Too Much Horror Business: Overdosing on the macabre at the age of 4

Not one to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve seen pretty much 95% of all Horror films ever made.

Where did I get that percentage from? My arse. I’ve absolutely no idea how many I’ve seen, but it’s a fucking lot I can assure you.

Earlier in the year my Mum told me that my fucking dickhead Dad showed me The Hills Have Eyes on VHS when I was four years old. A ridiculous thing to do and I wish he hadn’t as, apparently, I was greatly affected by it and rightly so, it’s a fucking NASTY film. But, a year later, Ghostbusters shit me up just as bad so maybe I’m just a YELLOW CHICKEN. But it ignited a love for ghoulies and ghosties that never left. It was kept burning by Fighting Fantasy books, Scream comic, 2000AD, Splatterhouse arcade machines, Garbage Pail Kids, Monster in My Pocket, Supernaturals, Oink! And the ability to draw whatever my imagination desired. The mid-late 80s was a fucking incredible time to be a young Horror fan.

If it wasn’t for my mate Mark we wouldn’t have had the money, the bedroom or the lenient parents to allow us to plough through every film from the BBFC’s list of Video Nasties between the ages of 13 and 15. The early-mid 90s was pre DVD & pre Internet. Imported and highly illegal VHS tapes were how you got to see Absurd and Contamination, not by backing a crowdfunding campaign via your phone while waiting for a bus.

Horror and general movie conventions were EVERYWHERE back then. Watford had Midnight Media that would attract the biggest stars. Tom Savini rubbing shoulders with Ingrid Pitt (who once tried to charge me for having a conversation with her about Cradle of Filth. On yer bike, Countess). There was one in Milton Keynes, where I sadly live, where you could ask one particular seller for “The List”. You can imagine what was on there. The lot. Lovely.

I left school in 95 and got a job in the local multiplex. I was working up in the projection booth within a year and there I stayed for another ten. I worked out that if I quality checked (basically watched after hours before release to make sure it looked & sounded OK) an average of 3 films per week, every week, for ten years, I saw 1,560 new releases. A big chunk of that was Horror. That doesn’t include the ones I was watching on Sky, or on VHS or laserdisc (that’s right), at friends’ houses or at conventions.

Horror films are 100% without question my favourite things about being alive.

I was going to write a review. I rewatched Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery for that very reason but I couldn’t be critical of it at all. Despite it’s many, many flaws I can’t fault it. They had fuck all money and turned out something with more imagination and ambition that 90% of anything Horror has seen since.

What I’ll do is just list some of my favourites and gob off about them. Yeah? Yeah.

 

Jaws

My favourite film of all time and has been since I was little. Tell a lie, I think I liked Jaws 3D more when I was little as Shredded Wheat gave away 3D glasses and each packet had a red/blue image from the film on the back. Well good. The years passed and the OG rose from the depths to drag the body of 3D to the ocean floor. Is it Horror? Isn’t it more of a high-seas Action Adventure film? Yeah, the majority of the 2nd half could be described as that. But the opening Chrissie Watkins moonlit attack, the bloody Alex Kintner shore feast, the leg, Ben Gardner’s head, the fucking MUSIC, etc etc etc. Unbeatable.

The Beyond

Italian Horror is like nothing else on earth. Insanely violent, spiteful, ethereal, haunting and sexy. Equal parts love and hate.  As a teen I rated Lucio Fulci wayyyy higher than Argento, Bava, Deodato etc. I don’t these days, I prefer his Crime and Fantasy stuff if I’m honest. But The Beyond is, for me, light years ahead of his contemporaries. Visually striking as ever. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a little redhead girl have the top half of her head blown off by a revolver in such incredible fashion. I have a tattoo of the Eibon symbol, as featured throughout the film, to remind myself of a more innocent and formative time that made me the daft creature I am today.

Alien

Aliens is good. No. Aliens is GREAT. But Horror it ain’t. Aliens is Hamburger Hill in space. It rules, obviously, but Alien is beyond frightening. Tense isn’t the word. You’ve all seen it, the beast appearing next to Dallas seemingly out of nowhere, the chest burst, the finale. The calm after the storm. I want to watch it right this minute. The sound of the Nostromo’s siren plays in my head when I get a little stressed at work.

Anthropophagous

The only film to have put me off my dinner. I rewatched this last week and it is just plain nasty. It was my girlfriend’s first time seeing it. Her face was a picture when a human foetus was ripped from its mother’s belly and devoured in front of the father. That’s the bit that put me off my Bolognese when I first saw it at Mark’s. George Eastman is possibly my favourite actor of all time and his turn here as Klaus the wide-eyed cannibal is one for the ages.

One more I reckon.

 

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

“James, of ALL the Horror films ever made you chose to mention THIS?”. Yes. This film means almost as much to me as Jaws does. Maybe it’s just the nostalgic in me but Season of the Witch reminds me of better times. I remember the trailer being at the start of a VHS me and my Mum had rented when I was around middle school age and being utterly fascinated by it. I don’t think I saw it for many years after but wasn’t disappointed. While it has nothing at all to do with the Haddonfield Myers murders we saw in the first two ‘ween films it has “IT”, the stuff that ticks all the right boxes for me. Great gore, incredible music, over the top performances, bonking, exploding child heads. And the best, bleakest, most fucking “Argh! No! So close!” ending of all time. I fucking worship it.

So, there you have it. I could go on for hours. But should probably save something for next Halloween. While I’m not expecting anyone to give a monkeys about the ins and outs of my relationship with Horror cinema, I’m hoping some of you elder statesmen of the community find a glint of kinship and familiarity. It really was a great time to be into that shit.

Have a great Halloween. Stick The Thing on and eat a load of crisps. Peace.

One thought on “Too Much Horror Business: Overdosing on the macabre at the age of 4

  1. Alien was the first film I saw that I thought was good rather than just enjoyable. To my 13-year-old self, it was fascinating at first, and slowly became more and more frightening. Before that, even scary films were sort of fun, a bit tongue in cheek or deliberately rubbish, but this… no. Strangely it wasn’t the alien that hit me the hardest: it was that bit with Ash that put the film in real nightmare territory. It’s too bad Ian Holm never got to play Hannibal Lecter. (Oh, and Aliens is still awesome).

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