Reading this week's edition of "AVQ&A" reminded me of something that terrified me when I was younger that doesn't terrify me now. I had not thought about this for years, and it wasn't the opening scenes of V, Murder, She Wrote, or various parts of E.T. It was the trailer for The Silence of the Lambs.
Yes, the trailer: OK to be shown in the daytime or nighttime on almost any kind of programming. Being in sixth grade at the time of its release, I caught some of the trailer one night and couldn't get the face of Hannibal Lecter out of my head. What truly creeped me out about it were the shots of Lecter in the cage, warmly lit with a white T-shirt on. So, I can thank a director of photography, a wardrobe person, and Anthony Hopkins for this.
Hopkins looked so sinister and menacing -- and he's just sitting in a chair. The trailer itself isn't very violent, and doesn't really give much away about the movie. I definitely didn't beg my parents to go see the movie. At that point in my life, I was more interested in Back to the Future Part II and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. My father saw it and was creeped out by it, and I didn't see the movie until college. (I'm so glad I saw it in widescreen instead of pan-and-scan.)
I don't mean to say all this and pretend like I don't get creeped out now. Watching Silence of the Lambs many times over the years, I find it to be a really, really good thriller with phenomenal acting from top to bottom. I don't get creeped out by it, but I still get creeped out by various other things. And it's not gore or jumps.
In the last couple of years, certain scenes, mainly from horror movies, have disturbed me. I don't watch horror movies because I enjoy watching people get hacked to pieces. No, I watch them to face my own fears, and knowing that I'm watching a movie with actors, special effects, and make-up. But anyway, the shot in the original Hills Have Eyes where the baby is crying uncontrollably after her mother and grandmother have been shot, and the shot in the first Saw where Michael Emerson's character stands over a girl sleeping just give me chills when I think about them. Top that off with scenes from Paradise Lost 2 and Jonestown: the Life and Death of the People's Temple and you're in the know with what creeps me out. Those kinds of things just don't go away, you know.