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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Short-Lived Existential Crisis Of A Middle-Aged Horror Movie Fan

The Creeping Terror (1964) claims a victim
The Creeping Terror (1964) claims another slow moving victim.
     How will I feel on my deathbed, when I reflect upon all that was and all that could have been and realize just how many of the fleeting moments of my life were wasted watching movies?  Is "wastedthe right term here?  Surely, my life is enriched by these movies - or is watching these movies the sum total of my life?  As I ponder this conundrum I picture an image of myself sitting alone in the dark on my couch, coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other, my hydrocephalic head lolling about like a ham atop a toothpick as my pale, withered limbs curl up beneath me like singed strands of hair.  I'm pretty sure some big things are happening outside because I see it depicted in the movies I watch - I just don't have time to investigate for myself.  It's more important that I make time for one more viewing of The Creeping Terror (1964) just to be absolutely certain it's as bad as I remember.

     Yep, it is.  Glad that's taken care of.

     I'm being facetious, of course - but only a little bit.  It's difficult to make a valid argument that too much time watching movies - particularly movies of often questionable merit  - is a worthy pursuit.  I could be working in a soup kitchen or planting trees.  I could be reading to the blind or assisting the elderly.  Hell, I could even be doing something as arguably useless as making movies, and at least then there would be a historical record of my efforts, something for future generations to study and dissect.  As it is, there's just that ass dent in the couch.  Every crease tells a story, though.

The Howling (1981) poster
     I often have difficulty remembering events from three days ago, but I have movie related memories from three decades ago that are as clear as a natural spring.  For example, I can still tell you with one hundred percent certainty the name of the theater in which I saw The Howling (1981) for the first time.  It was the Wayne Theater in Waynesboro, Virginia.  It was a sunny afternoon, and my mother and I had been shopping in downtown Waynesboro when we happened upon the now iconic poster for the movie in the light box outside.  I'd seen a television ad for The Howling the night before, and I persuaded mom to spring for a couple of matinee tickets.  Oddly, neither of us knew it was a movie about werewolves.  The advertising used for The Howling (including that poster) was intentionally ambiguous since most of the audience for horror in '81 was only looking for the next big slasher movie.  Werewolves were passe.  We paid our money, though, and we took our chances.  I ordered a popcorn with extra butter at the concession stand, but I had to settle for a Mr. Pibb to drink because they didn't have Dr. Pepper.

     The Wayne was one of those old megaplex prototypes made by splitting a pre-existing full size theater into two separate venues.  Theater number one was the larger one.  The Howling, of course, was playing in theater number two, which was small enough that it bore an unnerving resemblance to the porno booth in the movie in which reporter Karen White first meets Eddie Quist.  I remember that afternoon showing was sparsely attended, and I distinctly remember being spooked when I had to slip out of the theater alone for a Pibb induced bathroom break.  I even specifically remember that the scene playing when I returned from the bathroom was the one in which Karen's friend Terry first realizes the woods near The Colony look suspiciously like a sketch taken from Eddie's room.

Ok, who's responsible for this mess?  Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
     Watching The Howling for the first time must have been an important moment in my life for me to remember the details so vividly, right?  I'm certain I won't regret spending that ninety minutes of my life watching a movie, but not all movies are that good.  Take, for example, Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)That's ninety minutes of my life I want back.  For every one really good movie I watch, I probably watch a dozen that range from barely adequate to worthless.  I keep doing it, though.  I keep chasing the dragon.  That metaphor is all too apt.  I'm a junkie, and a really good horror movie is the high I'm after.  So let's get back to my deathbed - is realizing that I've wasted all that time because I'm an addict going to make it easier to stomach?

     The Dog Farm is creeping  up on its first anniversary, and a big part of the appeal of creating this blog was to apply some kind of structure to the fruits of my misspent life watching horror movies.  I'm far from being the resident authority in the company of the knowledgeable folks who run their own horror movie blogs, but I do take solace in the fact that there are so many others like me.  It's like one big old horror themed Narcotics Anonymous meeting - but I digress.

