GETTING MORE TALE #496: The Horror
It was a rite of passage: When the youth began renting restricted horror movies!
In the mid-80’s, my best friend Bob was obsessed with horror movies. He found them funny. He liked pausing and going slow-mo any time a rubber prosthetic was being hacked off a victim by the killer. We enjoyed laughing at the ridiculous situations. Don’t go into the woods at night, for god’s sake, and don’t trip over every twig and branch when you’re running away from the bad guy!
Of course, there were always rock and roll connections. Via the soundtracks, you’d get exposed to a few cool rock tracks. The first horror movie Bob and I watched together was a perfect example of this: John Carpenter’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic Christine. We’ll circle back to the music. But the language! Oh my. We had never heard swearing woven into such intricate dialogue before! King truly is the master of the art of profanity. We learned new ways to swear from that movie. Some favourites:
“Yeah try it you little bald fuck, and I’ll knock you through the wall! FUCK!” – Buddy Repperton
“OK, that’s the last time you run that mechanical asshole in here without an exhaust hose!” – Will Darnell
“I knew a guy had a car like that once. Fuckin’ bastard killed himself in it. Son of a bitch was so mean, you could’ve poured boiling water down his throat and he would’ve pissed ice cubes.” – Will Darnell
We watched Christine, rewound the tape, and watched it again, twice in a row. I still love that movie today. It’s not my favourite horror of all time (that would be The Shining, also based on Stephen King) but it does come in second. My dad and uncle didn’t mind me watching it, because the car involved in the film was a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Such things seemed to matter to adults.
I always preferred comedy to horror, but Bob and I were a team, so we compromised and usually rented two or three movies at a time. Strangely enough, it’s really only the horror films I remember today. I couldn’t tell you what comedies we rented, but I remember Friday the 13th, do I ever!
We would ride our bikes up to Steve’s TV on Frederick Street. It’s still there, too, in the same spot but stocked with the latest and greatest tech. In the 80’s, it was a growing business and had the largest collection of videos for sale and rent that I’d ever seen. Bob and I would discuss and pick out a couple horror films and a comedy. We’d bring them back by bike and rent more. The first time we did this, Steve’s TV asked for a note from our parents to rent an R rated movie. Minor delay! We’d just have to make another trip on our bikes.
We rented the first Friday the 13th, and the second. I somehow missed the third and fourth (I am pretty sure I was at the cottage on vacation those weekends) and jumped right onto the poor fifth movie (A New Beginning), which didn’t even have Jason in it. As I started highschool, Jason finally returned in Part VI (Jason Lives) and our movie renting continued. When the Friday the 13th movies were done, we did the Freddie movies, and the Halloween films. We even did the third Halloween, the one that had nothing to do with the rest of the series.
We rented so many that eventually Steve’s TV had nothing left we hadn’t seen. We started checking out a new store, Jumbo Video. They had a cool horror section that looked like a haunted castle. We rented everything there, too. Jeff Goldblum’s remake of The Fly was one. I remember a really terrible movie called Madman Marz, but there were many more that I can’t remember at all. As highschool went on, we ran out of horror movies to rent at Jumbo. We temporarily began renting ninja movies (Bob was taking Karate at the time) but it was horror that we really liked.
An automated video rental place opened up. It was a small room full of vending machines that dispensed videos! They had a small selection of horror, so Bob and I began to eat those up too. The Fly II was one of the first we rented from that automated store, and it was just awful. Clearly, we were exhausting the horror movie stock in Kitchener Ontario. There was nothing left for us to rent.
The rock and roll connections with a lot of these films were really interesting to us, since we were both exploring hard rock at the same time. Christine, our first horror experience, had an incredible soundtrack of oldies: Little Richard’s “Keep-A-Knockin’”, “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly, and of course the newbie “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood. As much as we were obsessed with the movie, we obsessed over that song. Playing it over, and over, and over again. A bit later on, Alice Cooper appeared in a couple films, also providing music for Prince of Darkness and Friday the 13th Part VI. Horror went hand in hand with our rock obsession, but in the long run, “there could be only one”. For me, rock won out. Horror films still bring a chuckle, but the days of obsessively trying to watch them all are long gone. Do they even make good horror movies anymore? I don’t even know. They do still make great rock and roll, that’s for sure.