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UALR students weigh in on their love of horror

Submitted by Caleb Mitchell on October 24, 2013 – 1:15 pmNo Comment

The heat of summer is finally dissipating and the chill of autumn is setting in. Everywhere you go, pumpkin-flavored everything bombards your taste buds, and if you walk into any local grocery or convenience store, bags upon bags of bat and ghost-shaped candies fill the aisles. Yes, October is in full swing, Halloween is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing: horror movies are back with a vengeance.

Whether Freddy, Jason or Michael is your man, this time of year is always perfect to settle down with a group of friends – or if you’re feeling brave, just a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate – and pop in some flicks that are guaranteed to get the blood pumping (and spilling). Is “Scream” your preferred movie choice? Maybe a little “Paranormal Activity”? Do you and your friends fight over whether to watch “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or “The Strangers”? Either way, rest assured you’re not alone in your quest for chills, thrills, and kills. But what exactly is it that makes people watch these types of movies?

Resident Assistant Brady Redman thinks the answer is simple: “Everybody likes to be scared sometimes.” One female student, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she also enjoys the rush that the scares give her – but she only watches horror movies under certain circumstances. “It is usually when I am home alone and at night,” she said. “It makes your heart pound and palms sweat. Also, when you hear a little creak, it makes you freak out.” Music major Derrick Herman had similar thoughts. “It’s a chance to feel an adrenaline rush,” Herman said. “And you get that sensation of being in danger, without actually putting yourself in danger.”

Leanna Payton, Hall Director for West Hall, agrees with Herman, saying that the adrenaline is a big part of it for her as well. “It makes your adrenaline pump, and gets you excited and scared,” Payton said. “It’s emotions that you don’t normally have, and sometimes those are fun to have because it’s like experiencing a different world.” Payton also said that she enjoys the tradition of watching horror movies throughout the month, due to the nature of Halloween.
However, the scares don’t do it for all students. In fact, some don’t seem fazed by the genre at all, saying they watch horror films for the humor they derive from them, or for the challenge of trying to find that one film that will someday scare them senseless. University Village resident Steven Cato said he watches horror movies for one reason only: “The stupidity makes me laugh.” Other people, like Spanish major Marissa Godfrey, use the pretense of being scared as an excuse to have a good time, or to share a moment with someone they love. “It gives me a reason to cuddle up with my man,” Godfrey said.

Tim Edwards, an associate professor in UALR’s School of Mass Communication who specializes in pop culture, weighed in on why people get such enjoyment from watching horror flicks.

“I think it has to a lot to do with the escapist gratification they receive from those movies,” Edwards said. “You suspend disbelief and allow yourself to be taken into another place where things are other-worldly; there is a sense of excitement for many in the audience. They get a rush from the action, the suspense, etc. Also, it is an opportunity for the audience to live vicariously through the characters; to have an experience they would not otherwise have but still feel safe because they know it is only fantasy – a movie.”

Brad Pierce, a graduate student who teaches courses on films and film criticism in the School of Mass Communication, had his own opinion on the matter as well.

“I think people watch horror movies [for] the same reason they ride rollercoaster rides; they have a physical response (fear), yet they know that it’s safe,” Pierce said. “People want to face their fears in a fun and harmless way, and feel their hearts race and their adrenaline pump. I myself love horror movies because of the communal environment and reaction that’s present in the theater when watching it; it feels like I’m at a big sleepover, I’m 13, and I’m watching a scary movie with my friends.”

For whatever the reason may be, one thing is clear: people love horror movies, and for as long as they’ve been around and as popular as they continue to be, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So whether you’re a fan of slashers, “gorror” flicks, horror-comedies, survival-horror or psychological-horror films, go ahead; get a few friends together, grab some popcorn, turn the lights down and settle down to scare up some memories and fun together this Halloween season.

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