A reflection on damaged youth
Some of it being pretty damn frightening.
Feet glued to the floor, eyes bugging out and hairs standing on the back of my neck-type scary stuff. Images that burned an eternal place in my brain and made for sleepless nights wrapped in my Empire Strikes Back bed sheets. This subject came up in a conversation I was involved with recently amongst two other horror aficionados and we mocked the scenes that hold no power today and relished those moments that still do.
Here are the five most f**ked up moments in horror that scarred my childhood. There may be spoilers ahead for those who haven't seen the films I refer to below. I'll admit, they're a bit beyond the norm. Some folks I talk to mention the twins from The Shining or the clown doll from Poltergeist, so feel free to share your own in the comments section below!
1.) Humanoids from the Deep
SCAR VALUE: Supremely F'ed Up
SEEN: It was the early '80s and my family was at the neighbor's house for a BBQ. I was the only one in the living room flipping channels and I came across this Roger Corman-produced creature feature when…OH MY GOD!
THE "MOMENT": It's not the dead kid, or the slaughtered dogs, or even that wooden dummy in the tent. You see, my introduction to Humanoids from the Deep was at the tail-end of the film. If I had seen the film from start to finish with its super-salmon gone rape-y, no doubt my mind would have been damaged. But that ending…whoa, boy.
If you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about. A scarred woman is about to give birth when – BLAMMO – in a spray of blood, a mutated runt of a creature that might have resembled Justin Bieber's afterbirth bursts through this woman's ailing womb and out of her stomach. It flaps rubbery maw before the picture cuts to black.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP? I gave the film a revisit on Blu-Ray – superb work from the team at Shout! Factory – and I still find the scene disturbing. What a kick to the balls!
2.) The Blob
SCAR VALUE: Moderately F'ed Up
SEEN: On VHS very late one night. I expected a cheeseball remake and closed the film out with a stomach full of popcorn, a crush on Shawnee Smith and a lot of love for the film.
THE "MOMENT": There are a few I could name, particularly the scene when the kid bites it in the sewers, but what really knocked me out was when the jock is slowly yanked out of the hospital room window. Shawnee's character Meg reaches out to save him only to wind up with a handful of jock forearm.
Was it silly of me to be absolutely petrified by something like "the Blob"? Probably. But this film demonstrated the eponymous entity's abilities, and Christ, if you get devoured by it, you're still screaming while it eats you. After watch the film that night, I was awake in bed imagining the Blob was in the woods approaching my house.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP? Pretty well, although the rest of the film has some equally strong and gruesome moments, such as the famous garbage disposal gag.
3.) The Amityville Horror
SCAR VALUE: At a super young age? Fairly F'ed Up.
SEEN: I remember it was during the summer, for sure. My mother was doing a bit of house cleaning. The windows were open and WPIX was on. She left me alone in the living room, unaware of what was on.
THE "MOMENT": Those silly Lutz kids are screwing around an open window. The window comes down, smashing one little boy's hand. He's screaming. Margot Kidder can't open the damn window and neither can James Brolin. The kid's hand is eventually freed.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP? It doesn't. At all. But as I mention above, as a kid around the same age as the Lutz kids, it freaked me out.
4.) A Nightmare on Elm Street
SCAR VALUE: Super F'ed Up
SEEN: Out of context. At a friend's house. My folks were unaware I was watching it.
THE "MOMENT": Two taboo subjects coming together like peanut butter and chocolate. Sex and violence. There was no way in hell my parents were going to let me see this when it first hit VHS. And I quickly learned why when I watched Tina's death play out from the time you can hear her humping away on Rod to her grisly end that crescendos with her taking a back flop onto a bed full of blood.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP? C'mon. You don't even need an answer to this question. The scene is far from outdated and is incredibly inventive, even if it was difficult for Wes Craven and his production crew to pull off.
5.) Maximum Overdrive
SCAR VALUE: Just Plain Stupid F'ed Up
SEEN: Another summer afternoon. I had no baseball practice for the day, so for some reason the whole family sat down for a viewing of Stephen King's directorial debut.
THE "MOMENT" A little league player and his bike get squashed by an intelligent steamroller…set to the awesome "screech, screech, screech!" wailing of AC/DC's soundtrack. This is about as far as the Turek family got before my mother deemed it unworthy for my eyes. Pity, because it'd go on to be a guilty pleasure of mine later on. That's a few years of Maximum Overdrive love I lost in my youth!
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP? The film, over all, is rather absurd. So, the scene plays more humorous than anything.