A study looks at the ingredients of a good scare.
Catching fear in a bottle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYyNzg1Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTQwMTcyMn0.WtpJ1E_dhK2o09fBpKARynj4_p5NXeklgsXsbd7xr9w/img.jpg?width=980" id="8ff51" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f10dd9188b173f4a36e85e9325507c6b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Photo Boards/Unsplash<p>Previous studies have tracked physiological signs of fear arousal, but none have established a one-to-one correlation between that arousal and specific, actual fear events.</p><p>Andersen says that much of the research has been conducted in lab settings with weak fear stimuli, observing subjects as they experience things like scary videos. Scares in these situations tend to be weak and difficult to measure. Even harder to track in these situations is the link between enjoyment and fear. </p>
Eyes everywhere<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/109695164" width="100%" height="480" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="267ba87cfb8591ed5830499574d2272a"></iframe><p>Andersen and his colleagues conducted their experiments at <a href="https://dystopia.dk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dystopia</a> Haunted House, a commercial attraction in Vejle, Denmark constructed in an old, run-down factory. The Recreational Fear Lab has a long-standing partnership with the spook shack.</p><p>They outfitted 100 volunteers with heart monitors and sent them on their terrifying way through the 50-room horror mansion. The facility incorporates a number of fright mechanisms including frequent jump scares in which a sudden threat takes a visitor by surprise.</p><p>Researchers surreptitiously observed their participants on closed-circuit video as they made their way through the attraction. They tracked each individual's scares, scoring them for intensity according to their visible reactions. After exiting the attraction, individuals self-reported their experiences in the haunted house.</p><p>Combining these self-reports with observer notes and each participant's heart-rate data gave the researchers subjective, behavioral, and physiological insights into the ways in which fear is experienced, and when it's a good thing or not.</p>
A pair of inverted U-shapes<p>In analyzing their data, the researchers saw two separate inverted u-shape curves. One depicted participants' enjoyment based on their self-reports and observed behavior. A similar u-curve was detected in their heart rates showing that just the right amount of heartbeat acceleration is associated with fun, but too much is too much. It's the terror Goldilocks zone.</p><p>Says Andersen, "If people are not very scared, they do not enjoy the attraction as much, and the same happens if they are too scared. Instead, it seems to be the case that a 'just-right' amount of fear is central for maximizing enjoyment."</p><p>The research suggests that being scared is enjoyable when it represents just a quick minor physiological deviation from one's normal state. When it goes on too long, however, or triggers too severe a physiological change, it becomes disturbing. Game over.</p><p>Andersen notes that this is not dissimilar to the factors known to make interpersonal play enjoyable: just the right amount of uncertainty and surprise. These are, maybe not coincidentally, also the ingredients of a successful joke.</p>
Psychologists discover why people participate in scary attractions.
- Psychologists link anxiety from ambiguity to why we find some people or situations creepy.
- A study showed that people who go to scary attractions find their moods improving and stress levels lowered.
- Scary situations can produce a euphoria and a sense of achievement.
IT 2 Final Trailer (2019)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0f0fa72160a43aa84881fabfbf13aa90"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K0nx61nb_jw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Why do we like to be scared? | Dr. Margee Kerr | TEDxFoggyBottom<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a925bdfcf8eacc74f2da0d5a49c2e115"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gL_6bKFlLio?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>From haunted houses to horror films, why do we enjoy being scared? Sociologist Dr. Margee Kerr reconsiders the physical and psychological effects of fear on ...
Feeling the urge to scare yourself this Halloween? Here are seven important horror films you have to see.
- This scareful season, make sure to check these seven important horror movies off your to-do list.
- Already an aficionado of fear? The list offers a double-feature option to pair with each classic horror flick.
