Not too long ago I was asked what movies were most responsible for me becoming a horror fan. It's a tough assignment to try to come up with a list of films that shaped my youth and made me the stark raving mad fan I am these days. But I wracked my brain and this is what I've come up with. Not precisely my favorites, and there are no films on this list made after 1982… they are the movies I watched as a kid and into my early teens – before I became an utterly obsessive horror fan.
Frankenstein (1931): While Dracula would seem a more appropriate introduction to Universal Horror for a vampire-loving geek like me, it was not my first taste of classic horror. Frankenstein remains, for me, the movie for which all other horror is judged. I first read the magnum opus novel by Mary Shelley as a youngster – and when the movie was placed in front of me, I blossomed into the crazed, give-me-all-I-can-get horror fan you now have. The mere idea of patching together body parts from various sources to make a complete man is well…sick. When James Whale brought the book to life, it managed to hit my every nerve – shocking me into submission and titillating me to the point of no return. I had such compassion for the monster, and still feel that this film is the reason I always seem to identify with the monster/killer rather than the hapless victim. Call me crass, I don’t mind.
Theater of Blood (1973): On Saturday afternoons at my house when I was a pre-teen, it was all about Vincent Price (and Godzilla…more later!). House of Usher, The Abominable Mr. Phibes, The Pit & The Pendulum, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill…..I could go on and on. But the film that made the biggest impression on me was Theater of Blood. Why, I don’t know – except the defining moment for me was when Edward Lionheart (Price) makes Mr. Merridew eat his own poodles. Gah! That is burned on my brain for all of eternity. The movie is quite campy, to say the least, but I still think it is one of my favorite Price films. On a side note, when I was in 7th grade, my school showed this film on the last day of school. Can you imagine? Maybe that contributes to my admiration.
Oh, and can we please just not mention that 2000 remake of disastrous proportions? Thank you.
The shocking death of Marion Crane in the first act proved to me that all bets were off in horror, and one could never know what to expect. So many other films have blatantly ripped this one off, but none of them could hope to achieve the landmark dread and apprehension that you get when you watch that door opening from behind the shower curtain while our heroine cleans herself up to die, an ominous shadow grows closer…
**Once again, if this post looks familiar it is because it was previously published on another site from which I have retrieved all my work. It's not that I'm lazy, I just wanted to both share these writings as well as have a permanent record of them here on my blog. Well...and I'm a little bit lazy :)