When you’re a horror fan, you are committed to your love of the genre. You may bitch about a classic getting remade, but you will still see it in theaters. You can discuss the merits of Ted White’s Jason versus Kane Hodder’s multiple portrayals. You bond with anyone wearing a “Sawyer Family Chainsaw” t-shirt. You also feel like it is your sacred duty to bring others into the horror loving fold.
As horror enthusiasts, we all have that one friend. Or maybe more than one. You know the one. “I don’t like horror movies.” Not, “I don’t like gore” or “Zombies creep me out,” but “I don’t like horror movies.” Period. Full stop. Now we horror lovers know that’s not true. There’s a movie for even the most skeptical of people. I present a step by step guide to sneak some horror films into your next movie night.
Step One: Keep it classy.
When you say, “Oscar,” the first thing that comes into your head is probably not the horror genre. So rather than present The Silence of the Lambs as a classic horror film, present it for what it is: an Academy Award winner. Lure them in with promises of Sir Anthony Hopkins (he’s a freakin’ Knight, you don’t get classier than that) and Jodie Foster. Once you have ‘em hooked, BAM, you hit them with the film’s horror status. Be prepared for some pushback, even doubt about the validity of its status as a horror film. This film won a fucking Academy Award. How could a horror film win an Academy Award? Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by the argument that The Silence of the Lambs isn’t a horror film. One dude eats people and the other is making a lady suit out of actual ladies. If that’s not a horror film, then Texas Chainsaw Massacre is secretly a children’s movie.
Step Two: It’s not horror, it’s thriller!
Calling a film a “thriller,” is also a surefire way to sneak it past anyone who may have a grudge against horror. For what is a thriller but merely a slightly more pulse racing cousin to the classy drama genre. It’s hard to say what it is about the word “thriller” that sounds so much safer than “horror,” but don’t fight it, use it to your advantage. If you find yourself nervous about suggesting a thriller, practice the conversation in the mirror beforehand. “The Sixth Sense? Oh, don’t worry, it’s a thriller.” “Want to watch a movie with Brad Pitt? How about that thriller, Seven?” “Cannibal Holocaust…oh yeah…definitely a thriller.” Okay, you may not be able to pull off that last one, but it’s good to think big.
Step Three: Make ‘em laugh.
Never underestimate the power of a horror comedy. Start off light with something that is more comedy than horror, like Young Frankenstein (also good to get them used to things with Frankenstein in the title). Move them up to something that’s still heavy on the comedy, but also more overtly horror. Your friends will be so busy laughing at Simon Pegg, they won’t even notice that he’s battling zombies in Shaun of the Dead. Before you know it, you’ll be pulling out the big guns with some Tucker and Dale vs Evil or some Cabin in the Woods and they won’t even blink.
Step Four: Keep it British.
Americans love British Accents. British people made Downton Abbey! That shit is classy! Anything with a British accent is also a wonderful way to distract people from realizing they’re watching a horror film. Why not try The Wicker Man? Not only is it British, but Christopher Lee is in it. He was in The Lord of the Rings. Pure class. If you start to get scared, you can always focus on the soothing British voices.
Step Five: Monsters get the job done.
People are obsessed with Shark Week. What better way to sneak in a horror movie then by showing the movie that is responsible for our fear and fascination with sharks, Jaws? It’s a little-known fact that Jaws was originally given a rating of PG (the PG-13 rating hadn’t been invented yet.) How can anything rated PG be that bad? Sharks too real a monster? Try a little Alien. Too gruesome? Why not go old school with some Wolfman or Frankenstein? Which segues nicely into…
Step Six: Keep it classic.
This is a particularly effective on those who shun any and all gore. The classic Universal Monsters were telling a lot of Gothic stories. Heavy on atmosphere and damsels in distress, but light on gore. Plus, they’re in black and white! Black and white isn’t scary. In fact, it’s practically educational. Break open a little Creature From the Black Lagoon and call it a day.
When all else fails: deception.
If you’ve tried every other step with no success, then you’ve gotten nothing to lose. Lie. Desperately want someone to watch the new IT movie? Tell them it’s I.T. and is about working in tech. By the time Pennywise makes his first appearance, it’ll be too late to do anything. Got a hankering for some Jigsaw? A thrilling journey into the world of jigsaw puzzle competitions. Life not complete until you’ve watched A Serbian Film? Actually, don’t spring that movie on anyone. That’s a step too far. This method is not ideal and doesn’t allow for a lot of longevity, but it will work a handful of times before everyone realizes what you’re doing and refuses to ever watch a movie with you again.
Good luck to you, brave horror aficionado. Yours is not an easy journey, but if even one non-horror fan is converted, it will have been worth it.
This post originally appeared in Belladonna magazine. https://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/1124238