I’m a “Monster Kid.” Horror movies have been a huge part of my life ever since… well, ever since I’ve had a life. Growing up, Saturdays meant watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56 before going outside to play. When my uncle took me to the store for my birthday and told me I could pick out any toy I wanted, I chose a huge plastic Alien toy — yeah, the Alien xenomorph, complete with a li’l snapping alien inside his mouth. Just what every little girl wants, right?
It was all horror, all the time — with some breaks for The Facts of Life and Matchbox cars. I saw and read about so many movies in the pages of various monster magazines… but there are some that burned themselves right into my brain and remain there to this day. Here are the most influential horror flicks of my youth; some are still among my favorites, while others are now all but unwatchable. Regardless, they gave me an education and helped solidify my love of the genre.
The Amityville Horror
Though I now laugh at Jody, the giant purple pig with the glowing red eyes, he was once the stuff of my nightmares. Flies, bleeding walls, vomiting nuns — this movie’s got it all!
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
One of the first zombie movies I ever saw had a title I took very, very seriously. I still don’t play with dead things… just to be on the safe side.
The perfect mix of goofiness and scares, horror movies and horror comics, Creepshow always felt as if it had been made just for me. It still does, but don’t worry — I’m willing to share.
Dawn of the Dead
My parents drew the line at Romero’s zombie opus, figuring that the graphic violence and gut-munching would break my brain. Of course, this only made me want to see it more. By the time I finally did, I was old enough to be no more than mildly traumatized.
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
Hammer flicks almost always comprised one half of the aforementioned Creature Double Feature, and this was a favorite, due in large part to that bitchin’ title.
Friday the 13th
Though the Friday series is regularly dismissed as nothing more than trash, this first one terrified me at the same time the explicit violence grossed me out. That’s the perfect combination for a budding horror fan!
If you could wire a projector to my brain, I think it would spew out Halloween in its entirety, frame for frame. For me, Michael Myers has always been the boogeyman, and what kid isn’t afraid of the boogeyman?
I didn’t even need to see this movie for it to give me nightmares — just walking by the poster (featuring a monster claw reaching out from a bassinet) on a sunny afternoon was enough.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I had no clue growing up that this was a horror comedy. Call me crazy, but I’ve always found a man wearing a pig head and wielding a chainsaw to be… you know, scary.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
I found out about this movie from the Cosby kids. I was reading an article in some teen magazine (don’t hate me) and they were all talking about this new horror movie that was just the scariest thing ever and how everyone should see it. Because I always did what the Cosby kids told me to, I saw it. And they were right, as usual.
I don’t care whether this movie was directed by Tobe Hooper or Steven Spielberg… it messed me up. Bonus points for making me wanna barf during the face-peeling scene!
I still count Mr. Barlow as one of the most horrifying vampires in the history of ever. It’s hard to believe this was a made-for-TV movie… although it proves that the past was, in fact, a way better place.
The biggest gross out monster movie of all time put me off spaghetti and trips to Antarctica for many a year.
Track of the Moonbeast
It doesn’t matter that this movie makes no sense (a chunk of meteorite gets lodged in a man’s head, causing him to periodically transform into a lizard-man). It doesn’t matter that this movie is terribly made, pure Z-grade crap. When you’re a kid, nonsensical Z-grade crap can still keep you awake at night.
Another mega-gnarly walking dead flick I wasn’t allowed to see… but man, the image of the rotten-toothed, worm-eyed conquistador zombie in the pages of my monster magazines was all I needed to fuel my fears.
There’s a part of me that wonders how I ever could have found, say, Track of the Moonbeast anything but hysterically funny. On the other hand, Mr. Barlow still scares me half to death. But no matter whether or not they stand the test of time, these tales of vampires, zombies and lizard-men made me the horror fan I am today. How about you?
A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.Read More