With Halloween fast approaching, the movie theaters are currently filling up with this year’s newest scary movies. These movies seem to be one of the holiday’s most popular traditions, right up there with costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and trick-or-treating. However, with the nature of these movies consistently getting more gory and suspenseful, some people may find it confusing as to why so many people enjoy watching a family suffer in a haunted house, a serial killer brutally murder his victims, or graphic torture scenes for about ninety minute. Sophomore Gillian Anthony, like many people, does not understand the appeal. “I don’t really get the whole scary movie craze. I don’t find it enjoyable watching people being tortured.” So, why exactly do so many people love scary movies?
Glenn Sparks, the associate head of the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University, theorized that this enjoyment comes from a phenomenon known as the excitation transfer process. According to Sparks, watching horror movies raises a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration, and these physiological effects linger after the film’s end. These remaining effects cause any positive experiences after our viewing to be amplified. However, this also causes any negative experiences to be amplified as well, leading others to distain these movies as well.
Sparks also indicated that people could simply have different wiring. According to his research, about ten percent of people enjoy high physiological stimulation, therefore having fun with the adrenaline rush these films bring. This also explains why others have a difficult time enjoying these movies. Individuals who find it difficult ignoring surrounding unwanted stimuli, the same people who are driven crazy by a tag sticking out of someone’s sweatshirt, are not wired in a way that allows them to enjoy scary movies.
Regardless of your feelings towards horror, don’t feel bad. Your preference is not necessarily your fault. If you were not wired to enjoy these movies, there are plenty of other Halloween traditions to enjoy, and if you were, feel free to enjoy them.