As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of horror films. But what exactly do I love about the genre so much? Well, for one thing it’s helped me grow as a person. It’s been a reliable friend that has gotten me through dark days, good days and has shaped who I am today. Most of the credit goes to 3 films in particular, which I now regard as pinnacles for me growing up:
Child’s Play (1988)
Child’s Play is about a single mother who gives her child a much-wanted ‘Good Guys’ doll for his birthday, which just so happens to be possessed by a the soul of a serial killer.
When I was seven years old, my brother asked my sister and me if we wanted to watch a film. This film happened to be Child’s Play. My sister spent most of it with a cushion glued to her face, But I, being incredibly brave (stupid) decided to watch the whole thing.
As you might have guessed, I was horrified. I spent the next two years of my young life being terrified of the cupboard in my room as I was sure Chucky was hiding there. Even when my dad removed the doors, I figured he’d still be somewhere else, watching and waiting… especially when my mam bought me an almost exact replica from a school fete. Carnage.
Then, I just… stopped being afraid. I don’t know how or why, but the fear that once plagued me so intensely just evaporated away. And, upon watching Child’s Play years later, I couldn’t believe I’d ever been scared of that adorable little ginger maniac. I now have the collection of films and a Chucky figurine. He’s so cute. But I think it was helpful to be that scared that young, as it meant that I got it out of the way early. Although I still don’t know what the hell my brother was thinking.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Dream Warriors concerns a group of teenagers in a hospital who all suffer from the same nightmares. Unbelieved by their doctor, they find help in the form of Nancy Thompson and together try to find a way to stop regular dream-botherer Freddy Krueger for good.
This is the first horror film I ever bought, underage and on VHS – shock. All the sequels were lined up on a shelf and I picked this one because, well I “judged a book by its cover”.
I had been introduced to Freddy once before at a sleepover, but assuming I was going to be scared, I forced myself to sleep and missed everything but the end credits. Going home with my video and playing it on my own was the bravest thing I’d done in years, and I was hooked.
Freddy became my horror idol. I know that’s kind of a gross thing to say considering who he was and the horrible things he does to innocent teenagers, but what a fantastic character he is. Scary but witty, horrifying but funny. I now own all the films and have enjoyed the TV series. I can’t get enough of the Fredster.
All I’ve thought about for years is how to come up with a character even close to his iconic status (and Jason, Michael, Pinhead… you get the idea). Wes Craven was a true horror genius and, with Freddy, he really gave me the inspiration to keep watching horror and to develop my own horror-ific ideas.
Saw is the story of two men who wake up in a dirty bathroom, with no recollection of how they got there. Upon discovering they are pawns of a sick game, they must work together to find a way out before the game is over.
I watched Saw at the cinema with no idea as to the plot, and was completely blown away. This was a horror that was clever, full of twists, had great performances and one hell of a storyline.
During the now infamous final scene, there were audible gasps, much shaking of heads and everyone left the cinema with mouths gaping open, walking like zombies as they tried to comprehend how they had missed such a twist. (Those who say that they could see this happening, hang your heads in shame you LIARS).
I went home and read everything I could find about who created this amazing film, which led me to the wonderful duo of Leigh Whannell and James Wan. Following their careers thereafter has encouraged me to work on my own writing. These guys are paving a new wave of delicious horror, and I thank them for giving me a writing boost and the inspiration to be among their statute someday!
By Catherine Dunn (@toodamncat)
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