Addicted to thrills and chills

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-08-09 07:27:59

Addicted to thrills and chills

A scene from film "Psycho" [Photo/Agencies]

Addicted to thrills and chills

Frighteningly bad

Addicted to thrills and chills

Silver screen shockers

Why do people love horror movies?

China Daily's Raymond Zhou, a distinguished movie critic, says the most widely accepted explanation is the "roller coaster" theory.

Horror movies often raise the viewer's heart rate and adrenaline levels, causing intense fear, but without any actual consequences - just like riders on a roller coaster, the audiences experiences fear and thrills, but in a controlled setting.

In his book, Dating Without Watching Horror Movies Is Not Cool, Tan Tang-mo dissects the reasons people enjoy watching scary movies. According to Tan, the average audience member is young and is therefore living vicariously because he or she is highly unlikely to have experienced terrible things. Moreover, watching people die miserably is fun.

These movies are also a good way of testing one's mettle, probing one's dark side, and experiencing antisocial emotions without consequences, Tan writes.

But if you ask horror movie fans why they want to watch the films, most will cite different reasons.

Qiu Jionghua, a 26-year-old Beijing-based journalist, says she enjoys the genre because of the straightforward depiction of the weak and wicked sides of human nature, that are concealed, consciously or not, in everyday life.

"It's frightening to realize there are weaknesses, ugliness and evil in humanity," Qiu says. "Horror movies make you face reality and prepare you to admit that everyone has weaknesses and an evil side, and then you don't get upset or frightened easily."

Zhang Ting, 27, favors movies about suspense and ghosts, and she always tries to figure out the identity of the villian or the way the film will end long before the final reveal.

Events such as a letter, an invitation, a video, or simply arriving at a tourist spot often signal the start of a series of unpredictable horrifying events, such as massacres, deaths, hiding and escapes from danger, and other experiences one seldom experiences in real life.

Sometimes, the threats come from ghosts, supernatural powers aliens, or just plain evil people, and common objects taken for granted in daily life can also be life-threatening.

Although horror movies abound in classic scenes and storylines, many fans, including Zhang and Qiu, consider the 1960 horror-thriller Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, to be the masterpiece of the genre.

As Zhang put it, not a single scene or line of dialogue is redundant, while the murder in the shower is arguably the most famous scene in cinema history.

Qiu was so shocked at the shower scene's perfection that she cried when she first saw it. She has seen the movie many times since.

For Qiu, the chills and thrills are habit-forming: "Being frightened can be addictive, That's the charm of horror movies."


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