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Sleep with the light on

Posted: October 12, 2013 - 2:46pm

Fact: Dinosaurs are way scarier than zombies.

What, you may ask, has led me to this conclusion? Let me explain.

I’m basing my findings on the most empirical of evidence. I’m calling my formula the nightmare quotient, which can be determined by the number of bad dreams or fitful nights of sleep that result from watching a scary movie. And while zombies are all the rage of late, by my calculations, dinosaurs are still way ahead.

You see, I recently watched “World War Z” with my two kids. If you haven’t seen it, the film tells the story of a United Nations investigator on a perilous mission to find a way to combat a zombie pandemic. The movie was definitely a lot of fun, with intense chills and edge of your seat thrills throughout.

At one point, my zombie-crazed son (who had read the book on which the movie was based, and keeps his copy of the companion book, “The Zombie Survival Guide,” handy) did announce that he needed to get something in the other room, and that we didn’t have to pause that particular scene while he was gone.

But, among the three of us, no nightmares.

We’ve checked out some other zombie fare. “Warm Bodies” was kind of sweet — my daughter loved it. My son will try to watch “The Walking Dead” when he thinks his mother and I aren’t paying attention. No nightmares from either of those.

For that matter, all the zombies I remember from my youth were unmasked at the end of the episode by Scooby Doo and the gang. They never got away with it.

Dinosaurs, on the other hand, are a whole different beast altogether. And I’m not talking about the big purple one on public television — though he’s disturbing enough, especially if you get that song stuck in your head.

I’m talking about the dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park.” Based on my research, they might be the scariest movie characters ever, because when I saw that movie in the theater 20 years ago, I had nightmares of being chased by dinosaurs for several days after — and I was 19 years old at the time.

In fact, I’d rate that movie as scarier than almost every other scare-the-pants-off-you movie I remember from growing up — Freddie from “Nightmare of Elm Street,” Jason from “Friday the Thirteenth,” or Michael Myers from “Halloween” have nothing on a pack of velociraptors. Heck, I got nervous getting on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios a couple of summers ago.

Of course, by my method, there is a long list of things scarier than zombies. “The Shining” had people sleeping with the lights on for years. My family never really watched many horror movies, so anything with supernatural scares in it makes the list. I’ll admit that I’ve never even tried to watch something that looks scary since “The Blair Witch Project.” And I don’t listen to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” before bedtime.

For that matter, the snow monster on Hoth gave me bad dreams after the first time I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” (I was 7 at the time). Go back far enough, and there a few episodes of “The Muppet Show” where I hid behind the couch.

But zombies? Just not that scary.

Then again, when we were talking about scary movies this past week, my wife pointed out something more frightening that any of those movies: in real life, we have two kids on the verge of their teenage years. Already, they are beginning to resemble zombies, wandering around the house aimlessly, emitting weird grunting noises, and generally not listening to anything we say.

Now that I think about it, I may never get a good night’s sleep again.

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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