Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 24: Character that scared you most.

It’s kinda interesting that this is my first 30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back post since returning from my vacation in Myrtle Beach, because the character that scared me the most did so many years ago when I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Anyway, said character was probably just about the worst thing a kid could have seen while at the beach. I guarantee you though; I wasn’t the only one whose vacation this character has completely ruined over the years. Not by a long shot.

Before we get to that, let me state that in my life, I can really only remember being scared by a movie three times. I’m not counting when I was three and went to see Return of the Jedi and freaked out when those bastard storm troopers were killing the ewoks. I wasn’t scared, just sad and pissed off, and ready to join the rebellion myself. The only time I remember being scared by a film in my adult life I was 19. That night I drove for an hour to see a limited release screening of The Blair Witch Project. Of course, I felt really stupid three weeks later when it was in every multiplex known to man. This was before the “found footage” movie became an overused cliché, so while I knew it was a fictional movie, it was impressively realistic to me at the time. There was a pretty dense forest behind my house, and my nightly ritual was to go out the back door, go in the woods, and smoke a joi…er…cigarette, before bed. This particular night, I walked into the woods, took one puff, and began to look around. I started getting an uneasy feeling, seeing all the trees and shadows dancing in the moonlight, and I decided I didn’t want to be in the woods that night. I didn’t want to be in the woods for a couple more nights either. That wasn’t a particular character though. In fact, maybe it was just paranoia. I did do a lot of drugs in those days.

The other two instances of horror characters scaring the hell out of me occurred when I was very young. When I was four, my mother, who would never let me watch anything, for some reason let me watch the TV miniseries V: The Final Battle with her. I was fine with the weird lizard people, but for some reason I flipped out when one of the aliens in human form expanded her jaw like a snake to eat a large rodent of some kind. I’ve gone back and watched it since, and the effects are laughable now; but when I was four that was some freaky stuff. That lizard woman pales in comparison to the character that scared me the most though.

It was either 1988 or 1989, I’m not sure. That would make me 8 or 9 years old. Every summer, my family went to Myrtle Beach. My folks knew someone who rented us their condo for the week. They took the bedroom and I slept on the couch. We only had basic cable at our house, so the beach was a rare chance to sneak and watch some HBO or Cinemax once mom and dad had gone to bed. Don’t lie; you all did it too. I waited impatiently for something I wasn’t supposed to see to come on. I might hear some bad language or see some violent stuff. Of course in later years it evolved into an undying quest for boobs. On the first night of this vacation, however, Jaws was on. All I knew was that it was about a shark, and I thought sharks were pretty cool. I then watched in horror as people were eaten and boats were destroyed, and general hell was raised by the gigantic great white.

The next morning, it was time to head to the beach. I faced a choice, get in that ocean or admit that I watched a forbidden flick and get in trouble. Was I going to get in the water? Oh hell no! Every time I approached the surf, I heard that familiar theme song pounding in my brain. Da dum, da dum. I could just see that shark eying my legs from the deep. Da dum, da dum. Every squeal of joy from someone frolicking in the water sounded like the scream of a swimmer being devoured. Da dum, da dum. It took mom three or four days to even get me to go in the pool. Freshwater was still water, and that shark lived in water. Da dum. Da dum. Needless do say, I spent a lot of time building sandcastles that week. I’ve always loved the water. Swimming, boating, just chilling at the beach, whatever. By the time the next year’s vacation rolled around, I was fine again. For that one fateful week, however, that damn shark had me terrified to even stick a toe in. So yeah, Jaws (or Bruce as he is sometimes known) was the character that scared me the most. Thanks Spielberg, you ruined my damn vacation.

One last note, while he scared the hell out of me that week, the Jaws Nintendo game ended up being one of my childhood favorites. In retrospect, it wasn't much of a game, but maybe, just maybe, subconsciously I was conquering my fear by killing an 8 bit Jaws. Hmmm.


Cash Wampum said...

I know grown men who STILL won't go into open water because of Jaws. My one buddy, who will remain nameless, won't go into any water where he can't see the bottom. So night swimming for him is out.

I do remember Jane Badler chowing on the rodent in the old V show and that was creepy. That reference brought on some nostalgia, thank you. And, like you, my mother was viciously against my young eyes visualizing anything non-wholesome at a young age and I had to sneak episodes of V back in the early 80s.

Jaws, for me, is an incredible movie but I'm a born again fish. I've loved the water ever since I was a toddler and have never feared it or anything in it. I have been in the ocean several times...loved every minute of it. We're surrounded by the Great Lakes up here but nothing compares to being thrown around by an angry Atlantic tide. If anything gives me trepidation about swimming in open water, it would be the off chance of swimming into a mass of poisonous jellyfish. This would suck, large. Fortunately sharks don't find humans tasty (even though they'll eat anything) and if they're encountered your best course of action is to remain still. Flailing limbs look too much like meal time to the great white so when you catch that big ass fin out of the corner of your eye, tuck yer shit in and float....and pray.

I'm with you 100% about Blair Witch. I remember watching that during its hype and the conclusion of it gave me such a start, I was shaking all the way home. I remember driving buddy home and watching him walk into his house thinking, "Christ Jesus, I still need company!! Now I have to go the dark." The rest of the night I had such huge jitters. It was excellent. THATS what a good horror is supposed to do to you. My let down was trying to see it a second time. There's no repeatability factor to Blair Witch, unlike any other great movie thats freaked you out. You get one scare and then its over. Any horrific sensation is gone. This is the same reason I've never tried cocaine. I've heard way too many stories from users who have all said the same try it once and its euphoric and then you're doomed to chase the dragon. Meaning no matter HOW much you take or how often, the second time, the 50th time, the 1000th time is NEVER like your first cocaine cannot be achieved. But by God!! You'll continue to try...hence the addiction. My opinion is; if I never have that first high, I'll never know what I'm missing. But by all means, pass the joint. But I digress....

Scariest character for me, when I was a kid was Fred Kruger. That whole segment with him in the alley completely fucked me up. The long, nightmarish arms, the scraping knives and teleporting, especially from behind the tree. The first time I watched Nightmare it was on some 5th generation VHS that I found so when he popped out from behind the tree, got Tina's attention and proceeded to cut two of his own fingers off just to get her reaction, because the picture was so gritty all I could see was a black face with two eyes darting back and forth between his own mangled hand and his prey. I was traumatized, to say the least. That whole segment from her waking up, not being able to wake Rod to Nancy and Glen breaking into the bedroom to find the mess should be inducted into some sort of Horror hall of fame. Such great horror!!!

Original Fred Kruger, before the one liners, back when he meant business and executed his kills with menace and torment. Decisive evil. Best horror character ever.

AhdBod said...

Aww, its cute how 8bit bruce's fins are reaching out for you lol

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