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Explain the dirty job horror movies perform for us, according to King. Do you think
horror movies potentially benefit all of us in the way he claims? Be sure to support your
position with specific details taken from your own experiences, including the media, your
observation of others and your reading
In the essay, “Why we Crave Horror Movies” King states that we as humans are mentally ill
only that some of us as humans know how to hide this madness better than others. As much as
we are brothers and sisters and share the brotherhood of being humans, we also in a way share
According to Stephen Kings, people crave horror movies to re-establish their feelings of
essential normality, to establish that they are not afraid but rather they fancy the horror movie.
The less obvious reason that King develops in his piece of literature is that human beings have
uncivilized emotions and urges, deep down within ourselves, that every once in a while need to
be let out. We enjoy horror films because they fulfill this demand that we have of temporarily
releasing our inner demons, thereby satisfying our socially unacceptable urges. In other words,
King tries to say that human beings use that madness to justify the reasons for watching horror
films. I totally agree with King, even to the point he says that all we need is love as long as the
alligators are kept fed. As he clearly puts it that horror movies are conservative and reactionary,
this help in putting more emphasis on the point that it’s normal to watch horror movies so that
one can get scared and scream then get a reaction that helps us re-establish our feelings of
essential normality.
The “hungry alligators” referred to in King’s writing represent the insane side of human beings
and the uncivilized emotions that they sometimes possess. “Hungry alligators” is a very effective
analogy because alligators can be dangerous and vicious just like the humans. Having the
alligators “swimming around” is taken to mean that they are like our insane sides, which are
restless and wanting to get out. “Throwing a basket of raw meat” is an unpleasant action, much
like watching a horror movie can be an unpleasant process, but it is necessary to keep the
alligators from getting out. This effectively communicates the nature of human insanity and the
purpose that watching a horror movie serves: to feed the gators, to satisfy those socially
unacceptable cravings for violence.
Stephen King describes some reasons why he thinks some people love watching horror movies
while giving illustrations on each. He gives more information on why horror movie is mentally
ill by explaining human beings’ mental insanity towards evil acts like killing and death. By “The
potential lyncher is in almost all of us” King is trying to pass the message that all human beings
have had those instances where they have been upset by fellow human beings triggering a
response of a desire for revenge by hurting them. Horror movies come in by giving us that
feeling of hurting someone without actually doing it. With movies, we just watch then turn them
off without hurting anyone. This too applies to horror games and books which give us the
opportunity to enjoy them then go on with our lives and be the way our society wants us to be
without actually doing anything. Human beings are thus able to release all of their
disappointments without getting into any trouble. Seeking for horror makes us more insane that
it’s like an addiction makes us mentally ill. “As long as you keep the gators fed.” Perfectly
describes that if we won’t feed our insanity with horror we would have to take out our
frustrations, on fellow human beings.
Horror is also ancient and real and sometimes it has a lesson to be learned by us as human
beings. In olden days, stories were designed in such a way that they taught people and especially
the young ones to avoid places of danger and strangers. These were tales for young children who
literally faced tangible death once in a while during their daily life. These horror movies or rather
tales have preventive purposes. Humans as a species have developed through evolution in such a
way that we are afraid of threats. This helps us flee threats and survive.
Again, horror movies give a sense of power to the powerless. Personally, when I was a kid, I
could see myself as the movie’s protagonist. Once my hero in the movie won against the
monsters and the beast, I too felt a sense of victory. The beast as perceived in my mind then
represented whoever was beastly in my life as a kid. After the movie, I could walk having a
feeling like I had met the monster and survived. This made me feel ready and well-armed against
my next enemy be it even the exams.
Studies have also shown that horror movies give someone an effect of anaesthesia. This is all
about the brain and how our brains react to the roller-coaster ride of emotions. Several hormones
including adrenaline, glutamate, serotonin and dopamine are released into our system after
someone realizes he is out of danger after watching a horror movie. Sometimes, it’s advisable to
watch horror movies when you feel bored rather than taking tequila shots.
Surprisingly, horror movies can help one forget his or her daily stresses by causing another pain.
It quite obvious that when one is watching horror movies, his body is all tensed up. The tension
also causes one’s mind to divert and at that moment one is able to forget the things that had been
stressing his life. Horror movies are both soothing and comforting.
Finally, sharing scary movies and stories help to bring people together. Most of the time, people
become excessively delighted on discovering that they have all watched the same movie. Most of
us a lot of times will start by trying to compare the scariest parts and will often laugh at funny
scenes. The shared experience and the adrenaline-induced laughter are one of the bet fraught
times in someone’s life. Going through such an experience as a group especially in a theater
means that we are never alone.
King, S. (1981). Why we crave horror movies. Short Essays for Composition, 524.
Schulenberg, S. E. (2003). Psychotherapy and movies: On using films in clinical practice.
Journal of contemporary psychotherapy, 33(1), 35-48.
Hoekstra, S. J., Harris, R. J., & Helmick, A. L. (1999). Autobiographical memories about the
experience of seeing frightening movies in childhood. Media Psychology, 1(2), 117-140.
Humphries, R. (2002). The American horror film: An introduction. Edinburgh University Press.

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