Watch with Mother
Despite this, I am a fan of things that scare me – horror films, roller coasters, Gene Simmons (who is sexy but I can’t figure out why). It probably started as a child. My parents were into their horror films and on Saturday afternoons we’d head to the (slightly dodgy, now I think about it) video shop up the little lane by the travel agents to choose the evening’s entertainment. This was in the good old days before the nanny state intervened and decided for us what was and wasn’t suitable viewing, and the shelves were positively groaning under the weight of triple-x-rated material. The films back then weren’t very sophisticated – all they needed was some gratuitous violence, a bit of random shagging and no discernible storyline and they were set. So, my parents would watch their films on a Saturday night. I would watch them on a Sunday morning. With my Mum. From the age of about seven. I saw them all – Driller Killer, The Evil Dead, Superstition (that one was actually left with the babysitter to entertain us when my parents went out one evening. We particularly enjoyed the hapless-teenager-being-cut-in-half-by-a-sash-window scene), The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit on Your Grave. No such thing as censorship in our house, thank you. My Mum would also video the hour-long “Hammer House of Horror” episodes off the telly for me. I had some spectacular nightmares as a child, and still have a fear of opening a curtain after dark in case an enormous werewolf is outside.
I also had a book that used to scare the bejesus out of me. It was called the Hamlyn Book of Horror, and was a sort of Bunty annual for the depraved. If I think about it now it still creeps me out. The inside cover featured a black and white photograph of a severed hand on the windowsill of a country house, and that pretty much set the tone. There were stories, pictures and information on all sorts of nasty things, notably the Countess of Bathory (who bathed in the blood of virgins), the horrors of being buried alive, a lovely illustrated section on how Vlad the Impaler used to line the track leading up to his castle with bodies on sticks, and my old favourite – werewolves. The werewolf chapter was so scary that I couldn’t even look at the page. If you put the book in front of me now I probably still couldn’t look at it. Eventually, the book began to freak me out so much that I relegated it to the bottom shelf of my bookcase, placed horizontally with the spine facing inwards so that I couldn’t even see the title. I came across it by accident once while looking for something else (my Bumper Book of Serial Killers, probably) and it literally made me jump. But I’m still fascinated by it, in a weird way, and am having to restrain myself from ordering it online just to see it one more time.
Small Person, however, is a total wuss. Never mind werewolves – she had nightmares after watching the film about the were-rabbit. When I sit her down in front of Zombie Flesh Eaters at the weekend she’s going to shit herself. Still, it’s character-forming, and it never did me any harm.