I’ve loved horror for as long as I can remember. Something about the adrenaline rush, those loud and unexpected moments that push your heart against your ribcage and the relieved, nervous laughter when you find out it was just the cat jumping from one surface to the other. So the idea that violence and gore on the screen could affect a human being to the point where they commit macabre and evil acts in real life has always fascinated me.
My obsession with horror started with a smaller, much-younger version of myself staying up til all hours of the night reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels. I use the word ‘novel’ loosely. I would wait until my parents were in bed, grab a torch and hide under the covers reading about amusement parks that wouldn’t let you leave, summer camps hiding dark secrets and siblings getting replaced by robots. Eventually I would get myself into such a state that every sound in the house sounded like the living dummy, and he was coming to get me.
I did eventually develop my taste in literature (I promise) and now own over twenty different Stephen King books. But this isn’t about the written word.
When terrible things happen people naturally want someone to blame, and in quite a few cases violent movies are used as a scapegoat. Now I have seen everything from Hostel to Halloween, Saw to Psycho, and have thus far never commited murder, torture or the like. I haven’t kidnapped anyone and forced them to “…play a game” or used my telekinetic mind powers to torture the people at school who were mean to me. Yes I do have telekinesis, don’t tell anyone.
So I guess I should probably present some evidence and make myself seem more credible rather than just rattling off cute little anecdotes about Baby Becca who was afraid of the boogeyman.
In 1992 toddler James Bulger went missing and was later found dead. Murdered in such a gruesome fashion that the crime must have been committed by a crazy, disturbed person. When it was revealed the atrocity was committed by two 10-year old boys shocks and fear were sent through parents and the public alike. It’s hard to come to terms with the idea that children, innocent and pure, could be responsible for such a heinous crime, and during sentencing the Judge blamed the act on a horror movie, “Child’s Play 3”.
What the Judge failed to mention was the circumstances the killers had grown up in; domestic abuse, parental alcoholism, family dysfunction and neglect, as well as bullying were all present in both boy’s lives from a young age. By pure mathematics is it not safe to assume that 10 years of abuse and neglect had more of an impact on the people these children became and the crime they committed than an hour-and-a-half long horror movie? In my humble opinion, blaming a movie for the crimes of children is just a cop-out.
When Martin Bryant went on a killing spree in Port Arthur that left 35 dead and 23 wounded, the public was very quick to believe the reports of numerous horror movies and bestial pornography being found in his house. In reality there was nothing of the sort found. In fact Bryant’s favourite films were “Babe” and “The Lion King”. Rather than being inspired by violent films, Bryant was actually taking revenge on a community that had rejected him because he was developmentally challenged.
It’s almost midnight and the pear cider next to me is doing little to keep me awake, so I’ll end it here, with a quote from Ray in “Scary Movie”: “No! Watching TV shows doesn’t create psycho killers. Canceling TV shows does!” I have to agree with him, because I have never had such extreme homicidal thoughts as when Entourage was taken off the air.
More, more, more?
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/chucky-films-defended-1468498.html (article written soon after the James Bulger case denying horror movie responsibility)
http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/7618 (Article about censorship of horror movies)