SOMEWHERE on a scratchy videotape - possibly even on YouTube - is footage of me screaming my head off, while my boyfriend’s internal organs spill out of him, following an incident with a chainsaw.

I’d totally forgotten that I was once in a horror film. It was only the other day, when yet another Halloween press release landed in my inbox, that I recalled my hazy summer of horror on a beach in North Wales.

It was the end of my final year at university. The exams were finished and a few of us were hanging out over summer, clinging to the last golden days of student life before the real world kicked in.

A friend who fancied himself as David Cronenberg was shooting a ‘no budget’ horror film and my boyfriend at the time played a murder victim. With a bin liner full of rotting animal entrails strapped beneath his shirt, he was chased across the beach by someone with a chainsaw. I was cast as a screaming girl.

The chainsaw scene was shot several times. The entrails - which as far as I recall came from a local abbatoir - started to leak. Eventually the shirt was filmed being ripped open, and the wretched stuff spilled out onto the sand. It was the worst stench I have ever known.

I can’t remember what the film was called and I’ve no idea what happened to it. I think I had one line. My role mostly involved hysterical screaming at the camera.

It’s odd that I came to be in a ‘slasher’ film, as I’ve never been fond of the horror genre. I saw my first ‘video nastie’ aged about 14, when my friend’s family got a VCR way before anyone else. Her older brother acquired some dodgy copies and we’d sit with the lights off, watching Linda Blair’s head spinning round and Leatherface running amok. I thought The Exorcist was a bit daft, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre haunted me for years.

With Halloween around the corner - is it just me or does it seem like it’s been Halloween for several weeks already? - horror fans will be gearing up for movie marathons. The industry is thriving, with several “highly anticipated horror sequels” including The Exorcist: Believer and The Nun II released this year, as well as new films like Five Nights At Freddy’s.

Horror has a significant place in movie history, with The Shining, Psycho, Nosferatu, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, Les Diaboliques and The Omen among the classics. What is the enduring appeal of the genre? Why do we enjoy being scared witless?

Such “recreational fear” is said to help us learn about our own response to danger. Unlike our ancient ancestors, who had to be on constant alert for predators, we don’t tend to encounter terror on a daily basis. So what’s it like to be really frightened? How much fear can we take before we start screaming and leap behind the sofa?

Horror movies test our reactions to fight or flight situations. There’s a theory that they can help with resilience; I read about a study that found people who watched horror films were less distressed by the pandemic, and fans of the apocalyptic sub-genre coped better in lockdown.

With a horror movie, there’s also the relief of knowing that, once the credits have rolled and the zombies/vampires/aliens/axe murderers/killer bees have gone, we are safe.

None of the above worked for me. Watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was 14 didn’t make me particularly resilient. It just kept me awake at night. And instead of feeling safe when the film ended, I felt low level trauma.

I couldn’t sit through a horror film now, but I do enjoy a good ghost story, because they’re creepy and atmospheric, without full-blown gore and nastiness. I’ve had my fill of chainsaws and rotting entrails.

* What’s your favourite horror film? What horror genre gets you screaming on the sofa? Or do you prefer a spooky ghost story? Share your Halloween movie choices with us: email