When I decided to write this one, the first thing I did was sit down and try to remember the first horror film I ever saw. That wasn't as easy as you might expect. My aim was to think of the first horror film that I sat and watched all the way through, from start to finish, and that was tricky because I'd seen patchwork approximations of horror films before then. I was raised during the era when parents still gave a damn about what their children consumed, so as a child horror films had to be viewed in secret whenever parents were out and a friend had 'borrowed' their Dad's copy of Nightmare on Elm Street or something similar. This was in the days before the internet and streaming TV, so unless you had a film on VHS, you weren't watching it (no-one was likely to be broadcasting horror films during the day on one of the 4 terrestrial channels.) I remember sneaking in as much of Alien, the original Fright Night, and the aforementioned Nightmare as was possible, but none of these were watched from start to finish before the age of about 12. I'd been allowed to watch the old Universal and Hammer horror films, because they were so camp and stupid (Note: as an adult I now love them even more) that not even my Middle-England mother thought they were genuinely damaging. I don't recall which of these was my first either, but given that nothing in them ever came close to scaring me, I never really thought of them as true horror.
The Films That Matter : The Monster Squad
The horror genre is special to me. My house décor revolves around the history of the genre, both in print and on film. My fiancée has been particularly open-minded about the miniature gravestones, the bleeding skull candle, and the various photos of ravens perched upon skulls. After every Halloween, I scour the department stores for clearance Halloween items worthy of being showcased in my home 365 days a year.
On my fireplace mantle, tucked in between family photographs, I have three framed drawings from a local comic book convention. The prints depict Bella Lugosi’s Dracula, Lon Cheney’s Wolfman, and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster. While these particular “family members” are classics of the genre, I first met them through a movie that is more of a cult classic than a piece of cinematic history.
I know what you’re thinking.
That old 70s movie they used to show on TV all the time with the painfully fake mechanical shark and starring those three actors that nobody’s ever heard of?
Yeah. That’s the film I’m talking about.
This summer, Jaws will be forty years old.
And kids, let me tell you, forty years ago the world was a different place.
You lot, you’ve grown up with a smorgasbord of TV channels to choose from, and you’ve got Youtube, Netflix, big screen HDTVs, surround sound, 40k definition, 3D, CGI, Playstations, Xboxs, iPads and some stuff I have probably forgotten right now, but which no doubt has 300 gazillion pixels of colour, is ultrafast, ultra ultra high def, and interactive too