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Who Loves Horror? The Man With the Hammer


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Norman Finkelshteyn (right) hasn’t let his day-job as a lawyer interfere with his great passion for building battle-ready suits of armor.  Regarding the collectors who buy them, Norman says, “Many of them use this armor in actual combat — either in performances or in competitive sports.” But even if you’ve purchased the gear because you think it would look nice in your living room, authenticity is key.  “The toughest pieces are little detailed bits that people barely notice: the brass ear-guard on a Roman helmet I did as an apprentice… Things like that.”  When a school sought a Mongol helmet for students to excavate from a fake burial ground, Norman rose to the challenge:  “Some bits involved really intricate steel bending — like three opposing directions at once. Then you go from steel hammering to fine sewing on soft leather.”

It’s unsurprising that a person with a discerning eye for hacking blades would veer toward horror. “Is it important? Some would say, no. They want realism. But screw that. I get enough realism at home!” Norm speaks lovingly of the turn-of-the-century classics that set the standard.  “After reading enough Lovecraft, you find that most modern horror movies are really copies of stuff he did, from primal horrors under the seas to the inbred hick imagery of Deliverance .”

So what makes a good horror movie?  “The best ones tap into and explore the darkest recesses on our mind,” he adds. “I remember that Hitchcock was really supposed to be up on his Freud. But then, I suppose the ‘horror porn’ films do the same thing, but in salacious, icky way. There is only so deep you want to go — that’s why Freud considered repression to be a good thing!”  A sort of psychological armor, perhaps?

Top Ten Horror Movies?

10. Van Helsing
9. An American Werewolf in Paris
8. Wolfen
7. The Wolf Man
6. Rosemary’s Baby
4. Dracula (1931) tie
4. Dracula (1979) tie
3. Frankenstein
2. Alien
1. Terminator

“This is the full imagery and power of Gothic horror: the relentless pursuer, the pursued innocent maiden, the two-sided mysterious stranger (the Terminator as the mirror of the human rebel Kyle Reese), the latent (maybe not so latent) sensuality, and the inevitability of the outcome.”

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