The lead image for this post features 1950’s horror host Vampira and “friend”—said friend dressed like a mummy James Dean. For the creepy context to this photo, check out my posts “Sex and Death: The Brief Friendship of James Dean and Vampira” and “Did James Dean Fake His Own Death?”
Since I was a little girl I have been asked: “why do you purposely seek out such morbid stories?” I often feel caught between an impulse to “keep it positive”—you know, to do my part to keep the Collective’s vibration high—and go down the rabbit hole of “morbid stories.”
Now, when I was 8 years old I went to a classmate’s birthday party and her older sibling passed around a copy of Fangoria magazine. Up to that point I had only viewed a small amount of horror movies, carefully curated by my parents; most of these, older stuff of the classic Universal Monsters variety.
But the content of Fangoria was extreme (circa early Eighties) horror and gore. Melting dismembered heads, piles of cut-off limbs, and other grotesqueries. Even the ads, often featuring fright masks, were terrifying.
I remember furtively looking through that contraband magazine and remembering those specific images not for days or even weeks later…but for years, decades. Like the episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood with the environmental conspiracy opera, I used to think I must have dreamed it all up.
But starting in the early 90’s—possibly spurred on by a stint working at a video rental store—I became quite the horror movie aficionado. And I pledged to watch every horror movie formerly “forbidden” to me. In fact—at one point, I was compiling a chronological “master list” of every horror film ever made (including foreign pictures). I know, I know…just when you thought I couldn’t get any more sexy and fascinating!
Last Halloween, I rewatched a classic from that early Eighties horror era, Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Unlike the first two “Halloween” movies—but strangely like the aforementioned Mr. Rogers opera—this flick was about a diabolical conspiracy. There are also some epic horror “set pieces,” including a bratty little boy’s pumpkin-masked head bursting into a fetid pile of insects and snakes.
In addition to horror movies, I also enjoy writing about real-world horrors. But people often do not like reading about such topics, unless it’s part of an overall Us vs. Them rage narrative. Also, it has been my continual observation throughout my life that a number of people would prefer a Fun Predator to a Depressing Victim. And let’s face it…the Fun Predator probably has more $ and favors to give out than that snowflake loser anyway.
Oh, did I talk about something “morbid” again? Did I harsh a mellow? Perhaps I should turn back to that recently-acquired issue of classic Fangoria from my youth; the stories including Mexican horror-wrestling movies, cadaverous TV host Zacherle, a large spread on Rob Bottin’s (literally) eye-popping special effects for The Thing, and a feature on director John Waters entitled “Consummate Artist…or Ultimate Sleaze?”
I myself, for many years, yearned to be the Consummate Artist. But…I’m willing to settle!
Anyway, those are some thoughts I have about “horror.” Hope you have a great rest of your day; or, if not great, at least a serviceable one.
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