Thu
Sep 8 2011 4:01pm

Facing a Childhood Fear: The Omega Memory

The Omega Man

When I was a young kid, 5 or 6 years old, I would sometimes get insomnia and watch movies very late at night. These are, naturally, not the movies little kids should be watching. For the most part I don’t think it did me any harm to see the occasional Hammer horror film or the occasional monster flick. One movie hit me, though. The Omega Man.

The idea of being all alone in a world of monsters resonated with my own childhood feelings of isolation. I used to have recurring nightmares (long before seeing The Omega Man) of being chased around town by zombies or lizard people or some other nasty that could transform you into one of their own by touching you. It was like the scariest game of tag, ever. The dream always went the same way: Monsters chase me through the school playground. Run home. See that [mom, dad, grandmother, some trustworthy person] is there. See them turn, just as I think I’m safe…they are a zomb-lizard-guy, too! There is no safe place! And wake up sweating and terrified.

This is not the nightmare of a kid who should see The Omega Man.

I don’t know how much of the film I saw. Not long ago I forced myself to watch the trailer and I must admit it is entirely possible that the trailer is all I ever saw when I was young. But the film would have been about 5 years old when I saw it, so I don’t know why I should have seen the trailer. The point is, though, I don’t think I saw much of it, just enough to scare the ever-lovin’ chutney out of my young self.

I have rented this film no fewer than ten times. VHS, DVD, it’s been on my Netflix Instant queue for a long time. I have read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend — upon which the movie is based — several times. I love that book. I count it among the very best vampire stories ever, as well as a brilliant study on the psychological breakdown of a person in terrifying isolation. (I’ve also seen The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, and I enjoyed it. Also saw the more recent remake and all I will say about it is that Will Smith wasn’t the problem, but everything else sucked.) Every time I get ready to watch The Omega Man, I chicken out. The adult-me puts the DVD in and the kid-me turns it off all over again, remembering strange ghostly faces, weird cults, and the general feeling that no where is safe and everyone is out to get me.

At some point, I have known all along, I would have to watch this film. I’m fully cognizant that it may turn out to be as scary as an episode of Fantasy Island. Or it might still scare me chutney-less. I don’t know. But when faced with old fears, one must take up the challenge, what?

Question: What movies scared and/or scarred you as a youth? Have you been able to watch them since? Other than The Omega Man, my close second is The Shining, but I was 17 when I saw that. I should mention I was on LSD at the time. At a house party in Carson, CA with a huge bonfire in the back yard and a bunch of Samoan gang members and skinheads dancing around it. Even without the LSD that is a recipe for a potentially tense viewing experience.

Tonight is the night, mes amis. Tonight I shall go once more into the breach of childhood nightmares. If I survive, then what follows next will be a post-film account. If I die of fear, never mind, because I won’t have submitted this article anyhow.

Psyching myself up, now. I shall look into the abyss and shout, “We’ve got movie sign!” I can do this.

 

POST FILM REPORT

Even after writing the first half of this post, my determination faltered and I didn’t watch the film the same night. I brought up Netflix and…watched MI5 instead. It took me two nights to finally get this movie started. But once it began, and I saw Charlton Heston cruising LA listening to an 8-track of easy listening, I wondered what exactly I had been afraid of all this time.

The film is far more quirky than frightening. There are a lot of dramatic zoom-ins (zooms in?) and sudden pulling back to wide shots, seldom with much reason apart from trying to give the viewer an upset stomach. The sound editing is odd, too. Mumble-grumble-whisper-BANG! Whisper-shuffle-KAPOW!-grumble. All told, its distressing, disorienting and surreal but not exactly scary. The soundtrack certainly doesn’t help, either. It’s a series of Hammond organ randomness and entirely inappropriate sweeping orchestration. I wonder, in all seriousness, if the score wasn’t originally meant for a different film and just sort of plastered on to this one.

The film has even less resemblance to the novel I Am Legend than did the Will Smith film (which was, it seems, more an Omega Man remake than an adaptation of the novel). In the novel there are vampires. In the film there is a Sino-Russian war, a plague of asphyxiation, a cult of photosensitive Luddite albinos (a sort of secondary mutation of the plague) and Colonel Doctor Tough Guy Robert Neville (Cheston himself) inoculating himself after surviving a helicopter crash. Like ya do. Oh, and there’s a badass foxee layday in leather (Rosalind Cash), the kind who could say “Your name is mud!” and mean it. This reviewer referred to the film as “the world’s only Gothic Sci-Fi Action Proto-Blaxploitation film.”

