I used to love horror movies. They made me laugh. Watching a scary movie was like riding a roller coaster; thrilling and pointless with no side effects.
But things have changed. I have changed. Horror movies scare the shit out of me now. I don’t mind a good mystery, some tension, etc., but people getting sliced into pieces? Saw I-VI and in 3D? Yikes, wtf, who pays $15 to watch innocent people kill each other or get tortured to death one by one? But I guess that falls under the category of slasher flick. I digress.
The first DVD I ever bought was The Ring, which is generally accepted as one of the scariest movies of all time. It’s based on a Japanese horror film of the same name (this was the movie that really showed America that the Japanese knew how to scare the shit out of people). I just looked at the poster and got chills (“before you die, you see THE RING” eek!). It was the reinvention of the “scary kid” aspect of horror films.
I had just started my freshman year at college. I don’t know who I saw this movie with, it couldn’t have been my roommates, they were jerks. But whoever I did see it with were jerks too because after the movie, they left me alone in the middle of the night, in my dorm to sit alone on the couch, stare at our tiny tv, and wait for something horrible to happen to me. I tried to go to bed, but in a time of CRT monitors, the glare of the city lights bounced off my selfish, Single Child Roommate’s screen, taunting me. It sat there, patiently watching me for over an hour before said roommate came home. I bounded out of bed and sprinted outside to join her in the living room while she watched tv at 2am. I had early class in the morning. I was exhausted. But I was also honestly afraid for my life. I asked her if she was going to bed soon (I couldn’t go back in there alone). She shot me a look, and kept watching Sex and the City (or whatever bullshit she was into that semester). I sat at the end of the couch nodding off while my tiny, judgmental roommate did her best to simultaneously ignore me and act annoyed.
I should probably mention that in the weeks before the movie came out, some genius (and I mean that) at Dreamworks came up with the idea of making copies of the tape that kills people in the movie, and leaving them on campus. Just around. I found one in the hall of my dorm, just sitting on the floor. I walked by it twice before I picked it up. There were no markings or writing on it. I noted how little film there was, and thought, “there’s no fucking way this is the Ring tape.” Naturally, I brought it into my apartment and announced to whomever was around, “Hey guys, I found this on the floor outside… I think it’s the Ring tape.” The room was silent, until someone said, “Wait, what? That really scary movie thing that kills you in seven days?” More silence.
Naturally we watched it, and collectively lost our shit before, during, and especially after. We all waited with bated breath for a phone to ring. Nothing happened. We panicked anyway. What should we do? The only way to figure out how not to die was to watch the movie, but it didn’t come out for another two weeks, and by then we would all be dead!
We took the tape and put it back in the hallway. It was gone within a day. I’ve never seen it again.
In the Japanese version of the film, the solution the mother comes up with for keeping her son from dying, is showing the film to someone else. Right, good, of course, same as the American version. But unlike in the American version, in which it’s left to the audience to guess who she shows it to (I think it’s the audience itself!), it’s revealed that the Japanese mother chooses to show the movie to her own father. Her own father. Harsh, right?