Coping strategies.

I have had a kind of upsetting day, and am finally getting a chance to relax. Part of this is putting a familiar movie on, specifically Trick ‘r Treat, a sort of adorable little Hallowe’en portmanteau[1] movie which I am just now feeling really weird about calling adorable because I started adding up the number of people who die in this thing (after getting lines, even!) and it is in the double digits, even if you only count ones who get lines.

Trick 'r Treat movie poster

(I have included a picture of the movie’s mascot in my post!  Look how cute he is.)

I mentioned this to the light of my life, in terms of how it struck me as odd that this kind of movie would be relaxing. Part of it is the familiarity, sure, but it’s not like I’m putting on Threads[2] to relax. Or even Splinter, which is actually a really good movie. Either of those would be weird.  And he pointed out a couple of things:

First, I like short stories. I like anthologies. This usually only comes up with books, possibly because there is a sort of terrible lack of movies that do this (I can think of a handful, sure, but they are in a definite minority), and no TV shows that do it to my knowledge.  Getting different distinct stories with the same presenter is not the same; you only get one story per episode, still, and then the media slice is over and you are done for the nonce.  Tales from the Crypt is adorable in its way, and it’s an anthology series, but the individual episodes are not anthologies.

Second (speaking of TftC), short stories within movies are overwhelmingly of the “bad things happen to bad people” genre, and given what I’ve been dealing with today, that connotes a universe with a moral framework and an active justice that it is kind of reassuring to see.  I think it was Eric Burns who, speaking of the classic pulp protagonists–the Shadow and the Spider?–said that he wanted to see horror turned against evil instead of for evil.

It’s a very comforting kind of story, and that is nice right now.

[1] I was going to say “frame story”, but I really don’t think there’s a single surrounding frame story.  Instead, there are at least four stories (I usually count five) weaving in and out of each other.
[2] A BBC movie about the aftermath of nuclear war which is about the most appallingly bleak thing I have seen in… uhm, actually, in ever.  There are more depressing or upsetting movies, but I have not seen any others which leave me feeling so throughly that the universe does not care and humans are just clinging sadly to a worldful of tired gritty dust that will not care one whit when we are gone.

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2 thoughts on “Coping strategies.”

  1. I have never really examined why too closely, but I find any even mildly campy horror comforting, especially in the short form. Cheesy monster movies and the like, generally, or old Hammer flicks, but TRICK ‘R TREAT certainly has enough of the former in its genetic makeup to qualify.

    A lot of times, I’m not so fond of the “bad people get their comeuppance” horror of, say, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, but one of the things I love about TRICK ‘R TREAT is that what qualifies as “bad people” here is expanded to mostly mean “people who disrespect the rules of Halloween” in one form or another.

    I actually just got the Blu-ray of this (it’s still quite cheap on Amazon, though not as low as when I bought it) and listened to the commentary track the other day. The best part was that everyone kept sort of forgetting they were doing a commentary track and just watching the movie, and then someone would say, “Hey guys, maybe we should be saying something.”

    1. It is worth noting that a lot of the Tales from the Crypt stuff is that it’s basically “*everybody* dies, but the bad people deserved it!” Which is occasionally satisfying in a certain light, but not as… cuddly? as Trick ‘R Treat.

      Purely curious: just realizing that I generally don’t find slasher stories to be as comforting as most horror. You?

      (That commentary sounds really neat. Will look at giving it a listen; I am actually usually pretty terrible with getting to commentary tracks, have not even done so with The Wire. Also, there’s apparently a coffee-table book on the movie. Which is looking rather less cheap than the DVD or Blu-Ray; I may see about used copies.)

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