Sunday, November 3, 2013

IT'S A SCARY WORLD OUT THERE!


As Halloween is upon us and all things spooky dominate the conversation I harken back to the days of my youth when the Moose Jaw television station we always watched would put on a “Night of Fear” a couple of times a year showing horror movies from dusk ‘til dawn. They would show the standard scary flicks involving monsters and ghosts and aliens and killers of all kinds. Most of our gang of friends would gather at someone’s house to watch as many of the movies as we could before getting too scared or finally giving in to sleep. I always preferred our friends coming to our house so I wouldn’t have to walk home in the dark from someone else’s place.

I was about eleven or twelve-years-old at the time and thoroughly enjoyed being scared and scaring others. In fact, the Hubbard siblings, like every other family I would imagine, would quite often attempt to scare the crap out of each other by jumping out from behind something or chasing each other around with real or manufactured insects or some such scary object. Who didn’t like a good scare?

I don’t know how it works with other people but my interest in horror movies waned years ago. I guess daily life is scary enough for me now so I don’t feel the need to scare myself artificially as much anymore. Canadian winter driving is just about enough to scratch my scary itch nowadays. Paying the bills and worrying about that weird looking mole and losing the satellite signal right at the most crucial time in my favourite show is about all the frightening I require.

Having said all of that, I still have imagination enough, though, to creep myself out when I’m climbing back up the stairs after my three-in-the-morning visit to the loo and imagining a skeletal hand reaching through the banister spindles to grip my ankle as I hurry my goose-bumped self back to bed in the dark.

So what’s with the human fixation on all things spooky and scary? Why do we feel the need to get scared? My research revealed that, “The hormonal reaction we humans get from responding to a threat or crisis is what motivates us to ‘like to be scared’. This is the same flight or fight syndrome which guaranteed our survival in more primitive times. At the moment we are threatened, we have increased strength, power, heightened senses and intuition. This increase in mental and physical capacity is commonly referred to as an ‘adrenaline rush.’ Basically, you can get this feeling defending yourself against a lion in the jungle or sitting in a theatre watching a horror movie. We, as humans, appear to be hard-wired to be drawn to this feeling. It is older than we are as a species, and is tied to our survival; without it, we would have perished and died long ago.”

So that makes sense I guess. Broken down to a simpler form one could say that being scared makes us feel more alive.

While I might not be up for another all-nighter of horror movie watching I can still get a little excited around this time of the year as we indulge ourselves during the spookiest time of the year. Enjoy your Halloween everyone!

“When you’re scared, when you’re hanging on, when life is hurting you, then you’re going to see what you’re really made of.”-Sylvester Stallone (1946-).

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