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The face of fear

Why one person's fright is another's farce

 by Megan Salisbury
 published on Thursday, October 26, 2006


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October is a month where anything that makes you jump, scream or pee your pants is fair play. While Halloween is a holiday that focuses on fear, many people have secret reservations that are not showcased in scary movies or haunted houses.

Sociology professor Richard Fey says the fear of the unknown or an attacker fuels many people's fears. That is why so many scary movies claim to be based on true stories. They seem scarier that way than the average horror film.

"A 'true story' scares us more simply because if it could happen to someone else, then it could happen to us," Fey adds.

Camp Morton, a mechanical engineering junior, says that when something is "based on a true story" it brings people closer to their fears.

"There is no question if [the movie] is real or not; it makes [the movie] less of a story and more of a reality," Morton says.

Morton says that even if the movie is mostly fiction, the factual details the filmmakers include make the audience feel like the entire movie is real.

People are also scared by movies that deal with serial killers because the audience members immerse themselves in the film, he says. "You put yourself in the character's position instead of watching it from a distance."

However, serial killers and slasher films aren't the only things that scare people. There are many conventional fears that make people tremble.

Morton says one of his greatest fears is climbing down from something really high.

"Climbing up it is fine, but climbing down scares me," he says. "It's because you're not seeing where you are going; you have to feel with your feet."

Houssein Jabbar, a justice studies junior, says his greatest fear is approaching a girl.

"Trying to get a number, a date, that entire approaching period," he says. "I see a very good-looking girl and I want to talk to her, but I start thinking of the rejection.

"Rejection shoots down your self-esteem, your confidence. It's not only humiliating, but you never forget. It's like a post-traumatic-stress disorder."

Jabbar also says movies like "Wrong Turn" and "The Blair Witch Project" altered his reality - and his camping experiences.

"I went camping with the football team in high school and at night it would be scary, like the Jason movies when they were in the woods," Jabbar says.

It's fears like these that inspire scary movies and haunted theme parks. But Morton and Fey say they have ideas for real-life scares that are even worse.

Morton says he would like to create a play off of a haunted park in Austin, Texas, called the Nightmare Factory, where the actors literally grab people and pull them into the darkness. He says he would like to have people hire him to kidnap their friends on Halloween.

"I would have them wake up to duct tape over their mouths and masked assailants in their bedroom," he adds. "It would scare people because it would make people feel they are not safe in their own home. Feeling unsafe in a safe place is stressful. There is nowhere to hide from Camp Morton."

But for Fey, the real scare comes from hallucination. That's why he would want to make a horror film that would show a person's descent into hallucinatory madness.

"However, outside of typical films in this tradition, the descent would be slow and not graphically revealed," he says. "It would also have to be 'based on a true story.'"



Phobias from A to Z

Arachibutyrophobia -- Fear of peanut butter

Bromidrosiphobia - Fear of body smells

Cacophobia - Fear of ugliness

Defecaloesiophobia - Fear of bowel movements

Euphobia - Fear of hearing good news

Francophobia - Fear of France or French culture

Geniophobia - Fear of chins

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - Fear of 666

Ithyphallophobia - Fear of an erect penis

Koniophobia - Fear of dust

Lutraphobia - Fear of otters

Mnemophobia - Fear of memories

Nudophobia - Fear of nudity

Ophidiophobia - Fear of snakes (on planes)

Pogonophobia - Fear of beards

Rhytiphobia - Fear of getting wrinkles

Scopophobia - Fear of being seen

Trichopathophobia - Fear of hair

Urophobia - Fear of urine

Vestiphobia - Fear of clothing.

Wiccaphobia - Fear of witches and witchcraft

Xanthophobia - Fear of the color yellow

Zemmiphobia - Fear of the great mole rat

Reach the reporter at Megan.M.Salisbury@asu.edu.



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