A few years ago (Aug 09') I wrote this, kind of forgot about it until recently. I started to discuss emotional attachment to Classic Horror and remembered all the real attachments I developed growing up...so here you go -
"Growing up Myers"
by - Rob Dimension
I was exposed at an early age to images of sleaze and exploitation. I was not white trash, my parents were never divorced and I wasn't a drop out in school. My childhood was actually filled with pleasant memories. My uncle owned a video store in the late seventies, this was my playground. When the biggest battle was between Beta and VHS format, I was enjoying my Quasar top loading video machine giving me hours of enjoyment. Pushing the play button allowed me to live, to witness visuals that captivated me and to see what true horror really was.
In the fall of 1980, at the tender age of 10 years old, I heard music that sent chills down my spine coming from the downstairs living room. My parents were watching a movie and I was told "Your too young to watch..bed time." My interest became peaked immediately, to say the least. As time went on, my imagination grew, my desire to know what they were watching was building. I crawled out of my bed, crept down the stairs and had to take a look. I peaked around the corner with one eye, noticing my Dad sitting in his trademark recliner, my Mother snugged on the couch with a blanket covering half of her face. The television set was positioned in a corner on top of a small "entertainment center" as my Dad called it, holding 2 video tapes and the player, hardly a "center". It made it hard to see what was going on, my Mother was not liking it though. Her expressions were priceless, her eyes were huge with fear.
The next day, at breakfast, I just had to know what was creating the fear. "What were you guys watching" I curiously questioned. My mother was quick to say "some scary movie that your father thought would be fun to watch". My Dad quickly chimed in with "Halloween". My mother made mention to my Dad to make sure he took that tape back because she wasn't going to watch it again. I knew I had a chance to catch a peak, but I had to be quick. I waited until they left for work, my Grandmother lived downstairs so I was within an ears reach. I looked at the video box, it wasn't scary. I thought to myself, "Mom is just over reacting". I eagerly pressed play and sat for the next hour and a half in both fear and joy.
The thought of the Boogeyman was a childhood nightmare for many. Unknowing of what exactly was in your closet or hiding under you bed. Not knowing what the Boogeyman was or what he wanted made him that much more terrifying. John Carpenter and Debra Hill hit the nail on the head with their vision. The blank face, the slow walk, the blending into shadows and of course the head tilt after killing poor Bob. Titled the Shape, Michael Myers instantly became the talk of my day, hell maybe even the talk of my month. Sharing what I just lived few friends, I raved about how scary it was, how i couldn't catch my breath. Most of my friends wouldn't have a chance to see this, if anything I felt like "King Shit" for a day. That's the feeling you have when you Know something that others can only hear about, it makes you feel a little bigger when your young.
Later in the day after dinner, my Dad took me along with him to my Uncle's video store. Located downstairs below another store, it looked sketchy, thinking back. Darkly lit, cluttered and kinda dirty is how I remember it. My Uncle was a sitting behind his counter, eating as usual. He looked like he was a permenant fixture behind there. I am not even sure how he was related, looking back, maybe he was the family "Uncle" that everyone has. They both chatted about the movie, laughing and raving about how amazing it was. I was thinking to myself "you guys are right...I loved it!!" But, I remained quiet. Instead I walked towards the section full of violent images, evil box art and scary titles. The horror section had instantly found a friend. Titles like "Dr. Butcher MD" jumped off the shelves at me. Box art for other films like "Cannibal Holocaust" freaked me out. Cannibals were only something you vaguely hear about, a movie dedicated to them seemed terrifying.
The more they talked the more I wanted to join in. Finally, not being able to withstand their enjoyment. I blurted out "I watched it while you guys were out!". They both stopped talking and just looked. This is where my Dad became instantly cool. He says, in between his chuckles, "Great, let's pick out something else then...your Mother's a wus. I can watch it with you when she isn't home". I probably had the look of both shock and excitement on my face. I thought to myself - no punishment, not mad and above all else, free reign to watch more? Where do I sign up?
