Friday, April 1, 2011

Even If You Take a Break From Horror, Horror Doesn't Take a Break From You

By Nick Rich
Horror's a funny thing.
It can be many different things to many different people; elicit emotions as varied as the people who feel them, in situations just as diverse. When done right horror can cut to the heart of a individual in a way that few genres can, touching upon something inside a person they may not have previously know existed.

Horror is fun... horror is disturbing... horror is visceral... horror is universal... and horror doesn't take a break from you, even if you try and take a break from it.

All for One, and Horror for All
Consider a man who just realizes he has forgotten his wedding anniversary receiving a call from his wife alerting him to his gaffe:

Or the woman who, in the course of a mundane activity, encounters a less than mundane situation:

Or the advertisers who thought this children's commercial was a good idea:

Or the 13 year old girl whose dream of stardom resulted in her taking part in creating the alleged "worst music video in history" (Warning! Watch this video at your own risk - you may never be the same again afterwards):

Or, as I experienced not long ago:
A man who attends a disaster movie marathon with his Japanese friend (which showed Earthquake, Towering Inferno and Posiden Adventure) a mere 5 days before the disaster in Japan.

Each of the people in these situations experienced horror. The horror of realization, of misstep, of misguided intentions, of public scorn, of life's twisted synchronicity at times. All unique to the individual, tragic in their own way and situations that were completely unsolicited (well, all except the dudes who created that commercial - what were they thinking?!?).
As you can see: horror happens.

A Horrific Break
As you may or may not have gathered at this point, we're taking a break from our regular RDHP viewing schedule this week while Chris relocates to his abode (his first foray into homeownership). I suppose all of the house themed films we've watched of late finally convinced him to shrug off the bliss of apartment living for more exciting pastures.

So, with Chris away, I thought I would experience a respite from horror in my life... not that I needed one per se (I almost watched a film on my own), but I welcomed the break. Schedule abnormally open, I decided to use my free evening to take my second class of Bikram Yoga. For those of you who don't know what this is I'll give you a quick rundown:
  • You put your body into postures that "change the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and the fingertips to toes".
(Sounds and looks like a horror film no?)

  • Your body is flushed of waste products (toxins) produced by the glands and organs of your body.
(Sir Mix-a-lot said it best: "sweat, wet, got it going like a turbo 'vet")
  • Oh, and did I mention that the studio where you are taking the class is heated to 104°F?!?
(The founder of this form of yoga rightly calls these studios "Torture Chambers")

Yes, this is how I decided to spend my evening off of the RDHP and, yes, I knew it would be that hot (well, maybe not that hot, but I knew the room would be heated). While most might think me crazy for putting myself in this position, I would likely defend myself with platitudes of health and taking care of my earthly vessel... which is all well and good, lest we forget horror.

I had already taken my first class, and while it was pretty rough, I had a good teacher and didn't experience any extremely untoward sensations (my wife on the other hand, became sick to her stomach) so I thought I was home free on this whole 'ill side effects' thing for subsequent classes. Gentle readers... I forgot the horror. Like in any horror film worth its salt, I went into the situation thinking I would be fine, that things might get rough but I could handle it... oh naiveté, will you ever leave my side?

My second class was taught by a 20-something Caucasian male with an untraceable accent (I guessed Indian, the wife supposed it was a fake hodge-podge of Spanish, French and British) who was subbing for another teacher. Basically it was like having this tell you which poses to do:

An odd experience to say the least.
He asked the seemingly unassuming question, "is today anyone's first time?" Perhaps he didn't realize that the class was so full because of a recent Groupon deal, that more than a few people would be fairly new to this style of yoga so he might want to take it easy... perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Hindsight being what it is, I'm still kicking myself for not saying it was my first time.

The next hour and a half was the most traumatic workout experience of my life. Granted, I've lived a fairly seditary life, but have been known to fall into a workout routine from time to time... but nothing like this. The entire class unfolded like a torture session and after giving it my all for 50 minutes, I descended into an ill stupor for the remaining 40 minutes. I was awash with feelings of nausea, afraid I was going to vomit on the mat next to me with each passing pose... head spinning from the heat, lungs screaming from the lack of oxygen provided via the insufficient nasal passage (you're only supposed to breathe through your nose in class)... finally I just gave in and laid down on my mat in the aptly names 'dead man's' pose.

Gentle readers, time has never gone as slowly as it did for me while lying there waiting for class to end. The air was thick and heavy. The teacher rarely opened the doors (which provides cool air and feels like a gift from God when it sweeps across you) and the air grew increasingly thick - so much so that I was having difficultly breathing. It was the strangest sensation; I wondered if this is what it felt like to drown as the room became fuzzy around me...

How had I gotten myself into this mess? I thought I had everything under control, but I forgot the horror; the horror, however, had not forgotten me. It crashed into my life like crack of lightning and rumbled through my mind like the roar of thunder. The horror.

Suffice to say, it was not a pleasant experience... like a virgin at the end of a slasher film, I survived - a bit battered and bruised, but alive. My next class was 100% better and even enjoyable, but the experience of my hour and a half in the "Torture Chamber" will be forever burned into my memory, reminding me of how horror never forgets you - so you'd best remember it.

Back to our regular schedule next week!

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