- With apologies to Hereditary, but I haven't seen it yet.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Le Manoir du Diable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyMzU4OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTM0MDc1Nn0.-psekn0yx5viLgDFI1rPlPy3EEhZyjlWRfP7OHOFO5M/img.png?width=980" id="75553" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11705eff9bbab012a7a42a11271b1b81" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Cabinet of Dr. \u200bCaligari " />
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)<p><em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0010323/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari</a></em> (1920) represents the best of silent horror. Director Robert Wiene created a German expressionist nightmare with his scenery of vulgar angles and jagged pathways. The story revolves around the titular Dr. Caligari, who uses the sleepwalker Cesare to commit murders. When Cesare kills a villager named Alan, the pursuit of truth eventually leads to the madhouse.</p><p>As Roger Ebert writes in <a href="https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-1920" target="_blank">his review</a> of the film: "A case can be made that 'Caligari' was the first true horror film. There had been earlier ghost stories and the eerie serial 'Fantomas' made in 1913-14, but their characters were inhabiting a recognizable world. 'Caligari' creates a mindscape, a subjective psychological fantasy. In this world, unspeakable horror becomes possible."</p><p>Looking to make a silent evening of it? Then consider <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb16vp1eeYU" target="_blank">Le Manoir du Diable</a></em><em> </em>(1896), directed by the inimitable George Méliès. Méliès' short film may be the oldest extant horror film, and it comes with all the trappings: transforming bats, bubbling cauldrons, and demonic tricksters. </p><p>But in tone, it could not be more different from <em>Caligari</em>. Whereas <em>Caligari</em> is brooding and unnerving, Méliès' film is a vaudevillian magic show that uses editing to mischievous effect. At just over three minutes, you can also enjoy this piece of horror history on a short coffee break.</p>
The Bride of Frankenstein and The Cat People<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyNzIxNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NjExNTU3Nn0.hlQLSn-WpoCnGdb5ZhvAF_lvu0R4mxE5iF8Ktr7PLKI/img.jpg?width=980" id="72426" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bacf845e31bc242bc415ef88314ece73" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)<p>Many of Carl Laemmle Jr.'s horror movies at Universal deserve a place on this list, but the series' crown jewel is <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026138/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank">The Bride of Frankenstein</a></em> (1935). After Henry Frankenstein and the monster survive the conflagrated windmill, Henry's mentor, Dr. Pretorius, arrives and forces Henry to begin creating a mate for the Monster, who seeks a friend and confidant.</p><p>Director James Whales builds on the excellent foundation of the first <em>Frankenstein </em>(1931) with Gothic architecture that is as grandiose as it is decrepit. Boris Karloff brings even more empathy to the monster this go around, and the bride makes an indelible impression despite her minuscule screen time.</p><p>To round out the evening, try Jacques Tourneur's <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034587/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank">The Cat People</a> </em>(1942). The film tells the story of Irena, a woman who believes she will turn into a man-eating cat if aroused or angered. (Trust us, it's better than it sounds.) Despite a limited budget, <em>The Cat People</em> parallels <em>Bride of Frankenstein</em> in using knife-edged shadows to build suspense and atmosphere. They are also thematically linked over concerns of loneliness and sexual exclusion.</p>
Psycho and The Haunting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyNzIxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDgzNDcxMX0.mUsFLp8Xshnc74mz9YisN5KA8z9G2YL6dbkmTKqtubw/img.jpg?width=980" id="86990" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8dc161047ae87ef96a474d4c7ddc2727" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Psycho (1960)<p>Despite directing <em>Vertigo</em>, <em>Rear Window</em>, <em>North by Northwest</em>, and a slew of other classics, Alfred Hitchcock's <a href="https://www.the-numbers.com/person/66230401-Alfred-Hitchcock#tab=technical" target="_blank">most successful film</a> is <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054215/?ref_=nv_sr_2" target="_blank">Psycho</a></em> (1960). It's arguably the first slasher film, and even if it's technically not, a genre pedigree would show it is the father to such gruesome tykes as <em>Black Christmas</em>, <em>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</em>, and <em>Halloween</em>. (Their mother would be the <a href="https://io9.gizmodo.com/what-the-hell-is-a-giallo-movie-and-why-should-you-wat-1779988703" target="_blank">Italian <em>giallo</em> films</a>. Hey, it was the sixties).