Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Five

Name one of your favourite horror movies from when you were a child, and describe how you felt about it then and how you feel about it now.

Jeff O’Brien

The EXORCIST. I recall it played on TV largely uncut and it scared the Hell out of me. To this day it makes me uncomfortable. Demonic possession movies as a rule give me the heebie-jeebies in a way that zombie, slasher flicks etc, never will. I’ve since seen the cut scenes such as the spider-walk and don’t really wish to see it again… the mark of a REALLY scary film…

Eric – Bloody Good Horror

I’ve had many disappointments as an adult, but the one that will forever and always hold up for me is “Monster Squad”. When that finally got a DVD release last summer I hadn’t seen it in YEARS, and I was freaking giddy by the time it was over. Many of my childhood favorites ended up being pretty bad, but I’ll at least have that one.


The one movie that pops in my head right away is “Silent night, deadly night”(not sure which number it was). I was so afraid of my toys coming to life and trying to kill me that I put them all in a box away from my bed for like a week. I actually saw a few of the movies recently and they made me laugh so hard.Those movies are so awesome. Deadly Santa will scare any kid.

Corey – Evil On Two Legs

I saw my first horror film on 10/25/82, my 7th birthday. The film was Halloween, and I don’t think I slept more than an hour total over the next week until the morning of November 1st, when I was convinced that Michael Myers would go into hiding… at least until next October. For the next five years, until I saw it again, I was convinced there was a scene with Laurie Strode hiding from Michael inside a metal trash can in an alley, occasionally lifting the lid to see if he was there (a la Delicatessen or, I suppose, Oscar the Grouch).

When I was twelve or so I saw Witchboard on HBO at midnight while I was staying home alone. I spent the whole night in the living room with every light in the house on. For years it ranked as one of my scariest movies… at least until last year when it was released on DVD and I saw it again. It’s a fun movie, but horribly dated and campy — hardly the nightmare inducing terror-fest I remember.

Witchboard may be lame in retrospect… but Halloween scares me to this day and remains my favorite film of all time.

Sean – Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Pardon my French, but I was an enormous pussy when it came to horror movies as a kid. At a sleepover when my friends were watching Poltergeist 2 and I Come in Peace, I pretended to be asleep. The video for “Thriller” made me cry. I did however love “monster movies”–the old Universal horror cycle (though I kind of liked reading about them more than watching them), Godzilla movies, The Blob, Jaws: The Revenge, The Monster Squad, the Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera and so on. The big difference between me then and me now is that then I watched these kinds of movies because monsters are cool, not to be scared by them. While they form part of my mental landscape now, they’re not movies I return to. Well, except for The Monster Squad.

Arbogast on Film

Herbert Leder’s THE FROZEN DEAD did a job on me back in the day because it was, to my 8 or 9 year old mind, unclassifiable. There weren’t any vampires or werewolves or monsters of any kind, I didn’t know what Nazis were, I didn’t know that secret Nazi experiments were a bad thing and the most disturbing, haunting, bother-you-in-your-bed-later creature is the film’s most pitiable victim, who winds up shaved bald and decapitated and living this sort of non-existence as a cyanotic lab experiment. Another movie, made later but which I saw around the same time, was a TV movie called THE SCREAMING WOMAN, directed by Jack Smight, in which Olivia de Havilland hears the voice of some woman calling for help in the night. It’s interesting to me now that both of these films, which absolutely terrified me as a kid, localized horror with the victims and not with the evil-doers. You could make a friend of a monster, even a ravening beast like Oliver Reed in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF could be a projection of the force of nature you wish you could be, but some poor soul rasping for their life from a shallow grave or, in the case of THE FROZEN DEAD, pleading to be killed from within a glass jar, is irreconcilable. It is what it is… scary!

I haven’t seen THE FROZEN DEAD since I was a kid, although that’s not a case of me avoiding it so much as it’s just legitimately unavailable. I’d love to see it again. I’m betting it would creep me out just as much.

JA – My New Plaid Pants

There’s a moment in The Amityville Horror (the original, not the Ryan Reynolds be-abbed edition) where a pair of demonish eyes glare in a window from outside that gave me nightmares for weeks when I was a kid. I rewatched the movie a couple of years ago and it looks like a pair of red Christmas tree bulbs that the Lutzes forgot to take down.

Uncle Lancifer – Kindertrauma

When I was little my family moved from the East Coast to California for a couple of years. This was a pretty exciting time for us because California seemed very exotic and different. At some point a television movie called WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE? was filmed at the grocery store near our house and this became a favorite movie of mine and my siblings. The movie was about solar flares that kill everybody on the planet except a family that happened to be in a cave at the time of the event. The cool thing was that the dead simply turned into piles of ashes inside their clothes. This concept was not so much horrifying to me, but a fantasy come true. Sick as it sounds, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about being the last person alive on the planet and therefore, the rightful owner of everything. A couple years back I got to see the movie again while visiting my parents (my brother had somehow found it on DVD). The film was a bit less convincing then I remembered it and far less exciting, but the thing that really blew my mind was seeing our old neighborhood again circa 1974 which appeared almost like a wild west town with its dirt roads and ochre fields. It was like seeing a world that simply does not exist anymore and damn did it make me feel old as hell.

