Strange Associations

My last post got me thinking about the films I saw alone when I was a teenager, and being that it’s October I’m also thinking about horror.

In the year 2000, I turned seventeen, which was glorious because I could see any horror movie I wanted even if the theater employees asked to see my ID. Luckily that year, The Exorcist: The Version you Never Seen was released. Much to my horror-geek shame, I had yet to see The Exorcist—all of my friends refused to watch that movie, and it was never on the shelf at the rental stores.

One Saturday, I caught the matinee. It was early enough that the theater was mostly empty, which usually was a sure-fire way for me to scare myself silly. I knew that I was going be terrified, jumping at the slightest scares and questioning why I keep watching these type of films. Yet sitting alone in the dark, I did not feel scared. I watched the film with interest. I enjoyed the plot, the characters and the special effects, but that familiar feeling of fear was not there.

Now one would think that I had finally grown old enough to no longer be scared by movies, which is obviously not true. Just last month I finally sat down and watched The Mothman Prophecies, an utterly silly film. There was one bad jump scare where Richard Gere turned over in bed to find his dead wife right next to him. I literally jumped out of my seat and yelled “Debra Messing!” (Unfortunately, there were two witnesses and apparently bad jump scares are now known as “Debra Messing” moments.)

Why, if horror films of any quality still scare me, did my first viewing of one of the best horror films ever made fail to scare me? Even then, as I exited the theater, I knew I should be frightened that the scares were tailored made for someone like me.

When I got into my car, like many teenagers, before I even buckled my seat belt, I selected which tape I would listen to on the ride home. There I found a cassette of music I was introduced to by my father. My father never particularly cared for popular music, preferring classical and instrumentals. This particular album he claimed to have played on headphones, which he then put on my mother stomach while she was pregnant me. I remember listening to it when I was little, coming up with a story that went along with each song. The album was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.

Yeah, that Tubular Bells.

The theme to The Exorcist, a theme, like that of Halloween, where the very sound of it makes people afraid. Yet this music, because I always associated it with happy childhood memories did not scare me. The moment that music starts playing whole audiences feel the clenching dread in their chests, but I feel safe even comforted.

One of the scariest films ever made fails to frighten me, because my father, not knowing that it was used in a horror film, shared music he liked with his daughter.

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