In October of 1998, twenty years ago now, I went with a friend to the theater. Bride of Chucky was our film for the day. While seeing all the original Child’s Play films in the comfort of my own home, the desire to see Chucky on the big screen was too great to pass up. Plus this time they included a girl doll. Tiffany. While most people wondered why I would want to see such a film in the theater, this did make my desire any less to do so.
Back in 2003 during the previews of Bad Santa I encountered the trailer for Mindhunters (2004). I immediately became intrigued by the idea within the film. I found myself checking constantly to see the film’s release date. Eventually, before going on a beach vacation, the film was finally in theaters! Afraid of missing the feature, this was one I knew that I had to go see immediately before vacationing. After all, I had been waiting a little over a year to actually view the film. When one waits this long waiting longer is not exactly a person’s strong suit.
When I first started watching horror films, The Exorcist (1973) is the one film that everyone told me to avoid. This built-up hype surrounding it that made me fearful. What if I did not like this film that everyone else adored? What if the film really scared me so bad that I was not able to sleep? All these little nagging fears and thoughts in my head. One day I finally bit the bullet and decided that these fears would not win. As I walked into the video store that afternoon, straight to the horror section I went. With such a classic piece of cinema locating the feature was not difficult at all. Soon getting in line was the only thing standing between me and the movie.
This is an odd confession, but the first time I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street I was in the fourth grade. I was making a float of Six Flags Over Georgia for the parade that all fourth graders had to make at Clarkdale Elementary. At the time, I believe the film was on UPN and I can remember hearing that if I could handle Freddy Kruger no horror film I could not handle. In many ways I still find an odd truth about that statement.
Sleepaway Camp (1983) is part of a series of films that I mostly watched entirely backwards thanks to my father. Why? Because one night my dad stumbled across the Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) on a movie channel and he knew these films would become some of my favorites. He was right. They are so insanely cheesy and why I love them. A good cheesy horror film is just as good as one sometimes that can scare the hell out of me. Many eighties horror could probably fall into the cheese category instead of the frightening category. Granted, I have horror films I will talk about later that fall into the latter category for sure, but for now a discussion Sleepaway Camp is a must!
Back in 1998, a group of friends and I immersed ourselves in various local urban legends. As I listened to the stories that traveled around the area, I became even more fascinated by the legends after viewing the film Urban Legend during its opening weekend. For years afterward I bought and read random books on urban legends around the world. Finally, I found an encyclopedia of sorts on them, but not as nice as the one in the film sadly. If only.
On Halloween in 1999, my father and I headed to our old Regal Cinemas that was transformed into a church. This was the first year of viewing a new horror film on Halloween every year. This was a couple of weeks after we viewed the remake of The Haunting (1963). Both films were good film choices, but ultimately House on Haunted Hill won for our Halloween viewing. This is not to say the remake of The Haunting is awful, but House on Haunted Hill has always been my favorite of the two films.
Oh how the rating system has changed. While most of the ratings are on films to give a parent guidance as to what their children can watch sometimes those films deserve a viewing beforehand all the same. The reason I say this is because Poltergeist (1982). The feature garnered a PG rating. Yes, PG. So when it came on HBO one day when I was home sick from school, my mother thought it would be okay for me to watch. She knew that watching a horror film would keep me entertained and take my mind away from the fact I was sick.
A couple of years after Candyman (1992) was released, some kids in my class were talking about the film. For some reason or another most of the kids I knew started watching horror films before I did. This meant that most of my friends started watching them before they were nine years old. A little too young? Probably so, but we still found ourselves enamored in this culture that probably could have waited until we were teenagers.