In other words, the whole damn thing is bonkers from soup to nuts. That’s not to say there aren’t some effectively tense scenes. The first time you see The Family (the aforementioned cult, whose members look like Brain Guy from MST3K with festering skin lesions) they are decidedly creepy, dropping down like bat-a-roaches and being all swarmy and flammable. But when you hear them speak, equal parts Amish and Manson, they cease to be creepy and simply sound campy. And when they get shot, they bleed fire-engine red melted crayon. That aside, Neville’s scene in the clothing store with the mannequin works well, too, though there is nothing at all original about spooky mannequin scenes.

Cheston comes across kooky more than desperate. The greatest strength of the book is the portrayal of a person going insane from seclusion and fear. Not eccentric, not comical: mentally falling apart. In some early scenes, Cheston comes close to this, but the filmmakers clearly opted for an action hero character rather than a guy who is heroic for fighting on despite getting unraveled (as is the case in the book).

However much I saw of the film originally, I’m pretty sure I never saw the ending (um, immediate spoiler warning, I guess). I think I would have remembered Neville with a spear in his chest, dying in a fountain full o’ Jesus symbolism.

To wrap it up, this isn’t all that great a movie, especially in comparison to the book. Had I seen it when I was 10 or 11, I probably would have loved it. At 5 or 40, it is not such success, however. It’s fun at times, disorienting throughout, very dated and generally screwballish. I’m glad I saw it though. It took genuine effort to do so. Sometimes when you are little you think there’s a monster in the room but when the lights go on, the monster goes, too. The little kid in me had held onto a monster of the past, made more of sadness and insecurity than of any real threat, and the grown up in me turned the lights on and saw the monster and the feelings that created it are no more.


Jason Henninger no longer takes LSD. 

37 comments
Chris Palmer
1. cmpalmer
For me it was the original Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Made for TV back in the 70's, so I was 7 or so when I saw it first. It scared the crap out of me. I remember being glad we didn't have a fireplace, but being very wary of our heating ductwork.

Several years ago (pre-DVR) I saw that it was going to be late one night. I stayed up and watched it. It was pretty cheezy and probably only really horrifying to a 7 year old in the 1970s.

Then I got up and turned on all of the lights in the house before I went to bed.

I haven't seen the remake.

More on topic, I used to love watching Omega Man, but I haven't seen it in years. I need to watch it.
Irene Gallo
2. Irene
Funny you should mention The Shinning. I saw that when I was much too young but it didn’t bother me. I thought it was a cool horror movie. Then I saw it again last year and it comepletley freaked me out. I think my adult sense of death and murder kicked in in a way that was absent as a kid.
Ben HM3
3. BenHM3
The Omega Man scared the poop out of me too. A re-watch (within the last 5 years) and I didn't see it as "campy" but just weak, consistent for the times, where it was enough to get a scene at all let alone work it until it resonated.

But to this day, the first scene in his "fortress of solitude" I can easily reconstruct the for-the-times astonishment for the tech that the good Colonel had. That tone--alone, getting things done, and with attention to detail--appeared in Mr. Smith's version as well, and remains a major emotional impact of the story: real, engineering survivalism, not the "stock more guns" kind. (Yeah, he did that too...)

This movie haunts me like the short story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." Must go for a walk in the sun now.
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
Aliens was the movie that got me as a kid - I snuck out of my room during one of my older sister's parties to catch bits and pieces of the film from over the back of the couch, and it left me with nightmares for months. It was always the same one: me in my bed, unable to move, while one of the eponymous aliens creept down the hall towards my room, its shadow cast against the walls as it approached.

As scary as I found it though, I also loved it. I thought the xenomorphs, and the Predators for that matter, were just about the coolest things ever. I collected toys, read books, and otherwise reveled in their shared world despite never having watched one of their films all the way through.

As I got older, I got more opportunities to see the films. I was in Middle School when I finally watched Alien and Alien 3, and of course Alien Resurrection, but it wasn't until high school that I finally watched Aliens to completion. It, along with the rest of the series(except Resurrection), remain among not only my favorite sci-fi of horror films, but one of the best overall movies I've ever watched. I hold it in very high esteem, and have worked hard to ensure those friends I've made who missed out on its excellence have had the chance to experience it for themselves.

As for The Omega Man . . . I thought it was boring. Not scary, or creepy . . . just really, really cheesy. I turned it off after a half hour.
Steve Boyett
5. Steve Boyett
I saw this at the theater when it was released and it was an enormous influence on me. It remains one of my favorite movies despite everything that's wrong with it.

