Welcome to Horror Girl in the Real World -- a new Horror Squad column devoted to exploring the genre from a slightly different perspective. Rather than preach the sermon of spookiness to the choir, I'll be examining not only how the rest of the world looks at the genre we love, but how horror fans manage amongst the non-horror masses. Think of it as a social experiment with a gory and slightly feminine twist.
Can we all just admit that we totally judge each other by the type of movies we choose to watch on a first date? Let me jump back for a moment and say that I've never been a fan of the movie theater as a realm for that initial get together. My preference is finding a spot to talk and relax while digging into each other's brains with great fervor -- and quite possibly gnashing of teeth. After hanging out with someone a few times, a movie date is a great way to further gauge that person's interests, sense of humor and tolerance for my obsession -- horror films. Are they also laughing when Ted Levine comes on screen in Shutter Island (and hopefully later exchanging jokes with me that involve obscene lipstick application)? Is the ending of Cemetery Man as overwhelmingly existential for them as it is for me, no matter that I've watched it dozens of times? I'll never grow tired of the theatergoing experience as one of my favorite date rituals -- because in that few hours of silence there is a lot being said. I usually prefer to see movies alone, so in a way it's testing my own capacity for accepting another's responses to the big screen drama unfolding in the dark, while another plays right beside you and wants to hold your hand.
Admittedly, there was a time when I was pretty jaded about meeting others who could appreciate the same things I do in a horror flick. I would often find myself completely frustrated that the pool of boys I had to choose from who shared my cinematic interests consisted of those who wore their badge of horror a little too obviously and proudly. I'm talking about those people who felt like they had to be in constant competition with me and would not gracefully accept the fact that I simply knew more about certain aspects of the genre than they did. The ones who judged me by which company I ordered my Hammer Films t-shirt from, or the fact that sometimes I just didn't feel like wearing black. These superficial prejudices run rampant within the horror community and I still battle these issues from time to time, but I guess it's just a matter of weighing your two evils.
On the flip side, some people I've gone on a first date with who weren't necessarily interested in horror have raised a judgmental eyebrow at my movie selections (everyone should love Martyrs, right?), my attire (I can't help it if vampire and exploitation flicks helped form my fashion sense) and the like. I'm sure most of you can relate to these preconceived notions and like me, you accept that there will be a certain level of criticism if you decide to unabashedly boast about blood and guts with a horror newbie -- but where do you draw the line? How do you decide how much of your inner fangirl(boy) to reveal or conceal? And are you really completely innocent of judging someone in the same way?
On both sides of the fence, I -- like many women I know -- have had to deal with men who see our interests as a novelty. For horror-loving guys who have often found it impossible to find that ghouly girl who really gets them, they immediately see our lust for horror as the all-encompassing green light. Liking gore does not mean you pass go and collect whatever-you-frakking-feel-like. And with some guys who prefer straight action and adventure over An American Werewolf in London, being the horror girl is the equivalent of sideshow freak. Yes, my need for Nekromantik is honest and very real, not just a spectacle that makes for crude convo with your buddies.
There shouldn't be a lot of stress when choosing a film for a first meet-up, but I've often felt it and have tried to figure out where that happy medium is. Chances are, picking something on a first date that pleases both parties equally is never going to happen, but as much as horror fans want others to accept their quirks and penchant for scares, they have to be willing to meet the non-horror party half way. You know, pay it forward and cross your fingers that the next one who invites you out for a flick will be just as willing as you are to remain open-minded. Ultimately, it just makes it a lot easier to turn them to the dark side when they least expect it.