I was thinking about horror movies the other day. Not initially, mind you. No, initially I was just walking along the beach, somewhere on the western shore of Vancouver Island, looking down at the sand. After a bit, I happened to notice some transparent globules on the sand. My first reaction was to wonder what they were (the tops of jellyfish is my current assumption), and my next to go look for a stick so that I could turn them over and examine them in more detail, without touching it.
That’s what got me to thinking.
In the movie “The Blob” (the original one, at least), the Blob is first discovered in a field by a farmer who has come out to investigate a meteorite. When he sees this semi-transparent globule, he gets a stick so that he can examine it in more detail, without touching it.
I remember seeing that movie on TV when I was in Elementary School. Naturally, between the dramatic mood music and the fact that I was watching the movie “The Blob”, it occurred to me that what he was doing was incredibly stupid. “Don’t poke it with a stick you fool,” I felt like shouting at him, “it’s the Blob!” The problem, obviously, is that he didn’t know he was in the movie “The Blob” (Not sure how he could have missed the musical cues, but somehow he must have).
Sure enough, it slid up the stick, got his hand, and eventually consumed him entirely.
As luck would have it my day on the beach, I couldn’t get a stick conveniently (didn’t hear any mood music, either; a few days later though I would go hiking through the woods with “the Teddy Bear’s Picnic” stuck in my head, so I suppose I can’t claim any real moral victories on that ground, either). I decided to leave the poor thing unmolested and continued down the beach.
As I said, though, it got me thinking. Whenever you see a horror movie, the conversation afterward almost invariably turns to how stupid the people in such movies are. Occasionally, particularly in the case of 80’s “slasher” movies, the points made are pretty much on the money. “When there’s a killer in the woods, you don’t split up!” is indeed fairly sound advice. Other cases, such as “No, don’t read that book, it’s got a scary picture on the cover!”, well, frankly they’re a bit alarmist, if you think about it. Imagine trying to live your life on the assumption that you are in a horror movie. I believe there are special hospitals for such people.
The thing is, the people who around poking Blobs with sticks, let’s face it, they’re pretty much the ones responsible for all scientific progress. I just ended up with this mental image of our early ancestors watching a horror movie, shouting at the screen “No, don’t take the red glowy crackly stick into the cave you fool!”.
Or of some 15th century audience sitting around a coffee house saying “Yeah, what an idiot. Heck everyone told Columbus the world was flat and that there were sea monsters out there, what did he expect!? I’m going to get a muffin, you want anything?”
Or: “I really dug the scene where the apple fell from the tree and split Isaac Newton’s head open. I mean, sure, it wasn’t particularly realistic , but that’s not the point, is it? It was obviously meant to show that there are some things that man was not meant to know. Got a light? Thanks….No, you’re right, the whole “Garden of Eden” religious imagery was obviously a bit heavy-handed, but it was still cool when his brains came spilling out. Yeah, definitely could have skipped the bit where his body fell over and crushed the snake, but hey, it’s just a movie, you know?”