     Following that mental image of my big-headed, movie watching self turning to mush on the couch is the image of my baby Gunnar all grown up and watching the horror movies I loved.  He'll know I loved them even if I'm gone, because he'll have access to a time capsule called the Dog Farm that's still drifting in the blogosphere like an abandoned satellite.  It's all here. 

     So is it all just a waste of time?  I think not.  It's more like a calling.  It makes me happy to be building something for myself, for my future, and for Gunnar.  It ain't much, but it's home.

     Now I'm going to watch The Creeping Terror just one more time.  You can join me if you like.  You'll have to sit in the recliner, though.  That ass dent in the couch is mine.



9 comments:

ZombieBert said...

Brilliantly written, sir. I'll have you know that while our tastes in movies often differ, I fully expect my progeny to remember me fondly when they sit their kids down to watch Lord of the Rings or Serenity for the first time. Movies are an institution that only these last few generations really understand the impact of. We sir, are more than just couch potatoes... we, WE are pioneers!

Phil Neff said...

Bravo.

I sometimes sit and ponder if the time I've spent photographing beautiful nude models has been pointless.

Ok...not really, but I can still relate.

Brandon Early said...

It's that pioneer spirit that keeps my ass firmly planted on the couch! It already amuses me to read old posts I've forgotten about writing, so I hope some day Gunnar gets a hoot out of it, too. A waste of time seems to have some significance when it's documented. Thanks for reading!

Carl B said...

You never waste your time doing what you love. You need to keep loving horror movies until you can make a career out of them.

And keep up with the vivid descriptions of childhood appreciation of film. They are nostalgic and amazing.

Warden Stokely said...

Dang. Wanted that ass dent, Brandon. And little Gunnar is one lucky boy! You've got it all lined up for him. Ya know? You may not be makin' movies, but.......he sure has a Class A Education right here at the Dog Farm. And mine? Although, I'm a die hard Michael fan, it was Nightmare on Elm Street in Riverside California. I don't remember the name of the theater, I was high, and quite frankly, not sure why we were in Riverside at all, well, we were high, and I think we had just seen Rush. Aw, the good 'ol days, but I can see that bus danglin' on top of the spire, and will till the day I die. God, I love the Dog Farm. I sure wish I could call in dead today and do some catching up with some old friends. Alas, I don't see that happening. But! I am going to watch the Creeping Unknown as soon as I can. I work at a library......do ya think? Thanks for startin' my day the best way possible. Arf!
The Warden

WatchingTheDead said...

Lovely article I can relate to, what with my 40th next year. The older I get though the more I care less what others really think; or that's the plan.

Also it can't all be such a waste of time if you have readers, like myself who enjoy reading it all so much.

Steven

Brandon Early said...

Carl, nostalgia's great, but I fear the Dog Farm's M.O. is fast becoming horror movie coverage by way of Lake Woebegone. I suppose that's not a niche I see getting a lot of attention, though. We all need an angle.

Warden, if I had a nickel for every horror movie I've ever watched stoned - I'd have a lot of nickels. LOL Hell, Suspiria alone would be worth about a buck. I was eleven when I saw The Howling for the first time, so that predates my stoner phase a bit.

Steven, thanks so much for the kind words. It's good to have a few readers mature enough to have the same horror movie frame of reference as me. By the way, if I haven't said so elsewhere, I like your site's recent redesign.

Warden Stokely said...

Phil? That's funny...hahaha And Brandon? We have got to get to Ireland, hook up with James at Behind the Couch, and see if Goblin'll play REALLY LOUD in front of a big screen of Suspiria. Can you even imagine? Oh yeah, and I'll bring the nickels....haha

Brandon Early said...

Warden, that sounds like a fantastic idea. I could die a happy man. LOL

BTW, I see you were here at about the time I was doing some work last night on this page, so I apologize for any weirdness or inconsistencies. I'm doing an overhaul. I put things back as they were for the time being to tinker with it a bit more.