How I Got My Start In Horror

I need you to think about this for a moment. To get the idea just right, picture first the early 80’s and a little shaggy haired kid in corduroy pants. He is around the age of five and wearing a Ben Cooper clown Halloween mask. Now let’s put him in the house of his strict Southern Baptist grandparents that do not appreciate Halloween, rock music, or horror movies. There was no hope in hell that he was getting to go trick or treating. He could be dressed up in a stupid cheap ass Mickey Mouse costume while he watches “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, but anything past that…not a chance in hell. Besides, his grandparents told him that “They poison Halloween candy anyway.”


Well that was Wednesday, and on Friday that little kid gets to go to his single mom’s house. She didn’t really have time for shit so she’s going to plant his ass in front of the television, unlike his grandparent’s house and thanks to the lack of parental supervision he gets to watch whatever in the hell he wants for a change. But lucky for him it is October and John Carpenter’s “The Fog” is on following the Exorcist, so this should be a good weekend. He can wear the Ben Cooper clown mask if he chooses, because in his head he was a “killer clown”. However one could expect his mom to think it is a little weird and she doesn’t know the proper way to tell him other than to just say “Normal kids wouldn’t act like you.”


Yeah, that happened. This was my life. Now settle down, there’s more.


Thank God mom drank. That just gave me the chance to watch more TV the next morning while she slept her hangover off. Now the Muppet Show is on and it is not the usual guest. This guest is some guy with long black hair, black face paint around his eyes, cobwebs all over the set, and he’s singing to Muppet monsters! But what I can’t figure out is why is HIS name Alice?  Who the hell cares? This shit is cool!


“Did he just get out of a coffin? Welcome to his nightmare? I’ve never heard such songs on Mom’s John Denver nor Grandma’s Tennessee Ernie Ford albums. He’s scaring the shit out of me and…and…I think I like it!”


A few hours later I’m still watching TV. Now there is a movie on about these four evil looking clowns in a band with superpowers chasing a phantom around an amusement park. I’m digging the one called “The Demon”. He’s got the coolest makeup. I wonder if I could get into my Mom’s makeup and paint my face like that while she’s laid out.


Well my mom and Jack Daniels had a date that night and this was my chance to find that black pencil thingy to paint my face into the scariest creature I could think of and deliver that fantastic emotion of fear to someone else that I most recently fell in love with.


Well that shit didn’t happen.


My mom got up and found me in the bathroom drawing black lines all over my face and commenced her bitchfest. This in turn resulted in a call to my Baptist grandparents. This in turn landed my ass in the counselor’s office at school talking about “what angers me”, “do I ever hear voices”, and “boys don’t wear makeup”.


Skip ahead a few years. I’m reading above my age level (thank you Reading Rainbow), and I take up an Edgar Allen Poe collection. My grandparents were elated. “Oh that’s good! He wrote a poem about a bird!” (Yeah, that’s it.)  Then there was my mom’s response. “Well who the fuck is that?”


Nevermind those stories that everyone else knew about, I wanted to read the ones with titles like “Never Bet the Devil Your Head”, or “Bats in the Belfry”.  Sign my ass up! I wanted the shit scared out of me. And that it did.


As a teen, metal music didn’t exactly help my horror hunger either. Seeing covers like AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood”, Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”, Iron Maiden’s “Piece of Mind” just added to the strife in my household between myself and the parental units. The neighbors got used to seeing albums and cassettes flying out my bedroom window and breaking on the street below. But I think the song that wrapped it up nicely for me was by a little Texas band called Dangerous Toys. The song was called “Scared” and it was dedicated to my hero, Alice Cooper. If you ever get a chance check the song out. I think you’ll feel the same way that I do about it even today.


That my little boils and ghouls is how your buddy Renfield found his way into the wonderful world of horror. I was told “You can’t watch that” and “You aren’t going to listen to that shit” as well as “We doesn’t celebrate that devil shit in this house.” And that drove me closer to horror and Halloween every time I heard it. I moved into “The Last House on the Left”, it’s “The House by the Cemetery”, at “1313 Mockingbird Lane” ever since and don’t foresee myself ever moving out.


I was engaged on Halloween. My pets are all named after horror movie villains. My man cave is decked out like a gothic dungeon filled with screen used horror props and original pressing autographed movie posters. But the best thrill comes when my neighbors volunteer to help out with crowd control at my door every Halloween. Every year a handful of parents will tell me “We come from two neighborhoods over to see you. My kids ask to drive past your house every year to see what you are doing this year.”


Today, since I did not choose a career as a mass murderer, the family doesn’t say much to me about my choices of music, movies, and literature. I’m sure it would still make them cringe, the same way “Rocky Mountain High” makes me cringe.


Grandma is now in a rest home and thinks it is great that her once blonde haired, blue eyed little man is now a long raven haired author and musician. And my mom, well she’s been on the wagon for 15 years.

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