I’m a horror fan and have been for as long as I can remember. In fact, some of my earliest memories are either watching my dad play NES (Fester’s Quest, Zelda-Gold Edition) or watching horror films.
I remember being a little kid and hiding behind a pillow or under the coffee table (yay for being small enough to where one movement could hide the television and some villian coming out of the darkness with a chainsaw), watching these while the only time my mom was telling me to cover my eyes were the “older kid” parts (needles, boobs, that kind of thing). I was introduced to Vincent Price this way, I was given a love of black-and-white films this way, and, oddly enough, a desire to seek out the “really cheesy bad horror flick.” I got to watch the Must-See things of that time period (yay slasher flicks) and to this day I still cannot watch Child’s Play.
At the impressionable age of…whatever, there was a period of a couple months where I could’ve sworn one of my toys had come to life, stolen a huge knife, and was keeping it hidden in my closet so that when I least expected it, it could kill me in the middle of the night. This belief somehow morphed into not being able to sleep with a closet door open for years (now, our closet has no doors so there’s not much of a problem). By the time I was able to sleep with a closet door open, I was around 12 and the toy in question was gone.
The cause of this…nightmare was this: Patty Play Pal (link goes to a woman’s photo, the best one of the box I could find that shows the doll the best). This is, apparently, the 1987 version of the doll. Stick a few DD batteries in the butt and it moves its mouth, blinks, and moves its head. It “talks” in sync with the little tape you plug in to its awesome little lunch-box looking tape player (that only had stop, play and either rewind or fast-forward. I think it was fast-forward because it was weird).
In my skewed memory, I distinctly remember this doll as being part of a horror movie. Then again, I only saw a very small portion of the movie and was strictly informed to not tell my cousin (who wasn’t allowed to watch scary movies, her first scary movie was when we rented Jurassic Park when it came out on VHS) because she had the same damn doll too. Through searches, the closest thing I can find is Dolly Dearest, a film I have yet to see (I blame Chucky) but that doll has long brown hair. And the photos from the film are kinda creepy.
One of the great things about growing up with parents who love horror, was that I was encouraged to like what I like. So my small collection of books was a smattering of fun mixed in the weird. I had more scary-story anthologies than most kids around my age. I believed more in ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night than I did in your average childhood beliefs of the tooth fairy and Santa. I had the Goosebump books (and I have half of the original series along with bits of the other RL Stine series on our bookshelf), I had Deadtime Stories, I had Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In fact, I still have my original copy of the first book. It’s bent, it’s worn, it’s torn, and very much loved. I was the envy of kids because I had a scary story book between ages 7 and 8 while the back explicitly stated it was for kids 9 and older. I got into an argument with a “teacher” (that’s what they called the glorified baby-sitters of the after school daycare center I was in for a couple years) over whether or not the Goosebumps television series was scary.
Of course, the downside to growing up with parents who love horror and *gasp* one television, was that if they wanted to watch something you either watched it or went into another room to do something else. So I ended up with my fair share of traumatizing events (like Freddy at age 4), but I also ended up with fun memories like defying my mom and watching the needle part of Dr Giggles while we sat in the theatre (for you local folks, this was when The Grandin was cheaper than Salem Valley 8 and gas was still around 80-cents a gallon). I still hate needles.
I also got into an argument once with a neighbor’s kid on whether or not I really did watch Tales from the Crypt. After it boiled down to “uh-huh” and “nuh-uh” back and forth, I pointed out I didn’t even know there was a cartoon. Eck. I tried watching the cartoon and, I’d rather stick with the live-action show. It was fun, it was cheesy, and for a while my dad used to tell my mom that he’ buy the life-size replica of the Crypt Keeper and set it up in the living room to scare people. (back when Spencer’s was hilarious and did ear-peircing, they had a giant blow-up chair set up with the Crypt Keeper hanging out on it. He was about $300, so we never got him)
As I’m growing up and simply becoming a “big kid,” the whole horror-fan thing has just increased. Most of our films are horror or deal with supernatural things (vampires, werewolves, aliens, etc), most of the films we put on our Netflix list are horror. It’s been interesting to watch the whole genre/fandom evolve from little splots here and there or only being able to be found around Halloween and if you’re very lucky you get one splatter-flick every summer to this year-round semi-gorefest. We find ourselves anxiously awaiting certain films to be released so we can see them, I started doing film reviews so we could simply keep up with all the horror films we watch (which still has the most reviews as the film-review thing has evolved to include more than just horror and supernatural stuff), and our bookshelves have a rather large amount of thrillers, horror, true-crime, etc (and anthologies! most of which are horror based).
With this love of horror, we find ourselves pointing out different little things. Going to a friend’s house turns into “I think of serial killers,” and declining a hiking trip with acquaintences with a simple “It’s a horror movie waiting to happen” is all pretty normal. And every so often I find myself being paranoid of what exactly is in the dark waiting besides the evil, demented cat we named Snooch.
I had planned to go a bit further in depth with films and books, but it looks like this has gone on long enough for now.