My Life In Horror
Every month, I will write about a film, album, book or event that I consider horror, and that had a warping effect on my young mind. You will discover my definition of what constitutes horror is both eclectic and elastic. Don’t write in. Also, of necessity, much of this will be bullshit – as in, my best recollection of things that happened anywhere from 15 – 25 years ago. Sometimes I will revisit the source material contemporaneously, further compounding the potential bullshit factor.
This is not history. This is not journalism. This is not a review.
This is my life in horror.
My Brief Career As An Eleven Year Old Slave Trader
It’s my final summer of primary school. And depending on when it fell, I’m either ten or eleven. But it’s been elevens all round so far, so let’s suppose that’s right for this too. At a certain point it seems like synchronicity has its own gravitational pull, and the notion that my biggest formative intellectual and artistic experiences all came within a couple of months of turning eleven pleases me. And anyway, like it says up top – this isn’t history......
Now It’s Time To Show You What I Already Know.Tough to be sure, but I’m going to go ahead and blame this one on Uncle Edward. He had a pretty sizable VHS collection of movies recorded off the telly. They sat behind glass in a cabinet, row after row of identical plastic cases with faux hardback book colouration and gold leaf edging, differentiated only by numbers stuck to the spines. To decode what was going on, you needed The Book – an A5 notebook with a number per page, corresponding to the number on the cases and tapes. The book served a duel function – of course it was the listing, so you actually knew what was on each tape. But it also served as a kind of cultural archaeological catalogue. For example, a typical entry might read:
It starts with blackness. How could it not? Hovering in the darkness, a skull. It’s huge, jaw unhinged in an endless scream. Flames and smoke curl up behind it, and streaming from the mouth of the skull, an army of the damned. Klansmen. Hitler. Ruby, shooting Oswald. Dictators. Tyrants. Despots. Killers.
It’s 1989. I am still eleven.
A choir, discordant, then a single picking guitar, minor chords. Then a second. Bass drum now, beating a tattoo. The guitars swirl, one low, one high, building, and then a sudden drum roll...
And we’re off.
WARNING: The following post contains gigantic, mountain-sized spoilers for the Stephen King novel IT. If you haven’t already read that story, I can’t diagnose what your problem is, but do yourself and humanity a favour and rectify that hideous oversights at your earliest convenience and BEFORE you read any further, okay? I’ll be right here, but we really need to talk as equals.
This post contains epic spoilers for the film RoboCop – as in, it’s likely to spoil your 20th re-watch, let alone your first viewing. For this reason, and because the 1987 movie RoboCop is objectively the best movie ever made, if you haven’t seen it, go and see it right now, for the love of God. Then come back once you’ve scraped your brain off the wall and deposited it back into your skull, okay?
Oh, there’s also spoilers for Lethal Weapon, Face/Off, Die Hard, First Blood, Don’t Look Now, and in a cruel twist of fate, the TV show ER. But fuck them, they’re not RoboCop.
t’s June, 1989. I am eleven years old.
It’s towards the ass end of the school term, probably the last week of school before the break, and it’s a glorious summer day in Devon, and no-one, least of all the teachers, gives a shit anymore. The borderline sociopath headteacher that also runs the 10 and 11 year old class with an iron fist has spent most of the last few days holed up in the staff room watching the cricket – if Louise Thompson is to be believed, he stands while watching, a cricket bat in hand, as if he’s invented the Wii sports cricket sim 17 years early, or more likely as though he’s drunk. When I come to leave the school in a couple of weeks, I’ll unaccountably shake his hand, tears not quite held back, in as pure a display of Stockholm Syndrome as you’ll ever see, but right now I’m supremely comfortable and secure in my undying hatred and contempt for him and all he stands for.