It's also important to note some context here: this came out very soon after the Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles, and the Manson family is a thread running through the film, as is a subtext of "new generation as technophobic usurpers vs. outmoded old guard" that acts as a perfectly serviceable metaphor to the generation gap (very nearly generation war) emblematic of the time.

The Jesus symbolism is a ton of fun too.

I seem to be one of the few people who actually liked the Will Smith I Am Legend, though it was clear from the start the thing was a remake of The Omega Man and not based on Matheson's monolithic novel. I'd bet no one associated with the production even read it.
Drew Holton
6. Dholton
I also saw it when I was 5 or 6 (maybe 7?), but when it first came out in the theatres. I won't say that it scarred me due to it's scariness, but it definitely left an impression on me. Even now, although I haven't ever seen it again, I'm amazed at how much I do remember. Especially, for some reason, the image of Heston watching the film Woodstock (I wouldn't have appreciated the irony at the time...).
What I do remember is how after seeing the movie, in an effort to answer my many questions about it, my mother explained to me the concept of nuclear holocaust. Thanks Mom! She did not explain however, why she let me see the movie to begin with...
Jason Henninger
7. jasonhenninger
@5
Good point about the Manson family thing. I hadn't thought of that.

As for Will Smith, I thought he had some very good scenes, and I'm sure that had the movie been based on the novel, he'd have done a good job with the material. I just can't see the point, with that or the Omega Man, of deviating from the book, as the book is so flippin genius. It's been a while since I saw The Last Man on Earth, but as I recall, it tried a lot harder to keep in line with the book.

Just thought of this: an anime of I Am Legend could be great.

@6
The Woodstock part was a trip. Chartleton Heston and Country Joe and the Fish..strange combo. And right after that is the phone ringing scene (one of the films stronger segments).
james loyd
8. gaijin
For me it was The Leech Woman. I was probably 4 or 5 and my mom had left the TV on. I woke up in the middle of the night and started watching. I was too scared to call anybody to come turn it off so I ended up watching the whole thing. Terrified.

20+ years later I saw it on MST3K and realized how very cheesy it truly was.
Jason Henninger
9. jasonhenninger
@8
Is that the one with the African woman and the pineal juice?
tarin almstedt
10. lapbplayr
The movie that got me as a kid was one iwht Julia Roberts and Keifer Sutherland, Flatliners. I watched it in an empty house and all the lights off. It was rented form the newly opened video store dwon the street. I actually stopped it half way through. The next day it was returned with no argument from me.

I have since seen it and did not remember what scared me. There was a memory of me being afraid, but no specific reason for it.
Steve Boyett
11. VoxOrange
At the time I saw Omega Man. I also watched Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green - and considered Heston a solid sci-fi actor. Not really what he is known for...
Steve Boyett
12. RobinM
I was about 5 or 6 and convinced my cousin I could stay up and watch the Hammer Films marathon without having nightmares. I just failed to mention I was terrified of vampires. My aunt knew I'd be scared and yelled at my cousin for letting me watch the movie. I don't think I made it all the way to the end of which ever Dracula was on; 197? something with the lady from dynasty and seaquest dsv. To this day Christopher Lee on screen means SCARY BAD Guy. Dracula not so much.
Bridget McGovern
13. BMcGovern
I grew up watching a ton of age-inappropriate movies and TV--my parents drew the line at slasher films and anything that they considered to be trashy or lowbrow, but The Shining was fine (not to mention A Clockwork Orange)--and like Irene, I don't think I really appreciated how disturbing those movies were until I was older. For the most part, I was pretty immune to onscreen trauma (high- or lowbrow) until I started watching Twin Peaks when I was 10 or 11. I was obsessed with the show, and I still love it two decades later, but every time Bob showed up, I would be freaked out and sleepless for days afterward. I'm still occasionally weirded out by ceiling fans, thanks to a few key images from season one :) David Lynch is pretty much the only filmmaker who can conjure up that level of dread and terror for me every once in awhile (even as an adult)...

Also? Zelda from Pet Sematary. F'ing Zelda.
Steve Boyett
14. wizard clip
For me it was House of Dark Shadows (a theatrical spin-off of the tv series). I was five years old and slept with the covers pulled tighly around my neck for years after. My mother really let my dad have it for taking my sisters and me to see it. Also Trog (this might have been Joan Crawford's last movie), around the same time, scared the crap out of me. In retrospect they're both pretty cheesey (if gory).
Ian B
15. Greyfalconway
For me it was an episode of the "Dont Be Afraid of the Dark" show on Nickolodeon. When I was little I didn't have cable, so I was always excited to turn it on and watch whatever I could when I was at my friends' houses, and every time I turned on Nickelodeon for like a straight year, all I got was this one same episode, about some sort of monster or something in a school swimming pool.

