Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whore Fans.

College. Wearing my emotions on my chest.
The first time I ever got into trouble for anything in school was in second grade. 1982. Was I writing love letters to a boy? Playing with My Little Pony? Sneaking bits of Fruit Rollup from under my desk? No, no, and too noisy, so no.

Instead, I was caught working on what would become the first and final issue of my very own homemade horror magazine, ala Fangoria. My best friend Cara and I were the writers, illustrators and editors, putting together a pretty hefty collection of short stories, fake advertising and mini film reviews, and it was coming along swimmingly until "Mr. D." came along and put the kibosh on our budding horror journalism careers. In front of the entire class.

His brutal, public admonishment also put an end to our nearly year-long love affair. Well, the one made up in my mind. I crushed on Mr. D. big time. He looked exactly like Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, and he had a dark side, stealing Hostess cupcakes from kids' lunches (yep, I caught him one day but never told). He left teaching in 1983 to become a chef. Presumably, to make his own fucking cupcakes.

Anyway, I've been a horror fan for my entire life. Entire. The first film I ever saw was Dawn of the Dead, at the now-defunct Stadium Drive-In in Anaheim. To this day, it is my favorite film. I can recite it in my sleep. I'm sure I've even uttered a few lines during sex: "It's not too late ... and I know how." See? I love this film!

I pretty much owe my horror-loving life to my parents. They spent a great deal of my childhood high as kites. Baked as brownies. Throw your own pot reference in there; they were lit. And they were very young. Add those things together and throw in the late 1970s-early 1980s. The result: Rated PG-R. Parental Guidance Rejected.

I saw everything. Halloween? Okay. Silent Scream? Well alright, fine. There were no hands covering my little eyes, ever. No commands to put my head down, or turn away until the scary parts were over. If there were boobs, then fine; I was going to get my own pair someday, I'd hoped. You see where this is going. Today, my folks might've been reported, and I probably would've been taken to a foster home. But in those days, all bets were off, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who missed out on discretionary parenting.

Once I hit my teens, I was beginning to sneak into R-rated films with easy, gleeful regularity, and had already seen just about every horror film at the local mom-and-pop. I spent so much time there that the good folks who ran the store literally became like my mom and pop. "Pop" even shooed off would-be kidnappers near the store who tried to grab me from their car. For 25 cents apiece, I could have my pick of the litter, and Fridays saw the new films arriving (not Tuesdays), of which I always got first dibs. When I started to earn real money babysitting, I bought my first VHS from Mom and Pop (NOES II: Freddy's Revenge), and when franchises like Blockbuster spelled the beginning of the end for homespun video stores, it broke my heart when Mom and Pop were finally forced to close theirs.

As always, Saturday nights were devoted to my lifelong role model, Elvira. I skipped Junior Prom because I just knew it wasn't going to be as awesome as whatever she was putting on. And also, because I never had dates. A fact that stayed pretty consistent into adulthood. My hobby was my friend in childhood, and it became my boyfriend into adulthood. Yeah, I got hit by boys in school, but never hit on by them. But like some girls with shoes, and other girls with food, horror always accepted me, always loved me. And I loved it.

So here's my problem. All these girls coming out now and proclaiming themselves to be geeks; where the hell were they when I was growing up? Because I sure as hell didn't know any girl in any of the schools I attended from kindergarten through college who were into horror. I was exposed to horror at a very tender age, but I'm sure that the reason why I never strayed from it was because it was the redheaded stepchild of all genres, the one that never got any respect, and I could relate. All the people I ever saw at conventions as a child were outcast types, and I felt like I had fit in with them. There weren't any hot chicks in horror gear, or whatever the hell they parade around in now. Horror was never cool. I was never cool. So now it's cool? I can't keep up.

