Horror Film Countdown Day 26 – Movies Anxious Parents Should Avoid
October 26, 2016
As you probably know by now, we have been covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.
Today’s movie comes on the eve of the beginning of the top five movies that scare me most as a mother. This iconic film is the one that started it all for me, on a quiet farm in Pennsylvania…
Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway. Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits. If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window. Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout.
6. Night of the Living Dead
An old favorite; the original Night of the Living Dead. It’s a spectacular, human-driven drama which captures a clear opinion of society and our culture. A time capsule which peers into the human dynamic at this time in our recent history, this film shows us exactly who we are and what we’re capable of.
Starting out with the classic scene; Barbara and Johnny driving through a cemetery to visit their father’s grave. Barbara gets spooked, Johnny makes fun of her, teases her saying; “They’re coming to get you, Barbara! They’re coming for you! Look! Here comes one of them now!”
As she laughs him off, the man in a suit walks slowly over toward them. He suddenly grabs at Barbara and Johnny realizes he was so busy teasing he put his sister directly in harm’s way. He fights the zombie and loses… Barbara runs for a nearby house.
When she arrives there, she finds it empty except for a half-eaten woman at the top of the stairs…
Soon, a man named Ben joins her and begins to take charge. Boards up all the doors and windows in the house and fortifies it to protect them inside. Barbara is in shock. She’s pretty much useless and just sits around in a daze most of the time.
Soon, they realize there were a few folks hiding in the basement. A young couple and a family with one daughter. The couple is naive and the family is strained. The daughter is sick having been bit by a zombie and the father is a coward and a jerk. The mother only cares about her child and clearly hates her husband.
The scenes that follow are a Petri dish of social experimentation with so many opposing and strong personalities in a crisis situation. The story carries on and people die. The couple burns up in a car fire, the father gets shot for being a giant tool, even our poor, fragile Barbara is reunited with her brother as he appears in the doorway and takes her deep into the sea of the undead.
But what of the mother and her injured child? Ah, yes… now we’ve hit the reason this film is on my list. The dead father (who was shot for being a giant tool), fell to his death down the basement stairs. When the mother goes to check on her baby, she finds a grotesque scene. The daughter, now a zombie herself, is eating her own father.
The mother recoils, but only slightly… calling out to her child, pleading with her to remember her. The child walks slowly toward the mother, arms outstretched like a child asking to be held.
The mother trips over something and is backed into a corner. The child walks closer then, using a garden tool, stabs the mother repeatedly in the chest.
The mother does not resist, does not fight her off. She still will not harm her baby, not even as she is murdered by her.
So here’s the question, parents: What would you do? Now, first, take away any knowledge you have of zombie lore, remove the fact that you already know how to kill a zombie.. forget you already know that a bite from the undead is a death sentence. Forget all that and place yourself into the mind of a mother who has no idea what is going on and only believes her child is weak from an infected human bite and needs a doctor and probably some antibiotics. If you remove the fact that we already know that child is dead by the time we see her the first minute, all we see is a sick child and a mother trying to keep her safe.
Sure, we’ve seen far more horrific scenes in recent zombie stories, far more tragic scenes with mother and child…
So, yes… we’ve seen worse. But let’s consider for a second that we haven’t and we know nothing about zombies, how they are made or what to do about it. When you do that, you are simply the parent to a child who is suffering from some kind of illness you don’t know how to cure, but surely… someone does? If you though the professionals and scientists could help you, wouldn’t you hold onto hope your baby could possibly get better? If you were backed into a corner and your own sweet baby was bearing down upon you to kill you would you be able to lift a hand against him? Would you be able to kill him if he came at you?
If your child became a zombie, and you had NEVER heard of zombies before, would you be able to kill them?
These are things I think about. As we ponder over the possibilities of zombie apocalypse, the only solution is to ensure your children never come to harm. The anxiety in this film is when you realize you might not be able to protect them and no matter how hard you try to save them, prepare them, get them to safety, it might not be enough and what then? Double tap to the head? Or do you give in, knowing you could never live with yourself after?
There is a reason I carry emergency supplies, extra shoes, clothes and a baseball bat in my car. There’s a reason why I pack tennis shoes even when we go somewhere wearing dress shoes and why I get anxious when our food storage is lower than it should be to survive more than a week in our house if we can’t get to a store.
Things to ponder in the dark of night as you consider your emergency supplies, bug out gear and exit plan… How long can you keep your children alive?