the fact that the monsters in The Mist are never really explained, just adds to the terror. ‘It’s all a cover-up, just like 9-11 and Area 51’ you tell yourself ‘My god this really could happen!’
The event in question takes place on a typical day in a typical daily setting (a supermarket) and added to the freaky things that lurk in the fog is the horror that lurks inside all of us – when there is an apocalypse, humans turn into assholes and turn on each other.
After bearing the tension of living in fear of mist and fog and people for a good hour you’re likely to never be able to look at a fog bank in the same way again. Is it just morning dew or the beginning of the end?
And then there’s the ending of the movie… Oh the ending!
It’s likely to leave a stain on your brain that will never be erased.
4. The Blair Witch Project
This genre defining found footage movie had a mixed reception. Upon its release approximately 50 percentage of the population found it terrifying and the other 50 percent just didn’t get it (nominated for Worst Picture of 1999 at the Razzie Awards  but also #12 in top 100 scariest movies of all time ).
The explanation for this difference in opinion was largely down to one thing – whether you have ever been camping.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of spending a frozen night in complete darkness, surrounded by unseen sounds and creatures, the idea of twig figures and scratchy noises just outside your tent are unfamiliar and not alarming.
But if you’ve camped in the wild and know how vulnerable a nylon shelter can feel when confronted by nature and your own imagination, The Blair Witch pretty much plays on everything you’ve ever feared.
As if bears, wolves, snakes and homicidal red necks weren’t enough to worry about, there’s now an invisible witch who plays with your mind before kidnapping and dismembering you. Worse still, she probably has friends – ghosts, werewolves, zombies. They all want to chow down on you in their creepy shell of a home.
‘Toasted marshmallows anyone? Wait, those aren’t marshmallows!!’
So you can avoid the sea, you can escape the fog and you can vow never to go camping again, but there’s one thing in all our lives that is hard to hide from. Love.
We’ve all been there. A relationship ends and we desperately long to find a new partner. And sometimes a friend offers to help out by arranging a blind date or two, or in the case of Audition, a mini X-Factor for girlfriends as opposed to pop stars. What’s the worst that could happen? You’re not going to end up living as a limbless mute in a sack are you? Well, maybe…
As if the fear of being alone wasn’t enough to play on our minds, thanks to Audition and other similar films (Fatal Attraction probably being the catalyst) it now seems very plausible that your next girlfriend will be straight up psychopath.
They could be beautiful (Species) or frumpy (Misery), looks don’t matter because ultimately it’s what’s inside that counts – a deranged mind which ultimately wants to toy with you, then kill you in a very slow and painful way.
It’s no surprise then that after so many years of objectifying women, we would have a re-alignment. Women are equal with men on every level and that includes all the bad stuff;
yes they do fart,
no they don’t wake up looking beautiful,
and if they have issues, they’re just as likely to do you harm as the next guy.
Read the Love Horror review here: Audition