Letter From the Editor 10.31.18
How my childhood fascination with horror movies made me into the cinema studies major I am today.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. And I think it all stems from my much too early obsession with horror movies.
When I first visited the Hollywood Video in a strip mall in my suburban Texas neighborhood, I ran fearfully down the horror aisle. Their VHS covers were too scary for my young eyes I distinctly remember glancing sideways during one such flight, looking at Halle Berry looking menacing on the Gothika cover. I ran a little faster.
Somewhere along the way, something changed. Let's place it at age ten. Maybe one day I lingered in that corner of the store a little longer, surveying the gruesome covers while still keeping down my lunch.
I wish I could trace the beginning of this love affair. But soon I became that kid who likes horror movies. I didn't wear beanies or listen to Korn or anything, but I did develope a fascination with the lurid. I prodded my mom to rent Rated R films for me. Slowly over time, she acquiesced. I brought home The Silence of the Lambs in 7th grade, and squealed through the entire middle of the movie. I made her buy me tickets to the October 2009 premiere of Paranormal Activity.
In my early adolescence, I watched the classics (Rosemary's Baby, The Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria) and found early favorites of my own (Communion, Possession, The Wicker Man, Videodrome). I looked into foreign horror, and discovered giallo. I was in love.
In fact, the first email I ever sent on my first email account (firstname.lastname@example.org, which I still own and operate to this day), were my suggestions for a horror movie festival in San Antonio. It went as follows:
"The movies I think should be featured in the Spookfest 2010 are: The Exorcist, The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary's Baby, Se7en, Alien, The Shining, Let the Right One In (2008), The Changeling (1980).
Thanks, Nick Joyner"
No salutation. My digital literacy hadn't developed as quickly as my appetite for horror.
In many ways, horror was my entry into cinephilia. I learned the ins and outs of the genre and its history and baggage, before I even learned how to drive. Horror was the most perfect of genres to me—it had B–movies that were critically recognized for camp alongside masterpieces of psychological terror. It had a visceral, unparalleled access to human emotion. It could do no wrong.
As I got older, my taste got more refined, I got desensitized to onscreen gore and I moved on from the schlock. In this period of my middle teenage years, I found that it was time to leave the horror corner of Hollywood Video for more expansive film styles. The store closed down anyways.
I'm sad to say I don't consume horror flicks as voraciously as I once did. But Halloween is always a good reminder of my roots, why I decided to go into cinema studies in the first place. Everyone needs a spooky walk down memory lane every once in a while.
Get 34th Street's newsletter, The Toast, delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning.Newsletters