Nathan – MicroHorror

Thanks to the new DVD release, I was recently able to rewatch “The Monster Squad,” which I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years or more, but watched several times and enjoyed as a youngster. To my pleasant surprise, it held up well. The special effects are dated, and the story has some holes, but the acting is good and the dialogue is well written. The Stan Winston monster designs, especially the Gillman, came as a particular treat. I was actually unaware for a long time that the movie had such a big cult following, and thought I was the only person who had seen it, but I was glad to be proven wrong.

I do, however, regret one thought that occurred to me while watching the DVD. It was during a scene with the swirling portal, and my jaded twenty-first-century eyes saw little but the primitive green-screen compositing. Before I realized what I was doing, I found myself
thinking, “They should really go back and fix that with CGI.” You’ll be pleased to hear that I immediately slapped myself, because I know damn well that if you go back to fix some clumsy compositing, you’re going to start “fixing” other things as well, and before you know it
Greedo is shooting first. We don’t need that.

Kimberly – Cinebeats

I recently watched and reviewed the 1965 Hammer thriller The Nanny, which I hadn’t seen in its entirety since I was a kid. The movie terrified me when I first saw it at around age 11 or 12 on television and somehow I was sure that Bette Davis (who plays the nasty nanny) was shown drowning a little girl in the movie. My memory of the film was completely wrong. Davis never kills a child in the movie but she tries to. I was so frightened by Davis’ character when I was a kid that I had managed to make her into an even bigger monster in my imagination. It’s still a chilling movie but very different from the one I had created in my imagination. I can appreciate the film much more on its own terms now that I’m an adult since a lot of the subtle story elements don’t go over my head anymore.

Tim – Mondo Schlocko

The one that comes to mind is TOURIST TRAP. I was probably in the first grade when I saw that on television and all I could remember was a head rolling on the ground and something about people being turned into mannequins. I didn’t even know what the title of the movie was.

Decades later when it was released on DVD I rented it and sat down to watch it and to my amazement I begun to see that the film playing on my DVD player was in fact the film I barely remembered as a kid.

It’s funny because the first time around I didn’t realize that Chuck Connors had telekinesis and that the mannequins could move. Seeing it as a kid was definitely creepier, but watching it decades later was far more special when I found out what the whole plot was about.

This roundtable was one of my favourites from a few years back, and it still holds up fairly well today. Thanks to all of this week’s participants for their thoughtful responses, and please consider leaving your own answer to this week’s query in the comments below.

10 Responses to “Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Five”

  1. Pax Romano Says:

    This is an easy one.

    When I was maybe seven or eight years old, I watched The Blob (the original) on television one night. For some reason, the movie scared the hell out of me.

    When I went to bed that night, I was convinced that a mass of cannibalistic slime was going to come oozing out of the heat vent just above my bed. I ended up sleeping on the floor that night, and the next day, I moved the bed.

    This Blob Fear went on for weeks! I was always hearing creaks in the floor and walls at night and just knew that the creepy jello was just waiting to get me.

    I got over that fear when I watched Godzilla a few weeks later, thus began a fear of giant lizards!

  2. Ivan Says:

    Pax Romano, regarding The Blob, that exact thing happened to me! Except on the first night of nightmares, I went into the living room after waking up frightened–and found the blob waiting for me: my mom had picked up one of those giant psychedelic balloons that were popular at the time. Anyway, I screamed like crazy.

    We went to see It’s Alive when it was re-releases in 1977 and it scared me so much, I had to leave the theater. Since then I’ve caught up with It’s Alive several times (including seeing Larry Cohen introduce it at the Walter Reade Theater in NYC).

    I loved James Whale’s The Invisible Man as a kid, and still think it’s great.

  3. Phronk Says:

    I gotta agree with all the Monster Squad love. It just holds up great even today, and has some surprisingly mature moments in there.

    I recently re-watched Candyman, and while it too has its moments, I just couldn’t get past some of the 90s cheesiness in it.

  4. Jeff Allard Says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who found The Blob terrifying! I saw it on TV one Saturday afternoon when I was probably six or seven and it freaked the hell out of me! I remember my mom taking me out to see a movie that night (I forget which movie) and not being able to enjoy it because I was so scared that the Blob would start oozing over the back seats at any second.

