even though i am 33 years old, i am thinking of having my mom charged with child abuse. see, when i was just a wee little thing, she took me to the movies constantly. not happy, animated kid movies with an annoyingly simplistic life lesson at the end. my grandparents took me to those. no, she took me to every fucked up, scary movie made in the 1970's.
here's a rundown of the ones i can actually remember. i am pretty sure i have repressed the memories of others in order to maintain some semblance of sanity. and even that's been called into question on more than one occasion.
*JAWS - i was 4 years old and yes, my mom took me to see jaws. now, at 4 years old i had a little difficulty processing the fact that great white sharks live in the ocean. to me, water was water. after that movie i was 100% CONVINCED that a shark was going to come up thru the toilet and bite me on the butt and drag me down into the toilet. as a result, i never spent more 3.5 seconds on the potty. and those 3.5 seconds were a terror filled 3.5 seconds. to this day, i can pee faster than a speeding bullet. i don't know if this skill will ever come in handy, but it's nice to know i am prepared. you know, just in case.
*MURDER BY DEATH - i was 5 years old when she dragged me to this one. now, this was not a "horror film" per se, but it scared me so bad, that even now, 28 years later, i cannot watch the ending of it. if you have never seen it, it's a fun, mystery movie and the premise is all these fictional detectives from famous books and movies come together in one house to solve a mystery. at the end of the movie, nancy walker, who plays the maid, tears a mask off of her face, revealing another face underneath. and i think that is repeated a few times (maybe it's my faulty memory, but that's how i remember it and i sure as hell am not going to watch it again for clarification, thank you very much). so all i see is nancy walker tearing off her own face again and again. i freaked out so bad at that one that my mom had to take me out of the theater. i distinctly remember the long walk up the theater aisle and the whole time i was screaming, "MAKE HER STOP! MAKE HER STOP!" yeah, good times. but did mom learn her lesson? no, she did not. because next we have.....
*CARRIE - same year as murder by death, so i am 5 years old. the scene at the end gave me a mini stroke. yes, it was scary in the usual "dead hand popping out the grave, reaching for amy irving's neck" kind of way. but for me, it was doubly terrifying. because that gravel yard where the hand pops up from looked EXACTLY like my granny's back yard. guess how many years it took until i could play in THAT back yard again?
*ORCA - ok, so i am 6 years old and she takes me to see a movie about a killer whale seeking revenge on richard harris. i thought the large white spot on the whale's head was it's eye. (hey, i never said i was a bright kid, so please stop laughing at me) the whole movie, i was transfized by the large, flat eye on this whale and it scared the crap out of me.
ok, now here's where it gets good. i think this is going to be the strongest part of my case. this is the part where jack nicholson would be screaming, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" no jury in the world is going to take her side after they hear this. these next 3 movies all came out in 1979, so i was 7-8 years old at the time. oh yeah, mom is going down now. she better hope she looks good in an orange jumpsuit.
*THE AMITYVILLE HORROR - the flies, the disembodied red eyes, the creppy alarm clock, margot kidder's freakishly childish pigtails. all of these have left permanent scars on my psyche. and the kicker to this one is what my mom told me right before we saw it. i had done something really bad that week and was being punished. normally, going to the movies and the mall was a treat. so she tells me, "i am not taking you to this movie because you have been good. i am still mad at you. i am only taking you because there is no one who can baby sit you right now." um, thanks mom. in retrospect, i think the movie might have been part of my punishment.
*WHEN A STRANGER CALLS - seriously, what kind of drugs was my mother on??!?!? "check the children." and "why haven't you checked the children?" dear god, i almost peed my pants when carol kane opened the door and charles durning was standing there. i asked my mom a few years ago what the HELL she was thinking when she took me to that one. her answer? "well, you said you wanted to see it." so, apparently, my mom would have let me watch porn in 2nd grade, too, right? because, hey, i "wanted to see it." if i had known what a snuff film was, she probably would have let me watch that, too.
*HALLOWEEN - oh yes, the crown jewel of my horror film watching experience. this movie is probably responsible for 97% of my neuroses. now, you are going to want to make sure you are sitting down for this part, trust me. she took me to see 'halloween' THE SAME NIGHT that she took me to see 'when a stranger calls.' good one, mom. our local theater was in a mall and it was one of the first places to have multiple screens. they had four auditoriums. hey, it was the 70's, this was still a new thing back then. mom, granny and i had gone to see 'when a stranger calls' and granny (who loves a bargain) decides we should sneak into another theater and watch a 2nd movie for free. she's such an outlaw. well, the only thing starting was 'halloween.' now, here's where mom just loses her fucking mind. she decides that since i am a little freaked out from the first movie (you think?) that i should not watch this one. she tells me to curl up in the seat and take a nap. i was a strangely tiny child, so this was easy for me. then she covers me with her jacket. she covers all of me from the head down. so, here's my experience with this movie. i am in pitch black darkness, i can hear the creepy music, everyone around me is screaming bloody murder and the lady behind me is so scared that her legs fly up every time she screams, thus kicking the hell out of my chair. that's the kind of torture only a POW can relate to. where's my goddamn purple heart?
when i was a child, people always complimented my mom because i was such a well behaved, docile kid. they were wrong. i was shell shocked. so, if my mom ever offers you parenting advice, just smile nicely and back away from the crazy lady. slowly.