Halloween Horror Films: Boosted by Scary Politics?

As we near the end of an election cycle that has so vividly exposed the darkest underbelly of our so-called humanity, maybe we need horror films now more than ever. Jason Bailey, Flavorwire, 2016

This year’s Halloween costumes will reportedly feature Trump and Kavanaugh imitators in numbers way too big for (my) comfort.

Already breaking some records at the box office, the horror film of the fall is slated to be the newest Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the beaten-down lone survivor of a long-ago babysitter massacre. A trauma survivor who still faces scary demons, both internally and externally. Surely survivors of other types of traumas will also be able to relate.

Although horror films are always popular at Halloween, some say the genre has boomed in general under the current Republican president and Congress—and maybe under past Republican-led reigns as well. As reported in a recent piece in Medium, “Republican Administrations Beget Better Horror Films.”

It’s no mistake that quality horror is a product of Republican presidents. They’ve presided over incredible moments and turbulent times in history. These times have been consequential and sometimes scary. These conditions expose society and bring about a sense of vulnerability. There is nowhere to run or hide, and this is fertile soil for horror to grow.

See the article for a list of horror films that have “served” under Republican administrations.

Stephen King, famed horror writer who wrote the novel on which last year’s film It was based, happens to have a well-known ongoing aversion to our current president. Samantha Becker, ew.com, for one, interpreted It as “a parable for life under Donald Trump” (symbolized by a scary clown called Pennywise):

When Stephen King wrote this book in the mid-1980s, he wasn’t predicting the rise of Donald Trump. But he was tapping into something fundamental about human nature, about the allure of authoritarianism, about the shallow sense of safety a person can feel by stoking fear in another person.

King also understood that what scares someone in their childhood could very well be what defines them as adults. He understood that bullies are timeless and they come in all shapes and sizes. And that a lack of empathy can metastasize, spreading through a population. One powerful person behaving cruelly can activate the worst impulses of savagery in the rest of us.

Most of all, King figured this out: Tying our universal fears to the individual anxieties we have as kids is the only way we’ll ever overcome both.

“We just elected Pennywise president,” King proclaimed at one of the Women’s Marches in early 2018.

Last Halloween season Maureen Dowd, New York Times, interviewed Jason Blum, “the king of low-budget horror movies”—among them, by the way, last year’s blockbuster Get Out and this year’s Halloween. His view regarding the genre’s appeal:

‘I think when people are scared, they like to see movies where the scares are not real,’ Mr. Blum says. ‘The current administration’s been terrific for the scary-movie business. It’s been our best year ever. I think ‘Get Out’ did four times the business it would have done if Hillary had been president.’

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