Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage.
~ Shakespeare. Henry V – Act III, Scene I
I love being frightened silly by a good horror movie. Scared within an inch of my life and my sanity.
When I was little my dad put me on his knee and we watched “King Kong.” The original, 1933, black and white, Fay Wray “King Kong.” There was Anne Darrrow, still my favorite movie character who shares my name. (Maybe also Annie Hall. My least fave, probably Annie Wilkes from Misery. ) “We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember because we were traveling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there – there you could look at a thing monstrous and free.” Unleashed, raw terror in the form of a monkey obsessed with a blonde chick. In the end, ’twas beauty killed the beast. Epic.
My love of fake fear was born.
Soon I was 12-ish and sat with my same dad one Halloween and experienced 1973’s “The Exorcist.” Look at Father Merrin, full of dread and hesitation, about to come face to face with The Beast. It was famously called “The Scariest Movie Ever Made.” The shocking, oft-parodied film, considered by many a masterpiece, actually had people throwing up in the aisles and running scared to local churches. Frightening. For the re-issue they included the famous “spider walk” scene where sweet, young Regan MacNeil, newly possessed by The AntiChrist, comes down the stairs in a backbend, gushing blood out of her mouth. It only lasted a moment, but it’s the only bloodshed in the entire thing, believe it or not. I saw a midnight screening at the Chinese for the 30th anniversary, the way it’s meant to be seen. The freaks came out at night for that one. It was the funnest thing ever. And Father Karras is a babe.
Terrifying? You betcha, but really, it doesn’t hold a candle to a little movie I also saw about an American caught smuggling hash in Turkey. Idiot. “Midnight Express” scared me more than that crusty-faced, puking, raunchy little Regan. And what’s scarier is that’s it’s based on a true story. Anyway…
A boy’s best friend is his mother.
~ Norman Bates, Psycho
…Speaking of the devil, I wonder what Rosemary’s little baby looked like. We never saw the spawn of the Satan but those hellishly old people sure made great cheerleaders for evil incarnate. And poor Rosemary, the unwitting victim of these Satanic breeders by proxy, lives in The Dakota in 1968 and, pregnant with the little Prince of Darkness, endures the ongoing nosiness of pesky neighbors. She chops off her hair and looks dangerously thin for a pregnant chick.
Toward the end, she has no idea what the hell is going on and we really don’t either, and the creepy singing children really don’t help. Rosemary gives birth, and finally sees her baby for the first time, in a cradle, next door with the old weirdos. The look on her face says everything. “What have you done to it’s eyes???” Lordy.
In 1979, I was 12 and I was taken to see “Alien.” It was rated R and I have no idea how how they let me in. “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream“. And why would I scream? Maybe because a hideous baby alien is violently emerging from John Hurt’s stomach? Nice teeth. And it slithers away to hide and grow big (within, like, a day) on that ship, where they’re all trapped like people in a haunted house… and the waiting game begins. Good luck. And Sigourney Weaver becomes the first female action hero.
For some reason, horror movies, they seem like good date movies. When you go to them it’s all high school kids, all over each other, running up and down the isles, no one is even looking at the screen anyways, they figure they don’t have to pay attention to the story anyways. We scream and yell… it’s like mayhem.
~ Metal Head/Artist/Director Rob Zombie
When the “Slasher Flick” came along in the 80’s, in the wake of cult classics like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” (two of my favorites), the genre got a tad watered down. Each one badly copied the last. But the bloody horror outings of the 70’s are considered innovative works of art. I can still watch 1976’s The Omen and get freaked out. In 1979 “The Amytiville Horror” proved houses do have memories (yeah, memories of murder). 1972’s The Last House On The Left, Wes Cravens first feature, is like a fucking snuff film. It takes balls to watch that shit.
Same goes for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974). Is there anything worse than getting chased by the maniacal Leatherface with a mask of stitched-together flesh and a loud chainsaw? In the daylight? I’m gonna say no. And shit like this really happens. Ask the Manson family. “Texas Chainsaw” was so violent it was actually banned in some countries. And what makes this movie work can be summed up in two words: low budget. It’s grainy, it’s unpolished, and everyone actually seems completely unraveled, out of control, and too damn hot in that Texas heat. I’d be screaming my head off too. Easily one of the most influential and controversial films ever.
(I don’t know what’s wrong with me. You’d never guess I’m a peaceful hippie.)
“It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.“
~ Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb, The Silence Of The Lambs
The prom. Naughty teens. Pig’s blood. Poor Carrie gets picked on so much she finally summons her telekinetic powers to manipulate the environment around her to attack the bitches that humiliated her. I don’t love the supernatural Stephen King thing, but this one from 1976 has some pretty good plot points: out of control high school chicks (one even gets slapped by a teacher), hot sex-crazed guys, the weird, misunderstood loner chick, the overbearing mother. The whole thing leads up to prom night, when skinny little naive Carrie gets escorted by the campus babe, who invited her as a joke among the cool kids. Big mistake. The lesson? Beware of the creepy girl. Not kidding.
Don’t let me freak you out or anything. It’s just a movie.