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Keeping the Gators Fed: Why I Crave Horror Movies (and Running)

Last week, my Composition I students had to write a blog post responding to Stephen King’s short piece called “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” The prompt asked them to persuade their audience that their method of “keeping the insanity at bay” is acceptable. Here’s my own response.

King hit it right on the nose: We are all crazy. How we deal with it, though, is individual. I love horror movies—so King pegged me exactly—and I love running.

Watching horror movies fills me with terror, fear. And I love it. I live a very privileged life. My belly is always full, I sleep in a warm bed in a nice house next to a loving husband. I have never been abused or neglected. My close friends are hilarious. The only emotion that I don’t experience regularly is fear, so I get that from horror movies. I give myself over to them, allow myself to believe the most ridiculous plot lines, in order to feel scared. They make me bite my fingernails, wring my hands, huddle under the throw blanket. And I love every minute of it.

Running, on the other hand, is how I deal with all other sources of mental illness. Stress. Depression. Temptation. Anxiety. Insomnia. Running (or getting your heart rate up in whatever way possible) floods your body with happy chemicals. That is one major reason that it helps keep the insanity at bay. But it also puts you face-to-face with life. There’s no faking it in running. You are either pushing yourself or you are working out at a lower intensity. Or you’re walking. It’s you and the trail. There are no illusions about the task at hand; you can see the miles ahead of you, can feel the miles you’ve already put behind you. When there’s no where to hide and nothing to hide behind, you gain a new clarity on life. That, and exhausting myself on a regular basis, helps me pass out when my head hits the pillow. (And getting enough sleep helps us all keep our insanity under control!)

We all have our own tried-and-true methods of safely indulging the insanity. Stephen King and Hal Higdon help me stay out of the straight jacket—who does it for you?

2 thoughts on “Keeping the Gators Fed: Why I Crave Horror Movies (and Running)

  1. Crystal

    30 Aug on 2010 at 11:47

    Thanks so much for putting into words exactly how I feel about running! I’m currently in the Arabian Gulf and cannot run as I normally would in the Ozarks. Ramadan, traditional Arab culture, the searing heat, and my fear of offending the locals with my running attire all make it challenging all the while I need to run the most from the stress of living as an expat. Thanks!

  2. mrshev

    28 Apr on 2010 at 15:36

    I think that watching horror films and running are directly linked. I think that you have subconsciously decided that if you were being chased by chainsaw wielding maniac / multi-tentacled monster / faceless demon then you should equip yourself with the ability to outrun them; which came first? :)

    I am not a massive fan of horror films because half of them don’t scare me. Lots of films make me jump out of my seat, but only a handful of films have given me the serious heebie-jeebies: they tend to me more psychological than gory; Alien, Psycho, Blair Witch etc. I love those, but they don’t come along very often.

    Finally, I have always loved Stephen King, one of the most underrated writers of his generation.
    p.s Love the theme!