It’s Halloween — that once-popular holiday filled with children 12-and-under going door-to-door hoping to fill their bags with candy and the occasional apple while their parents gossiped on the sidewalk, and teenagers moving stealthily through the neighborhood looking for windows to cover in soap and trees to fill with TP.
Today, Halloween is barely a reminder of what it once was when I put together a homemade costume constructed of cardboard boxes, foil and duct tape to look like the robot from “Lost in Space.” I even remember mimicking the robot’s famous words … “Danger, Will Robinson!”
But regardless of the fact that Halloween has gotten away from its social, entertaining and family-oriented event — moving ever-so-constantly toward the sinister deeds of those who take pleasure in hiding razors in apples and abducting a child’s bag of goodies (and perhaps even the child, too) — a new study might give Halloween a new and positive set of kudos.
First let me say that this study, conducted by scientists at the University of Westminster in London, is a complete and utter waste of time, money and grey matter. But we as a society seem to enjoy things like that — just try to imagine this as an episode on “The Big-Bang Theory.”
Secondly, let me say that England is a very plausible place for a study like this, since it is where the origins of Halloween came from, when pagan festivals were popular.
Now for that study.
With the Halloween season, usually reserved for the month of October, comes the gamut of horror movies both on The Big Screen and on television reruns. We’re not talking about “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” here.
We all have our favorites, and for a variety of reasons — though I would image we’d all have a somewhat similar Top 10 if we took the time to think about it.
Well, the scientists in London DID think about recently, but they put together a list using a vastly different set of reasoning than you and I would. Their theory? That the dozens and dozens of horror flicks established over the decades can be organized into a Top 10 list of the best calorie-burners.
Yep, you read that correctly. Calorie-burners. Dieters’ Delights. Frightful Fat Killers. Blubber-Burning Flicks.
Call them what you will, but these scientists took their work seriously. I’m imagining Sheldon rounding up his team of Raj, Howard and Leonard — perhaps including even Penny, Amy, Bernadette and Stuart — for a weekend marathon of horror movies, complete with several dry-erase boards positioned around the apartment with scattered Chinese takeout boxes.
When the marathon was over and the calculations were complete, the scientists determined that …
Well, before I divulge their findings, an aside as I share my No. 1 all-time scary movie — it’s the original “Jaws.” I saw it in high school and it was a first date with a young lady who lived up the street. That movie set in motion a several-month relationship that encompassed a prom and summer of romance that only ended because I left for Oklahoma State and she left for Ohio State.
But “Jaws” was spooky enough to keep the young lady plastered up against me for most of the 124 minutes and I was quite thankful.
Now, as far as those London scientists were concerned, teenage hormones was far down their list when calculating the benefits of horror movies.
What they came up with was that the 1980 movie “The Shining” provided viewers with the largest number of calories burned during the 160-minutes of frights in and out of the Overlook Hotel. Watching from start to finish, the scientists claim, a person will lose an average of 184 calories.
They added, “As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the Basal Metabolic Rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.”
The rest of their Top 10 was: “Jaws” at 161 calories; “The Exorcist” at 158; Alien” at 152; “Saw” at 133; “A Nightmare on Elm Street” at 118; “Paranormal Activity” at 111; “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at 107; “The Blair Witch Project” at 105; and “[Rec]” at 101.
Another aside … I have seen every single minute of every single one of the “Saw” movies, which, if these London scientists are correct, I ought to be as big around as a No. 2 pencil. Just saying.
With today being Halloween, I feel an obligation to point you into the direction of some other good horror movies — not only calorie-burning, but ones you may want to see again. Here’s my list of those others you must see …“Get Out” (2017), “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920), “Psycho” (1960), “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror” (1922), “Repulsion” (1965), “The Night of the Hunter” (1955), “The Babadook” (2014), “Frankenstein” (1931), “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “It Follows” (2015) and pretty much anything by Stephen King — most especially “Pet Sematary” (1989).
There you go. I feel sure that filling Tuesday evening with any number of these flicks will, using the London scientists’ theory, result in you hitting the bed much softer with your new svelte, calorie-dwindled physique.
On the other hand, using the alternative theory, if you simply monitor the front door for arriving children dressed as witches, goblins, Groot or Donald Trump and use the “one for them, one for me” method of handing out those KitKat candy bars, then you will probably hit the bed with a much-bigger thud.
Happy Halloween, y’all.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.