I used to love horror movies. I utterly enjoyed the heck out of them and I was ghoulish enough to rate them on the BCI- Body Count Index...you know where you check to see if enough people are ending up dead or not.
I realized early on that the BCI is directly proportional to my enjoyment of watching the movies. There’s an equation floating around in my head somewhere but I can’t seem to retrieve it right now. It essentially says that within the first 15- 20 minutes of a horror movie starting up, if atleast 2 people haven’t died then it’s not watching. There’s a Lame-O-Meter rating too but only teens get it since they primarily use the word lame. Or used to back in the 90s.
Note: Keyword is died and not *tortured*. I don’t get off on torture. It’s got shock value but beyond that it grosses me out. Hence my extremely short-lived relationship with Rob Zombie movies and why the Hostel series just wasn’t my thing.
But horror stories were my jam and I have beautiful memories (truly) of cuddling up with my fairly straitlaced mother and snacking on Hershey’s Pudding Cups while Jason hacked his way through Camp Crystal Lake aka Camp Blood. I didn’t however, contend with the inquiring mind of a child who would interrogate me about Jason, Freddy and Myers to the extent that I would lose interest in them enough to not carry out my annual Halloween routine of atleast one horror movie.
A comparison between killing efficacy is something I can get behind but when we start applying logic to why Myers did what he did, how Jason died as a kid but started killing as a grown man with a face like roadkill or how Freddy got those Wolverine claws and why only for one hand; it hurts your head and your horror-loving soul. And don’t even get me started about the questions TO had about Hellraiser and TCM (c’mon…you know which movie this is)!
Horror is horror. Logic has no place there. Especially for the lowbrow stuff. Otherwise there would be no way that Freddy Vs Jason would’ve seen the light of day or the idea of Jason X even leaving the drawing board.
I’m so glad that TO hasn’t had a chance to see The Exorcist yet. I bet he’d have had questions about the green barf and why it was green and did it turn into another color sometime down the line.
I spent my Halloween me-time watching Shaft (2019) and realized that the word MF has also transcended the boundaries of a profanity. It is now an adjective, an adverb, a noun, a pronoun and quite possibly a sentence by itself!
My parents shared their good experiences with me by making me a part of them. Places they went to as children or travels they’d enjoyed were recreated with me so I could see what the fun was about. Places they hung out in or eateries they frequented in their youth; I’ve been to quite a few of them and have been able to sample (‘cuse the pun) things for myself.
My mother in particular, watched movies with me which were a part of her childhood- The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins etc. She introduced me to Elvis, the Beatles and of course Rabindra Sangeet- the staple food for the Bangali’s poetic soul. Given that this was the foundation laid for me, why wouldn’t I try and carry out the same with TO as well, right? Guess what? BIG MISTAKE!
I am a person who is deeply-rooted to her memories. I have a very retro-laden soul. I usually fall back on books I’ve read and reread when I need a break from the day to day. I watch movies which have proved to be hits and enjoyable no matter when I watch them. To make a long story short- my experiences associated with things are important to me. Nuff said!
The other day TO was complaining that we aren’t doing enough “family time” when it came to hanging out together and having fun. This came on the heels of us putting an end to screen time for the day. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone and have his digital media fun+have his parents around. Now in the past, us having him choose something for us to watch as a family has usually ended up being movies like The Chipmunks (high-pitched annoying gits)or yet another rerun of the same animated movie. With becoming a tween just around the corner, TO has been chomping at the bit for some “grown-up” stuff aka HORROR!
While we do give him a free hand when it comes to choosing his kiddy material, we are quite restrained when it comes to exposing him to material which is even PG-13. His can’t always compute why people do certain things so it’s easier to let him watch his dinosaur or TNMT which is fairly straightforward and doesn’t need a TED talk for clarity.
When I was his, age my mom and I used to cuddle on the big couch in the living room and watch horror movies which were usually Rated R. My mother would make sure the carnal stuff was fast forwarded or would cover my eyes and then let me watch the blood and gore without any qualms. It wasn’t her fault that the undead serial killers would usually start killing people while they were “at it”. Talk about coitus interruptus! But it boiled down this- I could take the blood and gore and wouldn’t start climbing into bed with my parents because I got scared in the middle of the night by seeing shadows on my wall after Freddy, Jason or Michael had gone on a rampage. To find a middle path with TO, we had to look for movies with some blood and gore but with next to no “adult stuff” so creature movies is what we’re usually left to choose from.
