I'm an animated (and frequently loud) guy, but the truth is I'm kind of a baby. I can't watch the evening news for fear of some story about a dumpster baby or a dying child; I often trickle a tear at even the corniest of sincere sentiment; and aside from roller coasters I'm pretty much afraid of amusement park rides. So how is it that such a sensitive little Sally like me has become such a passionate student of the horror genre? Well that's a good question, and it's one that's fascinated parents, filmmakers and psychologists since long before I was born.

So to welcome in my favorite month of the year -- and to kick-start Cinematical's month-long ode to all things related to scary cinema -- I thought I'd get the ball rolling on the WHY of the horror film. As in: Why do completely normal and emotionally healthy people enjoy producing, watching and dissecting pieces of art / entertainment that are A) grim, B) brutal, C) terrifying, and / or D) frequently unpleasant to look at?

The answers are as numerous as you can imagine, but I'll offer a few opinions before welcoming the month of mayhem:

1. People like seeing things on the screen that they'd never want to see in reality: Imagine if Friday the 13th actually happened. It'd be too freakin' tragic to imagine. (Anyone remember Gainesville?) But toss a bunch of fictional teenagers up on the screen and we get to experience a vicarious little thrill. Some might even say that horror movies are healthy and cathartic. Some like me.

2. The roller coaster effect: With very few exceptions, roller coasters are totally safe -- yet amazingly scary. It's that people can fill their brain with 90% terror -- and yet still there's that 10% that reminds us how safe we actually are. Plus it feels pretty good to come out of a nasty little horror movie and see that the sun's still shining, babies are still beautiful, and life's a whole lot better for you than it was for the screaming victims you just said goodbye to.