On the Art of Fright

WARNING:  this entry contains clips of gross horror movie stuff.

My friend Jamie recently posted about having seen The Conjuring over the weekend.  A single sentence was all it took to TOTALLY convince me to see it:

I have never in my life screamed so high and so much.


For those of you who don’t know me particularly well:  I adore being scared shitless.  It’s probably my favorite thing ever, or at least up there with Sriracha, Billy Squier, and naps. 

A few years ago, I stumbled onto this treasure trove of scary stuff.  Kindertrauma is dedicated to all things that frightened us as children.  I rediscovered movies and commercials that I had buried deep in my subconscious.  It made me utterly, utterly happy.  It still does.

It made me think back, though, through my history of so-bad-they’re-awesome scares.  I am singularly “fortunate” in that my mother is a horror buff.  In fact, I have a theory that she had me and my siblings just so she could fill our heads with all kinds of nasty stories, creating – if you will –pint-sized, walking Encyclopediae Horrifica.  Her legacy.  To that end, I was allowed to watch horror movies on Saturday afternoons, I was allowed to stay up and watch horror movies that were too horrible for Saturday afternoons, and she taught me this song when I was but a wee bairn:

So, if I were hard-pressed to come up with my earliest recollection of being deeply freaked out, I’d say it was the whole “lady walking around holding her severed head” thing.  I was horrified-yet-fascinated by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for similar reasons.  And don’t get me started on the French Revolution (Did I mention my mother was also a high school history teacher at one point?  I was doomed from the womb, kids.).  Decapitation.  Yeah.  That was a big one.


This record was another one.  I’m fairly certain it made me wet my pants a couple of times, but that didn’t stop me from listening to it over and over and OVER (I still own it, by the by, and you can come over and listen to it if you want, but you have to bring chips, and Depends).

Oh!  And Lady Elaine Fairchilde scared me, too.  What the FUCK?!

imagesIn terms of actual movies that scared me, though?  Loads. 


For a lonnnnng time, I believed that I hallucinated this one as the result of some kind of feverish stupor (I was often sick as a kid, and had to be nursed through bouts of German measles, chicken pox, mumps, impetigo, staph infections, and a case of lymphadenitis that kept me out of school for a month in fourth grade).  Turns out – this movie really did happen.  Thank God for YouTube. 

(As an aside, when I showed this to Coombsie, he stared at it, hard, and said, “Huh.  I think that kid playing the ghost wound up being in Repo Man.”  He’s totally right.)


Listen, I know when you watch this stuff NOW it looks completely cheesy and not AT ALL frightening.  But a lot of Tom Baker-era “Doctor Who” scarred me for life.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  “The Brain of Morbius” was fucking TERRIFYING to me as a seven-year-old.  I mean, THEY STUCK HIS BRAIN ON TOP OF THIS…THING.

Brain_of_MorbiusWITH A GIANT CLAW.  AWFUL.  And Sarah Jane Smith’s been all blind and stuff but she’s starting to see again and OH MY GOD DON’T TURN AROUND, SARAH JANE SMITH.  AAAAUUUUUUGGGGH!

(For some reason, my sister and I decided that burning marshmallows looked like the Brain of Morbius, so we spent one summer dropping them into the barbeque grill in the backyard while yelling “MOORRRRRRRBIUS!”  True story.)

And then, you know, duh:

The very early Eighties brought with them the hideous one-two punch of icky-face-meaty-thing scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Poltergeist.

My mother, naturally, took us to see BOTH of these movies.  You know – these were state-of-the-art films we’re talking about here.  She wanted us to be exposed to, uh, “history.”  Because “Raiders…” was kind of based on history.  Yeah.

Look, it’s not as if she went to these movies by herself and LEFT US IN THE CAR, right?

Just the other day I posted this to my sister’s Facebook page.  It makes us laugh and laugh and laugh.

Unfortunately, all these years of taking in all of this horror has made me really picky.  I was beyond excited to see The Blair Witch Project, having bought into all of the hype, and when I actually saw it, I was FURIOUS.  LIVID.  Because that movie SUCKED.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I remember ranting about it at a party not long afterwards, and a friend of mine kind of sneered at me, saying, “Oh, what, so a movie has to have HUGE SPECIAL EFFECTS for it to be scary?”  And I was all, “NO.  A movie has to NOT SUCK, special effects be damned.”  Plus, it gave me a blazing headache.  Ugh.  I don’t even want to open that can of worms again.  You people who loved that movie go batshit insane whenever someone criticizes it.  I’m done.

Anyway.  I had my doubts about The Conjuring.  But I trust Jamie, so I’m going to go see it.

One thought on “On the Art of Fright

  1. Yeah, Blair Witch kind of left me cold. Though that was due in part to my own cluelessness. “What was that right at the end with him looking out the window?” “No, he was standing in the CORNER, dumbass.” “Why would he…ohhh. OK.”

    Peewee’s Big Adventure was way scarier.

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