My wife nearly walked out of Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem.
Now, intellectually, I know there’s a lot of potential reasons for that. When I say I enjoyed AVP:R, I don’t mean it as in “I enjoyed a movie I watched.” More like, “I enjoyed watching a computer simulation of aliens destroying a modern city where some cardboard characters happened to live.” Still, her reaction wasn't due to its cafeteria mystery meat-level quality.
There’s a part in its, dare I say, plot where the Xenomorphs infest a hospital maternity ward. There’s a pregnant woman, and . . . well, my wife nearly walked out.
Now, she’s absolutely a horror fan, not just a reluctant tag-along significant other. If something has either ghosts or an asylum, she'll be chomping at the bit. Our senior prom, we stayed home and watched Frankenstein. Evil Dead 2 and Cabin in the Woods are our feel good films.
But . . . none of those involve such overt violence against kids. Except Frankenstein, of course, but that didn't matter at the time.
At that “at the time" thing is my point.
She also had a bad reaction to The Witch. I loved it for its feeling of all-encompassing dread, but it lost my wife very early on. See, there’s a part with a baby about five minutes in . . .
And there’s the thing. If she had seen those films ten years ago, she probably would've had a very different reaction. Now, she’s a parent. Our babies are wonderful; my fifteen month old daughter points and says “Cthulhu” at every tentacled idol in the house.
Still parenthood changes you, and millions of years of natural selection’s wiring comes alive in your brain to make you fear for your kid’s safety.
At least, it should. Being a foster parent, I know it doesn't always work out that way.
My friend Matt talks during movies. I forgive him. He laughs and mocks the stupidity of just about every death in splatter cinema. He’s never been scared at a horror flick because he can’t detach himself enough from the stupid bits to reaction emotionally. With all this, he still got disquieted at the scene in AVP:R where a father and his son get facehuggered to death while hunting.
Have you guessed that he has a son yet?
I never thought it would happen to me. I mean, I've never been one of those people for whom fiction sets me off my lunch, for one thing. I read a book on forensic entomology during a Mexican buffet today, and the book’s maggoty goodness just made me smile.
But it’ll get you.
I was listening to the Misfits the other day, and suddenly hit a lyric about dead babies. What had always been a transgressive tasteless joke suddenly stopped me in my tracks. Wait a second, my brain realized. Don’t you have an emotional connection to a baby? Why, have some free horrific mental images, sir! Enjoy!
And today, I finally admitted it. I was continuing to read the wonderful Maggots, Murder, and Me, enjoying the hell out of it. I mean, cool anecdote follows cool anecdote. What can I say? I write forensic crime.
Then I got to the murdered babies.
I wonder how widespread this is. Is it every horror fan, or a subset? Are there parents who can watch the boy get eaten alive ten minutes into Feast without that little twinge of panic clearing its throat in the back of their mind?
I don’t know. And I don’t think for a second that horror creators should avoid writing about horrible things happening to children. After all, the genre is about uncomfortable feelings and transgressing social norms.
I just know the feeling’s there, and I probably won’t be able to show Matt the elementary school zombie-murder epic Cooties anytime school.
Or maybe not. Hell, he teaches elementary school. Maybe Cooties is therapy to him.
So, anybody get more touchy about horror stuff as they over? Leave me a comment!