Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scary Stuff!

Still nothing artwise to post. Works been rough. But as I was reading Todd Dezago's blog today and all the creepy stuff people were posting, I was reminded of when Mike and I were kids and the things that scared us most. I was youngest and, so, everything scared me. My parents like to reminisce about when the opening sequence to the ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK would send me screaming out of the room.

There was this strange light effect that was part of it that looked, to my four-year-old eyes, like flaming daggers shooting at me from the screen. Couldn't take it.

Much later, when we were back living in the states, I remember being frightened nearly to death by two movies that aired on television. Well, one aired, the other was a trailer. The trailer was for a film called BEYOND THE DOOR that appears to be a cheap European knock-off of THE EXORCIST but has some really creepy stuff going on. Mike and I talked about this trailer for years and could never find the movie it went with. Fortunately, you can find just about anything on YouTube. Watch this and tell me you wouldn't have crapped your pants as a kid. Hell, it still freaks me out.

The second film was called LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. My young mind latched onto several iconic moments from the film and that's what I remembered over the years after seeing it in my Grandmother's ancient house with no heat, no indoor plumbing and almost no electricity. I watched it in the kitchen on her tiny black and white television in between glances into the shadowy depths of her darkened hallway where the spiders that scurried around during the daytime were lying in wait for me. I had to make the journey down that hallway to the bedroom where Mom, Mike and I were staying while Dad was away in the Army. I could hear their chitinous bodies clicking away as they wove their web from floor to ceiling preparing to catch my fat little five-year-old body.

The movie stuck with me for years until it finally came out on DVD last year. I watched it in my darkened den with a fire going and the surround-sound on and boy, was I disappointed. I won't go into detail but it looked like it was made by a bunch of hippie friends between hits on the bong. Wasn't scary at all. They only thing of note about the entire film was an appearance by a super-young Gretchen Corbett, years before she would turn up playing Jim Garner's lawyer/girlfriend on THE ROCKFORD FILES.

Funny how the memory plays tricks on you.


Christian D. Leaf said...

Actually that "Movie of the Week" stuff looks a lot like hyperspace from STAR WARS. I'd've been psyched by it. But it's like Han always said, "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy."

I remember watching LET'S SCARE JESSICA with my parents and we all laughed at how dumb it seemed to us. By this time my Mom was buying me Stephen King and skulls, so you have to add that into the equation. Later on THE EXORCIST got me a little but that was mainly 'cuz I paused it on the demon face on night all by my lonesome. A wee bit unsettling.

What I do remember scaring me was a commercial for THE SHINING when blood starts pouring out of the elevators. That freaked me the eff out. Also the transformation in THE HOWLING creeped me out a couple night.

The biggest scare was POLTERGEIST. We were moving at the time and my Dad, my brother Andy and I all stayed at the old house to polish the last few things off while Mom took newborn Jon to stay at the new place. We had a TV, VCR and sleeping bags. Not good. Once we saw all those bodies popping out of the ground, sleeping on the floor was really hard. I don't Andy or I slept a wink that night expecting some spectral or rotted hand to wrap around our throats.

Warren said...

I used to watch those Movies of the Week. They were often campy, but there were some really entertaining movies on there.

This one scared the hell out of me:

And this one... the ending disturbed me so much I was afraid to close my eyes to go to sleep:

Anonymous said...

I don't recall ever seeing "Let's Scare Jessica" , but I do remember the "ABC Movie of the Week".
I think that's where I saw the movie "Nightstalker" (it later became the series "Kolchak: The Nightstalker" with Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak).
That one scared the crap out of me.
When it was over, I had to walk past some windows to get to my room. I was so scared that I wouldn't go until my older brother closed the curtains.

"The Exorcist" and "Amityville Horror" scared me too, but mostly because they are supposed to be based on true stories.


Anonymous said...

Thinking about the nightstalker got me to look up if the movie and/or the series were on DVD and I found out that ironically it 1st aired 26years ago TODAY

excerpt from wikipedia:
[The Night Stalker aired on the ABC network on 11 January 1972 and garnered the highest ratings of any TV movie at that time (33.2 rating - 54 share). Matheson received a 1973 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best TV Feature or Miniseries Teleplay.]

BTW- they are on DVD so I may have to order them (specially the series box set). :o)

Matt Wieringo said...

Leaf, POLTERGEIST scared you worse than EXORCIST? You were a strange little buckaroo, werntcha?

Warren, I remember DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK!!! Scared me too. This is the SOLE SURVIVOR that got me freaked out. It's not available anymore, unfortunately.

