I love horror movies.
The first one I remember was House of Wax, which came out when I was seven. I knew something was up when my brother, who was well on his way to teenage mischief by then, told my parents that movie was a love story. Even then I wondered why he wanted us to go see a love story when there were a lot of Westerns out. It was even stranger when they handed out 3D glasses, but I put mine on to see love up close.
It wasn’t a love story, but I fell in love that night with scary horror movies.
For those who don’t love horror (and that’s most of the people I know), House of Wax was one of those Vincent-Price-at-his-worst movies. Although I didn’t understand why someone would want to set fire to his own wax museum, I did realize someone had done something really bad, and the scene of people melting scenes of people melting like wax stayed with me for a long time.
Anyway, dead bodies started disappearing from the morgue (a word I think I first heard on Dragnet, but I wasn’t sure). There was a lot of darkness and scary music, and this crazy guy wanted to make some girl into a wax figure of Marie Antoinette. At the time I didn’t know who she was, but later I made some dolls which I dressed like her. It was also my first time hearing the word guillotine (I never learned how to spell it, though, or had an occasion to use one). Blood was everywhere, people screamed; my mother wouldn’t look.
My parents were horrified, my brother smirked, and I couldn’t wait until the next monster was ready to hit theaters to scare me. Anyway, my life of horror films had begun. And it continued through the years.
Eventually, my attic, filled with Christmas decorations and patriotic Independence Day symbols, had a new section for Halloween. Over the years, I had fun collecting some of the worst examples of witches with scary laughs, bloody creatures who lunge toward unsuspecting visitors, along with several devil and skeleton costumes.
I couldn’t wait until the 99 Cents store, Costco, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Target all stocked their Halloween decorations on the shelves. As soon as the calendar turned to October, severed hands; cookie jars in the shape of pumpkins; and Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Vincent Prince lookalikes are strategically placed around my antiques and furniture. Dracula actually looked comfortable next to my fragile antique fans.
My favorite movie of all time is Scanners, the 1981 film known to most people as “the one where people’s heads explode.” In 1981, my kids were seven and two. I loved being their mother and Aaron’s wife. Every minute of the day was taken up with household and business chores. And yet I somehow found a way to see Scanners five or six times when it first opened.
I don’t know what the appeal was. I remember one review that said the special effects were “uproariously revolting.”
There have been lots more great horror movies since way back then, but when Halloween rolls around in October I often think about the fun I had sitting in the theater watching House of Wax.