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Kerry McLean: Cinema trip has left me pining for those more innocent days of Hammer Horrors

By Kerry McLean

It's a rare thing for my husband and I to get a night out together. When we just had two children it wasn't such a big favour, asking someone to come and babysit for a few hours. But with a hyperactive, toddler, deep in the midst of the terrible twos and with all the controlling tendencies of a young Kim Jong-un when she's tired, it's a big ask.

My mum, the angel that she is, is always offering, so last weekend we took her up on her kind gesture.

Out we headed for a lovely dinner and then we planned to catch a movie.

Now a trip to the cinema, in itself, is nothing unusual. I take the older two to watch a new release every couple of weeks and my hubby, Ralph, is a film reviewer for the Sunday Life so he's always buried in a darkened room somewhere with popcorn in one hand and a pen in the other.

But both of us in the same room watching a film that isn't animated? That happens less often than Donald Trump having a good hair day.

Ralph had sat through everything already so it was up to me to choose what to watch and being a big fan of The League of Gentlemen, I selected Ghost Stories, co-written by Jeremy Dyson, one of the League's creators.

Not that I'm a big fan of modern horror movies. Anything with blood and gore and teenagers in peril doesn't get a look in. You can keep your 'Cube', I'm going nowhere near 'Hostel' and the only place I want to see 'Saw' is in the aisles of my local DIY store.

But from the trailer 'Ghost Stories' looked nothing like these carnage-fest films and nor was it. What it was, was one hundred times more frightening. I'm conscious that you may want to watch it in the future, through your fingers if you're anything like me, so I won't give the story away.

Suffice it to say that my poor husband had nail marks on his arm where I was clinging on, I did more ear-splitting screaming than the worst Britain's Got Talent contestant and afterwards I felt like I needed lie down.

Except that would have meant going upstairs on my own and that certainly wasn't going to happen.

Like a big child, I insisted on keeping the light on that night when we retired to bed and when the call of nature woke me in the wee small hours of the morning I tried my best to ignore it and go back to sleep.

There was no way I was stepping foot out of bed and traipsing down a darkened corridor to the bathroom.

It reminded me of the time my aunt went to see Jaws when it first came out back in 1975. She was a very young teenager and had sneaked in to watch the film with her friends.

The result? For the next few weeks she insisted that my granny or her older siblings came into her room to check under the bed before she'd climb out of it, just in case a great white shark had somehow found it's way to Ballymoney, and her bedroom.

I've always laughed at that story … until I understood her fear all too well last weekend.

Yet I'd still say that, in a weird way, I enjoyed Ghost Stories. There's something strange about us humans that we quite enjoy a little fright now and again, especially when we know, deep down, that we're totally safe.

It's why scary movies sell out in the cinema.

We scream and shout and at the end our stress levels are a lot lower than when we went in. The tricky thing is hitting that halfway point, where you jump in your seat but sleep in your bed, a tightrope I'd not managed to manoeuvre across last weekend.

It's probably why I'll go back to sticking with the only scary movies I've ever really loved, those old Hammer Horrors with classic characters like Baron Frankenstein, Count Dracula and the Mummy, villains not of this world but also not of my nightmares.

Belfast Telegraph

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