Emilio, if you liked that NIGHT STALKER movie, did you ever see THE NORLISS TAPES? It's by most of the same people and it's virtually the same story. But it still scared the hell out of me.

DonsSword said...

U guy s are bunch of babies. U want scares? I got your childhood scares right here:

Trilogy of Terror
with Karen Black in 1975

That little demon doll gets meaner everytime Karen Black kills the damn thing -- and then at the end she gets possessed by its evil spirit!?!?!? Ain't nothing scarier than that.

And let's not forget other shit your pants commercials for films like "The Incredible Melting Man," 1972's "Frogs" (always made me want to vomit), and "Manitou" -- so scary you couldn't sleep for days.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'll have to check it out.

Was anyone scared of ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES? ...

I didn't think so!

renecarol said...
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renecarol said...

Trying this again...

I don't know how old Leaf is but I saw the Poltergeists as a kid as they came out (the first two I watched on television). As a kid the same age as Carol Ann -- damn can you imagine being a kid on a set like that. Seeing the movies is one thing but being the main character.. no wonder she had problems. But anyway I think being young and relating to the character as a child relating to another child going thru something tramatic like that is scary. Its why Poltergeist was/is scarier than the Exorcist. The main character in the Exorcist was older. And I saw Exorcist when I was older as well. It wasn't something that I watched when I was six years old (as when I saw the first Poltergeist). I made my mom take me to Curtis Mathis (don't know if you had them where you grew up but its where we got movies here in the Beta/VHS days before Blockbuster) every day when I was waiting to see the 3rd one when it came out. They had to have it in stock and somebody else got to it first for what seemed like forever.
Have you ever seen Possessed?
film%29 (you have to add the film%29 at the end of the rest of the link to get it to work.) Anyway, Possessed is supposedly based on a true story and the boy who was possessed by the devil's name was changed in the movie to protect his identity but the other people represented in the movie (the adults) had their real names used. That was a scary movie. The fact that kid grew up to be a real man that you could know and not know that he was that kid. Freaky.

Warren said...
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Warren said...

DonsSword: Trilogy of Terror was indeed a scary movie. I loved it. And it seems like the Movie of the Week had a couple more horror movies that were good, but danged if I can remember them right now. Anybody?

And renecarol: I think Poltergeist is scarier than the Exorcist also. I can't explain why exactly, but the Exorcist is more gross than scary for me. Maybe it's the way Poltergeist used current techology as a gateway for its supernatural danger. That's a theme the Japanese horror movies have used effectively also. While I was an adult when Poltergeist came out, I heard all sorts of stories about twelve year olds afraid of their TV's after seeing it.

Anonymous said...

You guys like The Exorcist, huh?

Well(as stated here), it was based off a real situation involving a boy in St. Louis (did I ever mention I live in IL-not 20 min from St. Louis?).
Here is the freaky part, where I work, there a a bunch of storage unit businesses of these storage units holds the furniture to the actual exorcist.

Every time I drive to work I pass three storage units, and my mom had rented one of these storage units...found out after we got all of her stuff me, thinking that my mom's stuff coulda been next to that creeped me out...I just hope it wasn't the one...;)

The two flics that got me running for a night spent under two covers ,plus the big huge pillows we had, was The Entity and Salem's Lot(the old one, not this crappy new one), I still get shivers remembering what that vampire looked like...

renecarol said...

Possessed is the movie that was based on the real events surrounding the boy in Illinois. They tried to keep it as close to the actual events as possible - unlike the movie The Exorcist. Driving past the storage units that hold the furniture that actually went flying around the room. And drawers that opened and closed on their own. That would scare the hell out of me. I find it hard to dismiss the fact that so many people saw this kid speak fluently in languages he hadn't been taught. And furniture fly around the room. And physically assault kids in his classroom he hadn't even touched. Freaky. I guess he was 'exorcised' though and that stuffs not possessed anymore. I still wouldn't want it near me.

Christian D. Leaf said...

Manitou? I just watched that stinker.

How about WORMS? I remember seeing that in grade school on the Saturday night local network Spook Show. Freaked me out when those worms crawled up in the guys face and made him crazy or their slave. That kept me up a few night. Always had a thing about things crawling inside me, like those nasty slugs in WRATH OF KHAN. I used to sleep with the blankets over my ears after seeing that. Damn. Still creeps me out.

Also, I was 7 or 8 when POLTERGEIST came out.

Anonymous said...

The kid is grown and I believe still lives in the area as well. He hasn't had a problem(like that) ever again.

Matt Wieringo said...

