Horror Movies and Our Kids: Yea or Nay?
~By Andy Goldstein, The Dadconteur
Halloween is coming up, and in my house it’s kind of a big deal.
For the last few months, my wife has been contemplating costume ideas for our two young sons and myself. After finding a cuter-than-life-itself lion costume to fit our 7-month-old, she decided that we would all dress as characters from The Wizard of Oz. Thankfully, my wife found me an affordable Tin Man mask on eBay before putting into motion her chilling idea of dressing me as Glinda the Good Witch before her “operation.”
I’ve also been doing my part to prepare for this Halloween by drinking a veritable stream of pumpkin spice lattes and eating a steady diet of gummy candy for the last 30 years. Ever eaten a bag of sour neon gummy worms for dinner? I have. It’s one of the perks of being an adult and counteracts the effects of paying for insurance and enjoying talk radio.
One of the best parts of Halloween is watching horror movies. In full disclosure, I’m a bit of a weenie. So even though I thoroughly enjoy scary movies, I do so with half-shut eyelids and my index fingers shoved into my ears. I didn’t watch many scary movies as a kid, mostly because my older sister’s preteen slumber party viewing of The Exorcist rendered her sleepless for a month as well as unable to eat soup and convinced I was possessed by Satan until I was 15. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but she did say she was “scarred for life” after watching it.
My sister’s first experience with horror movies brings up an interesting question. Was this incident, along with her New Kids on the Block obsession, enough to have had her institutionalized? And, equally important, is it OK to let your kids watch horror movies?
Remember when I said I was a weenie? Well, I’m a weenie for a good reason. I was 4 years old when the video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came out in 1983. The full version is a 13-minute masterpiece that changed the perception of what music videos could be forever. I see this now as an adult, but almost three decades later I’m still mortally afraid of people with werewolf eyes and zombies who spontaneously break out into choreographed pop-and-lock.
If I couldn’t watch “Thriller” without breaking into a cold sweat, then I think my parents made the right decision in blocking me from the trove of ’80s slasher films and other movies that would have warped my fragile sensibility. But as parents, we can’t always protect our kids from these movies when they sleep away from the house. The most you can do is protect them from the bad ones.
Movies like The Exorcist, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho are artfully crafted. These movies tell intricate, well-written stories, and what you don’t see on screen is often just as scary as what you do see. These movies will scare the bejeesus out of your kids and prep them for film school at the same time. On the other hand, there is nothing artful or redeeming about Human Centipede or any of the other horror movies Hollywood is cranking out today. So next time your child wants to watch a horror movie at a friend’s house, call ahead and make sure it’s at least a good one. Or better yet, send your kid over with a copy of the scariest movie of all time.
My advice to you is this: It’s OK to let your children watch horror movies, only after they’ve moved out of the house and started their own families. And only if they’re watching the good ones, with the lights on and the deadbolt locked.
Happy Halloween to you and yours!
Andy is the mastermind behind the hilarious and insightful blog The Dadconteur.
[Photo credit: Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]