Tips for Surviving Horror Movies if You’re A Chickenshit Like Me

October is a very divisive month: to scary movie, or not to scary movie. Some people just don’t tolerate horror very well, but it’s hard to avoid this time of year. So for those of you who would otherwise spend the whole time breathing noisily while staring at your shoes, may I suggest:

stressed-is-desserts-coaster1.Stress eat. Forgo the popcorn, that’s too easy to eat mindlessly. You need something to really sink your teeth into.  Try veggies and humus, that’s a little more difficult to navigate, and will give you something to focus on. Or a cheese ball with crackers, so long as the crackers are tough enough to withstand  your anxious spreading maneuvers.

2. Pour yourself a generous rum & Diet Pepsi. The rum will slowly relax you, and the caffeine will make your bladder spastic – bathroom breaks are a great excuse to avoid a particularly gruesome scene. CutePuppyDoCutework_thumb2While on a fake bathroom break, use your phone to look up cute pictures of puppies getting into trouble.

3. Play a game for distraction. I find that Simpsons Tapped Out works best, and they’ve got a lovely Halloween event on now where you can tap zombies, snakes and skeletons for rewards. Plants VS Zombies has also worked for me. What’s key is picking a game that you can play quietly, and 2015-10-06-12-48-12where you can afford quick, furtive glances up at the screen to see if they’re still getting murdered as fuck up there.

4. Sing a little song to yourself. Or sing a loud song to everyone. Why can’t the Saw franchise be a musical? Narrate what’s happening on screen in your best opereto.

5. Watch the movie as if you’re the editor and it’s your job to find all the mistakes. The more low-budget this horror is, the more you’ll find.

halloween-1For instance, in the movie Halloween, when Michael attacks the nurse outside the sanitorium, he smashes through her car window. If you watch carefully, you can see a little wrench taped to his glove, which allowed the actor to easily break the glass.

In Dawn of the Dead, a zombie gets hit by a 2023truck and goes flying, but astute viewers can pick out the mini trampoline that helped create the effect – boiiiiiiiiing! See? Not scary! He’s just a grown man in a silly costume jumping on a too-small trampoline, and failing to hide it from you.

6. Think about the makeup lady who’s just out of shot right now, waiting on set to touch up the blood or bits of brain. She’s got a little toolbox full of bloody cotton balls and bone fragments she made out of styrofoam last night while watching reruns of Seinfeld and smoking unfiltered cigarettes. She’s forgetful, this makeup lady, so if you pay close attention, you’ll often see that a slash to the right cheek becomes a slash to the left, and then flips back again. Now imagine the director yelling cut, and this poor fool trying to order a Whopper at Burger King with this hideous makeup. Do you think he wants fries with that? Or imagine, if you will, a small child visiting Mum on set between takes, and licking the blood right off her neck, because that shit’s almost pure corn syrup. Someone’s going to have to clean this mess up afterward, and be grateful it’s not you.

93251There are plenty of makeup mistakes to spot here as well. In The Exorcist, you may find that the little girl shakes her head back and forth a lot while she’s possessed, poor thing, but this causes her hair to move and expose her pretty pink ear lobes – oops! Guess the makeup team didn’t think we’d see them. They remain unpainted, and apparently, unpossessed.

7. Protect your face. Something feeling scary? Put your hands to your face, shield your eyes, then spread your fingers ever-so-slightly. Not too much. Just let in a little light. Feeling okay? man-looking-through-fingers-smallerSpread em a little wider. Can you see glimpses of the screen? It’s much more manageable this way. You can probably find at least one small section of a body that’s not currently getting ax-murdered. Fixate on that. Foreboding music starting to build? Slam those fingers shut again!

8. Do a project. Have a colouring book on the go, or do some ironing. I like to give Sean back massages, because it keeps my brain half-occupied and also, he’s much bigger than me, and blocks my view. If you’re actually at the theatre, see how many times you can fold a paper napkin from the concession stand, or count the seconds between screams. Anything for distraction!

9. Have a therapy dog on hand. A small dog who will cuddle works best. A small dog who can dog-kisseskhold your hand on command is even better. Remember: nothing bad can happen if a puppy is kissing your ear.

