So, Halloween may be over for the masses, but for me it’s a year round thing. Hell, I still have two more weekends of Tarot Card readings at the Mansion for their Ghostly Sleepovers. And if you’ve ever seen our house, you would know I rule as Queen of Halloween, what with the gargoyles, skeletons and skulls all over the place, the various books on death, ghosts, witchcraft and other occult stuff, and the growing collection of horror films.
Love me some horror movies. I’m slowly building up my collection of old Hammer and American International movies, those wonderful classics starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. And I love the cheesy slasher flicks, too. If it has a silent, crazed, chainsaw wielding maniac, I’m all for it.
But for the most part, as much as I love these movies, they don’t scare me. I just don’t scare easily. Sure, if you sneak up behind me and yell “Boo!” I’ll probably jump and screech. I’m jumpy, just not easily scared.
So when other people say they can’t handle horror movies because they get too scared, I think to myself, “Huh. Lightweights.”
But honestly, out of all the scary movies I’ve seen (and we’re talking thousands) there’s only been three that freaked me out...
1. The Exorcist - I saw this for the first time ever when I was about 11 years old. Cut. I mean heavily edited for television. I could not sleep for weeks. I couldn’t handle being by myself and I nearly freaked out in the dark. It took me forever to get over it. It was several years later before I got to see the un-cut version. By then I was ‘cured.’ I’d gotten over my fear of the movie and could watch it repeatedly without losing it. The version we own now is the “Version You’ve Never Seen!,” complete with the infamous ‘spider walk.’ The Spouse and I love that scene so much we back it up and watch it 3 to 5 times before continuing on with the movie.
There is one aspect of the movie that does still kinda get me. It’s this face:
Damn. Yes, I know that’s the actress Eileen Dietz, but still. That face flashing on the screen for just a couple of frames is just whacked. I was so inspired by that face that I painted it on one entire wall of the Haunted House.
Yup, it’s still there, too.
2. Alien - This is one of those few movies I could watch every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of. I love the fact that it was written by Dan O’Bannon, the same guy who gave us “Return of the Dead” (“Braaaaaainssss!”) and that wonderfully bad sci-fi comedy, “Dark Star” (“Here boy, want your mouse? Nice mouse”).
When Dark Star, his pet project with fellow film student, John Carpenter, tanked, he said, “Well, if I can’t make them laugh, I’ll make them scream instead.” I don’t know about you, but I think he did a damn good job.
I saw Alien when I 10. Even at that young age I loved scary movies. I’d been watching them since I was 5 - no shit. My first horror movie was “The Sentinel,” but more on that later.
So there I was, a horror film-lovin’ 10-year-old that nearly leapt out of my seat and screamed for my parents to “TAKE ME HOME! I DON’T WANNA SEE THIS ANYMORE!!” when the famous chest-burster scene erupted on-screen.
Apparently, my reaction was very similar to the members of the cast when the scene was shot. Actor John Hurt and the crew were the only ones on set that day who know what was coming. The looks on the other actors’ faces? Those are genuine. And poor Veronica Cartwright had no clue that jet of blood was aimed right at her.
3. The Blair Witch Project - I know some people hated this film and didn’t find it scary at all. But it wigged me out something fierce. After seeing this movie opening weekend I went home by myself to my then world’s smallest 1-bedroom apartment. And every little sound got a little louder. And very little shadow got a little longer. I couldn’t sleep for several nights afterward.
So what got me in this movie that other movies don’t have? The fact that you never saw what got them. There was no chainsaw-wielding maniac, no crazed killer in a hockey mask, no diabolical torturer or spawn of Satan. All you saw was what “it” left for the victims to find and what happened to the last two survivors at the end. And even THAT is unclear.
That final scene still disturbs me. Even tho I know the actors are alive and well (and “Heather” went on to shoot a few commercials for Steak ‘N Shake) I still get weirded out those last few minutes.
Now back to my first ever horror movie. My parents took me to the drive-in to see “The Sentinel,” which is one of the many ‘demonic’ movies to come out during the 70s on the tails of “The Exorcist” and “The Omen.” The movie itself is very strange with several bizarre scenes and lots of disturbing imagery, but this scene is the one that’ll get ya.
I triple dog-dare you to watch that, by yourself, in the dark, and not wet your pants.