Let's face it: some people hate horror movies for no good reason. And it's no surprise! The genre has been routinely ghettoized and snubbed for decades. So how do we break down this insidious conditioning and make bona fide horror fans out of folks who turn their noses up at the genre and/or are just too scared to watch these movies in the first place? Or, hell, if you are one of those people — maybe you just want to try this on yourself.
Here's my theory: it's all about sequencing. Think about albums, for example. How much a listener warms to a record has a lot to do with the order in which the songs are presented, and the same could be said of the order in which a person views classic horror films. Someone exposed to “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” too early, for example, could write off the genre for good, and I understand that. It's actually a traumatic experience watching that film, and I may have reacted the same way if I'd seen it prior to viewing, say, “Halloween” or “Poltergeist.”
I believe it's possible to turn a horror-averse (or even horror-phobic) friend or family member on to the genre; it just takes a little strategizing. Below I've outlined an 18-film guide to easing them in, listed almost exclusively in order of intensity. Having trouble getting your “subject” to consent to a viewing? Woo them with a “crossover hook” — i.e. a factual indicator that the film in question is more than just a brainless exercise in terror. Let it be known: none of the films listed here are strictly “blood 'n' boobs” gore-fests or depraved showcases for torture. All of them operate with some level of intelligence and craft that will defy your subject's worst expectations at every turn.
If the subject in question sparks to a particular film? Never fear: I've included followup movie recommendations that should satisfy their curiosity in a particular direction, be it slashers, supernatural horror, creature features or badly-dubbed giallo flicks.
So grab an uptight friend and start their indoctrination with Slide #1 below. Because there's nothing more satisfying than breaking in a newbie…and maybe making them squirm, just a tad.