10. If all else fails, remember that no matter how many bite-sized pieces she’s currently getting chopped into, this actress makes it. Eventually she left work for the day. She had to shampoo her hair twice to get all the sticky fake blood out. She went shopping for Monistat to treat her yeast infection. She stalked her ex-boyfriend on Facebook. And then she stood naked in front of a mirror wondering where she went wrong in life.

So that’s how you watch a movie like a wuss. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done. How about you – are you blood-lusty, or do you whimper your way through? Have any tried and true techniques?

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82 thoughts on “Tips for Surviving Horror Movies if You’re A Chickenshit Like Me

  1. emmakwall

    This was really fun Jay, loved it! The Saw franchise a musical!!!! 🙂

    What is a cheese ball btw? I mean I know what cheese and crackers are of course (I’ve built my whole life around them…and potatoes too) but a cheese BALL?!!!! I need to know.

    I love all your suggestions though! Although I do love horror films the ghosty ones always freak me out. Another good technique like putting your fingers in front of your eyes is looking towards the TV (or screen or whatever) but kind of making your eyes go a bit out of focus I’ve done that a few times. (I think I’m so smart but in reality I probably just look like an idiot!)

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Jay Post author

      That is a cheeseball, more or less. Spreadable cheese. How have you been living???

      I will definitely be trying your out of focus technique this week. I particularly like it because it’s stealth. No one else has to know I’m freaking out. It’ll look like I’m watching like a real live adult! Or like Carrie Rubin!

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. emmakwall

        It looks ruddy amazing!!!!!!! It’s not often my mouth opens in wonder but that was one of the times it did.

        I’ve been living terribly!!!! 😦

        Just looked up Carrie Rubin but still not sure who she is (sorry Jay I’m an imbecile).

        I really do that out of focus trick, usually in the cinema! Or I kind of look at one corner of the screen. I’m pathetic! And I wanna cheese ball!!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Jay Post author

      Oh my god, come over and let me make you cheese ball right this instant!

      (Carrie Rubin is an unflappable woman and she commented mere moments after you that she’s NEVER scared during movies…I feel like maybe I get scared enough for both of us, so it all evens out)

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  2. Matt

    OK, this post is awesome. I do have to warn you that any of your puppy-related coping strategies may have the opposite effect when applied to Babadook, the scary movie I just finished watching.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Sean

    I love this post, especially because it’s all true! No wonder you were worried about seeing the Witch at NHFF – these options weren’t available in the theatre.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I know. I resorted to: counting syllables, taking fake notes, lamaze-style deep breathing, and seriously contemplating getting up and leaving.

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      1. Carrie Rubin

        Haha, not true. I can’t see movies like Room or read those kind of books. Anything with little kids in harm’s way. That fazes me. And constantly seeing Walter White in his tightie whities on Breaking Bad. That fazed me too. And not in a good way.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh I have a whole bunch of other coping strategies for those! I think I also just lapse into therapist mode, and start naming resources and and safe shelters in my head.

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  4. ridicuryder

    Jay,

    I mostly inappropriately laugh at scary movies (yep, I’m that guy) except The Grudge…that one scared the shit outta me. Getting a little wrecked might have helped. I do enjoy a recycled Rom-Com with a few stiff Gin & Tonics on board…helps my cynicism track evenly through the ending.

    I wanna take my GF to Witch when it hits an independent cinema here in Miami…I’ll show her this post beforehand.

    RR

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    1. Jay Post author

      In the cinema, I also recommend wearing a baseball cap. You can lower the visor and just sort of peek out from under it.
      Also: pretending to rummage in your purse for kleenex or cough drops. For a really long time.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Christopher

    I’ve avoided the Saw movies because based on everything I’ve heard and read they’re basically just torture porn with a paper-thin plot. I can honestly say that was the case with both Hostel movies even though I give the second one credit for starting out interesting before basically turning into a slightly grimmer version of the original. But the point I want to make is making the Saw movies musicals is genius and would make them worth watching.
    As a kid I loathed horror but now I’ve grown to enjoy it–mostly. I can’t get more than twenty minutes into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Something about the intense horror verite quality of it just freaks me out. No amount of humus or rum is going to get me through it.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I don’t like slasher movies and I’d lump Saw into that category. For a long time I gave horror a bad name because of those, which I think are just too exploitative for me to enjoy, but there are in fact some worthwhile things in the genre so I’m trying to toughen up…or you know, fake it, as this article suggests.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Jay Post author

    Gina W. (on Twitter) wrote in: I don’t like to beshit myself, which is why I can’t do horror films. I guess adult diapers could be another helpful tip. 🙂

    I’m probably more a terror-peer myself, but still, the diapers apply.