TRILOGY, NIGHT STALKER, NORLISS TAPES and DARK SHADOWS. Heck, even the Jack Palance DRACULA. Dan Curtis was unstoppable in the Seventies. I think Curtis was responsible for more of my adolescent nightmares than any other filmmaker.

And, I agree. The first 'SALEM'S LOT miniseries was terrifying. I still watch it about once a year. What would we do without DVD? Man, those kid-vampires floating outside the window was the scariest thing we'd ever seen. Tobe Hooper shot the scenes with the floating kids and then ran them backwards to give it a "strangeness." It certainly worked. I remember Mike and me watching it in my room on the little black-and-white TV I had in there. When it went off after the first night, Mike got up to leave and go to his room and I didn't want him to go. I was so scared. I ended up hanging a homemade crucifix over my bed to ward off vampires.

renecarol said...

I bet that was cute your homemade kiddie crucifix. One of the customs in my church is to make crosses out of Palm Leaves on Palm Sunday to give to your family and friends. Most people make like two or three. And have forgotten since the previous year how they go so they struggle with two or three that they do make. Over the years I've gotten pretty efficient. I made one for Mike a couple of years ago. And he kept it for a while at least because I remember seeing it a long time after I gave it to him eventhough he didn't believe in religious things like that. It probably would've disintegrated by now though. I don't think they're meant to last more than a year. I never tried to make a crucifix though. I imagine you'd have to draw Jesus even if you could make the cross part out of something. I don't draw much more than doodling - drawing Jesus would be way too much work.

Matt Wieringo said...

Well, I misspoke. Or mistyped. It was just a cross, not a crucifix. It worked for Ben Mears, I figured it would work for me. I always thought it was funny, even as a kid, that he was able to bless a cross by saying, "Bless this cross...there are no atheists in foxholes..."

Funny, I was never a big Starsky and Hutch watcher as a kid but, once I saw 'SALEM'S LOT, I was a David Soul fan for life. Damn, he was cool in that movie.

Matt Wieringo said...

Emelio, I bought the NIGHT STALKER series the day it was released on DVD. It's a little heavy on the cheese but it's just as entertaining as ever. And the "Zombie" and "Vampire" episodes are really frightening.

I paid a lot of money on eBay for the second TV-Movie, THE NIGHT STRANGLER on VHS only to have them release both movies together on one DVD for, like, 9 bucks.

I'm on a quest for THE NORLISS TAPES now. That blue face leering in through the window still haunts my dreams.

Anonymous said...

I read that Darren McGavin had been quoted stating that he did like the "cheesiness", but the show was ultimately cancelled due to low ratings and (McGavin was unhappy with) the "monster of the week" theme.

Squeeze said...

So I'm still a horror movie hater. Those two clips scared me to death today! No desire to see either one of them. Sorry honey but you'll never convert me. Being scared only makes me anxious and uncomfortable and I have no desire to feel like that. (Leaf makes me feel this way too but you can't hurt the boy's feelings- he's touched you know and has no friends and smells like buttermilk.)

I didn't get to stay up late to see the movie of the week. I vaguely remember the ABC letters coming toward you at the end but defintiely don't remember that voice. The announcer is CREEPY! I can't believe he was the announcer back then for the MOTW. He would've been good for a scary movie but not for anything else. Bad casting I say. Leaf would've been better- buttermilk and all.

I have to agree with the Leaf though. I did finally watch POLTERGEIST after my sister watched it and said it wasn't scary. (Sisterly competition said "If she can watch it, I can too) That movie scared me to death. It just so happened that I had a walk in closet at the end of my bed too. I'm sure I was a teenager and not only did the walk in closet scene scare me but when the chicken turned to maggots- I was DONE!! Then poor Jobeth Williams had to wade out of the pool hole with the skeletons in it, I could've just lost my mind right there. I still have no desire to see that movie.

Here's a movie with tension that I did enjoy that you'll laugh at as freaking me out- TERMINATOR. My sister, Sandra and I went to see it at a little movie theater and we left the movie and as soon as we hit the parking lot we all three screamed- yes like girls. Then we started yelling "You're terminated f**ker" at the top of our lungs. The Asheville Twin theater got shut down soon after that- I think it was because of us. We scared everyone by screaming in the parking lot...... Either that or a showing of POLTERGEIST!! or maybe it smelled like buttermilk... ;-)

The only "horror" movie I made it through and can watch again and didn't make me want to punch Matt for talking me into watching it was The Shining. I can't watch the Geriatric Bathtub Beauty scene though. Still have to shut my eyes. Way too freaky......guess that's what red rum does to you. PUT THE BOTTLE DOWN! ;-)

Christian D. Leaf said...

Buttermilk? I thought I smelled like rhubarb.