Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dear Charlie:

Well, it's half-past September, which means that it's time to indulge in my two favorite things: football and horror movies. Football, I've already touched on. Horror movies, I'm just getting in the swing of.

Heh, at some point during the next month and a half, I'll rent the whole A Nightmare on Elm Street series. I won't have to rent the Halloween movies because I own the ones I want -- Halloween, Halloween II, and Halloween: H2O. I'll watch The Changeling, which isn't exactly a Halloween type movie but definitely gave me the creeps once upon a time...and still shivers me timbers a little when the little kid starts echo-whispering.

But was for Pet Sematary. Both the book and the movie. Own the book, rented the movie. The movie has more than a little cheese to it, yes, but it's pretty faithful to the book, which isn't a common thing. But mostly, I just like to remember how it scared the bejeebers out of me when I was about 12 or 13 years old.

Oh, it wasn't anything dramatic. I didn't seem too scared when I watched it with 5 or 6 of my giggling friends -- two of whom got the screaming meemies during it, which prompted my mom to suggest we turn it off...which we didn't do.

But later on...when I went to bed....

Ironically, the thing that creeped me out the most was Victor Pascow. It was probably the open head wound that did it, or the sudden appearance at Louis's bedside. Either way, I dreamed that I woke up, and there he was. Several times. For weeks, actually. I'd wake up -- or dream that I had -- and there he was, head oozing, red running shorts nearly glowing in the dark, that terrible grin on his lifeless face.

I didn't even remember why he was in the movie. Hadn't read the book yet. I just...was creeped out by him.

Many, many years later, I read the book and couldn't believe that he was a good guy. How could that be? How could a bloody dead guy haunting a bedside be a figure of help, of solace? Surely, they'd played a merry game with the book's premise and flipped it for the movie.

So, during one windy October evening my first year of college, friends and I rented it -- along with several other twitchy flicks -- and I settled in next to my boyfriend to refute the testimony of my own memory. And refute, I did. Pascow was a good guy. A helpful ghost. A harbinger of doom, yes, but one trying to avert the coming calamity.

But to this day, I remember waking up to a dead college jogger by my bed and trying very hard not to scream.


I don't remember when I outgrew my too-vivid imagination in regards to horror movies. I remember my brother taking me to watch Aliens in the theater, and then having nightmares about aliens crawling out of the walls for weeks or even months afterward. I remember having to leave the room during House when the critter with the big claws came launching out of the closet.

But I don't remember when that dread fascination flipped. I don't remember when the nightmares ceased and the amusement and that weird satisfaction kicked in. My imagination is still too good for its own good, but it no longer plagues me with Victor Pascow's pale, expressionless, bleeding face.

Though I do have a dight too many spider dreams for my own sanity's sake. Guh.

At any rate, scary movies no longer scare me, and I watch them with much glee. I anticipate new ones -- Wicked Little Things, for instance, which isn't remotely scary but has the novel distinction of black-glaring zombie children eating people alive -- and relish old ones -- just foisted House on a friend at work last week. I try to rent all seven Freddy movies every Halloween. I try to find The Shape in every frame of the Michael Myers movies.

And I'm always on the lookout for something creepy. Something to make me think twice about that creak in the floorboards. Something to make me lay in bed and not want to look to either side in the dread certainty that there. Something to make me wonder if the dark is my friend or my enemy.

I don't really want that feeling again. I don't.

But...sometimes...I do.


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