</p><p>Do I even need to discuss <em>Psycho</em>? The film's mark on our culture, with its vivid imagery and shrill soundtrack, has made it perhaps the most parodied and alluded to movie in history. And that's a shame because Hitchcock wanted the film's twists and turns to surprise each first-time viewer. Well before the days of netiquette, he devised a <a href="http://www.openculture.com/2012/07/alfred_hitchcocks_rules_for_watching_ipsychoi.html" target="_blank">set of rules</a> to prevent spoiler warnings, including tight schedules, controlled media buzz, and no late admissions permitted.</p><p>Not as well-known, but no less deserving of classic status, is Robert Wise's <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057129/?ref_=nv_sr_3" target="_blank">The Haunting</a> </em>(1963). Based on Shirley Jackson's novel <em>The Haunting of Hill House</em>, the story follows two women with purportedly psychic abilities, Eleanor and Theodora, who are invited to live at the haunted Hill House by a scientist wishing to investigate its mysteries.</p><p>Both movies trade in anxiety-inducing settings. Like the Bates house, Hill House is claustrophobic despite its size. But <em>The Haunting</em>'s terrors are more abstract. Is the house haunted or are the nightmarish happenings the result of Eleanor's deteriorating mental health?</p><p>Interestingly, both of these films were remade in the '90s. You can skip those.</p>
The Exorcist and The Babadook<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyMzYwNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NDU0MjA2OX0.cRPhHCMA7J57RhyzVtsrb1L5a5ERAMfSkNRGU6Riq3k/img.jpg?width=980" id="cfc5d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="568e0312aa0d68da1678e77a58765439" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Babadook (2014)<p>William Friedkin's <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070047/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank"><em>The Exorcist</em></a><em> </em>(1973) may be the scariest movie of all time, and this reputation has been bolstered by the many deaths associated with its production, leading to the claim that <a href="https://inews.co.uk/culture/film/exorcist-curse-horror-movie/" target="_blank">the film was cursed</a>. </p><p>After playing with a Ouija board, young Regan begins to display erratic, vulgar behavior. After consulting a number of physicians, Regan's mother asks Catholic priests to perform an exorcism. But the demon isn't going to give up Regan's soul quietly.</p><p>Have you ever seen a demonically possessed child cirque du soleil her way down the stairs? No? Then watch <em>The Exorcist.</em></p><p>If you can uncurl yourself from the fetus positions, you could put on <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2321549/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank">The Babadook</a></em> (2014) next. In it, Amelia Vanek must raise her son, Samuel, alone after her husband's death in a car accident. Emotionally and physically exhausted, she becomes the target of a monster, demon, whatever called Mister Babadook. But Babadook can't do his grisly deeds himself, and must possess Amelia if he is to have Samuel.</p><p>Both films elicit visceral responses in how they put the most vulnerable among us, children, in danger of physical and mental harm. But while <em>The Exorcist</em>'s dangers come from a malicious spirit—evil's got to evil, yo—<em>The Babadook</em>'s danger comes from the person tasked with caring for Samuel.</p>
Alien and It Follows<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyMzYxOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTI4MzU5Mn0.qaBJ2GsM1SEWHz1VTGhVN62Mb0C788iQnatUX6JfzCw/img.png?width=980" id="54715" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f82b3c415e6998fd05122eac243ee652" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Alien (1979)<p>Fear is an intimate emotion, and no other film portrays that fact better for me than <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078748/?ref_=nv_sr_2" target="_blank"><em>Alien </em></a>(1979). You <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-why-we-cant-forget-first-love-20160212-story.html" target="_blank">never forget your first</a>.</p><p>Directed by Ridley Scott, <em>Alien </em>follows the crew of the <em>USCSS</em> <em>Nostromo </em>as they investigate a mysterious transmission and accidently let loose a deadly alien aboard their ship. While later sequels rendered the alien just another monster of the week—a less loquacious Zerg—the original's incarnation continues to terrify. </p><p>This is partly due to technical limitations forcing Scott to never show it in full. Instead, dark angles and quick cutaways show just enough for your imagination build the rest. But we can't discount H.R. Giger's unsettling design. Sometimes an alien head is just a cigar, but in this case it's definitely a killer penis.