It terrified me until I was probably 13, and I was still iffy about nighttime swimming up til at least 15 lol, I'd jump in and then look around at the dark water and suddenly get major heebie-jeebies remembering people getting sucked down and disappearing.
john mullen
16. johntheirishmongol
The first really scary movie I saw was The Birds, which to this day remains one of the top scary films of all time. It is totally shocking, mostly because there is no clue or reason as to the event.

I love Omega Man, just for having Chuck and Anthony Zerbe (who is one of my fave actors). The story was a bit simple, and the romance was very silly, but it had some moments and it was fun. I never really thought it was scary.

The Shining had me laughing in the theater. I took a date and Jack Nicholson did his over the top mugging so bad I was giggling. Scary, no...bad, yes. I still regret the money I paid for that ticket.

In a lot of ways, Alien is still the scariest movie I have ever seen. It was wonderfully put together and had enough shocking moments to keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through. Whoever designed the original Alien did a spectacular job.

Now, I will point out that horror is not a genre I go to a lot. I have never seen any of the various shlock horror movies. They simply don't interest me.
p l
17. p-l
Aliens, age 7 when my parents rented it on VHS. I remember thinking, "Oh, at long last , everyone's getting away safely!" Then Newt fell into that sewer duct.

I ran out of the room screaming.
Steve Boyett
18. beerofthedark
The only things I can specifically remember giving me nightmares were the Dr Who stories Black Orchid and The Awakening from the Peter Davison era. I have seen them since and they do not awaken those fears, but I was flat out terrified at the time. Didn't put me off horror though - if anything the good Doctor got me hooked.

I used to watch horror films late at night on an old black and white tv i had in my room, volume turned way down so my parents didn't know i was still up. The first time I saw Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween I remember being very scared (but no nightmares), both are better in b/w imo. Neither film scares me anymore, b/w or colour, but it is fun to note that every time I see Nightmare it gets worse and worse with the Suck Fairy apparently beating seven bells out of it in between each viewing. Halloween still stands as a great horror film though and I have the theme on my halloween mix tape to this day

The only film that has genuinely scared me as an adult, and on repeated viewings too, is The Haunting - based on the Shirley Jackson book The Haunting of Hill House. If you like scary films that are actually scary go watch this film but preferably with something to hide under!
David Levinson
19. DemetriosX
I grew up watching monster and horror flicks on TV with my father, so I've always been reasonably immune to them. The one film that sort of got to me when I was a kid was The Legend of Boggy Creek, which came out when I was 10. It didn't so much scare me as leave me very uneasy. For a couple of weeks I refused to go anywhere near a window when it was dark.

Probably, the scariest thing I've ever watched was an episode of Tales From the Dark Side called "Inside the Closet". That scared the crap out of me and I was in college!
Mike Conley
20. NomadUK
Really, one could do worse than to spend a day watching The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and Planet of the Apes. And Silent Running, for good measure. The last doesn't have the glory that is Chuck Heston, but, hey, it's still great.

And the Will Smith thing -- sigh. Talent and money squandered. What is it with Hollywood?

As far as scary things ... Well, I agree with Alien: I saw that in high school and was tightly gripping the arms of my cinema seat with sweaty palms the whole way through.

John Carpenter's The Thing was right up there, too.

On TV, I clearly recall being scared witless by two episodes of The Night Stalker: the pilot episode with the vampire, and the Jack the Ripper episode. I think I also found the zombie episode pretty scary, too. That show was wonderful, at least in its first season.
Jack Flynn
21. JackofMidworld
Brief aside: I watched Aliens as a teenager, old enough to not be totally terrified but young enough that it set me on the road of sci-fi/action/horror that I've never regretted

Now, back on topic, I remember watching Son of the Blob when I was a little kid, some Saturday afternoon-matinee-thing my dad was watching. I didn't even make it through the first act. Watching it ooze up the back of the guy's chair, bit by bit, so slow & the guy's just sitting there fiddling around with the tv set & I'm screaming in my head to get up & run! Then when they found him & he was still alive but couldn't move....I bolted out of the room & my room was clean for YEARS - I knew that it was just my jacket balled up on the floor but when I was laying in bed, in the dark, oh, yeah, I just KNEW it was the blob.
Chris Palmer
23. cmpalmer
Inspired by this thread, I rewatched The Omega Man last night. I remember now the parts that creeped me out as a kid. The cloaked Family members scurrying around in the dark park, Richey's eyes, Lisa's(?) change and the Family calling her name from inside the house.

