If you could go back in time and tell a younger me that I would become obsessed with horror, I would have looked at you like you were a Deadite. So, how did I get to where I am today? For anyone who wants to start their journey into horror, this story might be for you.
Horror is not for everyone, especially when it involves all-out gore fests. That was me when I was nine years old. Nothing scared me too much (not even spiders or clowns) except for blood. I could not look at the red stuff for more than a few seconds before feeling like I had to puke. I was far more interested in Mario than in blood and guts, but a horror fanatic has to start somewhere with something that makes them fall in love with the genre.
That something was Army of Darkness, which Mom watched on TV in her room one night.
Mom noticed that I was nearby, and she decided to let me watch. She was pretty open-minded about what movies I could see when I was growing up, and she has always been a fan of the horror genre. For the next 82 minutes, I watched as Ash Williams (hail to the king, baby!), played expertly by Bruce Campbell, got stuck in medieval times and battled Deadites to get back to the present day. And I loved every minute of it.
However, as scary and fun as Army of Darkness was, it was nothing compared to my experience with Evil Dead II. Yes, before you ask, I initially did see the Evil Dead movies in reverse order. I did not care at the time, though.
I did care about the ridiculous amounts of bloodshed in numerous scenes. The scene that really punched me in the gut happened when tidal waves of blood shot out of holes in the cabin wall. I know it sounds comical now, but it was a big deal for me back then. Do you remember moments when you were a kid in which you saw something at too young of an age? That was me.
Before that scene, though, was one that would stick with me for quite some time. At one point, Ash’s left-hand gets infected and subsequently possessed by an evil force. So, to stop the spread of this evil, he amputates the hand with a chainsaw. Groovy, huh? At the time, I had little knowledge of special effects and fake gore, so my naïve mind thought Bruce Campbell actually amputated his hand for the movie!
Even as my Mom tried to assure me that nothing happening in the movie happened in real life, I was still traumatized. Then, a few months later, my Mom did something that put things in perspective: she showed me the first Evil Dead movie from her DVD collection. She came up with the idea because of my reaction to Evil Dead II. I still could not get over the hand amputating scene! For the record, I knew how to tell the difference between fantasy and reality at nine, but I could not say the same for horror films. Plus, there was a cool behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD, so once we finished watching The Evil Dead, we would check out how the movie got made.
The plot of The Evil Dead, and, to an extent, its sequel, involves five college students: Ash, his sister Cheryl, his girlfriend Linda, and Scott and his girlfriend, Shelly. They go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. (Gee, I wonder how that will turn out?) There, they find a book called the Naturom Demonto, which, when read out loud, summons numerous demonic entities. The group, save for Ash, becomes possessed, one by one, and he has to fight for survival.
One thing I noticed about The Evil Dead was its sheer relentlessness. Every time something appeared to be over, the action would start again. My great-uncle, who saw the film back in 1983, had similar feelings. When he returned home from the theater, Mom said he looked like he had come back from a war. I wish I could have seen his face!
After 85 minutes, the film ended. Then, I saw the behind-the-scenes video showing how most of the effects came to life. To my surprise, I saw the actors having fun during filming. If horror films scare you, I highly recommend watching some behind-the-scenes footage, especially after you have watched the movie. Here is a fun fact for any gorehounds reading this: The Evil Dead used 200 to 300 gallons of fake blood throughout production.
From that night on, I managed to get interested in behind-the-scenes content, especially when it came to sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films. I know it might spoil the magic for some people, but I am the kind of person that loves to see how certain things work. When I watch a scary movie, one of my favorite activities is to examine the visual effects and think to myself, “Wow, that looks so cool!” or sometimes, “That blood looks redder than nail polish.”
I find it ironic that some of the most violent movies ever made helped me get over my blood phobia. But, life works like that sometimes. Five years after seeing the Evil Dead movies, another film would come into my life that would take my love of horror to the next level. More on that is coming up in another article!
In the meantime, are you a horror buff like me? How did you learn to love it, and what were your first horror film experiences?