Aside from the living terror of every live-action Dr. Seuss book ever.
Halloween is the time to refamiliarize ourselves with all our cultural signifiers of extreme horror: aging and decay, malicious supernatural entities, clowns, celebrity cultural appropriation, "Sexy minion" costumes.
But while it's the season to stream perfect, campy horror or high-concept psychological terror, too many films go overlooked. As Rachel Handler recently opined for Vulture, "the scariest horror movie of all time is Revolutionary Road." She praises any movie that is "so perfectly terrifying that it low-key destroys my life and completely ravages my worldview." For some, that film was The Strangers or The Hills Have Eyes. For me, it was 2005's new The Descent. For my co-worker, it was Planet of the Apes (1968) when she was eight.
These films may be best known in niche circles, but they all tap into a visceral sense of disgust and repulsion that seriously make us question whether or not we were better off not watching them at all. So in true Halloween tradition, make some questionably bad choices and fill your mind with more nightmares and regrets. Enjoy!
"A maniacal clown terrorises three young women and anyone else in his way on Halloween night."
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I don't know, blame your mother.
Yes, maybe you've swallowed a spider in your sleep before.
But contrary to the myth that the average human swallows eight spiders a year while they're sleeping, it's highly unlikely to happen more than once in your lifetime. Still, something about life in America encourages a fear of spiders, as 30.5% of Arachnophobiacs live in the United States. In fact, Google Trends reveal that fear of spiders is one of the most prevalent in the country. Clinical psychologist Sophie Li posits that that specific phobia could be social run-off from media depictions: As "a social or cultural component...spiders are often depicted and promoted as being scary and deadly." She adds, "Another theory is that, through evolutionary processes, we've been genetically predisposed to develop fears and phobias of things that threatened the safety of early humans, things like spiders and snakes."
Realistically, based on Americans' most common fears in 2019, it's probably a combination of both. A phobia is defined as "a type of anxiety disorder that causes an individual to experience extreme, irrational fear about a situation, living creature, place, or object." Phobias have unclear causes, but it's usually the result of traumatic events and/or a manifestation of a pre-existing anxiety disorder. As such, you're unlikely to develop a phobia past the age of 30. Of course, phobias are different from our every day fears (they are an official, diagnosed mental disorder, after all), but their roots lie in the same black depths of our brains where we process the world and our anxieties about it.
According to surveys of Americans' specific fears, the most popular (and growing) fears are of corrupt government officials, pollution, and economic instability. Meanwhile, our universal fears remain pretty constant: aging (gerascophobia), public speaking (or glossophobia), death (thanatophobia), being eaten by a wild boar (agrizoophobia)...the usual. Horror movies have mastered the science of tapping into our fears and anxieties, from natural disasters to killer v*ginas (v*gina dentata).
Welcome to our tour through humanity's most common fears with these celebrated and not-so-celebrated and sometimes downright cringey horror films.
First stop: Pediophobia, a.k.a. fear of dolls. Pediophobia is relatively common and classified as a type of automatonophobia, or fear of humanoid figures. Think uncanny valley plus evil spirits. Clinical psychologist Kate Wolitzky-Taylor, PhD, says we're strangely conditioned to fear dolls from pop culture and experience. "This consistent pairing of dolls with other creepy, scary stimuli may lead to experiencing fear or nervousness when confronted with a doll or an image of a doll," she says. "Learning is a big factor, whether it's direct learning experiences, or vicarious learning through others."
Bottom line: No adult genuinely f*cking likes dolls. Annabelle is a Bratz doll raised by wolves. Haunted wolves. Buy your DVD copy today!
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Just! Do! Better!
We've all been there.
We've all looked back at an old photo of ourselves at a costume party, red solo cup in hand, pre-2008- recession smile spread across our faces. "Why would I wear that costume?!" we think to ourselves. Even Justin Trudeau has been there once...or twice...or three times. But in most cases, you just can't believe you thought those cat ears were cute or that you decided "sexy Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man" was a good costume idea. Most people don't look back at old costumes and think, "Wow! That was pretty racist and/or culturally insensitive!" You know why? Because of all the things in the world to dress up as, why dress up as something or someone that's racist/culturally insensitive? Because you're lazy and racist and culturally insensitive, that's why! Here are 13 times celebrities were just that for Halloween.
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