I love Halloween. Not the overprotected, sterile thing it's become for kids and certainly not the excuse to get drunk and dress "sexy" that it means for many adults, but the memory of Halloween from my youth and the event I've made of it in recent years. I'll carve several pumpkins up, decorate the house with as much spooky shit that I can find, and indulge in copious amounts of horror movies and Count Chocula. I'm sharing my excitement over the season this year with the Fort, largely taking a look which horror movies I'm watching, but also talking a bit about other Halloween staples. To set the right mood, today I'm sharing three things that chilled me to the bone as a kid. Some of them will seem ridiculous, some might seem legit, but there's no turning back now...
I was probably the closest thing to a "monster kid" that the 80s and 90s could produce. Ghostbusters was my first love in life, and not only was I not particularly scared of anything in it, not even the infamous "library ghost," but I also took it totally seriously. Later on in the early 90s, the Universal Monsters made a bit of a resurgence. Those films utterly captivated me. While the other kids waiting for the bus were talking about which Jason or Freddy movie they saw over the weekend, I was still riding high on which black and white classic AMC had on Saturday afternoon, wondering which one they'd show next. The old Aurora model kits were reproduced, now under the Monogram name and in boxes way bigger than they needed to be. I had them all, some of them still adorn my game room. When I hit the age when I realized had had outgrown R.L. Stine, I found a copy of Pet Semetary and the world of Stephen King waiting for me. Teenage years and punk rock brought me to The Misfits. Horror was a comfort to me, but no kid is without fears. Surely, what did frighten me had to be truly terrifying.
Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Hulk
One of my earliest fears was seeing ads and press for the upcoming Trial of the Incredible Hulk made-for-TV movie. I wasn't around for the original TV series, so here's this green guy who's the most pissed off I'd seen anyone up to that point with the ability to bend iron bars with his bare hands. My parents, on the other hand, were totally stoked for this movie. So it comes on and I b-line it to my room. My mom comes in and asks, "What wrong?" I tell her how scared I am of the Hulk but she really wants me to come back to the living room to watch it. My dad gets involved and he's trying to convince me that the Hulk actually helps people. I reluctantly go back to give this Hulk guy another chance and, as it turns out, he's pretty alright.
Twinkie the Kid
On one fateful afternoon sometime in the late 80s, on a grocery shopping trip with my mother, I met who would go on to be my childhood arch nemesis, the Joker to my Batman, the Van Helsing to my Dracula. That's right...Twinkie the Kid. The grocery store had someone there dressed in a Twinkie the Kid costume to hand out free Twinkies to kids. I wanted none of him or his Twinkies. The damnedest thing about this story is that I have no idea why. Even as I left the store, probably in tears (and Twinkie in hand, I'll add), I sat in the car on the ride home completely mystified by why I reacted the way I did. I wasn't just made uneasy by this guy, I was petrified. I guess the only logical explanation is that, remember, I was a Ghostbusters fan. A Twinkie is an omen of doom in my book.
The intro to Tales From the Crypt
My uncle owned a comic shop back in the 90s. This worked both to my advantage, since you know, comics, and to my disadvantage, since saving allowance for that Creepy Crawler oven was nearly impossible. On several occasions he passed along books that he had an overstock on to my brother and I. On one of those instances he gave us a few of the Tales From the Crypt comics that were reprinted back in the 90s. Those simple, gruesome revenge stories blew my mind. The formula was easy to get down and I went on to write and draw my own comics and pass them out to my friends. Now we didn't have HBO in our house, so when one of the local channels started showing the Crypt TV show, there was no power on this planet that was going to stop me from staying up far later than I should have to watch something I really shouldn't have been watching. I'm sure that the content of the episodes shocked me when I saw it, but nothing stayed with me like that intro. The atmosphere it creates, the feeling that something was going to pop out anywhere in that house... To this day I still think it's pretty great, despite sounding like every Tim Burton movie ever. The show could have been a nature documentary about birds, but after that intro I'd still be hiding under the covers.
I know I could rattle off about a dozen or so more things I was frightened by as a kid. I know there was a time where I went on the House of Horrors ride at Rocky Point in Rhode Island, eyes shut from start to finish, but these are the ones that stand out and make for good stories. What scared you as a kid? Post it in the comments section, if it's not creepy, it will at least be nostalgic. We'll talk about a movie next week, I've already seen some really good ones this year.