I do not like horror movies. At all.
I believe I may have mentioned this fact about myself a time or two in the past.
I can almost tolerate a relatively straightforward slasher film, a la the “Scream” franchise. I don’t enjoy the suspenseful moments, but the actual violence doesn’t unnerve me all that much. While definitely not what I’d choose to watch given my druthers, movies of that ilk won’t send me into paroxysms of visceral terror or condemn me to weeks of random nightmares. (Having just typed that, it occurs to me that I would probably react very badly indeed to the so-called “torture porn” genre, the very existence of which makes me genuinely sad for humanity.)
On the other hand, your supernatural horror flicks will send me right over the edge. Throw in any kind of eerie, malign presence behind the violence and you can rest assured that I will find the result intensely, unbearably unpleasant. I once had a conversation in which I stated, quite sincerely, that I doubted there was money in the world sufficient to get me to sit through “Hellraiser.” And it’s true! If you said “Russell, we will hand you a cashier’s check for [astounding sum of money] if you sit, open-eyed and with fingers out of your ears, through that movie from opening to closing credits,” I genuinely doubt I could do it.
So I have no earthly idea how I ended up in that movie theater watching “Event Horizon.”
The very best explanation I can come up with is that I had no real idea what I was getting into. I went to the movies with a friend I had at the time (whose name, I am shocked to discover, I cannot even remember any longer), and have no recollection of how it was decided that we’d see that one. Perhaps I just thought it was a straightforward sci-fi adventure. I dunno.
The first clue that I was in for a very unpleasant experience indeed came pretty early in the film, when I was treated to the sight of a flayed body drifting through an abandoned passageway in zero gravity, mouth frozen in a noiseless scream. “Oh, dear,” thought I. And then it got much, much worse. As it was subsequently described by yet another friend who found it endlessly hilarious when I told him I’d subjected myself to it, I had just bought a ticket to see “Hellraiser” on a spaceship.
What I don’t understand when I think back to that miserable evening is why I didn’t just leave. Lord knows I’ve walked out of movies for less. [Confidential to RW: I’m still sorry about that one time!] But no. No. Instead I just burrowed deeper and deeper into my seat, hoping to drown out the various different horrific sound effects with my own whimpering. My friend, a truly nice guy who seemed both surprised and dismayed by my escalating distress and whose own enjoyment of the movie must have been significantly marred by same, never suggested that we call it quits, either. It baffles me that I didn’t just say “Sorry, Friend Whose Name I No Longer Remember, but this is the pits. I’ll meet you outside when this is over. Please don’t tell me how it ends.”
No. I sat through the whole damn thing, though I can’t really say that I “saw” it, given that my arms were firmly pressed over my orbits for probably the last 75% of its run time, with occasional peeks that I immediately regretted. “Event Horizon,” the movie seared into my memory as my single worst cinematic experience ever.
So that’s this week’s Question — what was your worst movie/concert/theater-going experience? While technically you could answer with examples that were merely of low quality, the spirit of the Question is more about offerings that were utterly unsuited to you in particular. (For all I know, “Event Horizon” may be considered a masterpiece by discerning viewers, even though I’d rather get hit in the face with a frying pan than see it again.) What did you go to see that, midway through, had you wondering how the hell you’d ended up there?
[Epilogue: Searching for images to add to this post has given me the howling fantods all over again.]