I never considered myself a horror fan. I think it has to do with me being such a 'fraidy cat as a kid. Remember that movie Little Monsters? There's a scene early on where one of the monsters pushes in the eyeball of either a kid or another monster. I can't remember which anymore, I just remember being scared that someone would do that to me. The shrunken head guy in the waiting room in Beetlejuice forced me to turn the movie off. I don't remember how far in we got in The Witches, I just know we never finished it and it gave me nightmares for weeks afterward. I don't think I was able to look directly at Large Marge until I was in my 20s, and my brother and I ritualistically watched Peewee's Big Adventure during most of our childhood. I spent a lot of time as a kid burying myself under the covers so the monsters couldn't get me and running down hallways because I thought I saw something. Who am I kidding, this happened as recently as after I saw I Am Legend.. I was totally convinced I was going to find those vamps/zombies huddled in every dark room of my house waiting to kill me.
The strange thing is that while visual representations of horror always had this effect on me, reading it was a whole different issue. It started with Christopher Pike books when I was in 6th or 7th grade. After awhile though, I got tired of them, as they all seemed to have the same pattern: innocent girl has a crush on a boy and wants to sleep with him. Boy ends up being some type of monster who tries to kill her, her family and her friends. My friends were reading R. L Stine books, but they all just looked so thin that I figured they had to be below my reading level. Then The Stand miniseries came out. I was crushing pretty hard on Corin Nemec at that point so I just had to watch it. I loved it and immediately wanted to read the book. My dad was a big reader of all of Stephen King's books, so we had a copy and I asked him if I could read it. I loved that even more than the mini-series since it was so much more in depth. To the kids at school I was now the weirdo who read 800+ page books, but I didn't care.
We had this used book store in town that let you trade in a book or two for another one. I would read through a King book then bring it back to the store and get the next one. If there was a movie that was made from the book, I would go to the store and rent it, but most of the time I was so disappointed at how not like the book they were, I'm not sure why I bothered. I absolutely refused to see the movie version of The Lawnmower Man because it was so obvious they had just taken the title with the excuse to use King's name and nothing else. I loved that short story so much that they really tapped into my geek rage with that one. (I highly recommend picking up Night Shift, not just for that one but because I think King's short stories are some of his best work.)
I was able to justify watching those movies because I figured that for the most part I already knew what was going to happen, so it would all be ok. I would have to go into the horror section to get these movies, and I remember glancing at all the various covers, usually full of skeletons or blood, and being petrified of the movies that lay inside. Does anyone know of a movie that had a skeleton cheerleader on the cover? I can't remember the name anymore, I just remember always seeing that and being freaked out. Another one I remember distinctly was the old Dead Alive cover. I don't know what it is that made me so scared of skeletons as a kid, but they featured a lot in nightmares along with an ET like creature with really long skinny legs.
I've been watching a lot of movies lately, particularly older movies since a lot of what's out right now is so derivative and I'd much rather see something original. I make my picks based on what I find on the internet. North by Northwest got mentioned in a few different places, so I rented it and loved it. Most recently, for whatever reason, it keeps being horror films. I've watched both the original Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as Night of the Living Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street over the last couple of months. I really enjoyed every one of these movies. While I didn't really expect the old Universal monsters to scare me, I was surprised that there was nothing in NOTLD or NOES that scared me at all. It probably would have as a kid, but now I just found them to be creepy and fun. Really fun. So fun that I'm going to watch all the NOES movies, even though I know a good portion of them are considered horrible by most fans. (Don't try to talk me out of this. People tried to tell me to not bother with Alien 3 or Resurrection, and I insisted on watching those anyway because I'm a completist.) I also figure I need to start checking out all the other slasher films, and I definitely want to watch the original Wolf Man...
There's something incredibly exciting about discovering you like something that you originally thought you never could. There are hundreds of films now just sitting out there waiting for me to enjoy them. The silly thing is I've been avoiding them way too long. I've always loved dystopian novels for the way they show a society gone wrong, often taken to it's most extreme conclusion. Most horror stories tend to do the same thing - they play with our fears of the unknown and the consequences of people's actions taken to extreme lengths. Whether I realized it or not, I've been a horror fan all along.
Any opinions on which movies I need to watch ASAP are greatly welcomed.. just realize I'm probably never going to watch The Human Centipede or Cannibal Holocaust. My imagination may not be as scared as it used to be, but my stomach still has its limits.