The season of greedy little zombies, vampires and ghosts roaming our neighborhoods ends this week, but it’s showing signs of lurking forever on our television and movie screens.
Television never has been scarier, even when Geraldo Rivera was appearing on it regularly; it’s almost impossible to push a button on your remote without seeing victims being chased, necks being sucked or helpless beautiful women screaming about something or other. Scary movies at multiplexes are drawing hordes of adolescent boys, many of whom are in their 40s.
I don’t understand the attraction of stuff like “Walking Dead” and “True Blood.” But, then, I’ve never developed a taste for scary entertainment.
When I was on the verge of adolescence, the scariest movie of the day was “The Thing.” It was reputed to be so terrifying that my parents wouldn’t let me see it, because they were sure it would give me nightmares. When I finally saw it as an adult, I dozed off after 15 minutes into a deep — and dreamless — sleep.
The only movie that ever gave me a decent scare was one whose name I can’t remember. All I recall is a scene in which two kids approximately my age were walking through a dark forest when they were pursued by some kind of animal. The kids ran home and pounded on the front door, but their parents locked the door and wouldn’t let them in. The next thing you saw was a pool of blood oozing under the door. I never totally trusted my parents after that.
A lot of what passed for scary movies when I was a kid had to do with giant Japanese dinosaurs stomping buildings and devouring the terrified populace. If I ever had nightmares, I’m sure they weren’t caused by concerns about Japanese dinosaurs coming to eat Cleveland. Even if they did, Cleveland probably deserved it.
Movies about creatures from outer space, people with pointy teeth or guys with chain saws never put me on the edge of my seat. “Jaws” provided a few tense moments, because you never knew exactly when that fish was going to jump out of the water and do its thing, although those scenes were more startling than frightening.
But maybe fright is in the psyche of the viewer. When he was young, one of my kids would run out of the room when the flying monkeys swooped onto our television screen in the “Wizard of Oz.” Researching for this column, I saw an online confession from a guy who said he was terrified by “Scooby Doo.”
I find that a little scary.