Now for the record, let’s make something clear right up front â when I was younger, I was terrified of horror movies. Even though I never watched them, just the idea of them would freak me out.I grew up in a small town, and I can still see myself wandering one of the six or seven aisles at our local video stores (VHS anyone?) and glancing across the cover art on the front of any given horror movie.
Ghoulies especially used to scare me because it showed this nasty little creature poking his head out of the toilet. I hadn’t even seen the movie but that was enough to make me check the toilet every time I went to tinkle. My cousin Mikey had seen Child’s Play and I can remember him telling me how Chucky the killer doll pushes the babysitter out the second-story window. Again, I never saw the scene but I pictured Chucky pushing ME out of my second-story bedroom window. It didn’t help that Mikey had a My Buddy doll who bore an eerie resemblance to the satanic Cabbage Patch reject. We also had some family friends and they had three daughters (the oldest was my age). Well, the oldest girl – we’ll call her Weirdy – well Weirdy had an obsession with Freddy Krueger (kind of unsettling considering she must have been like 12 at the time.)
She even had posters of him all over her wall, like he was the Jonas Brothers or something. I was terrified to go into her room for the fear of simply making eye contact with Mr. Krueger. And don’t even get me started on Halloween. I would flip by it every now and then when it was on TV, and just the image of Michael Myers standing behind that clothesline as Jamie Lee Curtis stared down at him from her bedroom window was seared into my little brain. And that music…that simple piano tune…even today it sends chills up my spine.Needless to say, as I grew older I never had any interest in seeing any horror movies. All of that changed in 1996 when my friends asked me if I wanted to go see Scream. I didn’t know much about it, except that the trailers made it look like a thriller.
“Sure, I’ll go,” I said. Well everything I had believed to be true about the movie changed when after twelve minutes into the movie, Drew Barrymore was strung up from a tree with her guts spilling out onto the ground below. I had never experienced anything like it before. I was terrified and gripping my seat but I couldn’t turn away. I actually liked the adrenaline rush I was getting. It was like a high that I wanted more of. I drove home terrified Ghostface was going to pop out from my backseat and stab me to death, but I LOVED it. From that moment on I was hooked.Lucky for me, Scream 2 was rushed into production after the success of the first movie. Scream had given the horror genre the shot in the arm it needed, and suddenly there was a resurgence. I guess I picked a good time to get into horror movies.
Most of what followed was the standard 90’s slasher fare such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, and although none of them measured up to the caliber of Scream, there was something I loved about the blueprint of these movies: set up cast of stereotypical characters, knock them off in cool and fun ways, reveal the killer. I went back and watched a lot of those movies I was too afraid to watch when I was young â Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, etc. And maybe I had been spoiled on the higher caliber of acting and production values with this new-age horror, but the old ones were simply not good. I am very vocal about my hatred for the Nightmare movies, although I am pretty stoked for the remake that’s coming next year. I also think the Friday the 13th movies get insanely ridiculous after the first four (the first four of which are saved only by a bit of irresistible nostalgia), and Chucky the killer doll is so much less of a threat now that I realize all he really does is crack jokes (Freddy Krueger does the same.) Only the Halloween franchise is slightly forgivable, but even that series is filled with a few clunkers.
The torture porn era is the worst thing that could have happened to horror movies. After the first Saw and Hostel, suddenly torture porn was in. And to those unfamiliar with the term, “torture porn” deliberately focuses on graphic portrayals of gore and graphic violence (think arms slooooowly being sawed off). This is not my idea of entertainment. And for the record, I have seen all the Saw movies, but I am not a fan. Thankfully, this little sub-genre is dying out and we are coming back to an onslaught of movies that are right up my alley (The Final Destination, H2, Sorority Row, 25/8, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and Piranha 3D).Here is a list of some of my favorites, in no particular order:-Scream (1996)-Scream 2 (1997)-The Ring (2002)-Halloween (1978)-Halloween (2007)-The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)-Orphan (2009)-Final Destination I,II, and III-The Strangers (2008)-Dawn of the Dead (2004)-The Blair Witch Project (1999)-Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)-Venom (2005)-I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)-Friday the 13th (2009)-Jeepers Creepers (2001)-Jeepers Creeeprs II (2003)And as far as what to watch on my list if you REALLY want to get creeped out, I recommend the first Jeepers Creepers, the original Halloween, The Blair Witch Project, The Strangers, and Scream. Those choices had the biggest “creep factor” for me and actually unnerved me, whereas the rest I simply enjoy for their fun factor. I consider myself pretty desensitized these days, though those few flicks still managed to make a horror buff such as myself peer over my shoulder and check once under the bed before going night night.