Saturday, August 14, 2010


“My dad was my frequent viewing companion for Saturday afternoon fare. I remember seeing The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) for the first time with him. I imagine he squirmed through a lot of those scenes, hoping I wouldn’t ask about Herb Evers’ interest in those models. He also bought me my first copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland and continued to do so until the mag gave up the ghost. Neither he nor my mother were thrilled about my interest in Fangoria and I remember being asked to show some interest in subjects other than horror in regard to reading material. My stack of FMs went frequently absent when my grades took a nosedive; they were a convenient scapegoat, though they weren’t the particular culprit. As Michael Weldon wrote in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, I viewed most of my days behind a school desk as a waste of time. I imagine that they breathed a sigh of relief when I actually made a few dollars from my horror pursuits by writing for Fangoria, though I doubt they reported that particular credit to friends and relatives with the same degree of pride as writing for LA Weekly or the LA Times: “Oh, yeah, my boy’s got a piece on The Ring 2 in the new issue of Fangoria… what? It’s called Fangoria… how the hell do I know what it means? It’s about those stupid horror movies he loves.” -- Paul Gaita

“Though they got the heebie-jeebies about the splatter movies I was watching as a young teen and expressed their concern, my parents essentially left me alone in my obsession with horror movies, and encouraged me to make them, giving me a Super 8mm camera at age 10. In high school my mother would clean my room, which was covered with one sheets for movies like Videodrome (1983) and Eraserhead (1976). I have a memory of watching a tape of Dawn of the Dead (1978) when I was about 14, on the VCR I had saved up to buy. I was sitting there freeze framing a special effects shot where a zombie was getting shot in the head. I had read Tom Savini’s book Grand Illusions and wanted to see the effect up close. My father walks in and I’m staring at this frozen image of someone with blood bursting from their skull!. He got upset and started telling me that this is not the kind of thing I should be looking at. I got very upset too, and tried to explain to him that I was looking at it because it was a special effect, pointing out on screen how it was all done. He backed off. I imagine my dad had never heard the word “squib” before. Though I wonder if I had mentioned a “blood-filled condom” he might’ve been even more alarmed!” -- Nicholas McCarthy

This week, on the concluding installment of The Incredibly Strange Film Fiends Who Had Kids and Became Mixed-Up Horror Dads, Richard Harland Smith and the boys/men/dads (including Yours Truly) talk about their own familial influences that formed their own experience and tastes in the horror genre. Anyone who grew up with a specialized love for horror movies knows the unique thrill of discovering someone else in the world, and especially in your immediate surroundings, who doesn’t have to be told why the names Forrest J. Ackerman or Ray Harryhausen or Tom Savini, or “Captain Company” or The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film are important or exciting. But those of us bringing up our own children are just as likely to reconnect and reflect upon our memories of those in our own families-- moms, dads, grandmas, aunts, whoever-- who understood, merely tolerated or sometimes actively encouraged our own special relationship with this most disreputable and sometimes outwardly repulsive of movie genres. That’s what we dig into in part three of the Horror Dads Roundtable, and it’s a juicy, visceral, flesh-searing, brood-producing way of ending this particular phase of our association. Lots of great stories await you if only you’ll click here.

And be warned, this is not the end. We’ve learned, to our extreme pleasure and honor, that the HDR will become a semi-regular feature over at Movie Morlocks, and that next up on the docket will be an in-depth discussion of Frank Darabont’s controversial film of Stephen King’s novella The Mist. Keep checking for the publication date on that one, and for now, happy reading!



Bob Westal said...

I watched "The Mist" late at night at my hotel room at Comic-Con (there was a chance I might be interviewing Frank Darabont the next day -- didn't happen), and boy did I find that movie to be an unexpected grabber. And that ending...I'm still trying to make up my mind about whether it was spot on or one turn of the screw too many.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Bob, you'll definitely want to read that conversation then. Out of six horror dads, all but two had severe issues with that ending and only one was willing to back it all the way. Most seemed to agree that The Mist as a whole was a fine piece of work, but that final turn of the screw most found to be too much, for lots of interesting reasons.