In My First Time, I will cover some of the memories I have of my first encounters with various horror films over the course of my life. As with most anyone who reads this, childhood stories growing up with horror movies, TV edits and weekend video store trips will be plentiful. There may be some laughs, some scares, complete idiocy and who knows what else. Every now and again, a movie may blow me away. Hell, in some cases... I may not have actually seen the movie at all. Anything goes.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
I can remember talking with my stepcousin about Jason Goes to Hell before its release. It seemed like a pretty universal belief that most kids just thought Jason was gonna be hackin' up every demon in sight, right? Well, not so fast. I don't remember much about my first viewing of the film except for one thing... the tent scene. Even in its R-cut form, the sexually graphic and superbly violent scene filled my 9 year old heart with all the awesomeness I needed. That awesomeness turned to fear the next afternoon when my stepcousin decided to play the VHS again on his family's main TV... right in the open with my uncle and everyone else outside on the deck. As the tent scene approached... I got nervous, looking over my shoulder to make sure no one saw the bangin' and carnage about to happen. Why I was nervous, I have no idea. No one gave a damn what we were watching! And if you need some proof of that...
My aforementioned stepcousin, my uncle, and I were at my childhood video store I hold nearest to my heart. It was there I rented Transformers cartoons and every WWF Coliseum Video tape they had over the years. But on this day, we were looking to rent horror. And somewhere around the bead stranded covered XXX room so the kiddies couldn't see in, I discovered Vampire Hookers. And by the way, those beads thankfully didn't really cover shit. I don't know why it wasn't in the actual horror section, but there was said tape with a most alluring title.
And in all of my maybe 8 years of wisdom, I'd learned what a hooker was and showed it to my stepcousin, wanting to rent it for the boobs. He laughed or said maybe, who knows by now? But we went on looking and we ran into my uncle in the store (probably just exiting that XXX room) who asked us what we were getting. My (older) stepcousin lifted up the big ass Vampire Hookers box and said, "Brett wants this one!" to which my uncle nonchalantly replied, "Well, get it". And that's why my childhood was great. For whatever reason, however, we never did rent Vampire Hookers that night.
Like Jason Goes to Hell before it, me and my stepcousin blundered up the concept of the first Tales from the Crypt movie. Or at least, that was my recollection until years later I learned that there was of course, the great Amicus film from 1972. The silent K threw us off, but it was still very much of a Demon Night. I was super excited to see the Cryptkeeper, my only experience with Tales were a couple episodes my stepcousin had on hand dubbed off of TV. What an experience it was, with all the violence and gore I could have imagined and even cooler cover art, which by this time, my favorite childhood store had closed and the new place let you take the cover art home with your tape, a neat feature for us at the time. We both loved the movie, and we eagerly anticipated renting the forthcoming Bordello of Blood. Unfortunately, the tape of my memory bank has had the first viewing of that one erased over.
We're really traveling far back with this one, I couldn't have been any older than 5 by the time I got a taste of the Chuck, and throughout the years, he's been a franchise favorite for me, as well as many younger members of my family. It was an easy series to get a little kid hooked on horror, and it had me right on the line. So much so that I can remember after viewing the movie that I had nightmares of the charred Chucky remains. A decapitated, burnt up Chucky head, to be succinct, resting on the stovetop in my childhood home's kitchen. What the fuck? This may not have been the first time and certainly wouldn't be the last time a horror movie gave me nightmares...
Probably my favorite nightmare of all time (though I've had some great dreams I can't really tell you about) involved the movie Ghost Story, a little haunter that doesn't get the credit it deserves. We were in a fort that we'd build with blankets, complete with a roof and all kinds of chips, pop and bars held within. The shitty thing about spending so much time at my cousins' growing up was there was no turning back. We'd rent horror flicks every weekend, I was young. I would get scared. We'd be alone in the basement in the dark and I'd glance over in the fort at my stepcousin. If he was awake, everything was cool. But when he would fall asleep - which he always did well before me, it was something like a marijuana edible trip gone bad.
