Flashback: I’m ten years old and I’m excitedly hustling over to my friend’s house with some of the other neighbourhood kids after lunch on a summer day. We head straight downstairs into the cool basement, closing the door behind us. Extra pillows are stuffed firmly into window frames to blot out any afternoon sunlight. The lamps and ceilings lights are shut off and and we pop the latest (rented) horror film into the VCR, our wide eyes illuminated only by a gray-blue haze emanating from the sixteen inch tube television screen in front of us. A static image reads “Rated R”.
Along with my childhood friends, I spent that entire summer holiday watching horror films, rented at the local video store by parents who didn’t know any better or allowed by storeowners who didn’t really care.
The video store we frequented was pretty unorganized. I mean, who displays a family movie called Rosemary’s Baby beside something called The Prey? I suppose we didn’t really know what we were doing – our discriminating taste in horror films was just burgeoning. The cover and the title and, sometimes, the word of a friend of a friend, made our rental decisions for us.
That summer we went from viewing Friday the Thirteenth to Nightmare on Elm Street to Poltergeist to Halloween to The Omen. You know, the classics – and I went from sleeping soundly at night to neurotically checking underneath my bed and in my closet, nervously listening for strange sounds in my bedroom before drifting off to an expected nightmare late at night. We all did. We would talk about it the next day and the day after that; images of knives and claws would be replaced by ones of axes and fangs. And it was awesome, this adrenaline rush, this shared experience amongst friends.
Much remained the same in high school. I think seeing The Gate at the local mall theatre on a “two-fifty” Tuesday night might have been my first date. I was devastated when I couldn’t see Aliens because I was underage. I kicked up a fuss when my friends got in to see some generic R-rated horror film, surely about demons and devils, as I was the only one that got carded at the doorway entrance. Strangely, I don’t remember the name of the horror flick but I do remember the name of the movie I saw instead. That night, I reluctantly ended up seeing Madhouse starring Kirstie Ally and John Larroquette while my pals all spent their cash wetting their pants with shrieks of horror and looks of fear on their faces. I’m still not sure who had the more terrifying experience.
Horror has always been an integral part in the lives of my friends and I, regardless of age. And this week, as we lead up to the end of the month of October and All Hallows Eve, the writers of Biff Bam Pop! will walk you through decades of petrifying cinema and detail the scariest horror films they’ve ever seen.
And you know the thing about horror films? The truth you learn in childhood is that they’re best shared – so make sure you come along and reminisce with us!
That said, anyone up for a Rosemary’s Baby viewing? I know better now then I did back when I was a kid and, truth be told, I still haven’t seen that “family movie”.