SEATTLE – Whether you like your horror movies with blood and gore, intense drama, scary creatures or camp and comedy, there is something for everyone at the “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” exhibit that opens Sunday at Experience Music Project.
The moment you enter, you are warned that this exhibit isn’t for the faint of heart. Signs on the doors say it is rated PG-13. That’s really a Motion Picture Association of America rating that’s not associated with museums, but it gives visitors an idea of what they are in for.
"Death is a big theme in horror, and we just felt like it was going to be really hard to do the subject justice and to get across the power of the horror genre and make it OK for 5-year-olds," said EMP Senior Curator Jacob McMurray.
You walk down the darkened, circular stairs. On the walls are black and white photos of people screaming. At the bottom, you enter the gallery, which has a feel of a dark, scary forest. The art on the walls and in the middle of the room gives the feeling like you just walked into Camp Crystal Lake from “Friday the 13th.”
Among the featured displays is the “Hell Hole,” a video screen embedded in the floor that plays a 10 minute montage of famous horror films from several generations.
There is a wall of the “100 Horror Films to see before you die” which range from 1920 to 2008. An accompanying timeline shows what was happening in history when those films were made.
On another wall is an anthology of monsters, ranging from the typical creature feature variety to aliens. You can see some pages from Bram Stoker’s 530-page typewritten manuscript titled “The Un-Dead,” subsequently published in 1897 as “Dracula,” as well as an idea journal from director Guillermo Del Toro.
Artifacts on display include the Jason Voorhees mask from the latest “Friday the 13th” film, Freddy Krueger’s knife glove from “Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 5,” and Sarah Michelle Geller’s “Mr. Pointy” stake from “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.” There is also a life-size “Alien” from the James Cameron franchise.
What would an EMP exhibit be without interactivity? Arguably the most fun one is called “Shadow Monsters.” You stand in front a light source that shines onto a wall. You see your shadow suddenly turn you into a monster, with scales, funky hair and other bizarre changes that mutate your form.
In the center of the room are several viewing areas called “The Thicket” where you can watch clips of some of the ten best horror films of all time – five domestic and five foreign – as chosen by horror directors Roger Corman, John Landis and Eli Roth.
There is a music and sound section, focusing on how those elements can make or break the tension in a horror film.
“Eli Roth says ‘If you don’t want to be scared in a horror film, don’t close your eyes. Close your ears,'” said McMurray.
Then there's the Scream Booth. Step in and the interactive feature asks you if you want to produce a scream of fear or one of anger. Then, it takes four quick snapshots of you as you let loose your sound of terror. When it’s done, your image is displayed outside the booth and you can upload it to share with your friends.
Corman, Landis and Roth all assisted McMurray with putting the exhibit together. All three have special sections dedicated to their work.
McMurray says despite the PG-13 rating, there is something for everyone.
"Horror isn't all gore and splatter if you don't like that. It's all this other stuff, too," said McMurray.
The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. Sunday and there will be special opening day features including how to do zombie make-up, film scoring and blood making.
EMP is open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets prices vary, but you can get discounts by ordering online.