It all starts with this leaf.
For me, this fallen amber-hued leaf represents the promise of the upcoming autumn season, which is undoubtedly my favorite season of the year. Radiant colors begin appearing on trees and end up on the ground to a crackling sound that brings you back to younger days. This is the time for that refreshing briskness in the air that comes with “colder smells,” football on the tv, cozy hoodies on the couch, pumpkins, and, yes – horror movies.
For me, the chills, the shadows, and the approaching holiday of Halloween creak open the old, decrepit door to horror flick escapism, nostalgia, and good-ole, manufactured fear.
It’s the type of fear that actually calms me.
You heard me right: The jump scares, creepy dolls in the corner, raging clowns, hockey-masked serial killers, scar-faced madmen with knives for fingers, and supernatural hauntings not only excite me, they calm me as well.
In the elemental, Ashley Abramson writes, “Watching something that should be scary without the actual threat attached to it can be enjoyable — a refreshing break from the buzzkill people with anxiety are used to experiencing.”
I couldn’t agree more: Maybe because the fear produced in horror movies is designed to create anxiety, its transparent intention ends up reducing anxiety. I know non-horror fans just don’t get it, but I crave the frights at this time of year because they distract me from real anxieties and place me in different worlds for an average of 90 minutes. After hitting the inevitable first wall of exhaustion as a high school music teacher in September (this year especially, for obvious reasons), I welcome the ghost that burrows in the dark corner. At least he is harmless compared to the catastrophic effects of the pandemic and ongoing political disarray and social injustices that continue to haunt our world with an all too brutal reality.
Am I suggesting turning a blind eye to these realities? Hell no. Actually, I find myself proactively embracing with these issues every day at home and in the classroom. For my own sanity and self-care, I take a healthy break (when I have time) and release the ghouls on the screen and turn up the shrieks on the remote.
Today, I’m very excited to announce the official launching of my annual Reely Bernie Horror Fest!
Below is my list of titles I will be viewing through October 31st. Some are old, some are new. Some I’ve never seen before, while others are worthy of another look/spook.
Some are good. Some are really bad.
Some will actually scare, while others will conjure unintended laughs. I can’t wait…
28 Days Later (2002)
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
The Strangers (2008)
The Gate (1987)
Lake Mungo (2008)
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
The Innkeepers (2011)
The Babadook (2014) – Oct. 30th (My annual “Horror Night” with friends and family at my place)
I look forward to providing capsule synopses of these horror flicks’ origin, plot, and my own lighthearted take.
For some, the super early openings of Halloween “Spirit” stores denote the beginning of Halloween festivities. For others, it might be the premature assembly of ceramic pumpkins in front of the grocery store.
For me, it all starts with this leaf.
The Reely Bernie Horror Fest may now begin!