The next few years were spent raiding my Uncle's video store looking for the most shocking, insane, crazy, scary, gory and down right disgusting films I could find. Titles like "Boarding House", which featured a psychedelic hand that warned "if you suffer from a faint heart, when this hand comes on to the screen, look away". Are you kidding? I couldn't look close enough. While other kids were watching family shows, I was enjoying Fulci's "Gates of Hell". Which is a whole story on it's own.
(Being from upstate New York, Fulci's Gates of Hell, also titled City of the Living Dead, actually made it's way to our small, local theater. It was probably 1981 as the date is kinda fuzzy. I remember the actual movie experience like it was yesterday though. My Dad takes me to an afternoon show, matinees aren't what they used to be. We walk in, blindly choosing this movie because I said "That movie poster looks cool", and quickly notice were are two of the four sitting in the theater. As the movie starts, it's hard to follow, but gore is everywhere. I am in Zombie heaven. The person on our right leaves, not feeling the movie at all. We are down to three viewers now. Finally the scene where the girl throws up her intestines happens, this is where the experience gets better. The guy in the back starts to get sick and bails. That sissy. My Dad even says "Jesus, what is going on here?", I had to tell him I was busy watching the movie. Gates of Hell will Always hold a special spot in my heart, probably not the ideal Father/Son moment, but I loved it.)
That same year was the release of Halloween II, more of "The Night He Came Home", I couldn't wait. Once again, my partner in Horror film viewing, my Dad takes me. This time around, he is just as excited as I am. Not knowing anything but Michael Myers is back! I remember watching the trailers on TV, freaking out about how amazing this film was going to be. My Mom just thinks we are a couple of idiots, between my love for Pro Wrestling and Horror Movies, she knows something is wrong with her baby boy.
Halloween II lived up to my expectations, probably even surpassing them. The reign of the Mighty Michael Myers was back!! Dr. Loomis shot him six times, the Shape is unstoppable. All the mayhem, the kills, the body count. But wait...maybe not, what just happened? Myers and Loomis are dead. NO!!! Michael Myers tried to fight through his fiery demise, but failed. Laurie Strode made it but Myers didn't?? I think around Halloween II is where my crush on Jamie Lee Curtis started, it was a brief crush but it was there. Becoming the Scream Queen, if she was in the movie, I had to see it. I followed her through her Prom Night and rode the Terror Train. Devastated that Myers has been defeated, I look for other replacements, sure Jason and Leatherface were still around, but they were no Michael Myers. Horror icons come and go, but the good ones you almost want to continue. It was apparent that I had to move on.
Having the "in" at the video store, I was able to snag various movie posters. Friday the 13th, Halloween 2, Happy Birthday to Me and Basket Case were scattered on my bed room walls. Pro Wrestling Illustrated center pull out posters were also prominent. What a sight my room must have been. I was witnessing the "Underground Horror Movement" first hand. With every amazing title you watch, you see an equal number of bad movies. It's part of the process. But, I was willing to pay the price. I loved the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I was even convinced it was real. I believed 100% that this was truly "based on real events". George Romero was a hero to me. While others had Football jerseys, I had Horror movies. My world consisted of madman, zombies and creatures. I loved the films that were almost so bad, they were good. The films you enjoyed to watch but made you feel dirty after you were done watching them. That was what horror was to me. Halloween really became my favorite holiday. Christmas you ask? When kids were thinking about presents and Santa I was thinking of Silent Night, Deadly Night. I was obsessed.
Towards the end of the Summer in '83, it happens. "Halloween 3 :Season of the Witch" is announced. I imagine my excitement was over the top, to say the least. "Oh my God...yes!! Myers is Back!! I knew it." Quickly, various news and early reports travel to my young ears that darken my high hopes. Rumors are circulating that it has nothing to do with the first two films. How can that be? I tell people that they are wrong. "Myers can't be held down, you watch...you'll see. He'll be back", I tell anyone who will listen. Even then I thought I knew everything.
