Think you're not a fan of horror films? Try starting with these picks
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And finally today, you know it's the night before Halloween, so this means we are in peak scary film season. So we thought this would be a good time to open the vault and, frankly, to ask what makes horror movies so appealing to, well, some people. I'm talking about the likes of Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and all the other scary people or supernatural beings waiting in closets, the attic or just the dark.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, PERSON SCREAMING)
MARTIN: In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a person who seeks out such fare. So I asked our producer, Gabriel J. Sanchez, our resident horror film expert, to join us so he can explain what those of us who do not share his passion are missing. Gabriel, welcome. Thank you for coming - thank you for walking down the hall.
GABRIEL J SANCHEZ, BYLINE: Hi, Michel. Happy early Halloween.
MARTIN: So, Gabe, we've become aware of your passion and encyclopedic knowledge of horror films and scary movies. It's the time of year when these films are popping up in theaters and streaming into homes across the country. So the first question I really have for you is, what is it about these movies that are so attractive to you? Because frankly, to me, it seems like you're paying money just to be scared.
SANCHEZ: Yeah. Well, watching horror films is like riding a roller coaster in your living room. You get a thrill and a shock to the system because as an audience member, we know with all scientific fact and measurements that we're safe. And, yes, I paid money to see the 2003 rendition of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in a theater, knowing that they were trying to scare me. But it's in those moments when the action slows down, the music feels tense and then boom.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHAINSAW WHIRRING, PERSON SCREAMING)
SANCHEZ: And just an FYI - I took my grandmother, Beatrice (ph), to see this in a theater. She was not as big of a fan of the film as I was.
MARTIN: I can understand that. So do you remember when you first started watching horror films? Like, when do you think your passion for horror movies took off?
SANCHEZ: Well, growing up, my younger sister and I had a lot of babysitters who liked to kill time watching movies in between our bedtimes and when our mother came home. It just so happens that the movies that our babysitters enjoyed were about babysitters getting chased by maniacs with chainsaws and butcher knives. I remember when I was up late one night as a young kid, I walked into our living room, where our babysitter had rented a VHS copy of "A Nightmare On Elm Street." It was a scene where young girls dressed in all white, lit in a soft white light, slowly jumping rope, trolling a man in his sleep with a hypnotic and haunting rhyme as they continue to jump rope.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Got to stay up late. Nine, 10, never sleep again.
SANCHEZ: And not all horror films have to be based on supernatural beings like Freddy Krueger. And for me, the scarier films are those based on true stories or just showing the inner horrors of the human mind, like the 1990s hit "Scream," when the opening scene made people afraid to answer their phones when they were home alone.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SCREAM")
DREW BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Hello?
ROGER JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Why don't you want to talk to me?
BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Who is this?
JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) You tell me your name. I'll tell you mine.
BARRYMORE: (As Casey) I don't think so.
JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) You never told me your name.
BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Why do you want to know my name?
JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Because I want to know who I'm looking at.
MARTIN: OK. So look, Gabe, even though it's not my jam, I know this is a major genre. And it seems like every year around this time, there are tons of scary movies or more sequels to older films, and the old stuff is available to stream. So there's so many films to choose from. So let's say you're not ready to go all the way into a theater, but maybe you want to kind of dip your toe in. Or maybe you want to have a spooky watch party. What should you take a look at?
SANCHEZ: Well, there definitely is a spectrum and some definite starting points. And all roads lead off with Alfred Hitchcock. He made people afraid of birds. And after the release of his film "Psycho," people were afraid of taking a shower, most especially when you think you're all alone.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PSYCHO")
JANET LEIGH: (As Marion Crane, screaming).
SANCHEZ: You know, starting there allows you to get your feet wet. And once you're ready to expand out, we can get into more contemporary classics like "Friday The 13th" or "Halloween," with the actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh, the star of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," kind of keeping the scream in the family.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HALLOWEEN")
JAMIE LEE CURTIS: (As Laurie Strode) Help. Somebody help me, please. Somebody help.
SANCHEZ: That was Jamie Lee Curtis's character, Laurie Strode, running from her older brother, Michael Myers. She runs from him in about seven films now. And I think the producers of the "Halloween" franchise might acknowledge the close-to-70-something-year-old Michael Myers is a bit too old to hunt down and chase most anyone anymore with this year's release of the fourteenth sequel of the franchise, "Halloween Kills."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HALLOWEEN KILLS")
CURTIS: (As Laurie Strode) Evil dies tonight.
MARTIN: OK. Well, tomorrow is Halloween, as we said, and you've touched on a few hits. Here's the big question. What are you going to be watching this Halloween?
SANCHEZ: Well, there's so many films that I've been thinking about watching over the last few days. Jordan Peele is the new king of horror. His 2017 film "Get Out" was amazing. Again, scary not because of superpowers - scary because it was just people. So I think I'd like to give his film "Us" a try.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "US")
LUPITA NYONG'O: (As Adelaide Wilson) They look exactly like us.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NYONG'O: (As Adelaide) They think like us.
SANCHEZ: But the biggest problem is my wife is 100% not a fan of any movie in the genre, so watching "Hellraiser," "Poltergeist" or "Child's Play" - its not on the annual marathon that they once were on. But I always, always, always watch the original 1978 "Halloween," with - the film franchise we discussed earlier with Jamie Lee Curtis. It's simply the best film for the occasion, and she's the queen of scream.
MARTIN: That was ALL THINGS CONSIDERED producer Gabriel J. Sanchez joining us this Halloween eve to talk horror films and scary movies and getting us ready for Halloween. Gabe, thank you so much for joining us, although, actually, I'm on your wife's team on this one.
SANCHEZ: Thank you so much, Michel. Hopefully I can get you in to watch a scary movie with me.
(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN CARPENTER SONG, "HALLOWEEN THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.