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  7. Liz A.

    It’s easier to just avoid the scary movie in the first place. But then again, I pretty much knit along with anything I watch, so I don’t watch much of anything anyway.

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  8. Birgit

    I do all of what you mentioned except pull out my phone tolook up cute puppies because i have a flip phone that is 10 yrs old and I have no Ipad, tablet or anything like that otherwise i would be doing just that or playing a senseless game. Many eons ago, I tried to watch The Exorcist (I was home alone for the weekend out in the country). It was Halloween time, I turned the channel to a documentary about Big Foot. The woman told of a time when her back was to the window and she looked around to see Bigfoot staring back. My head was to the back of the window..I changed the channel again and just watched a rerun of Love Boat. Changing the channel works

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  9. Amy Reese

    Excellent tips, Jay! I must always have a blanket so I can curl up inside of it. But seeing all the goof ups helped a lot. I never noticed the pink ear lobes in The Exorcist. If only I’d known! Generally, I don’t mind scary movies. I thought The Grudge was really freaky because its so visual. That hair!

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  10. Pingback: Goofs in The Grudge | Assholes Watching Movies

  11. kdcol

    Another reason it’s best to read posts in order! I should’ve read THIS post before seeing the scary clip of a hand coming out of a girl’s head. It may have helped, maybe a smidge at least.

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  12. Courtney Small

    Loved this list!

    I use to be addicted to Simpsons Tapped Out, but had to break up with it. After a while I got tired of the having to wait 24 hours for a task to complete only to have to do yet another 24 hour task right after. Plus, the fact that some of the best characters were “premium” annoyed me as well.

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  13. filmfunkel

    If I could suggest an “enhancement” to #2: Using Rum in Diet Coke (instead of Diet Pepsi) will distract the viewer with its fuller caramel-laced taste causing the head to tilt as one says “Mmmmm.” and likely miss some gory gratuity…

    …just sayin’

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      1. filmfunkel

        Well far be it from me to step on a Hatfields & McCoys nest. I wish you both the best of luck. 😀

        *tip toes in reverse really quiet*

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  15. Everyday Adventures at Home... Hurrah!

    Haha. Very humorous post (and comments), Jay. I can’t watch horror movies at all, or anything disturbing, really. Heart-warming, quirky, and funny tend to be my genre of choice… and documentaries. So I could probably apply many of these techniques to a broader spectrum of movies than most people. 😉

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  16. ruth

    Mwahahaha!! This is VERY helpful for me Jay, I’m such a chicken too. ‘to scary movie, or not to scary movie’ ahah well, I always choose the latter. Nice bit about the Exorcist, next time I’m haunted by THAT face, I’ll just think of that ear 😉

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  17. Allen

    I do find that I have to put my hands to my face and shield my eyes … but that’s only if “The View” happens to be on. Anything else, though, I can handle.

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  18. Pingback: Tips for Surviving Horror Movies | Keithlovesmovies

    1. Jay Post author

      I’m a singer too. I also sing on airplanes if I’m feeling afraid. (Imagine the following in my terrible singing voice) “Nothing bad can happen as long as I am singing!!!!!”

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Jay Post author

      Nightmares aren’t fun but I think if you find a way to make fun of hte movie as you watch it, you take away a lot of its power for those images to be stored away in your head as nightmare material.

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  19. Anna (Film Grimoire)

    I love this post! I always find covering my face with my hands is an excellent option! As for mobile games, I like Trivia Crack because in addition to distracting from film-related trauma, winning games and beating friends gives you that rush that counteracts the scare-related anxiety. Good times!

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  21. Inspired Ground (@InspiredGround)

    Great tips! Watching it as if you’re the editor could be a good one, as I used to edit videos. Already tried playing games. Maybe the last tip would be just get away from the screen :))
    I’m not sure eating would be good if the horror is a massacre or have bloodbath

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, if you can start professional critiquing something, then I think you’ve won the battle. I think the battle might be to turn that off when you want to get lost in a movie. Is that a challenge?

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