</p><p>A film that pairs remarkably well with <em>Alien</em> is David Robert Mitchell's <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3235888/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank">It Follows</a></em> (2014). In it, a girl named Jay sleeps with her boyfriend only to be cursed by the sexual encounter. A shape-shifting creature will now stalk her until either it kills her or she passes on the curse by sleeping with another.</p><p>Both movies deal in sexual horrors, but while <em>Alien</em>'s monster is a symbol of sexual perversion and evolutionary conquest, <em>It Follows</em> takes a different approach. Jay's is a coming-of-age story. Her monster is the world at large, where natural drives like sex can provide pleasure but also disease, anxiety, and moral compromise.</p>
The Witch (2015)<p>We all knew <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank"><em>The Shining</em></a><em></em> (1980) was going to be here, right? Stanley Kubrick's film is a horror masterclass of unnerving tension. </p><p>What more can be said? Jack Nicholson crushes it as, erm, Jack. The imagery has been indelibly seared into our cultural consciousness. Even the carpet has been <a href="https://filmandfurniture.com/2017/11/kubricks-carpet-in-the-shining/" target="_blank">analyzed to death</a>. But it's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDpdDW97W3E" target="_blank">Kubrick's use of perspective</a> that makes the film so terrifying, especially with regard to the young and vulnerable Danny.</p><p>A good modern pairing for <em>The Shining</em> is <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4263482/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank">The Witch </a></em>(2015). <em>The Witch </em>tells the story of a colonial family forced to leave the protection of the settlement due to religious differences. Living in the wilderness, they are preyed upon by a coven of witches.</p><p>Both movies deal with families in isolation and children harmed by the demons inherent in their guardians. <em>The Witch </em>uses this setup to speak toward the problem of evil. Why would a caring, benevolent god allow them to suffer despite their professed love for him? </p><p>Kubrick's film doesn't ask the question so directly, yet it should be noted that no outside force comes to save the Torrance family from its patriarch (Scatman Crothers notwithstanding).</p>
The Thing and Get Out<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODcyNzIyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzc4MDU2Nn0.FMBf-cd4AItpe4YflSvw0Ttk6DEQ4Fdg0-sdRcGDblE/img.jpg?width=980" id="19ed3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0023fbd2dc36effe5bf4bfc5da17e2b7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Thing (1982)<p>When John Carpenter's <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084787/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank"><em data-redactor-tag="em">The Thing</em> </a>was released in 1982, critics and audiences called it cynical, disturbing, nihilistic, and all around unpleasant. Today, it's the film cinephiles point to when pining for the days of practical effects and R-rated horror. Go figure.</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em">The Thing</em> opens with American researchers in Antarctica explore the remains of a destroyed Norwegian research station. The only survivor of the Norwegian station, a sled dog, is revealed to be a shape-shifting alien that can imitate any form. To survive, the researchers must kill the creature, which could be any one of them.</p><p>Jordan Peele's <em data-redactor-tag="em"><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5052448/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">Get Out</a></em> (2017) pervades a similar sense of paranoia. Peele's film tells about an African-American man, Chris, spending the weekend with his white girlfriend's upper-class family. While <em data-redactor-tag="em">The Thing</em> is about fearing a hidden malevolence within the group, <em data-redactor-tag="em">Get Out</em> portrays the group itself as the terrifying presence.</p>
Guillermo del Toro: Why monsters are metaphors<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="bHIJVlX4" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="eeda2bcb2b5fc5e221b0d645324d009d"> <div id="botr_bHIJVlX4_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bHIJVlX4-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/bHIJVlX4-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bHIJVlX4-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Whatever you do, don't look behind you – because the answer isn't there, says psychologist Alison Gopnik. The real ghosts are glitches in your brain, and in a way, that's even scarier.
According to a 2009 Pew Research survey, 18% of adults in the U.S. say they’ve seen a ghost or at least felt its presence. An even greater number (29%) say they have felt in touch with someone who has died.