Scary Movie

Terry Gross recently interviewed Quentin Tarantino on Fresh Air, her excellent radio magazine covering the arts and issues of the day.

They got to talking about scary movies and images.  Terry mentioned that as a child she was absolutely terrified of the Quasimodo character on The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  The 1939 RKO classic with Charles Laughton, NOT the 1996 Disney version with cartoon people.

Mr. Tarantino, whose films are known for their extreme violence, revealed the image that frightens him most: “The only thing that I’ve ever watched in a movie that I wished I’ve never seen is the real-life animal death, a real-life insect death”.

So the creative force behind Kill Bill, Vol. 1, in which 95 people meet their bloody deaths by sword over the course of 111 minutes — a rate of nearly 1 beheading per minute — can’t bear to see a bug squashed?

The images that haunted me most as a kid were from The March of Dimes.  Every year, the school would give us these donation envelopes with a photograph of that year’s “poster child”.  The following envelope is from some years before my birth, but you get the idea.

March of Dimes adSeriously, what could be more scary than seeing another kid wearing leg braces and using crutches?

AND getting an injection in the arm?

AND laying in an iron lung?

What advertising genius dreamed up this most child-friendly of campaigns?

And why didn’t my parents or the teachers explain that we had been inoculated and would never get polio?

Talk about scary.

So far, the most terrifying movie I have seen as an adult is unquestionably Black Swan.  Zombies, vampires, ghosts; from these things I don’t believe at all so they don’t scare me even a little.

But toxic mothers, eating disorders, unhealthy fixations; from these things I know very well so they scare me very much indeed.

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.