    The Blob seemed like such a believable monster – I knew that vampires and werewolves didn’t really exist but who could say what might come from outer space? And The Blob’s ability to go anywhere made it the one monster that you couldn’t get away from. The only other movie monster to really traumatize me was the Smog Monster – that scene with it flying over a school yard and all the children dropping dead and decomposing was too much to take!

    I haven’t seen The Blob since sometime in the mid-’80s or so and I forget what my reaction was to it then. I loved the ’88 remake but while that was a more accomplished movie it wasn’t able to nail the primal fear of the ’58 version. There was something about the texture and the color of the blob in the original that – in my memory, at least – made it look like one pissed off red glob.

    I also loved Kingdom of the Spiders as a kid. Like all the eco-horror movies I watched in the ’70s, it seemed like it was within the realm of possibility. And it had much stronger scares than anything else I had watched up to that time – the shots of victims with their faces completely webbed over were genuinely nightmarish. And the fact that the horror was always escalating and that every attempt to beat back the problem failed made it very unsettling to me. At the time it was the most downbeat movie I had ever seen (the spiders won!).

    I haven’t seen Kingdom of the Spiders in too many years to say how I feel about it today but the main reason I haven’t rewatched it is that I don’t want to see it again and realize that it really wasn’t all that scary, Shatner was too hammy, and that the last shot of the entire town covered in webs looked phony.

  5. The Retropolitan Says:

    The Blob terrified me as a child, both original and remake, and they STILL terrify me.

    I might be wrong, but I have this awful, awful memory of seeing someone getting their hair washed in a salon, and the Blob oozing out of the faucet and onto their face. I may have completely imagined it, but the very thought of it absolutely horrifies me.

  6. Joshua Hoffine Says:

    The film that most affected me as a child is closely related to The Blob –
    Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – specifically the 70’s version by Philip Kaufman. This movie messed me up for years. I spent the better part of the 2nd and 3rd grade sleeping on my sister’s bedroom floor in a sleeping bag – rather than face the alternative of sleeping alone in my bedroom in the attic.

    That film touches on a very primal nerve : the fear of being attacked while we sleep.

    This was also the first apocalyptic story I had ever experienced.

    The disturbing drone of the sound design that kicked in every time someone fell asleep.

    The visceral nature of the alien bodies, the moving white body hairs.

    The image of Donald Sutherland splitting his own face with a garden hoe, the way it exploded like a red filled melon. Or worse, the image of the dog with the human face. Specifically, the way the dogs tongue licked its own face.

    Watching the film again as an adult, I was amazed by how virtually every scene – in fact, nearly every shot – is infused with a palpable sense of paranoia. This film continues to maintain my respect.

    Oh, and Monster Squad is an absolutely terrible movie. The only thing I like is the quick transformation scene of the Werewolf in the phone booth.
    And really, that’s it. A poor man’s Goonies.

  7. unkle lancifer Says:

    Retro, you did not dream that scene up! It happened in BEWARE THE BLOB aka SON OF BLOB. That really freaked me out too!

  8. Tom Blunt Says:

    I used to watch “Gremlins” after school all the time when I was 11, having taped it off of TV. Totally adored that movie, and the sequel.

    So I watched it recently, and I was overwhelmed by how nonsensical the entire movie was, in nearly every single scene. Were the 80’s really so naive that you could present someone with something like a Mogwai and explain it away as being some weird Chinese animal? “Oh, it’s Chinese? That makes sense then since I know they have dragons and stuff too.”

    Even the regular human interactions stymied me. “Wait, did she just threaten to MURDER HIS DOG? In front of all those witnesses??” The straw that broke the camel’s back was in the bar scene where the gremlins menace Phoebe Cates, and one of them is dressed in a little trenchcoat and flashes her. So where did this gremlin find a MINI-TRENCHCOAT? That just led me to think about how that one bit probably took like two days to film, and required a costumer to design and sew a mini-trenchcoat for a gremlin puppet, all so for a total non sequitur about sexual predation.

    I couldn’t help but wonder what had been going through my parents’ minds when I watched this over and over, so I called my mom the next day and asked if she remembered the movie. “Yes,” she said, “It was too scary for me.”

    “But mom,” I said, “The movie doesn’t make any sense. Like, from beginning to end, not one decision or line or detail of it makes any sense at all.” She laughed and said, “You’re right, it really didn’t make any sense.” So I asked, “Then why did you let me watch it OVER and OVER like that? Didn’t you find that strange? Shouldn’t I have maybe watched something else?” And she said, “Well, it seemed harmless enough.”

    I know it’s just a silly movie; mostly I’m just astonished that I never questioned any of this when I was younger, I just drank it in and imagined saving my town with just a slingshot.

  9. digital underground Says:

    Like the 80s remake of The Thing, scenes from this movie are definitely too overtop for some people

  10. Herve Leger Fans Blog Says:

    Naphy09 Nope! Completely legal

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