When I meet people and the subject of interests come up, I instinctively reply with, “I’m a huge horror fan.” Reactions are varied, from the subtle eye roll to shock and surprise. My favorite reaction has to be, “But you look so normal.” I still have no idea what that means. I guess there is a stigma attached that will never go away. Apparently, people who are into horror dress all in black, listen to death metal, worship the Devil and Charles Manson. Well, I do wear a lot of black. Hello, it’s slimming! I listen to Tool, but that’s about as hard as I roll. I don’t worship anything. As an Atheist, I don’t believe in God or the Devil. As far as Charles Manson goes, well, I am interested in true crime stories of all kinds, but I’m not about to carve a symbol in my forehead or anything.
So just how does an intelligent girl, from a middle-class family, who grew up in the suburbs become interested in the macabre? Well, I had a lot of help.
I’ve always loved a good story. As a kid, books, TV, movies, anything that kept my imagination rolling was better than a new bike or toy. I think my earliest memory of getting interested in the scary was a book the neighbors had. Their daughter used to babysit me and they had a book of ghost stories in the house. I remember loving the artwork on the cover and in all the years I spent in that house, I must have read that book a million times.
We lived in the country and cable TV hadn’t been gifted to the farmland yet. My excitement for the week was Saturday morning cartoons, so when my parents wanted to deny me that pleasure to spend the day at my grandparents, I was one unhappy camper. Then one day, while my parents were playing Yahtzee in the kitchen with Gram and Gramp, I stumbled upon what was to be one of the greatest loves of my life… Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. My grandparents had cable. I think HORROR EXPRESS was the first real horror movie I ever saw and thus began my love affair with Hammer. Saturdays at Gram’s turned out to less of a hassle after that. Many afternoons I spent on the floor watching old movies with handsome men, terrible special effects, fake blood, melodrama and funny accents. I was hooked.
I had this other babysitter, another neighbor, who was my idol. I wanted to be just like her. She loved Stephen King. She introduced us. King became an addiction and she was my enabler. Not only did she give me The Shining to read, she took me to see it at the theater. That moment, after watching Kubrick’s interpretation, I knew I was a King purist and hated the movie. But that’s another story…
She gave me The Exorcist to read, with the disclaimer that if my mother found it, she’d say I took it from her room. I also used to spend weeks during the summer with a family friend in Connecticut. There I had access to a treasure trove of horror paperbacks. She, too, was a fan. There was a lot of female influence in my addiction.
I was actually pretty lucky that my parents never censored me. They were impressed about how much I read, but never monitored what I was reading. My mom caught on to the Stephen King thing pretty quickly and started buying me every new hardcover that came out. To this day, she clips every article she finds about him and sends them to me. The only time there was ever an issue was when, after we got cable, I wanted to stay up and watch CARRIE on HBO. My mom said I could, but she was not going to stay up and watch it with me. If I got scared, it would all be on me. Well, I watched it alone and it scared the shit out of me AND I slept with my light on for a month, I was OK with that. My parents also took me to see JAWS at the drive-in, with pretty much the same conditions and same results. I was OK with that too. I still am.
With the introduction of the VCR, my best friend and I spent every Friday night at any and every place that rented movies, picking out every horror film we could find. We saw a lot of crap, but we also saw movies like THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I’ve spent a lot of time, as an adult, trying to track down a lot of those awful films, as well as the made-for-TV horror films they used to show on the network Saturday night movies and amassed a sizable collection. Maybe I’ll discuss those in another post.
To be perfectly honest, while I love horror, I don’t love all of it. Anything made after 1990 is subject to serious scrutiny and I don’t run to the theater every time a new version of an already pretty bad film is remade. Very few remakes make it into my schedule. And while I support independent horror, let’s be honest, not EVERY film is a winner. Just because it doesn’t have big studio backing doesn’t mean it’s gold.
If you want to impress me with your love of horror, throw foreign films at me, especially Spanish and French films. I dig that shit and I know I haven’t seen everything. If you really want to to be friends, talk to me about British horror films made before the 80s. At least be willing to give them a try because THAT is where it all began for me and will always remain my first love.
I guess this post is a little scattered, but to go through every memory of what got me hooked would take a novel. This is just another little insight into what makes me tick.
I’m always willing to talk about a movie, even if I think it’s shit. I like a lot of stuff others don’t so who am I to judge? The horror community is vast and everyone’s tastes are a little different. That’s what makes it so amazing and accepting, whether you’re an emo goth or a “normal” girl, like me.
Suzanne is a friend of the website, she lives somewhere on planet Earth and has a fantastic blog
She has a Twitter that we recommend following.