Monday, 1 December 2014

Why I Probably Freaked A Lot of People Out When I Was Growing Up

At age 8 I saw the Gregory Peck movie Arabesque. Supposedly a family friendly comedy thriller, this film had some of the most unpleasant violence I'd seen up to that point. First murder was within about 5 minutes and involved an optician killing a man by putting poison in some guy's eyes. The death was quite prolonged and painful. This was outdone later on by a scene where a man is drowned in a fish tank, having his head held under deliberately by an assassin who has one of the guy's arms restrained behind his back and nonchalantly tips the corpse into the tank once the victim stops struggling. Bit that freaked me out more than anything was that he then looked to a visibly horrified Sophia Loren (who'd just watched him do it) and said, "Messy business. Sorry you had to see it Miss." I was more upset about the fact that this cold blooded killer had manners than by what he'd just done. It basically went against everything I believed about "baddies" and definitely shorted out a fuse somewhere in my psyche.

At age 9 I was reading Lair by James Herbert. This is a book about man-eating, killer rats with graphic descriptions of people getting torn to pieces...slowly, plus some awesome shagging sequences including a line about a bloke's cock being so deep inside a woman's vagina that "their pubic hair was matted together."

At age 10 I saw the Sean Connery 007 movie Diamonds Are Forever. This wasn't the first Bond film I'd watched but it was the first time I asked my father "Why is he smiling?" as Bond drowned a mook in liquid clay, or pushed a helpless Blofeld head first into a big pit of boiling mud. My father replied "Because he's enjoying himself." This further eroded my fundamentally held beliefs about goodies and baddies. After a day of sulking that one of my heroes had turned out to be a spiteful psycho and making my dad giggle by calling 007 "smelly old James Bond", my brain adopted a coping mechanism and I then began to find suffocation by mud to be quite an attractive prospect for anyone I didn't get on with at school. If thoughts could kill I'd probably wiped out about 150 people via asphyxiation.

At age 11 I was reading 2000ad comic which had the uber violent story Rogue Trooper in it. It was a future war story which had all the soldiers wearing airtight suits as the air was poisonous on the planet they fought on. Cue many scenes of guys getting their oxygen tanks ripped apart (suffocation again) and the sea was so polluted that it was acidic and anyone who fell in would dissolve. Cue loads of bits of soldiers getting thrown into it or falling in, with the gory results rendered in tender loving detail. By this point I was starting to find this kind of thing thoroughly entertaining and not at all traumatising.

Age 12 my grandmother bought me the book Kajira of Gor for Christmas, at my request after an older kid from my Judo club had reccomended it. She thankfully didn't know what it was about as it had graphic sexual scenes and was not the sort of thing a sweet, grey haired old woman would buy for her pre-pubescent grandson.

At 13 I watched Zombie Flesheaters and while scary and horrific I thought it was a blast. It was the cut version so we didn't get to see the splinter going into the eyeball or the zombie banquet. Same age I was also writing very violent fiction in English class, mainly based on Logan's Run (novel, not the shit movie or TV show) and Death Wish.

Age 14 I began to fantasise about killing my classmates. Bullying can have that effect. Problem was that I was now so deep into my own head that I genuinely believed everyone else either felt like I did (but just didn't talk about it) or could understand why I wanted to do it.

Age 15 I was writing Death Wish style essays in English and vividly recall Mr Brown remarking that the line "You little cunt!" said from the vigilante to a baddy was OK with Mr Brown, but other staff might have taken offence to it. I was heavily into horror films, especially really violent ones with super gory special effects. Around this age I saw Rosemary's Killer/ The Prowler which has a scene of a bloke getting a bayonet shoved through the top of his head until the point exits via his chin. The killer's hand is clamped over his mouth the whole time so he can't scream and it takes a good while for him to die. I imagined how much this would hurt and thought it was glorious. To put the icing on the cake the killer then murders the guy's girlfriend by sticking a pitchfork into her chest while she's in the shower. Blood goes everywhere, she's blatantly in agony and her (very large) tits bounce up and down the whole way through.**

Age 16 and I was by now getting erections watching violent films. In art class I would almost always try to draw a ninja or Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers or Judge Dredd. I once made a badge in metalwork class that had "Death is Good" engraved on it and another with "Lance is Dead." I would regale people with that really cool bit in The Exterminator when the title character tied a paedophile to a mattress and set him on fire.

Age 17 I had posters on my bedroom wall from Fangoria magazine and its sister publication Gorezone. Two I remember most were the freeze frame picture (A3 size) of an exploding head from the zombie movie Dawn of the Dead and one of Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th...who, at the end of the day, was a pyscho killer in a hockey mask***. I also had a Freddy Kruge plastic "toy" glove that my mother forbade me to wear in the house. My biggest hero was the character Severen from vampire movie Near Dark (about the biggest baddy in the entire movie).

So....that's probably why I freaked a lot of people out while growing up.


** I once attended a birthday party where this and Porky's were the two films we watched. My friend's 13 year old brother was allowed to see Rosemary's Killer but was sent to bed before Porky's as horror was OK but nudity was out. I still find this bizarre even today.

***Actually the poster was Roy Burns, the impostor from part 5. Yep, that's HOW much of a horror nerd I was. I knew that fact.

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