Horror Movie Homework

So this is the introduction to a series of posts I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

I started out as a rather peripatetic horror fan when I got into horror at all which was only recently. For a long time, I avoided the genre like the villagers avoid the castle on the crag.

Then I started realising that a lot of the authors I was enjoying — Joe Hill, for example, and Jonathan Mayberry; Cherie Priest and Mira Grant — were writing, not to put too fine a point on it, horror. And a few of the books I’d always liked — Dracula, for instance, and Lovecraft, Machen, Benson, even the one Henry James story I ever liked — were horror. Then I started reading Stephen King at the encouragement of a friend in grad school who thought I’d really like the Dark Tower ‘verse. She was right; I loved ’em. Then I started looking for cheap copies of other King novels and, along the way, found cheap copies of great stuff like The Monk and The Castle of Otranto and The Woman in White. Maybe not technically horror in the modern sense, but certainly related to its great-grandma.

Once I was willing to admit that, yes, Virginia, I am a horror fan, I was really undirected about it. I picked up what interested me when I thought of it and left the rest. Recently, this pattern has been irritating the historian side of my brain that wants to pick a starting point and find patterns and work in a systematic way and that sort of thing.

In order to appease the inner history geek while still having fun with the inner horror geek, then, I’ve been trying to pick up the odd horror ‘classic’ here and there as I can find cheap copies or as they float to the surface on Netflix insty. And I find I have lots of thoughts about them — perhaps even lots of feels for some of them — and thus the posts under this title: Horror Movie Homework.

I haven’t got a huge amount of disposable income to spend on DVDs or rentals so, for instance, I’ve been unable to get a copy of the original Halloween. Annoying but true. So I’m really at the mercy of Newbury Comics, the used section of Amazon (I know, I know, but groan quietly, please), and Netflix. For example, Netflix has just put up a few of Mario Bava’s films on insty and since I’ve just been reading about them and him in David Konow’s Reel Terror, they’ll probably be high on my list while I have access to them. And there’ll probably be things in here that shouldn’t, really, be homework for anyone — like Dark House which I watched the other night hoping it would be better than it was. (It wasn’t.) Or the remake of My Bloody Valentine; I really love the original but I also have a thing for Jensen Ackles, so the remake is on my list.

Anyway, my knowledge is neither encyclopedic nor exhaustive; I’m not a serious, be-spectacled, turtleneck-wearing film geek (is that even the cliche any more?); I just love me some fake blood. (I love it even more if it looks somewhere near to real. I’m convinced that most horror film-makers have never cut their fingers.)  So come on — I’ll be starting with something next week — maybe the original Amityville Horror, maybe the original My Bloody Valentine, or maybe Black Sunday: who knows?