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How I Came To Love Horror

I was eight years old when something scared the holy hell out of my father.

For awhile, we girls were forbidden from even mentioning it.

Before then, I was convinced that nothing on earth could possibly, conceivably scare a man who was scary himself. He had a whole shelf lined with medical textbooks filled with scary photographs of human anomalies, diseases, injuries, and malformities. He had scary stories to share after a day’s worth of scary surgeries. He had a dark sense of humor and said some very scary things (e.g., his favorite greeting to us girls whenever he came home from work was a cheerful “Who wants to die?”).

He had an even scarier temper.  Anything, anytime, could set him off. I learned more colorful, creative variations of obscenities than a child should EVER be subjected to. Our bedrooms became a temporarily safe refuge for me and my sisters where we’d huddle together, willing the shouting and the throwing things to stop. Once, two of us ran from our house and stayed put at a neighbor’s until the storm had settled to a growling rumble of thunder in the background.

I had nightmares all the time back then, every night in fact. Most of them involved some horrible faceless entity breaking down my bedroom door and screaming in my face, sucking the air right from me as it did. I don’t need a shrink to tell me why that was happening. Obvious shows obvious.

When I found out my father could be frightened out of his wits as much as we could be, that’s when my regular nightmares came to an abrupt halt. Naturally, I wanted to know what was it that had him  terrified so much, that had given him nightmares for a change. Once I found out, not only did my regular nightmares end, I was introduced to a genre that would eventually both excite me and act somewhat as a personal talisman.

The source of my dad’s fear was a movie… and this scene in particular:






18 thoughts on “How I Came To Love Horror

  1. Oh my, my, my…I know exactly what the scene in that movie is and I refused to watch the video attached, that is truly a scary scene that I watched with a friend of mine growing up and it still surfaces in my mind to this day…..

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  2. That scene still rocks to this day…not a hint of CGI. When I first watched it, I was completely stunned by it. I felt something akin to unease, then poor David apologized for calling his undead friend a meatloaf, and I laughed my ass off through the rest of it. That’s the great thing about American Werewolf … there are disturbing parts, even pitifully sad parts, and hysterically funny parts, and sometimes all coming at you at the same time (my dad was a chicken at that scene too. He could shrug off a slasher film but scenes like that were too much for him to handle).

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    • Wasn’t it Rick Baker who did the prosthetics? Absolutely amazing stuff, that. Can’t get much of that anymore (unless somebody like Doug Jones is underneath a shit-ton of makeup). You’re so right in that AWIL was just one of those movies that had EVERYTHING in it — My sisters and I thought it mainly funny (the undead victims at the movie theater was a hilarious scene) and sad. Such a nice guy who had to undergo such trauma.

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  3. Love this movie! My brother and I used to sneak down the hall behind our parents and peek around the corner to watch movies they wouldn’t allow us to like this. I also remember being confused at the lighthearted comedy being in a horror movie. So many things about this beloved flick are uniquely amazing but let’s not discuss the sequel, okay? Haha

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    • I’ll just pretend the Paris sequel didn’t exist (and I love the leads in it — such a shame). Anyway, Am. W. in London is a fantastic movie, one that showed John Landis had a knack for balancing the truly horrifying with comedy. Oh, and you and your brother sound JUST like me and my sisters — we did the same thing, sneaking around, hiding so that we could watch the forbidden TV shows and movies they were watching, too. Neither of my folks liked horror (obviously my dad especially), but every so often, they’d watch something crudely funny, very adult, and we loved that stuff. It’s how I grew to like Monty Python. Undoubtedly, it’s how I learned to appreciate John Landis’ stuff, too.

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  4. Pingback: When Certain Writing Turns One Vulnerable | This, On Purpose

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