Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Passing On The Horror Gene

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had dreams of my budding horror minions. I wasn't sure exactly how many children I'd end up having, but in the fantasies of my Future Life, I envisioned a gaggle of enthusiastic mini-Spookses helping out with my (someday) Professional Haunted Attraction. My daydreams were filled with the delighted screams and shrieks of our victims as we gleefully torturedentertained them.

It become apparent soon after my son was born, however, that the horror gene hadn't grabbed him from birth. Monster toys were rejected. "This Is Halloween" was voted TOO SCARY.

Baby Drake says EFF THIS MOVIE!

My Addams-family dreams shattered into a million pieces as I sadly accepted the fate that my (then two year old) son was, to put it bluntly, a chicken. I told myself, back when I decided to be a parent, that I would love and accept my children no matter what lifestyles they chose to follow, and I stand by my word! Even if that lifestyle IS (sob) devoid of horror.

I haven't lost hope for the boy though. True Blogger Confession? I too was born a chicken. Yes, you read that right: Spooki was a grade-A CHICKENSHIT. Couldn't stomach the idea of a horror movie until I was easily 12 or so. I have some distinct youthful horror movie memories: sneaking downstairs while my parents were watching An American Werewolf In London, only to catch the scene where the wolf rampages across Piccadilly Circus and a head goes flying. At least, I think that's what happens. I haven't seen the movie in years (come to think of it, I'm not sure I've actually ever watched the entire thing as an adult, though I've seen at least most of it in parts), but my child's brain has this image burned into my head, an image of a body trapped between two cars and a head that goes flying down the street as this terrifying wolf-beast runs loose about the town. I caught one glimpse of that scene and went running back to my bed, terrified. I'm not sure I slept that night.

stay on the road, steer clear of the moors, and for the love of GOD, don't sneak downstairs at five years old to see what your parents are watching on TV
Or the time my mom tried to get me to watch Poltergeist when I was 8 or so. I looked just like little Carol Anne as a child, they tell me, and I think that somehow my mother was convinced this would make me love the movie. Because every kid wants to see the movie where their TV doppelganger gets sucked into the closet, kidnapped by malevolent ghosts, right? Yeah, I didn't even make it past the scene where the PET BIRD DIED.

I don't understand what possessed my mother to constantly try to terrify me. 

So, friends, I was no champion of the horror film as a kid, and yet I still turned out OK. I haven't given up on my boy yet.

My girl came along two years later, and it was evident nearly from birth that she would be different. For one thing, as an infant, she growled. There were no coos and ga-gas or goo-goos from my sweet little daughter, but she did a great Linda Blair impression. She took to anything monsterish immediately, laughing in delight at monster toys, books, frightening halloween decorations. And movies. From the time she was old enough to start indulging in that form of media, she has always been attracted to the frightful. It's nearly impossible to scare her, and if you do catch her with a good startle, she laughs uproariously afterwards. She continuously surprises and delights me with the things she takes an interest in.

Take tonight: her brother was upstairs playing half an hour of Moshi Monsters before bed, and so I was going to let her play a half an hour of Wii downstairs. But neither of the Wii-motes was charged, so that was a bust. So I tried to put on a show for her using our Netflix box, but technical difficulties prevented this. Frustrated, I turned to the trusty DVD player. The problem? All the kids' DVDs had been packed into a carrying case two months ago and toted along on our road trip to Florida, and I had NO idea where they were. I started rifling through some of our DVDs, hoping to find something acceptable. While doing so, I flipped on the DVD changer absentmindedly. The first movie in the changer loads, the title menu starts, and immediately I see The Creep standing on the back of a truck, mugging theatrically for the camera.

you'd think he would be the terror of three-year-olds everywhere... 
"Who is that guy?" she asked, staring at the screen.
"That's The Creep. This movie is Creepshow 2. It's a grown-up movie, honey."
"I want to watch this guy."
"No, baby, that one's definitely a grownup scary movie."
"I WANT TO WATCH THAT ONE!" (she's a bit of a pistol too.)
I look at the DVDs in my hand. "How about this one, baby? The Adventures of Superman?"
"mmm... no. I don't want that one right now."
I flip to the next DVD in the pile.
"What's that one?"
"That? Oh, that's... The 'Burbs."
"What's that one about?"
"It's... about... a creepy family that moves into a neighborhood, and everyone thinks they might be killers."
"OK. I want to watch that one."

That's my kid. Eschewing superhero cartoons for movies about creepy killer families. I guess I might get my little Wednesday Addams after all.

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