I'm not coming at this with any kind of bitterness; rather, I'd just like for people to cut the bullshit and be real, and just like horror because they genuinely like it, not because it gets them coverage. You can say you liked Paranormal Activity, or The Blair Witch Project (I didn't care for either one) if it'll get you points, but have a sit-down in front of the film that really pioneered the "lost footage" fanaticism: Cannibal Holocaust. And if you're going to call yourself a geek and be a hot chick about it, for fuck's sake, remember who your audience is, and don't become the bitch who doesn't have time. Because then it stops me from thinking that you're fake, and starts me knowing that you are. This goes for all those "geek" guys, too. The ones who are too cool for all kinds of shit now. Weren't you the ones who had to sit on the line with me during recess? What the hell happened?

Me? I'm just another girl in the world who grew up with a plastic spoon in her mouth, and loved horror because it fed me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Silver Shamrocked.

So, I'm on Twitter as @silvershamrockd, and just about everyone knows what the username refers to. That's right: no one can hear the words "Silver Shamrock" without thinking of that delightful early-Eighties sitcom starring Ricky Schroder and the Leprechaun. And the bitchin' train that took them around the house and through the pool to a slammin' mini-bar with all the Colt 45 they could drink. Colt 45 and Ovaltine. Wasn't that Ricky Schroder who drank Ovaltine in A Christmas Story?

Yep, I'm being silly (and btw, while every girl in my class was crushing on the Ricker, my towhead of choice was A Christmas Story's Peter Billingsley. Hello? "Real People" had it all over "Silver Spoons."), but while I'm revisiting some bad-assness from my youth, I thought I'd throw a boner to one of my favorite horror films from childhood:

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Yes, that film. Yes. That. Film. Damn it, what did I just say? YES, I love Halloween III! And I'm not the only one. Anyway, 'tis the reason for the season, so why not sing its praises? I'll start:

How fantastic is that Carpenter/Howarth OST? I was seven years old at the time Halloween III: Season of the Witch came out, and the idea that Halloween masks could actually kill kids blew my little mind. Not that it wasn't entirely unbelievable: the Tylenol murders in Chicago were happening at around the same time, and word on the playground was that adults were actually putting razor blades into the Halloween candy. Trick or treat indeed.

But Halloween masks? The only danger my plastic Princess Leia Cinnabon-hair mask ever posed was that of going out of style with Return of the Jedi. Oh, and I lost all peripheral vision while it was on. There was that. But again, killer masks? How cruel could adults be?

The answer lay in the test labs of Silver Shamrock Novelties, the anti-Willy Wonka of factories if ever there was one. Tucked inside were the keys to kid heaven, literally and figuratively. The pliant, sophisticated latex Silver Shamrock masks were a far cry from what we were used to:

And that wasn't all. Not only were the masks awesome all by themselves, they came with a catchy song and a bitchin' prize giveaway. So naturally, the kids in the film were sold. As kids in real life would be.

Just one thing ...

So ... a production glitch. Right? Right? Add the anamorphically stretched trick-or-treating montage at the half point, and sold! One terrified kid at home swearing off masks. And trick-or-treating. And shamrocks. But not Lucky Charms. Those blue diamonds were delicious.

There are many reasons to love Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Yes, it doesn't have anything to do with the series, but "Friday the 13th: The Series" couldn't have been further from Jason, and I loved that, too. And honestly, did you really love Halloween II so damned much that you couldn't wait to see more of the bad Laurie wig and Jamie Lee "I don't need to do this shit anymore, I'm gonna be in Trading Places and marry Nigel Tufnel in a few years" Curtis going through the motions? Yeah, okay.

Tommy Lee Wallace made a great film. And if you want Jamie Lee Curtis, she's in it, albeit in a voice role. Nancy Kyes (Loomis) played a stiff in Halloween II, but I much prefer her alive, as she is in Halloween III. You've got a creepy premise. You've got Tom Atkins, fer sobbin' out loud. And again, a hell of a catchy song that we all still sing every fall as we tick off the days 'til Halloween.

And if all that fails for you, there's boobs. Nice, perky, leading-lady boobs. And she turns into an android later. See, another reason to love this film!

So anyway, I'll be watching the magic pumpkin again this year, as I do every year, grateful that I made it through childhood without imploding or being poisoned or cutting my gums on a Chunky. Now, if I can just figure out how to do the same in my thirties ...