Most of us receive a delicious thrill from watching a frightening film or reading a scary story...as do children of course.
My youngest son adored gruesome fairy tales when I was still reading him bedtime stories...The Red Shoes, when the little girl dances so much her feet bleed was a particular favourite...and he loved the tale about The Three Trolls hiding under the bridge waiting to grab unwary passers by...he'd actually sit bolt upright in bed and shiver when I reached the horrid bits, but if I skipped through the more scary paragraphs he'd insist I went back and re-read it all again without leaving anything out.
He grew to become a relatively normal adult and hasn't turned into a serial killer or mad axe man so they can't have done him any harm...
Some much lauded horror stories leave me totally un-moved to the point of boredom...most of Stephen Kings books actually, with the exception being Misery ,which I read in fell swoop while loathing to turn the next page because I so wanted that poor man to escape...
Don't like Edgar Allan Poe either...too far-fetched to be really frightening.
But there have been some films which I've hardly been able to bear watching...most of those based on Dennis Wheatley's books for instance, which tend to feature magic circles you simply mustn't enter or the devil incarnate with glowing eyes...they give me the willies.
Bernard mentioned The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers...when they finally 'got' Donald Sutherland I forgot he was an actor in a film and became quite distraught!
Blood and gore leave me totally unmoved...I find myself wondering how the special effects people achieved the gallons of blood and dis-membered limbs and couldn't care less about what happens to the hero.
And those truly silly films about 'famous' or maybe that ought to be infamous, haunted houses, where blood spurts from plug holes in baths and runs down walls...I mutter to myself about the original inhabitants' of such places being nothing but attention seekers...
True horror for me is the implied rather than the visual...the menace brought about by skilful use of music and those suspicious shadows lurking almost out of sight...the certain knowledge something unpleasant is about to happen but never being quite sure when...
People with bolts through their heads or werewolves hunting down victims on desolate moors...can't be much bothered by them...think they are a bit daft. But one scene from a Dracula film stands out...the version with Louis Jourdan in the lead part I think...there is a sad mad man locked up in a sort of cell under the care of a loopy shrink...the mad man spends his days catching and eating the flies which come in through his barred window...one day he asks the shrink...in a pitiable tone of voice...'Please, please, may I have a kitten?'
Now that scene gave me the horrors.
So, it's personal isn't it...you might well devour Stephen Kings books and go to bed with all the lights left on...or watch Edward Scissorhands late at night and giggle the entire way through...and not jump in fright when you're making your cup of cocoa and see your reflection in the kitchen window...