Psychologists at the University of Bonn have apparently discovered why The Exorcist scared the living crap out of you as a kid--and why most of your friends laughed at you because of it.
According to a report from The Press Association, the German researchers have identified a single gene which, depending on certain variations, affects a specific chemical in the brain that is linked to anxiety. This chemical determines how easily a person will be startled by shocking imagery. People on one end of the spectrum may find it hard to keep their emotions in check while viewing such imagery, but those on the other end are mainly immune to the effects of such imagery.
So basically, it's just a tiny genetic variation that determines whether you'll find most horror movies terrifying or funny. Interestingly, the scientists found that the variation which causes heightened terror from visual stimuli is a very recent evolutionary development in humans, missing in all other hominids.
Keep that in mind the next time you sit down to watch New York Ripper with your pet orangutan.