Jeff has asked me to yet again grace you all with my presence, in an effort to increase the quality, if not the quantity, of the writing on this blog. For those again who don’t know me, I am Greg, and I write Open Letters to My Enemies. After Jeff told me I couldn’t write an analysis of why Freddie Prinze Jr’s performance in I Know What You Did Last Summer was actually a continuation of his character in Summer Catch, I decided to write about how I fell in love with the horror genre.
Oddly enough, I was brought into both horror movies and horror books by my mother. The woman who wouldn’t let me watch The Simpsons because it was crass, and who can’t even remember why I wasn’t allowed to watch the Goonies unwittingly opened the door to years of murder and mayhem entertainment. It’s only fitting that it all started on a day when I was very truly sick.
While at the drug store picking up the cure for whatever monkey-born virus I had picked up that week, my mother decided to grab me a book to read. Most likely, she felt that if I wasn’t at school, I may as well be reading something. The book was Watchers by Dean Koontz, and I am fairly certain it was finished by the next day. My next sick day she bought Koontz’s Tick Tock which remains one of my favorite books to this day. I’ve read all of his books, and have a Kindle and bookshelves full of Jonathan Maberry, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Gary Braunbeck, and many more. That’s the short story. The movies, that’s more involved, and slightly less boring.
My mother found a VHS copy, sometime around when I was in the sixth grade, of Night of the Living Dead at a yard sale. This was an automatic purchase at $0.50, and we watched it that night. So, again, Goonies was no good, but I could watch a little girl eat her mother. This was justified by the fact that my great uncle and aunt were in the movie, playing zombies. They had contributed money, and were allowed to be in the movie. Uncle Jack was prominently featured, as a zombie that comes into the house and is hit in the face by protagonist Ben, then later he climbs through the window again during the final assault on the house. So, family pride overrode any caution.
Needless to say, the movie wet my whistle. I started seeking out other horror movies on the television, like a fat kid looking for his next Snickers bar. I quickly found out that every time the calendar hit Friday the 13th, USA network would have a marathon of Jason movies hosted by Rhonda Shear. There were countless reasons why this was an awesome thing, and I made sure to look ahead to find out whenever the 13th fell on a Friday so I could be ready. Around the same time I found Monstervision on TNT. Joe Bob Briggs and his gleeful abandon at hosting schlocky and great horror movies lent no small part into my enjoyment of the horror genre. I’ll save myself time writing, and just link you to a post from my site about that here: http://openletterstomyenemies.blogspot.com/2012/11/dear-tnt-network.html
The final lynchpin in horror engulfing my middle school life was, of course, as a way of bonding with a girl. We had a new girl come to school, and she saw that I had a copy of the book The Exorcist in my bookbag. She loved the movie, and we started turning each other on to scary books and movies, then talking about them during homeroom. It didn’t hurt that I thought she was cute, and wanted to impress her. What did hurt was that, now, years later, she’s kind of a nut bar and scares me. So, sometimes when a thirteen year old girl is borderline obsessed with The Exorcist, that might be an indicator to run away.
So, I open it to you, loyal readers of The Tiffed Learner, how did you get involved with the horror genre?
8 thoughts on “How I Fell In Love With Horror”
I had a remarkably similar induction to horror – though it was primarily through fiction. Dean Koontz and Stephen King ruled my childhood. (side note: I remember getting my first erection from READING something from reading Watchers. Weird right? CAN WE BE FRIENDS I ONLY KILL CATS ON THE WEEKENDS)
Tick tock was also a fave, although reading The Stand and Desperation were really what did it. After those, I knew horror would be my life.
The Stand I will agree with. Never caught Desperation yet.
Desperation, and its mirror The Regulators. Quality stuff.
Great post! Did you ever get to talk to your relatives about their experiences being in Night of the Living Dead?
By the time I was old enough, they were long gone. I do have original promotional material Romero gave them though.
As a kid, I saw Body Snatchers and it scared the shit out of me. I was afraid to go to sleep, period. I promised to god that I wouldn’t watch any more horror flicks, but then my folks took me to the Holiday Cinemas in Frederick to see Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I tried my best to look away, but I caught enough of it to scare the piss out of myself and not be able to sleep. My mother basically told me those were just movies and there is no god, so here we are. My girl won’t watch horror flicks, so I have to wait until she is out of town to see any…
I remember catching the remake of Body Snatchers late at night and it doing the dame thing for me. The one I remember REALLY getting me was Fire in The Sky.
I had a father who delighted in showing me the scariest bits of the cheesiest horror films. I have a vivid memory of Mary Lou’s hand exploding out of somebody’s stomach at the end of Prom Night 2. (At least I think that’s what it was.) Also slumber parties with illicit viewings of Friday the 13th and Alien. As I imagine often happens, the trauma eventually became an obsession.