Why do some people find this odd? I used to teach Media Studies to a mix of Sixth-Formers and mature students and always asked my classes what was the first thing in a film or TV programme that scared them. ET turned up a few times, but there were others.

Some were obvious. Darth Vader, Freddy Kreuger, the shower scene from Psycho, and so on.

Some were iconic. The scene in Snow White when she flees through the forest. The ‘pink elephants’ sequence in Dumbo. The death of Bambis’ mother. All Disney, oddly.

There was one, however, that turned up every year. Uniquely British and mostly (but not uniquely) people of my own generation. The Daleks. My wife is still not overly comfortable when these squawking, genocidal pepperpots glide onto the screen. That said, I expect a younger generation of Whovians are more freaked out by the Weeping Angels or the Silence.

Interestingly, a Religious Education teacher of my acquaintance tried an experiment a few years ago. She showed a series of religio-cultural images to a class of mixed ethnicity and culture (totem poles, statues of Buddha, images of Visnu, etc) and asked her students to write down the first thing they thought upon seeing each one. One of the images was a stone angel from a cemetery. A full third of the class, right across all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, responded to this image by writing “Don’t look away! Don’t even blink!” Now THAT is weird!

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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