I generally don’t like horror movies as entertainment. I prefer romantic comedy or human drama. If science fiction is good - which it rarely is - then I like that’s okay. Westerns and fantasy very rarely. Musicals never. Thriller or action only if they are good. I like romantic comedy because I see it as a true reflection of male-female relations. I mean a sick, stupid, awful joke fit only for laughing or crying, or both.
But my wife and daughter love horror. It’s their favorite kind of TV and movie entertainment. They often watch American police dramas and horror movies that feature murder. Rather than share it with them I play on my computer, separately watching DVDs or Youtube videos by myself. They like to watch with Japanese dubbing rather than the original English with Japanese subtitles, and I don’t want to read English subtitles, so I don’t even try to share their entertainment. Sadly, they don’t invite me to, either.
Horror movies are not supposed to scare you so much as allow you to release the fear that's already in you.
But occasionally I do watch horror, just testing the waters. By myself I will occasionally choose and rent a horror DVD. But I prefer a different kind of horror than the rest of my family. While they like the human horror of awful murder and interpersonal malice, I prefer occult horror, the sort of thing involving the paranormal and the supernatural: ghosts and demon possession like The Exorcist (1973, directed by William Friedkin), or Paranormal (2013, directed by Kevin Farley). They like the more conventional horror of directors like Wes Craven - I mean dead teenager/slasher films like Friday 13th (1980, directed by Sean Cunningham), or Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Wes Craven). I think my taste in horror is scarier than theirs because mere murder is less impressive than mind-blowing otherworldliness. I can imagine murder. I can imagine all kinds of horror. If government could police my thoughts I might be pre-emptively arrested. Airport security would bar me from the airplane. I’d be on a “No fly” list. I wouldn’t be allowed near children. I have a good imagination, and I’m a cornucopia of passive aggression. Conceivably, murder is controllable. You can educate or coerce people away from that kind of behaviour, and when it does occur you can hunt the suspects, solve the case and administer punishment. But the supernatural is more uncontrollable. You feel more helpless watching it and contemplating it, hence it’s scarier.
Horror movies are not supposed to scare you so much as allow you to release the fear that’s already in you, and with our imaginations humans can generate a lot of internal fear.
Generally, I think Japanese like horror. Their culture has a long and deep tradition of ghosts, and contemporary horror films like Ring (1998, directed by Hideo Nakata) are scary, and they are scarier than the re-made American English versions (2002, directed by Gore Verbinski). Maybe I’m wrong, but I think one reason Japanese have a thing for horror is due to the notoriously hot, humid summer weather. Horror sends shivers down the spine and makes them feel cool. Really. For the same reason (to fight the hot weather) they like the sound of cicadas and wind chimes in the summer.