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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.