It’s October, which means I’m filling my DVR with TV edits of classic and not-so-classic (Leprechaun: In the Hood, anyone?) scary movies. I’ve heard lots of theories for why humans watch horror: it gives us an adrenaline rush, it puts a corporeal form to our anxieties, it helps us to make sense of some of the awful things that happen in the world, among others.
October also means we’ve got a lot of awesome horror action figures coming out. NECA is releasing this classic Leatherface, this Ultimate Freddy Krueger, and this Predator (which, I admit, is a stretch to call a “horror” figure, but is still pretty freaking cool). But why do we buy the action figures?
Whether you love horror or not, it’s a weird compulsion. I’m afraid of bees, and I certainly am not buying them or models/figures of them to bring into my home. I doubt anyone brings impractical things that scare them into their home, with the exception of horror figures. But even though I couldn’t sleep the first time I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street (or more accurately didn’t want to sleep so Freddy couldn’t get me because I was 19 and had lots of life left to live), yet I own a Freddy Krueger action figure.
When I was in first grade, I watched a commercial break’s worth of Hellraiser 3. The man with the pins and needles in his face was talking to a blonde woman in a cavernous room with sandstone walls filled with candles. They were on opposite sides of it, and while I can’t remember what they were talking about, I know that his image haunted me for years. I was terrified he was going to get me. I’d close my eyes to sleep and I’d see him coming around the corner when my mom sent me and my brother to the bus stop. I imagined him hiding behind the shower curtain, waiting for me to go to the bathroom by myself. He’d be in my closet, hidden behind the door, waiting for my parents to leave after they’d tucked me in. Now, I really want to buy his action figure.
Maybe we want them because they terrify us, or terrified us at some point. It could be some kind of tribute, to show our appreciation for the way their movies made us feel alive, because isn’t that what fear does?
It could be that it gives us a way to control them. When we set up our figures, we have power over everything about them. How they stand. What they hold. It’s a way of redefining something that was once scared us.
And maybe it’s simpler than all of that. They look cool. In a lot of ways, I’m more excited to show those to people who don’t collect action figures. That could be a brand name thing too, but I think a lot of times the horror figures are better-looking and thus cooler to share.
A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published every Wednesday, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Join me next week, when I’ll be talking about getting horror figures into the scariest poses.