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These Three Movies Got Me Hooked on Horror

“Oh, he was in The Waterboy!

My boyfriend’s 15 year-old daughter suddenly recognized Henry Winkler. Yes, it is true that he played Coach Klein in Adam Sandler’s third best movie. Her comment made my 31 years feel like 91. A few months ago, the kid in the McDonald’s drive-thru window had never heard of McGuyver. I’m getting older.

Does this make me feel scared or sad? No. Quite the opposite, actually. I like this pop culture wisdom I’ve absorbed over the last three decades. Especially in horror. Now I can spend the rest of my days teaching “youths” the fundamentals of the genre. Which got me thinking – what films from the last 20 years are hooking today’s teenagers into horror?

When I was a kid, there were three key horror films that solidified my passion for scary movies: Poltergeist, Carrie, and the Amityville Horror. That’s not to say that those titles truly scared me. The scariest movie I ever watched when I was younger was 1992’s Candyman. 

It’s obvious that I related to Poltergeist so much because I was a suburbs kid. I loved pretending that my backyard was sacred ground and that we built our house over a cemetery. And yes, the clown and the tree did scare the crap out of me. I threw blankets over the dolls in my bedroom because of that movie.

The Amityville Horror was my first classic sleepover scary movie. I was spending the night at my friend’s house sometime in 1997 and her mom told us that this movie was the scariest film she’d ever seen. Out of sheer curiosity I begged to watch it, so we did. My friend and I stayed up until 3:15 am to see if anything would happen. Then I was told about the DeFeo murders and it totally blew my mind that those crimes actually happened. I was obsessed.

The iconic image of Sissy Spacek covered in blood and giving everyone the death stare in Carrie totally enraptured me. It was a performance I’ll never forget. What really creeped me out, though, was Mrs. White’s prayer room. That statue of Jesus and his freaky white eyes still haunts my nightmares. It was the first time I learned about telekinesis which also blew my adolescent mind.

I wonder what films are getting kids into horror today? Is it Scream? The Saw franchise? Or something unexpected? Pure geekery has led me to become a member of several Facebook horror groups, and I’ve noticed that a lot of younger folks talk about As Above, So Below – which truthfully I’ve never even watched because I thought it didn’t look that great. Maybe I should check it out.

Whatever today’s classic horror movies are, I hope that there’s a whole new generation of horror fans emerging and finding their way through them.

Now get off my lawn!

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