Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to Scare the Children Theatre

I loved horror movies as a kid. Loved 'em. When I was a kid and we lived in the dorms at Mississippi State, every summer Friday night I'd walk down the hall to the communal TV and catch "Friday Night Frights." I'd spend my Scholastic book ordering money on monster books, so I knew all the monster's backstories.

Consequently, while I was scared of a lot of things in life (little yappy dogs, teenagers, lightning, etc.), horror movies didn't really scare me too much, mostly because I knew that they were made up, and that the chances of me running into a vampire or Frankenstein in Starkeville, Mississippi were pretty rare. My parents did take some archaeology classes, though, which freaked me out; everyone knows archaeology is all full of vengeful mummies and curses that can turn your kid into an orphan.

However, there were a few movies/TV shows that scared the crap out of me.

Sesame Street
The Count always sort of freaked me out. No, not because he was a little plush Bela Lugosi, but the fact that he had to count everything really rubbed me the wrong way. "Why? I know he's a Dracula, and they do weird stuff, but why can't he just stop counting?"

The Swarm
Saw this when I was about 8 with a friend in the theater. It's about killer bees coming up from Mexico and biting the hell out of people. The thing that really got me is the shot of a schoolyard (I think, I haven't watched it in years) where they show a dead little kid's hand clutching one of those big lollipops while bees walked over the sweet, sweet candy. That night my friend and I lost a lot of sleep due to the air conditioner's bee-like buzzing. I think we might have sealed up the windows and doors with towels just as a precaution.

So in this movie, Face from "The A Team" gets turned into a snake by a mad scientist. I'm not really sure why the scientist wanted to turn people into snakes, that's just the sort of thing you do, I suppose. The most horrifying part is the rejected man/snake hybrid:

I recently re-watched this, and yeah, it's still pretty creepy. But what was even more terriying than the creepy snake-man was the fact that my friend's mom was chain smoking while we were watching the movie. My mom had drummed into me the horrors of second-hand smoke and I was sure I was slowly dying of lung cancer as I watched a man turn into a snake.

The Legend of Lizzie Borden
So I watched this when I was probably 13 or so, much too old to be scared by anything on TV. It started the woman from "Bewitched" as the parent killing Lizzie Borden, and was a made for TV movie. How bad could it be?
Well, there's all this stuff about how the dad had a funeral home in the basement and it was sort of implied there was some bad touching going on down there among the corpses. I seem to remember that Lizzie knocks out a blood tube from one of the bodies as well that goes all over the place squirting blood. Later in the movie, Lizzie strips down so she won't get blood on her clothes while hacking up her parents. "Wow! Naked Bewitched lady," I think. "Now we're talking. Ahhhh! She's chopping up her parents!" The whole arousal/fear thing overloaded my teenage brain and freaked me out for days afterwards.

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