THE HORROR THAT MAKES ME

This was originally posted on June 21st, 2016 in a post titled: A Thank You to Horror - My Journey to Nocturnal Visions. In lieu of writing a top 10 list, I decided to post a list of films that impacted me the most and helped instill in me the love of the genre that I carry to this day, and will carry the rest of my life. The entire article can be read at the link above, below is an abridged version containing only the list.




Scream (1996) – Wes Craven/Kevin Williamson

Unfortunately I was born 20 years too late to experience the true heyday of the slasher film. I never got to experience Michael stalking Laurie, or Freddie turning Glen into a human puree on the majesty of the silver screen. One thing I will never forget though is when Scream was released in 1997. Scream was more than just another average slasher movie, it challenged the conventions of the horror film not through subtle symbolism but by bringing the overused clich√©’s, that seemed to be the genre’s downfall, to the front and center of the plot. It was aware, it knew what it was doing and more importantly it knew what it was trying to accomplish. It was visceral, it was wonderful, it was Wesfucking Craven at the top of his game.

The entire Scream franchise is in fact on my top 10 list, I love these films. It is the only franchise that I love top to bottom, and the first entry is the reason that I love slasher films in general. I may not have been lucky enough to live through the glory days of the original baddies, but my generation has Ghostface and that’s just fine with me. 

Event Horizon (1997) – Paul W.S. Anderson/Philip Eisner & Andrew Kevin Walker

Most people have their “first memory” of something pleasant, like a Christmas morning, or their birthday. Maybe it’s getting their first puppy; something along those lines. One of the very first memories that I have, if not the first, would be my father taking me to see Event Horizon when it was released in theaters. I remember screaming and crying, begging to be taken out of the theater where I sat in the hallway until the movie ended. I even remember going back into the theater, and the sound design alone was enough to send me back into a fit of teary-eyed convulsions ultimately leading back to the safety of the popcorn scented hallway.

It seems like most people who grow up to be life long fans of the genre have one thing in common. There was that one film that they came across when they were little that petrified them on a subconscious level. I think that this kind of thing is ultimately what led me to be such a massive fan of the genre. I now own Event Horizon, and it is one of my favorite flicks to toss on when there’s nothing else to watch. I may have a very severe case of “nostalgia goggles” with this film, but I love the mythology behind it and I think it’s a pretty underrated flick in the grand scheme of things. You can read my review here.

Friday the 13th (1980) – Sean S. Cunningham/Victor Miller

Come to think of it, a lot of these entries are in here due to my father. I don’t know what that says about him, but he showed me a shit ton of horror films. I think that, partially, he liked to laugh at my fear but I also like to think that he wanted to find some way to bond with me. Regardless, when mom went out of town, dad showed me horror films andFriday the 13th was at the top of his list. For many people when asked what comes to mind when they think of a horror film they will rattle off one of three names, if not all three. I don’t think I need to name them, but up until I was about 10 years old Friday the 13th or Child’s Play summed up the entire genre for me.  While Friday helped give birth to the modern slasher genre as we know it (in league with Halloween of course), the first film played more as a whodunit than a traditional slasher film, leading to one of the greatest twists the genre has to offer. To this day, when I think of classic American horror, Friday the 13th is the first film to pop into mind.  




The Omen (1976) – Richard Donner/David Seltzer

What’s more terrifying than any serial killer, vampire, werewolf, monster or zombie? How about Satan himself? And what’s even scarier than that? Satan in a handbasket, in the form of an adorable British child in the cutest little hat you’ve ever seen.

Yet another film that I credit the first viewing of to good ‘ol pops, The Omen sparked a massive change in the way that I viewed the horror genre as a whole. Going from morbid curiosity, and viewings spent glimpsing through meshed fingers, I began to grow curious about these films. I began to realize that they didn’t terrify me quite as much and after I first watched The OmenI found that I wanted to watch it again. I wanted to learn everything I could about it. I purchased the film, I watched the special features repeatedly, and that was when the roots of a life long fascination (and obsession) began. The Omen is one of the most important films in the history of the genre, and I will definitely be writing an entire piece revolving around the impact that the film had on the world, as well as the genre itself.
 


The Exorcist (1973) – William Friedkin/William Peter Blatty

Shortly after my first viewing of The Omen, I had an insatiable urge to watch as many films as I could. Next up on dad’s list was the most infamous of them all, The Exorcist, which mom had strictly forbidden me from watching (and him from showing me). Of course, the next time she went out of town he came home from Blockbuster with a copy in tow and we settled in for a viewing. The excitement was palpable, I can still remember thinking that I was about to watch something that was going to change my life and in many ways it did.

Those of us who were born long after the release of the film have all grown up hearing about The Exorcist; the legends and tales of people passing out in theaters and vomiting in the aisles. I vividly remember when The Version You’ve Never Seen was released into theaters. The lines of people waiting to see it and quiet whispers made me all that much more curious about the film. In all reality The Exorcist was a spectacle, it was and is so much more than a film. While I can ramble on and on about this, I’ve already written a review (that pretty much turned into an appreciation piece) that you can read here. It goes further into depth as to what this film means to me as well.



Se7en (1995) – David Fincher/Andrew Kevin Walker

As the years progressed I watched more and I read more. I continued to fall in love with the genre, and when I was in high school a friend recommended that I rent David Fincher’s 1995 flick, Se7en. At the time, I had a deep fascination with serial killers, which my father also helped foster. As a man from the FBI, he kept me stocked with books on the topic; it was another way that we could bond. I don’t know what I expected when I sat down to watch the film, but it certainly wasn’t what I got and I was instantly hooked. Se7en was when I went from viewing horror as films strictly about ghosts and demons to realizing that horror could showcase perhaps the most terrifying thing of all, the human psyche. From there I began to dive into a whole new world of horror, which quickly became my favorite subgenre. To this day Se7en remains one of my favorite horror films and even my horror-obsessed girlfriend finds it strange that I ask if we can fall asleep to it.



The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – Tobe Hooper/Kim Henkle

As I just mentioned with Se7en, there came a time when my tastes began to shift a little bit. While Se7en put the shift into place, there was one flick that carried me to the next level, and that was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I don’t think that I will ever have an experience like I did when viewing this film for the first time. Raw, visceral and borderline voyeuristic, it’s akin to watching a gang of killers film their evil deeds and shove the footage in your face, whether you want it or not. I distinctly remember watching the credits begin their crawl, unsure of how to feel. The only thing that I knew is that I needed to clean my bedroom and everything else I owned. To put it lightly, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a film that stays with you.



Texas Chain Saw is one of my godfather films, along with The Exorcist and The Shining, that are untouchable in my eyes. No matter what films come and go, these three will never be topped. TCM has resonated with me in a way that I find hard to describe, and to this day I still get a chill down my spine every time I watch it. It’s one of the few horror films that I would call a perfect film, from beginning to end and as a proud native of Texas I love it all the more.

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