Ah, October. The cool weather, changing leaves, and shorter days has me craving soup, sweaters, and scary movies.
When I was a kid being scared was somewhat of a sacred emotion. Now, to be clear I grew up in a very secure, creative, and loving home – so it was a safe place to be scared. I watched scary movies at a very young age – probably because my sister was 7 years older than me, my brother 4 years older, and they could handle it. And I didn’t want to be left out. Thriller was probably the first scary video I was exposed to, but along with the video I was also obsessed with watching the “making of” – a precursor to my penchant for zombies, documentaries, and creative productions. But the “making of” was also proof that it was all just pretend.
Now, while Thriller was probably the most age-appropriate scary thing I was watching at the time I was also staying awake past my bedtime, probably without my parents knowledge, to watch some seriously scary stuff with my siblings. Nightmare on Elm Street made an impression for sure. I distinctly remember being about 5 years old and home alone with my mom. She had probably gone to the bathroom but all of a sudden everything was a little too quiet and in a matter of seconds I had convinced myself that it was all a dream and Freddy Krueger was in the house. It probably didn’t help that we lived in the middle of the woods in a glass house – the perfect location for a scary movie to go down.
So if Freddy taught me to be afraid of monsters in my sleep the next movie to really blow my mind was Poltergeist. Because now it’s not just lusty teenagers getting murdered in their sleep – it’s a little girl who is my age being terrorized by ghosts and static-y TVs – just adding to the list of things to be afraid of. From there, Cujo taught me to be afraid of dogs. The Shining taught me to be afraid of Jack Nicholson and old hotels. Stephen King’s It taught me that I should absolutely be afraid of clowns. Chuckie managed to make me terrified of my favorite Alf doll. And Lost Boys … well … Lost Boys taught me from a young age that vampires are totally sexy.
But again, being scared was fun. Regardless of the fact that I’m still afraid of the dark, it forged some serious sibling bonds that can never be broken. And as we got older the movies started to shift from monsters to psychological thrillers. And then from psychological thrillers to total gross outs like Hostel. I’ll never forget going to see Hostel in the theater with my dad and my sister, who was 9 months pregnant at the time. Tara was happily chomping on popcorn while teenagers were getting their faces torched off by everyday psychopaths (sorry to spoil it for you) – meanwhile, I was curled up in the fetal position with my eyes closed and hands over my ears. The Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes are about as far as I can go these days … and even then I get a little queasy about it.
All of that said, this time of year I still get a hankering for a good scary movie. We’re currently watching American Horror Story: Coven on Wednesday nights and I’m browsing Netflix for some old favorites like Dawn of the Dead (2004) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
What are some of your favorite scary movies / genres? What was the first really scary movie you ever saw?
P.S. I was asking Jeremy this morning what movies scared him as a kid and he replied Alice in Wonderland and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Large Marge really threw him for a loop). I couldn’t help but laugh. Clearly he had a more wholesome upbringing than I.