Horror’s Helping Hand, Saying Goodbye To John Lafia And MORE
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Horror’s Helping Hand
- Image of the Week: RIP John Lafia
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: TP Of The Damned
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Horror’s Helping Hand
It may seem antithetical to surround oneself with fictional terror when the real world is a scary hellhole. Yet, like many, when I turn to my stack of horror movies I come away comforted. It’s not just a love of monsters and serial killers that keeps fans coming back for more. For many, horror provides a boost to their mental health and acts as a form of self-care.
Horror allows some persons with anxiety or trauma a way to process their experiences in a safe environment. Studies have shown that when watching horror, the areas of the brain responsible for regulating fear can reassure the viewer these events are not real. Symptoms during highly anxious moments such as a racing heartbeat or sweaty palms might be present, but the viewer knows they are in no real danger. This awareness can help develop coping strategies during future crises.
Anxiety sufferers say watching horror brings them relief because they know they are watching by choice and can pause or stop when they want. Exposure to horror offers them a level of control they feel is often missing from their life. Since most (not all) horror movies end with good triumphing over evil, the genre offers reassurance to those who suffer that, while what they’ve experienced is difficult, it can also be controlled. Watching traumatic events unfold on screen reminds the viewer they do not suffer alone. The repeated exposure to traumatic events in this controlled environment also lessens the severity of trauma over time.
Horror fans also tend to be empathetic, seeing themselves in the plight of the characters on screen. The build-up of tension as characters fend off mortal danger pays off in the form of emotional catharsis when the evil is defeated, or at least subdued. That empathy also allows them to gain a greater understanding of the misfortunes of others.
Movies like Ari Aster’s Midsommar offer a greater understanding over what it’s like for Florence Pugh’s Dani to grieve over the tragic loss of her family and the cratering of her relationship with a partner that offers zero emotional support. As a viewer, you share in her triumph and relief when she sheds herself of her gaslighting partner for all time. Despite an ending that would turn your stomach if you heard about it on CNN, there’s a sense of euphoria watching it on screen.
Finally, there’s a communal aspect of horror that offers comfort while sheltering-in-place. One effective self-care technique comes from nurturing our connections with others, but flattening the curve makes that impractical. Virtual gatherings, however, find horror fans coming together en masse. Shudder’s own The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs inspires massive watch- and tweet-alongs. Online trivia nights, Netflix watch parties, Friday the 13th gaming sessions, and drunken script readings over Zoom give horror fans the opportunity to socialize and keep these community connections going. These communal celebrations of horror help remind us that we’re not going through this moment alone, and we can survive this together.
*Mike Snoonian is the cohost of The Pod & the Pendulum podcast and the upcoming Psycho Analysis (part of the Consequence Podcast Network). He is a trained mental health professional and works as a therapist and school adjustment counselor.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
RIP John Lafia
On April 29th, Child’s Play writer and Child’s Play 2 director John Lafia tragically took his own life. He was an integral part of what made Chucky such an iconic character and created what is widely considered the fan-favorite film of the franchise. Franchise creator Don Mancini called Lafia “an incredibly generous artist”, and referred to him as “one of the most naturally curious and constantly creative people” he’d ever met. We will miss him.
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ANIMAL CROSSING, JASON’S MOM AND MORE
Selena Gomez shared some of her current favorite horror movies, including Haunt, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and Hereditary.
Joe Keery teased that season 4 of Stranger Things may just be the scariest one yet.
Mike Flanagan’s adapting Christopher Pike’s beloved YA horror novel, The Midnight Club, for a new generation of horror fans.
Seattle’s month-long festival of radical art and thought, Red May, discussed Alien as an allegory for the COVID-19 crisis.
We got the first trailer for The Medium, the latest terrifying project from Layers Of Fear and Blair Witch game developers, Bloober Team.
Animal Crossing continues to delve deeper and deeper into horror with this surprisingly unsettling fake trailer.
The r/horrorlit community had some good news for horror fans last week — Barnes & Nobel is bringing back its horror section to all locations.
Trick ‘r Treat director Mike Dougherty and editor Evan Gorski put together the perfect mashup of everything you need to know about surviving COVID-19 as learned by sci-fi and horror movies.
The King of horror himself, Stephen King, spoke to Stephen Colbert about the terrifying state of the world and why reading horror is so cathartic.
Ice Nine Kills celebrated Mother’s Day and Friday The 13th’s 40th anniversary with a Fountains Of Wayne parody, Jason’s Mom.
THINGS WE LOVE
TP Of The Damned
Kaci the Homicidal Homemaker has a new recipe for some killer quarantine treats befitting our current situation — Toilet Paper Roll Nutella Rice Krispie Treats.