Along with my fellow bloggers over at Write in the Shadows, I’m taking one day a week this month to talk about scary things that have influenced my life. This week: movies.
I don’t watch a lot of movies anymore, so these are old classics. These days, I’m more frightened by things like national security, my mortgage payment, and hordes of rabid ultra-conservatives, so when I take out precious time to watch a movie, it’s more likely to be a disaster flick because I’m just a disaster-movie junkie. Ironic, you might say, since I ended up living one in Hurricane Katrina five years ago. Let’s just say they’re more fun onscreen.
So, here we go…
No. 5: HALLOWEEN. The original one directed by John Carpenter, with Jamie Lee Curtis as the hapless babysitter, Donald Pleasance as the vaguely sinister, hapless psychiatrist, and our first look at Michael Myers. I was living alone in an apartment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, about five miles from the state mental hospital. I still remember coming home from the theater after midnight and fumbling with my door lock while looking over my shoulder for any big zombie-like guy wearing a hockey mask.
No. 4: THE EXORCIST. Now, I think it’s hokey and has ridiculous special effects, but when it came out it was the scariest thing ever. I didn’t SEE it for a long time because my parents wouldn’t let me, but the idea was enough. As tweens my BFF Nancy and I had dabbled with the ouija board and the idea we might have accidentally summoned a pea soup-spewing demon that could possess us and make our heads spin…Holy crap! I haven’t touched a ouija board since.
No. 3: HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE. For years, I remembered this movie only by the creepy theme song and the image of a man’s severed head rolling down the staircase of a grand Southern mansion. Especially the tumbling head. I’m not sure how old I was when I first saw it, but not old enough–I saw it again a few months ago and was surprised that it had a plot and everything. But tumbling head=still creepy.
No. 2: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. Yeah, there’s a pattern developing here because, face it, Bette Davis could play one scary broad. And when she serves poor Blanche a rat on her dinner tray? OMG.
No. 1: THE BIRDS. Another one I saw way too young (why did my parents let me watch this stuff?). I even became fearful of my brother’s parakeet Sammy. And now I will admit an awful, awful thing. Sammy escaped his cage one day and was fluttering around the living room. I saw him. I saw the open window. I saw Sammy fly out the open window. I didn’t try to stop him. Yes, I virtually committed parakeet homicide. But the image of poor, traumatized Tippi Hedren being ushered to the car by Rod Taylor through a sea of evil pigeons is one I’ll never get over.
What’s your favorite scary movie, or scene from a movie that always stuck with you?