Ticket time. I anxiously purchase my ticket to witness the carnage. I am impatient, waiting for the opening credits. My Popcorn was the best ever, my coke...amazing, just knowing what I was going to see heightened my senses. Life was great....for now. As the movie started, the longer it continued, the more depressed I got. I was mad at Tom Atkins and I hated Silver Shamrock. Trust me when I say this, Halloween III is not a bad movie at all, I actually love it. As an adult, even in my later teen years I could see how much of a fun and well made movie it was. I even love Tom Adkins now. It was bad to a 13 yr old who was expecting Michael Myers. My disappointed was obvious, I went to school and complained about how I was tricked without a treat. Luckily, I had my own copies of Halloween and Halloween II now. Which at the time was a rarity. VHS prices to buy were like $75 each and they didn't have "used" copies. I used my "Uncle" to get my own secret stash. I had to have them. I needed them.
Going into High School, some things changed but not a lot. Every girl I brought home had to listen to my love for Zombie films and would discuss the debate between Fulci or Romero. Clive Barker was making waves amongst the horror underground. Stephen King was getting more films made. Horror was good. I was even getting bootlegs of Underground Horror and the latest Godzilla films. Fangoria was my bible, well that and the Apter mags.
The middle Eighties was such a crazy time for horror and music for me. Music was being taken over by Hair bands and the London groups and the Horror genre just exploded with tons of movies like Day of the Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead to name a few. The home video market was booming. At this point everyone's family owned a VCR. I had ample supplies of horror to get me through each day and frankly, each night. Late nights of multiple viewings of CHUD, Chopping Mall, Night of the Creeps and Children of the Corn were plentiful. I had given up on my childhood love for Michael Myers. Freddy had taken over. Being tortured in your nightmares was the new trend. Jason Voorhees was gaining momentum and catching his stride. Pinhead was just outrageous and I was loving it. As far as I was concerned Myers was a great memory. He was dead and buried. It was over, or so I thought.
Going into my senior year was a mixture of fear, excitement and cannibalism. Ok, I am kidding about the cannibalism, but my high school years weren't much different than anyone else. Prom, work and parties and some studying. Reading my trusty Fangoria, I was hyped that Halloween 4 :The Return of Michael Myers had begun production. On the set pictures proved that Michael would indeed be making his triumphant return to Haddonfield, IL.
How would they do it? I mean after all Michael Myers was burned alive. Would Dr. Loomis still be giving chase? Would the "Evil" make it's presence known?? So many questions for this young fan boy of horror to digest. Jason Voorhees had already taken over the plots of "coming back" and doing so had created a sequel machine, so I knew that there was many ways to attack the Myers story.
October 28th, in 1988 I made my way to see Halloween 4 on opening night. The theater was packed, which I hate by the way. People don't know how to be quite and I needed to concentrate when watching this, I needed to live this moment. I had some friends with me all speculating about the body counts, the death and what Myers will do. The lights dimmed in the theater and a hush came over the crowd as the opening scenes started. I really love the opening sequences in this film, the scenes of October are captured and the story is tied up instantly. "You never get used to the faces...never" is already raising my anxiety level to it's highest peak. Myers hits the screen and the eerie "theme music" is loudly chiming through the theaters accoustics. Less than five minutes into the action, Myers is back and the slayings have begun. For the next hour and a half I was amazed, happy and a little let down.
The Myers characters overall look in part 4 is where the downward spiral began, at least for me. The mask, which was originally a Captain Kirk (William Shatner) replica was now gone. Replaced by a cheap imitation with more hair and more expression that just never cut it with me. The Myers walk had changed, George Wilbur did a decent job and was the first to play Myers in two films (Parts 4 & 6), but he lacked the thinner build, the sleaker style of stalking and the overall appearance that both Warlock and Castle possessed in the first two films. I am being picky, but I am allowed, this was my all time favorite horror series, so being critical is perfectly fine.