It's midnight or later, I'm alone with Ghost Story and everyone else is asleep. It started off great with some Alice Krige full frontal nudity (which I was sure to tell my stepcousin about in the morning), but eventually I was terrified. So much so, I had a nightmare about the Alice Krige character becoming trapped (as a ghost) underneath a collapsing haunted house. For years, I thought this was the actual ending of the film. Au contraire... it was my nightmare tangled with the characters of the movie that I remembered.
There were 2-4 video stores in town, plus the obligatory 7-11s and gas station selections. I'd frequent 2 at any given time, but others I wasn't familiar with. They were either too far out of the way or maybe my parents didn't have memberships at them. Or, more likely, I never had any trouble finding tapes at my favorite one, so branching out wasn't something I had to do. On main street, there was a video store with its name on an old style Pepsi sign and me and my stepcousin (again) were there looking for new shit. My only memory was a horror movie with Virgin in its title. I figured out what it was years later, because we never got to lay eyes on its frames. For whatever reason, we thought a movie with Virgin in its title would have tons of nudity. So, we rented it. Inside the fort, we opened the case like a little plastic coffin. Its contents... the wrong tape. This is the only time I've ever wanted a use a sad smilie on OTH... there were no virgins for us that day.
I'm not gonna say there are too many Goddamn Witchcraft movies, but the shit got a little out of hand in the mid 90s and turn of the century. Inside the fort with my stepcousin, we were fans. This time, we had the fucking fort to end all forts, though. Instead of building one around the basement family room television, we took his old piece of shit TV into an open area, and built a fort with a TV right inside it, complete with a roof and multiple rooms. We had life by the ass. I remember being familiar with the series, but asking how the fuck there were so many of these flicks so fast (when a 10 year old horror franchise fan is asking this, you've really outdone yourself). It must have been around parts 2-8, and I remember a holy man putting it in some chick and saying "praise the lord...". If anyone can tell me which Witchcraft this is, I'd love to see that scene again. I just don't know if I have a marathon that shitty in me these days to find which one it is for myself...
Leaving the horror memories of my early childhood behind, let us bounce ahead to my adolescence and realistically, my first viewing of the film that'd change my outlook on horror forever. A new video store opened up in town and was here to stay - that is until it eventually met its final demise as a Movie Gallery. By now, there was internet and I was learning about classics I'd never heard of. The most important being The Evil Dead. This new video store had it. I was pumped and rented it to watch with my sister and her friend who was visiting from out of town. This would have been about '97 or super early '98. My stepcousin was now in high school and I probably wasn't even a teenager. My sister and her friend fell victim to a similar age gap conundrum. When her friend came to visit, my sister wanted to ride bikes and do kid stuff, but her friend was now a bit older and was more into just hanging out. Armed with a handful of tapes, a 19" TV and VCR in my bedroom, after one movie my sister got bored and left. Day had turned to night in this movie marathon... time to bring out the Dead.
I put the VHS in and the movie and my early Evil Dead impressions of things up until the tree scene are nonexistent. I just laid on my bed with my sister's friend on the floor watching everything on the screen unfold into complete and utter mayhem. Never before had I seen a movie that was so unrelenting and insane. It made everything I'd ever seen before look like baby stuff and may have been my first lesson in discovering just how shallow the action and plot was in so many horror films I'd seen as a kid. I was mesmerized and this movie experience catapulted me into a full on horror addict for a span that lasted over a decade. I was like a junkie looking for a horror fix - and rarely, if ever did the horror high get as good as it was that first time with Evil Dead glowing from my cheap television. It was almost like Sam Raimi had crafted The Evil Dead out of my very own imagination or expectation of what a horror movie should accomplish that none quite did until that night. The ultimate experience in grueling terror, indeed.
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