I remember the very first scary movie I ever saw. OK – not really, my mom loved scary movies, so I’ve been watching them since I fell asleep at the Drive-In when King Kong came out in ’76. But I remember the first time a scary movie ever really scared me.
Springtime in West Virginia is always wonderful. The snow has melted, the trees are bright green once again, flowers are in bloom everywhere. School is out and everyone’s looking forward to summer camp. That is until that fateful spring of 1980 – when the horror movie to end all horror movies was released on this unsuspecting child of 6. I think it was my aunt who took me to the cinema, knowing how much I had enjoyed the truly macabre classics like Amityville Horror and The Exorcist as well as some less critically acclaimed gems such as I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left, I’m sure she thought that this would just be one more horror flick that she could enjoy with me. I don’t blame her – there’s no way she could have known that this movie would effect my summer and actually my whole life.
The film I’m speaking of is Friday the 13th. I don’t know if it was the movie itself, or the fact that I was about to head out to summer camp, or just the fact that I was now old enough to really comprehend the horror of watching people being brutally murdered. I remember crying and trying desperately to tear my eyes away as camp counselor after camp counselor was stalked, hunted and ultimately killed in increasingly more and more horrendous ways. But I was stuck there in my theater seat, unable to move, destined to watch every single frame, feel every single stab, and experience every single death along with those poor people.
Their screams of terror bore into my very soul. The spray of their blood haunted my dreams. The sound of leaves crunching underfoot brought shivers up my back. For YEARS after I saw the movie. I developed a fear of the dark that I never had before. All of a sudden, I went from a easy-going, laid-back kid, to a jumpy, fretful and worried kid. I just knew that someday the bad guy would get me and hack me up into little pieces too.
It’s many, many, many years later now🙂 and while I still like a good horror movie from time to time, I don’t watch those slash and dice flicks at all anymore. I’m not convinced that some horrible man is going to hunt me down and murder me anymore, but if I want to be perfectly honest, I still have that dream every once in a while and wake up with my adrenaline pumping and my heart racing.
As I think about this younger generation, I wonder what ghosts they’re going to grow up with. I’ve never seen a Saw movie, but you’re hard-pressed to find anyone between the ages of 20 and 30 who hasn’t seen at least the first one. What in the world must their dreams be like? As special effects and CGI gets more and more realistic, how damaging are these movies on our psyches?
I know that we all have nightmares from time to time, but if I can choose what to put into my imagination, then maybe it will help to control what comes out of it in the realm of dreams. So… if I could choose, I’ll choose nightmares filled with Smileys and Kittehs. You know, something I think I could take if it jumped me in a dark alley.
Filed under: Self-reflection