Some of the most amazing sparks for an article can come from just a great conversation. While having “the talk” with my oldest … No, not that one. The other very important one. Horror movie history! Old enough now and asking all the right questions, I cracked my mellon open to share my “horrorpedia” the best I could with her. When explaining Lugosi, Karloff, Chaney Jr. …one has that “feeling”. The one where you’re explaining your grandparents. That warm adoration because they did the best they could with what they had and it laid this impeccable foundation for “the family.” A respectable lineage.
Then it’s the “parents”. Sometimes you loved them, sometimes you hated them but when it came down to it, you’re nothing without them. My “parents” are the glorious 80’s. When daisy dukes weren’t daisy dukes yet and guys wore them. When socks came up to where the capris left off. Where bras weren’t necessary and feathered hair should’ve been a privilege not a right. But just as good parents do, they taught us something!
The 80’s, to me, was when K.I.Ms (Killers in Movies) were the absolute embodiment of evil! Being a mom, hearing them called “monsters” translates into fur and saying “Mike Wazowski” over and over. No offense Critters, Krampus, Jeepers etc… if you’re reading. K.I.M s were vessels that made the evil mobile. The only empotional pull was unadulterated fear. The forward thought that trumped any physiological reaction, other than fear, was truly what defined horror as we know it! Its impact even went on to create a community that has stood the test of time! I’m certainly not writing this for Good Housekeeping! Jason and Michael mind screwed us with no expression, Leatherface would just take our faces and wear them and Freddy made fun of the fear he was acutely causing right in our face. And then there was a bit of a sex appeal movement in my opinion. While evil took on four legs, a fin and even a doll, Sarandon had shoulder pads but a jaw line for days. Candyman would appear behind you with that insanely amazing baritone voice. Was there a movement were horror needed to put the sexy in evil because the masters made evil so perfectly something had to evolve? I vote yes to both. I’ve been around that table with colleagues where women say “Otis was hot”. And I get it. He took charge, didn’t blink or back down and let’s be honest, Bill pulled off blonde locks like a boss! And Robert John Burke in Dust Devil…yum! And three words…THE LOST BOYS! But I digress because one of the other reasons I praise and appreciate the above was it was raw and used familiarity to grab you. That made the fear even more intense. To have the limited resources they had but psychologically imprint people to the degree they did is astounding!
I’ve also been asked why there has not been a prominent female “iconic” killer. Just my opinion, the true challenge is making the general audience fear what they have a natural positive draw to and that’s almost impossible. I’ve found myself combating the emotion of seeing a woman and resorting to a nurturer, mother, grandmother, etc., association in my head. So now there is a halfhearted fear. This harbors that unadulterated total fear experience. Same with Cujo. It was difficult to tap into that pure form of being afraid because that K.I.M represented a “love” for me. Some would even include “Chucky” as a conflict because it was a doll, and we love dolls, blah blah blah. Personally, anything that smiles that long has something evil going on! I had NO issues being completely afraid! But we all adore a genre that garners a multitude of different opinions, perspectives and taste. Another kick ass characteristic of the family!
I watch horror on the level of “care” I want in that moment. My picks depend on what mood I’m in. My hat tips to the brilliance of the OGs because their K.I.Ms eliminated human pull in no other direction but provoking cerebral fear. There was a freedom in those films that I’ve not seen again.
by Amy Humphries