Wednesday 15 December 2010

My most memorable movie viewing experiences #4...

Formative Years - Part Two:

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Tony Randel, 1988):
When – Late 1990s/Early 2000s
Where – Television
Why – Having seen the first movie on a grubby dubbed copy, I recorded the second some time later from the TV, and proceeded to begin watching it whilst eating my lunch. The reason this viewing is memorable is that when it got to the scene where a mental patient believes her skin is scrawling with maggots – and we see her arms from her perspective to be doing just that – I actually had to turn it off in order to continue eating. That’s the only time – so far – that that has happened.

Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974):
When – Early 2000s
Where – Television
Why – One shot specifically, on my first viewing of the early slasher flick, wigged me out – namely the wide open eye staring through the gap in the door without the person on the other side knowing. One time when I was a kid I saw a movie on TV – a ghost story type affair – and at one point a man was pushed down a flight of stars and died when he struck the bottom, and they cut to an extreme close up of his wide open eyes. It freaked me out as a kid, and that discomfort with wide open eyes has stuck with me – so that particularly shot in Black Christmas gave me the creeps big style.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991):
When – Late 1990s
Where – Television/Home Video
Why – I first saw it on the BBC (and it was cut for violence and language), and I foolishly taped over my VHS recording of that broadcast, and no sooner had I done so than I wanted to see it again. It never showed on TV again and eventually, after a long time of waiting, I got it on video and was surprised to see that it was unlike the movie I was used to – namely it was uncut. Finding T2 on video became a mini mission at the time, like some sort of elusive Holy Grail, so when I finally got my mits on it again it was like a big old slice of victory cake.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1 & 3 (Wes Craven, 1984 & Chuck Russell, 1987):
When – Late 1990s
Where – Home Video
Why – Before I was allowed to watch full-on horror movies at home (I remember being disallowed from watching the first movie when it showed on Channel 4), I got to see the first and third movie over at a friend’s house one night, and it was an illicit thrill to be watching this horror movie I’d heard so much about in the dark. Sneaking around watching horror movies you weren’t allowed to occur for a finite time, and it was a time that certainly made a lasting impression.

Although it wasn’t always horror movies – indeed one of the best examples of a forbidden movie fruit for a good while was the at-the-time-controversial Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction – the former for its tabloid-baiting violence, and the latter for its tabloid-baiting drug use. Whether it was watched on television, or dubbed from a friend’s dub, watching certain movies at a certain point in my life was a secretive thing – movies perceived to be too violent, or too scary, or a bad influence – but it’s just the sort of thing that young teenage boys do. You get bragging rights, and you ascend to the ‘seen it’ club for that flick, and it’s a style of movie watching that so epitomises being a teenager.

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980):
When – Late 1990s/Early-and-Late 2000s
Where – Home Video
Why – On a school art trip to London, in the time we were afforded afterwards to go hunting around the capital, we stopped in at the huge HMV and – at the age of 14 – bought this 15 rated John Carpenter horror flick. It’s kind of daft and lame now, but at the time it was a thrill to ‘trick the system’ and pass for a year older than I was. However I didn’t much care for the movie on my first watch – I found it slow and far from explicit – but then I rediscovered it several years later and I thought it was genuinely creepy, and a fantastically tense ghost-story-style tale.

The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez, 1999):
When – 1999/2000
Where – Video Rental
Why – At the time the Internet wasn’t in widespread use, and I certainly hadn’t had much experience of the web, so word of a movie such as this was spread person-to-person. Was it real? Many people believed so, although I was only half-convinced … if it really was real, and people had really died, how would they be allowed to release it in cinemas and home video, and create a line of merchandise for it? Regardless, that final sequence proved to be the scariest part of the flick for me. It’s long since been absorbed by the popular culture, but at the time there was a special air about this indie shocker.

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1976):
When – 1999
Where – Home Video
Why – On holiday in Edinburgh in the summer of 1999, we stopped into HMV and three videos were bought for me (being that I was underage, not that the wise till jockey cared – indeed he commended my taste) – those videos were Graveyard Shift, Evil Ed, and David Lynch’s bizarre debut. I’d never seen a Lynch movie before and its sheer power (in terms of the weird and the disturbing) freaked me out too much. As a result I was only able to watch the movie in portions of 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes – with long gaps in between – it probably took me a good several weeks/few months to see the entire movie, and I’ve not seen it since … but I have been meaning to. Did it leave an impression? You bet it did.

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982):
When – Mid 1990s and beyond
Where – Television
Why – I was about 10 years old when I first saw John Carpenter’s sci-horror-gore-fest, and initially it fascinated me for the special make up effects. However, as time has gone by and I’ve grown up, the themes of isolation and paranoia have really captured my imagination and built up into a genuine mild fear of the movie. It has become an intimidating flick – just like the equally superior Se7en – that is one of my all-time favourites, but one that sits on the shelf daring me to watch it. When I finally do watch it from time-to-time it’s never quite as horrifying as my mind has led me to believe since my last viewing, but nevertheless, the expertly crafted sense of isolation and paranoia linger aggressively for days afterwards.

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