In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Final Girl Awesome Day!

About a month ago, Stacie over at Final Girl made an excellent point. It seems out of fashion to get excited about upcoming projects these days. Every time there’s a new announcement or trailer, it seems that members of the Internet community fall over themselves to be the first to bring it down. How did we become so cynical? I realize that horror is an oft looked down upon genre and for every gem there are ten - and that’s being conservative - pieces of coal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get pumped, does it?

Anyway, in response to all this negative thinking, Final Girl declared Tuesday March 18th as “Don’t Be A Douchebag Day” and reached out to her fellow bloggers to share stories about why the movie watching experience is still frickin’ awesome! To which, I humbly accept the call. Rather than just talk about one particular movie or instance, I decided to cull together a timeline that molded me into the horror film geek that I am today. So, here we go.

Circa 1980
I don’t recall the first horror movie I ever saw, but very early on in my life I saw a 1978 film called The Legacy on TV. I remember being extremely afraid and even had to leave for a bit at one point. The part where the girl drowns in the pool because she can’t come up for air is probably the root of my dislike for water sports (that, and Jaws of course). We had the novel kicking around our house and that cover always gave me the shivers. I can’t tell you why now. I mean, look at it. It’s completely absurd! And yet…

Xmas 1981
I grew up in the eighties where home video was still a novelty. Going downstairs and finding a VCR under the tree was like, well… Christmas! We had rented one a few times previously and now we had a VCR at our disposal ALL THE TIME! I remember trying to wrap my head around the concept of being able to tape episodes of Battle Of The Planets off the TV and watch them ANYTIME I wanted. Though it did take me a while to save up the 20 bones it cost for a blank tape. We also got an Atari 2600 that morning, making 1981 the best Christmas EVAR.

Circa 1982
I loved, LOVED Halloween as a kid. I used to watch it endlessly. And this was a time when movies weren’t generally available for sale, just rental. You could buy them, but they were about $100 a pop, so obviously unless you were Richie Rich, you were renting. One day, I got the genius idea of renting both Halloween & Halloween 2 and watching them back to back. That meant three hours of Michael Myers mayhem, which, as you know, is all kinds of awesome.

Circa 1983
I remember showing American Werewolf in London to a friend one day. Early on, when David and Jack are being stalked on the moors, my friend got so scared he had to watch from behind the couch. Now, I’d seen the movie a few times already and knew what was going to happen, but my friend was so scared shitless that he made ME scared shitless. So much so, I had to seek refuge behind the couch myself. Isn’t that weird? Fear is contagious.

Circa 1987
I have a brother who is seven years older than me. One night, when my folks were away, my brother was entrusted with my well being. Now, my bro - being of recent legal drinking age - wasn’t about to waste a perfectly good Saturday night looking after me, so he rented me a couple of movies and took off with his friends. Those two titles were… Women’s Prison Massacre and Stripped To Kill. It was a good night. Very educational.

Circa 1988
I have a cherished memory of my Dad, brother and I doubled over laughing during Evil Dead 2 when Ash is struggling to get Linda’s possessed head off his hand.

Oct 1990 – Aug 1994
I can’t tell the history of Jay without mentioning my tenure at Major/BB Video. It is the main reason this blog exists and the base from where my modest horror vocabulary springs. Those were good, good times.

June 1&2, 1991
I was an avid reader of Fangoria when I was a teenager, but one thing that always bugged me was that their convention Weekend Of Horrors never came up to the Great White North. Then, in the spring of ’91, a Toronto date was announced for June. I was ecstatic. I went both days, met icons like Kane Hodder and Tom Savini (whom I would both see again in ’04) and bought so much shit I was on a first name basis with the poster vendors by the end of it.

Circa 1996
Anyone who played the first Resident Evil remembers when that zombie dog smashes through the window. It was probably the first time a VIDEO GAME made you jump five feet into the air. I was with a few friends, playing it in the dark on a big screen TV and we screamed like little girls when it happened. Sure, the live action intro was cheesy and the voice acting atrocious, but man did it get ever your blood going when those zombies came shambling toward you and all you had was a lockpick.

Sept 2000
It was an ex-girlfriend that turned me onto the Toronto International Film Festival. Until that point, I didn’t even know it was open to the public. Thanks be to her because it was there that I discovered the Midnight Madness programme. Over the last eight years, I have seen numerous fantastic offerings like Haute Tension, Bubba Ho-tep and Cabin Fever. The day the lineup is announced each year always feels like Christmas to me.

Aug 2004
Now, I mentioned that Fangoria came here in 1991, but after that never again. I always wondered about that because the turnout was good from what I remember. Then, in 2004, the Toronto based horror mag Rue Morgue brought horror back to the Big Smoke. There had been a Sci-Fi/Comic Expo happening annually for several years and Rue Morgue fashioned a piggyback horrorcon – or Festival Of Fear – onto that. Kudos to them because this event is extraordinary and always packed full of cool things to do and see – on and off site.

Okay, that’s it. I had to narrow it down to those. Trust me, I have many more tales to tell, but you're probably already asleep.

I feel better now. Less jaded. How about you?


Stacie Ponder said...

Great post- it's totally like my diary!

I love Resident Evil so very much- the first time playing it was mind-blowing. A horror movie video game...a dream come true for a nerd like me.

Man, dig Savini's shoulder pads...

John Dedeke said...

Agreed! Total nostalgia rush here -- especially that feeling you get from that first horror con (incidentally, I met Hodder at a Fango con about six years later, and he was still wearing those black gloves. I hope he washed them in-between).

Can I get a T-shirt with the Major video logo?

Jay Clarke said...

haha no t-shirts I'm afraid. Be careful what you wish for though, you never saw our uniforms (shudder)

DirtyRobot said...

When Bubba Ho-Tep played Midnight Madness I was a volunteer in the theatre, and I stayed past my shift to help out because they were short staffed, and also because I was gonna 'slip' in to the film. But when I saw that the rush line stretched out for half a city block, I decided not steal a seat. It's hard to be jaded when you see what genre fans are willing to do just for a shot at seeing a 'little' flick like that.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

jay, me and stacie ponder have got this really nice, cosy, magical little heather o`rourke obsession going, i just wondered w-heather you cared to join us, all you have to do is watch poltergeist 3 every night to try to bring her back to life, cheers geezer. By the way, do you know whats going on over at soiled sinema, they ain`t reveiwed any films for over a month.