Plans had been in the works for weeks, ever since they discovered that an opportunity would soon present itself. Horror movies are not allowed anywhere within my girl’s zone of consciousness, and any fool who breaks that rule will be the one summoned to respond to the inevitable 4am shriek of terror from her bedroom. So as she busied herself packing for an innocent camping trip to the woods with no image of Jason to sully her snow white sensibility, he plotted the night of pure evil and terror that he and his best friend had so long been deprived.
He had planned ahead and recorded Candyman, the one must-see on their agenda ever since they’d both become mildly obsessed with learning the theme music on the piano, preferably at drum-bursting volume on organ pipe mode. They were so eager, in fact, that they watched it before it even got dark out. Rookies.
When night finally fell, they searched the anthology of On Demand, Hulu, and Crackle (but not Netflix because I’m mad at them) for their next screening.
They browsed through the myriad options for modern horror, each title eliciting a shudder from me as I recalled the trailer. Movies like The Grudge, The Ring, Saw, and others that stand out not in name but in the promise of sheer unadulterated horror… movies that I can’t even imagine finding cause or courage to watch.
My sisters remind me that I used to love scary movies, and frequently planned my own viewing parties with girlfriends when I was not much older than my boy is now. The difference, though, is that the horror of scary movies from back in the day was suspense! We crouched huddling and peered through holes in the afghan as she looked upstairs after the caller once again asked: “Have you checked the children?” We froze until nothing moved but the pounding of our flat chests as Jamie Lee Curtis crept silently down the hall with a flashlight. We screamed when Carrie’s clawlike hand burst through the solemn earth of her grave.
I remember one night watching that canoe on the quiet lake, knowing what was coming because it wasn’t my first time at this particular rodeo. Unbeknownst to me and my unfortunate companion, my dad* was watching from the doorway behind us. Of course he screamed when Jason burst through the surface of that water, who wouldn’t? I was/am scarred for life.
*Dad/horror movie trivia: He pierced Linda Blair’s ears! Swear.
Anyway, my point is that the scary movies of my adolescence were vastly superior to the high def digital effects 3D shit that they’re churning out now. Never mind that I haven’t watched a horror flick in a decade or two except for the Blair Witch Project, which scared me so badly that I can’t even talk about it. No, never mind that, because even the commercials for new horror movies are damaging to the soul. If I had to choose between watching Paranormal Activity and sticking hot pokers in my eye, I’d be shopping for a sassy patch.
I managed to get the boys pretty pumped up about the fact that they should look for a classic scary movie to round out their scream fest that night. Together we scrolled through the movie menu and decided to watch the previews from a few before choosing one. I insisted on Halloween and Friday the 13th, and even volunteered to watch the preview for Nightmare on Elm Street, although I’d never quite had the balls to sit through that particular selection. I made the boys sit close to me on the couch and told them to prepare to have the poop scared right out of them.
You guys, they laughed! Giggled, even. Those little shits were not affected in the slightest by the demons from my youth. Okay, so maybe special effects and big budgets do add a little something to the sensory experience. And yeah, maybe those old movies did look a little cheesy by comparison. And I guess the hair and clothes were really bad. But still! Freddy Kroeger? Jason? Michael fucking Myers? Come ON.