It’s slim pickings for horror movie fans this Halloween weekend. “Ouija,” last week’s top grossing film, pretty much has the market cornered. Or does it? Even if you don’t happen to suffer from pedagophobia—the fear of teachers—Fletcher, the psyche-scarring, face-slapping music instructor so indelibly portrayed by J. K. Simmons in “Whiplash,” may be just as terrifying as Michael Meyers, Jason, or Freddy Krueger. And if you are gripped by dikigorosophobia, then Robert Downey, Jr.’s slick lawyer in “The Judge,” will (initially) confirm your worst fears.
Which is to say that fictional killer dolls (“Annabelle”), boogeymen (Jigsaw” in the “Saw” franchise) or vampires (“Dracula Untold” is the latest in that undying saga) don’t hold a candle in the nightmare department when compared to the all-too-real demons that grip us. “Gone Girl” is unnerving enough, but consider its impact on someone gripped by gamophobia, the fear of marriage.
Name a phobia and there is likely a film that no matter how innocent might just fray your nerves, curdle your blood and haunt your dreams:.
Anhedonia (the inability to enjoy oneself): Woody Allen buffs know that that was the original title of his Oscar-winning romantic comedy, “Annie Hall.”
Cryophobia (fear of extreme cold): Besides perhaps “Ice Station Zebra,” what could be more chilling than “Frozen?”
Dendrophobia (fear of trees): One of “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” most popular characters is Groot, a sweet little tree until he branches out near the end of the film with a limb-swinging payback against some bad guys. Makes those apple-throwing trees in "The Wizard of Oz" look like saps.
Pedophobia (fear of children): The screen has given us many memorable pint-sized terrors from “The Bad Seed” to “The Omen,” but watching any stomach-churning episode of “Keeping up With the Kardashians” or “My Super Sweet 16” could be the most effective method of birth control yet.
Hodophobia (fear of traveling): With disaster at every turn, the Griswold’s dream family vacation to Wally World becomes a comic nightmare in ``National Lampoon`s Vacation.”
Hylophobia (fear of forests): “Bambi.” It also instilled fear of meadows and fear of Man.
Motophobia (fear of cars/driving): For those with this phobia, George Lucas might as well be George Romero with this long night’s journey into day filled with cruising and drag racing.
Santaphobia (fear of Santa Claus): “Miracle on 34th Street” Maybe Mr. Sawyer was on to something.
Vestiophobia (fear of women’s clothes): You might want to steer clear of Billy Wilder’s classic comedy, “Some Like It Hot,” in which Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are forced to hide from mobsters in the guise of women musicians, or “Tootsie,” in which struggling actor Dustin Hoffman goes incognito as a soap opera actress.
Romannumeralphobia (fear of sequels): I made that up, but this has been a rough year for moviegoers with this phobia, and it will doubtless only get worse in the years to come.
Your turn: What phobia films give you’re the creeps?