Aug 14, 2011

Horror: My Lifelong Love-Affair




I've always been one to to enjoy the macabre. Since I was a child, barely in elementary school, I have had this love affair with all things horror. As an adult, nothing has changed. The following is a sort of memoir and homage to an entire genre that has been a huge part of my entire existence. I even wrote my first horror short when I was 10 years old -- about a brain-sucking ghoul that sneaks into people's windows at night. (unpublished, and dead to the world, sadly)



The first "scary" movie I recall ever seeing was the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was barely five years old, but I remember like yesterday the memorable scene of Nancy's friend flopping up the walls and ceiling of her bedroom as the invisible Freddy Krueger slashed her to pieces in her dreams. My family hid the VHS of the movie, because it was obviously inappropriate for my young eyes. A sneaky child, I would wait till the family slept and I would stay up all night watching this classic as well as other horror movies of as many varieties as I could find. I was a happy child with television shows like Tales from the Dark Side, Monsters, the 1980s Twilight Zone series and The Nightmare on Elm street television show. I especially loved the show, Tales from the Crypt and absolutely adored the Crypt Keeper. 


Eventually my family really had no choice but to give up on trying to police my love of horror films. I was resourceful and always found a way to see the newest movie of interest. As a kid, my favorite horror movies were practically all of them. I loved them all from the cheesiest B flick to the highest production Hollywood hit. I was in love with the Nightmare on Elm Street series of movies, but around the age of 8, I began reading horror.

The first horror story I remember reading was a book called, Bunnicula, about a vampire bunny that sucked the nutrients from vegetables. Yes, very cheesy, and for kids of my age at the time. But even then I felt like my intelligence was insulted by that story. I pretty much decided that the books in my school's library weren't for me as far as that type of reading went. The second horror book I ever read -- the same year, eight years of age -- was Stephen King's Carrie. I found it at a yard sale when I was with my grandmother one day and after a really good beg session, she caved and bought it for me -- although she still wouldn't ever let me watch the movie starring John Travolta and Sissy Spacek.

The Amityville HorrorFrom there, I was hooked, an avid reader and viewer of all things horror. I loved to read and enjoyed everything I could find by Stephen King, who to this very day is my all time favorite horror writer. But, I also found many other stories throughout my travels through discount book bins at thrift stores and yard sales. One such book, The Amityville Horror, I read when I was 9 years old. I still, as I did then, hated the movie renditions of all of my favorite novels of my childhood (cringe a little huh?) such as Salem's Lot, Children of the Corn, Cujo, The Stand (to a point) and The Shining. Even as a child, I felt that they took away from the essence of the story the books conveyed.

That's why I've always preferred that my movies stay original and try to avoid basing them off of books. It's a fine line to walk and not everyone can make it right. An excellent book quickly turns into a shit pile of a movie. I do love cheese movies though, such as Motel Hell. I can't even begin to describe this one. There's cannibalism, inbreeding and lots of good stuff in this one from the 80s. I like movies that disturb me, leave me feeling sick or in a state of confusion for at least a week. Some movies like this aren't even labeled as "horror", but I find them scary, such as Gummo, created by the creator of the movie Kids. Or the movies Freeway and Freeway 2 -- sick, twisted flicks.

I'm a movie nerd. I'm constantly pointing out things I've seen in horror movies to the annoyance of my friends. I think this is what fuels me, makes me want to create something scary for people to enjoy, on all levels. I often find myself browsing, looking for something to see that's cutting edge, new. I often find myself leaning toward underground horror movies lately, because Hollywood isn't doing that good of a job. I miss my horror movies. Who else does?
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