The Birth Of A Horror Fan
I'm looking to expand the blog a bit with a look back at the road I took to become the horror fan and author I am today. Within this journey, I will share some personal stuff and some of my favorite things that stood out in the world of horror, science fiction, and fantasy in both the world of film and the written word.
Today I am going to focus on a couple of movies that drew me to the world of horror. Ironically - using the real definition or Alanis Morissette's - my father played a huge role in my love affair with everything horror. The reason being, my father hated horror movies. He didn't enjoy any aspect of all the things needed to make a great horror experience. And yet, he planted the seeds of fascination with those things that live in the dark in my psyche.
So a few random notes on my childhood. My mother not only loved books, but she also loved to provide books for me to discover and enjoy. I cannot remember a time I didn't have some form of the written word in front of me. Now her parents were a bit odd, and restricted both her and her brother in the materials they were allowed to consume growing up. And while my mother wasn't handing me books for adults, she did not have the same hang-ups with allowing me to find my literary way when I branched out from the provided literature.
My father, who was a member of the Army, read military thrillers and non-fiction (both military and history). But his real passion - as I remember it - was the cinema. I am confident the love and reverence I feel for the movies comes from him. More importantly, he was no film snob and he enjoyed low-budget outside-the-box movies. He also seemed to feel the rating system was a mere suggestion and one never to take seriously.
I was born in 1975 in Germany at the U.S. Military hospital in Frankfurt. My father left the Army to only return a few years later to fly Huey's. We were sent back to Germany for my ages 4-8(-ish), before being stationed in Alabama at Ft. Rucker. My parents divorced when I was 12 or so but I was already fully immersed in the world of horror.
While VHS existed in my early childhood, it was a high-end item and not many people I knew had one. Also at this time, especially in Germany, there was no cable TV. I remember how big a deal it was to get cable when we got back to the states. It was also around that time we finally got a VCR as well. That player introduced us to a cornucopia of movies and gave my father a chance to show me some of the movies I missed because I was too young.
My father loved science fiction and fantasy movies, taking me to several amazing and sometimes terrible(in a good way) movies throughout the early 80s. If anything horrific crossed over to these genres he was unfazed. However if a movie came out and told you it was horror, he refused to watch it. He would ignore Friday the 13th, Halloween, Fright Night, Elm Street, or anything else that was made to scare the audience.
So with that in mind here are the movies he excitedly watched with me or showed me in the years between 79-84 that helped introduce me to the element of horror in movies.
The first movie I remember giving me nightmares was 1981's Excalibur. We saw it in Germany at the base movie theater. He was so excited to see this one that he tried to take my best friend and his sister with us when he was supposed to be watching us. It was sold out so we went back later, just the 2 of us. This movie introduced me to a ton of material I wasn't quite ready for but every time nudity or sex popped up he would whisper to cover my eyes. A foolproof way to make sure I saw nothing.
That command was never issued for the action or fight sequences and I grew fascinated with how special effects worked to make us believe people were injured or killed. Now all of this was fine as a viewer but the horror came in when Merlin is betrayed by Morgana (Morgen La Faye) and trapped by the dragon. I dreamed of that scene every night for weeks. Years later my mom saw the movie and about brained my father for taking me to it since she put two and two together. :)
Of course, I watch it now(and since that first time) I don't get why it scared me but it did. It most likely was a combination of the first time he takes her to his lair and this one that made such a lasting mark on my little kid brain.
If you want to watch the whole thing, you will have to rent or buy it unless you want to come over and have a movie night.
In the same year, Clash of the Titans came out. I remember standing in the PX and seeing a Clash of the Titans notebook and my dad saying he thought it was playing at the theater. We walked over and grabbed tickets. I instantly fell in love with this movie, but Calibos and his mother always scared me as a kid.
My father was quick to show me more Harryhausen films when we got our VCR. Which included the Sinbad movies and more of Harryhausen's amazing monsters.
All of these amazing Ray Harryhausen movies have to be bought or rented.
One of my first introductions to "man is the real monster" movies was Mad Max. Although I prefer Road Warrior to this one, it still does a great job of instilling terror of your fellow man.
You can catch it on HULU
The final 2 movies are horror movies, but since they involve aliens they trump his no horror movies rule. First up is my favorite movie The Thing. The first time I watched it with him, I spent 40-60% of the time behind the couch peeking over the top or the side to catch all the gory goodness. This might be where my love for scary movies was truly born.
You can stream with Starz if you have it.
Finally, one of his favorite movies was Alien. It couldn't be more of a horror movie, but in his head, it was a man vs beast kind of movie I guess. His favorite scene was the chest-burster. He laughed and laughed about it, bringing myself and a friend in to watch just that scene so we could share in the laughter. I don't remember laughing but it was very cool.
You can watch this on Prime and tubi
Looking back at these memories, I can see how my philosophy on horror was developed and plays out in my writing today. I see horror in everything, in every genre, and every situation. Now there may be outside forces adding to the situation, but there isn't a movie, show, or book I can't easily see the path needed to make it into a horrific situation. Everything I write is based on that thought process. Even when I'm not attempting to write horror, it will always show up because I always seem to find it hiding between the words.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek inside my head and if you haven't seen these movies, you will check them out...