So here’s something that should come as no surprise: I am a huge nerd. I took it to a whole new level this past weekend when I went to Fan Expo — and dressed up. For those of you either
not cool enough too cool to know what Fan Expo is, it’s basically Comic Con North. For those of you who are still confused, it’s like the Gathering of the Juggalos, but for nerds, geeks, dweebs, and the like. It encompasses all genres of fandom: anime, comics, gaming (board, LARP, and video), sci-fi, and most importantly (cough not biased cough), horror. Over 100,000 people invade the convention centre for autograph and photo sessions, stall after stall of comics and merch, and panels.
Now, you wouldn’t know it to look at me, or even if we talked for a bit, but I fucking love all things horror. I may seem all nice and innocent with my bows and other girly camouflage, but I squeal with glee when someone gets messily eviscerated onscreen (is there a non-messy way to eviscerate?). I’ve already touched on my Stephen King collection (with matching tattoo), but I doubt many people really get the extent of my nerdiness. I belong to an online horror community called The Crypt, and almost shit my pants when Eli Roth (director of Hostel and Cabin Fever) liked my Halloween costume last year. Speaking of Halloween, I plan my hair around my costume, meaning I am stuck with the blonde a full three months after I am decidedly over it because I am beyond excited about my Rosemary’s Baby plans for this year.
At Fan Expo, I split off from the group because no one else likes horror (a recurring theme, as you’ll soon see), and I went to a great panel previewing an upcoming doc called Why Horror which explores what draws people to horror century after century. As the director and subject discussed the evolving horror community, and how they were labelled outcasts or weirdos, it got me thinking about my predilections’ impact upon my own social life.
I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid. I grew up between two vastly different houses with very different rules, and the same disgusting stuff I would watch with my maternal grandmother on weekends was strictly forbidden at my dad’s house. This meant my budding interest remained a quasi-secret, something I didn’t share with everyone. When I was in Grade 5, I was reading Jurassic Park, but someone (thanks jerk) told my parents it had inappropriate language for a delicate girl like me, so they put the kibosh on that. Confession: I borrowed my principal’s copy and finished it at school. It was quite tame compared to some of the other things I had already seen and heard. I just kept my darker leanings to myself in that household (but that particular jig has been up for a long time). I remember as a teenager going to see Hannibal with my dad, and when the intestines splattered on the pavement, he looked at me with a hint of a smirk. I presume he was expecting me to recoil or show disgust, instead of exclaiming that it was awesome.
Around that time, I started working at Blockbuster. It was a horror freak’s dream, since we still had an actual horror section in my store (I did have to bring in a note from my mom before I could rent the really good stuff). The only problem: no one my age would watch any of it with me. I finally had the freedom to openly love all this gross shit, and my friends were not having it. My boyfriend at the time, who worked at the other video store in town (with an even better horror section), was creeped out by my love of horror and actually hated the genre. Why would anyone want to watch something so gross/depraved/messed up? So, yet again, I found myself with this sorta secret passion.
Come to think of it, I’ve actually never dated someone who liked horror. It’s been tolerated, much the same way I’ve tolerated dudes’ interests by going to football games or watching overrated dystopian sci-fi because omigawd Bladerunner is the best movie of all time (before everyone loses their minds on me, it was fine, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go). I’ve gone to horror movies on dates, but it got awkward after because I wanted to discuss how great the decapitation scene was while the dude looked at me like I might decapitate him. Most of the time, guys I date just aren’t into it because they’re too scared. Now don’t think I’ve got balls of steel, this shit scares me plenty — I slept with a crucifix for weeks after reading ‘Salem’s Lot. I just happen to like the scare. When you think about it, dating is kind of like horror, but without the blood and guts. Maybe the same part of my psyche that keeps me sitting in dark movie theatres alone, heart pounding and stomach in knots is what has me putting myself out there, meeting strangers for drinks, seeing people multiple times, confessing feelings — heart pounding and stomach in knots.
For now, I’ll be the brave one, peeking around corners and investigating noises (in both haunted houses and haunted hearts). Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be sitting in the theatre with a willing participant, our pulses racing together, exchanging excited glances as the body count rises and the splatter hits the screen.