In his book, Dreadful Pleasures, James B. Twitchell argues that adults are not interested in horror stories and that their memories of such are entirely from their late childhood or adolescence. Indeed, there is a widespread impression that the core horror movie audience is teenagers, and that horror movies are therefore juvenile and not fit for grown-ups. This does not fit my experience at all.
It is true that I loved horror movies as a child, and that The Exorcist and The Omen, which I saw respectively at ages 14 and 15, were defining experiences of my adolescence. But after that, from the late 1970s through the 1980s--roughly from my late teens through my twenties--I was a very infrequent patron of the horror film. It might have been because I considered them juvenile and not fit for grown-ups. I saw The Shining in 1980 because I liked Stanley Kubrick, then hardly any new horror films until 1987, when I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors because it got a good review in the New York Times and I thought it might give me ideas for a dreamlike novel I was then writing. The point is, Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was not only the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie I had seen--it was the first slasher movie I had seen. I had been so out of the horror loop that from the birth of the slasher film in the 1970s until Nightmare on Elm Street 3, I had not seen a single example of this subgenre. No Halloween, no Friday the 13th--nothing.
From this adult scholarly vantage-point, I made it my business to fill in the huge gaps in my horror education and see as many of the films as I could. Finally I saw Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Evil Dead II, and, of course, Halloween and Friday the 13th.
This project of watching and studying horror movies went on through my thirties and forties and continues now that I am fifty. Horror movies are for all ages, but they are a special treat for grown-ups old enough to appreciate them.
Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films