Last night we watched Deep Blue Sea– a favorite of mine since I first watched it during college and possibly after bunking a rather boring class. With DBS I discovered there could be shark movies after Jaws, Thomas Jane was a hottie and LL Cool J was funny.
What happened last night was this- an unending running commentary about who was going to die, why they ought to die, why they shouldn’t mess with sharks and a shout every time there was a remotely loud noise from the screen. This kid killed D.B.S for me! He just took it apart, shredded it and scattered those pieces willy nilly all over the place; never to be put back again. There go my plans of introducing him to Die Hard and Under Siege in due time.
I love my kid but he can’t mess with the classics! I guess we have a long road of Jurassic Park and World reruns in our future before he’s all out of his “special inputs” while the movie runs.
And as for horror movies; they’re permanently on the back burner. Can you imagine watching The Exorcist and having a barrage of questions about why the girl’s head turned back 180 degrees or why she barfed up green vomit or why Michael Meyers never talks or why Jason’s mask rarely comes off?
I can totally imagine being interrogated about why Samara Morgan’s hair is all over her face instead of being brushed over like normal undead killers…gimme a break!
I had a LONG discussion, just before bedtime, with TO about Annabelle. How the whole thing came about, why a doll of all things, how possession takes place, how a possessed item can go on a killing spree and how it was different from Child’s Play. Just what every mother wants for her child to dwell on before he closes his eyes for the night and dreams happy thoughts.
But I am glad that he’s asking questions and showing interest in things which have greatly entertained me while I was growing up and continue to do so even now.
While I’ve stopped going into raptures at the thought of a horror moviethon or stopped setting up playlists for Halloween and Friday the 13th, I still enjoy the silent menace of Meyers, the freakishness of Freddy and the…the…dang! There aren’t any horror adjectives that alliteratively go with Jason. Sorry dude..you’ll always be my go-to undead villain though.
Among the newer scary movies, the Conjuring-verse isn’t unique by any means but it’s well-executed. With demonic dolls, spooky spectral and nasty nuns (see what I did there? Alliterate this baby!); the series is slick, has enough creepy moments without getting into utter gore and becoming a slash fest.
I mean while buckets of blood and entrails had their allure once upon a time, nothing can beat the chill of an evil spirit advancing steadily toward someone while they’re back-up against a wall with nowhere to go! Or maybe something a bit more innocuous like suddenly seeing someone who shouldn’t be there.
But before the whole world, especially my father, starts judging me about my topic of discussion with my only flesh and blood, let me just say that time spent together with the parents in any kind of an activity that brings enjoyment, is an investment in good memories for a lifetime. Even ones with horror movies.
My memories of horror movies are mainly linked with my mother. Not because she’s demonic (the woman’s practically a saint!) but because she stuck up for me when my father used to make a noise about me watching rated-R stuff and watching people get killed by creatures/beings who keep coming back even after being killed in each installment of a series.
She didn’t mind that there would be blood and that a 10 year old would be watching something that would lead to a lifetime’s interest in the creepy and spooky. It was a fun mother-daughter activity that my father cringed at and I think that was part of the allure.
What’s funny now is looking back at the two of us, huddled on a single couch; me with a Hershey’s pudding cup in my hand and my mother covering my eyes whenever nudity came on the screen and removing her hand whenever the killing started. Because for some reason, all the serial killers, dead or undead, are pervs. They get their rocks off killing people mid-make out session. Total coitus interruptus if there ever was one.
My mom never minded seeing Jason stab someone through the gut with a harpoon or a fireplace poker for that matter. Likewise she was a-ok with Freddy putting some hapless kid’s head through the tv and putting holes in someone else’s body with this knived-gloves.
Once she saw me sit through the Exorcist and The Omen, she knew the blood and gore wouldn’t mess with my head. More importantly I didn’t do what my kid is currently doing- asking an unending series of questions about “why” someone is being killed. Why are they being killed in a particular way. Why did Pennywise eat the kids? Why does Pennywise have a red balloon? Why does he stay in the sewer yada yada yada.
I started off this post with the intent to say that it was a bit tough but terribly interesting talking to my kid about the occult. I ended up missing my mom instead. I think 2020 is turning out to be a year full of revelations. Imagine, missing a 70+ years grandma who knits and sews, whenever I watch horror movies. Slightly incongruous but then such is life. I hope TO and I get to make our own, slightly whacked-out memories in the years to come. I’d love to see his reaction to Pinhead!