“Horror movies are rehearsals for our own deaths.”
Why did the crowd react in such a way? The answer is simple. It is human nature. Most of the time in the history of Roman gladiators, the “slave” was presented to be some type of criminal. Whether or not this was true (in most cases, it wasn’t; generally they were prisoners of war, unlucky enough to live in an occupied Roman territory) was irrelevant. The audience was given the perfect alibi to excuse their morbid reaction to the slaughter they were witnessing: The victim deserved it. This changed the spectacle and the energy itself. It was no longer blood lust for blood lust's sake. It was justice. And having this in mind, watching the horror show unfolding before them, the individual had a much greater sense of self than he or she did before. Suddenly they were watching events that the average, hardworking taxpayer would never have to experience themselves because they were morally “good”, and the slave victim was a criminal, or innately evil. This presented a duality in citizenship; Us and Them. Us, the law abiding, emperor fearing nature caring good guys, and Them, the murderers, rapists, tax evading criminal bad guys. Therefore, the “good guys” expected a justice system that not only punished the bad, but made the good feel better for being who they are and doing what they do.
One can easily see a parallel between the ancient “unsophisticated” pagans and the modern horror movie fans. Both enjoy seeing a victim reach an untimely death, both watch the spectacle from a cozy place of observance assured that the horror they are seeing will never reach them, and both (presumably) have a mental monologue of justice(they deserved it, they shouldn’t have done that, etc). But let’s take this a step further. With the rise of monotheism—Wait what? What does this have to do with horror movies, man?!? Wait for it…
“We’re gunna’ get those terrorists. Now watch this drive.”
L.A. Gore has been writing professionally for many years, with his articles appearing in numerous publications including Bibliotheca Alexandria, Waters of Life, Pangaia, Witches and Pagans, Playgrounds and The Circle. He has spent most of his life studying ancient and modern religion, and most of his work thus far represents his findings. He is a self-proclaimed horror movie fanatic, with over four hundred in his personal collection. A few of his personal favorites are Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Phantasm, Suspiria, Return of the Living Dead and Dead Alive.