Not scary now, but not a bad film. A bit dated and cheesy (the aforementioned "dramatic chipmunk" zooms, in particular). Of all things, I remember the music much more that I thought. Kind of funky, sad, and epic.

It's also hard, as an adult nearly forty years later, to not see the obvious symbolism and allusions of the story - the Family's relation to Manson's Family, the Woodstock clips and the reflection of the social situations in the 70's, the heavy-handed (but well intentioned) racial message (the Family are all the same color and it's OK to have an interacial romance if you're the last people on Earth), the fact that Heston's character is The Man, but although he ultimately saves them by his blood and dies in a Christ-like pose, he's part of the old establishment and can't cross over into the new promised land with the children. There was a lot going on in it...
David Levinson
24. DemetriosX
@20

Oh, yeah The Night Stalker pilot was super scary! I'd completely forgotten about that. It was awesome.

Alien, on the other hand, I like a lot, but I never found it really scary. I was also in high school and I could time almost every jump scare to the second. Every single one of them made me jump, mostly because they didn't come from where I expected, but I wasn't really scared, just shocked. The guy in front of us doing his unintentional Fred Sanford impression throughout may also have had a mitigating factor.

Another one that's actually really scary that I first saw in college is the original Nosferatu with Max Schrek. That creeped me right the hell out. And then I had to walk home alone across a dark campus, including through a forest. I didn't exactly run, but I got home a lot faster than usual.
Sky Thibedeau
25. SkylarkThibedeau
For me as a six year old the stupid monsters on 'Lost in Space' scared the crap out of me and made me sleep with the lights on. I look back and think how silly I was.
T C
26. Freelancer
Funny that you say you would have liked the movie had you seen it at age 10. In 1970, when I am Legend was being filmed (they used the novel's title as the working title until not long before release) at The Burbank Studios (a conglomeration of Warner, Columbia, and small indie labels of the day), a 10 year old had the chance to watch as some of the final scenes were being done. A number of years before, a major fire had occured on a Columbia Studios set which got out of control and into the adjacent residential neighborhood. Ever since that event, the city of Burbank had put strict controls on the studio for how big a fire could exist on a set with only studio pyrotechnic engineers present. Anything larger required the city Fire Department's presence. For I am Legend (later Omega Man), the final scenes had a huge outdoor set with a great deal of it ablaze, so there were several units of the Burbank Fire Department on site, and not a few of the firemen snuck their children in with them.

The bit where Heston's character gets impaled by the spear, probably 7 seconds on screen, was repeated at least 15 times, using a variety of materials for a large breastplate worn by Heston under his shirt. A number of the formulations didn't let the spear stick and hold, but bounced off of him. For each take, they would re-wire the line on which the spear was thrown, to a hook on the breastplate, heave the spear down at him, tossing him backwards into the fountain. Eventually they decided that he would have to grab the spear as soon as it struck to make it work right. It was a very long night for Heston, and he was beat up for real by the time they wrapped.

Movies never scared me after watching that. Except Jaws.
Steve Boyett
27. Peter Tupper
I chickened out of watching "Alien" on VHS with my aunt and her boyfriend. They told me the creature looked like a crab, which puzzled me later.

I completely freaked at "Superman III", when the woman got absorbed into the super-computer. Left me with something like PTSD for days.

I actually like Heston in "The Omega Man", and thought he did a good job portraying a guy slowly losing it until all that's left is his hatred for the Family. I found the scene with him watching the Woodstock documentary poignant: a guy who probably muttered "dirty hippies" in the old world almost crying at the sight of what was lost.

PS: Anybody ever see Asylum's micro-budget "I Am Omega"?
Jack Flynn
28. JackofMidworld
@Peter - that was the one with Mark Dacascos, right? Gotta love anything that looks like Made For SyFy...better than it could've been, but definitely NOT something to give you nightmares!
Robert Evans
29. bobsandiego
As a child I saw an endless run of gory bloody drive-in theaters exploitation horror films thanks to my lying big brothers. (They always promised Mom and Dad we were going to something Disney-like and they always went for something like Cannibal Feast.) Strangely enough I do not remember ever freaking out or having nightmares and today I just wish i knew which movies the fragmented memories go to.
As a teenager it took me two tries to get through Jaws in the theater. I bolted after Chrissy's death the first time, but stuck through the entire film the second.
Bruce Williams
30. Coppersdad
I know I will date myself. I saw the original "Forbidden Planet" on original release in the theater long before I ever heard of Shakespeare. I have two memories of that film: Anne Francis in a short skirt and the "unknown terror". Somehow, the unknown and unknowable terror, a monster of electricity and light, came to be the symbol of every childhood fear I ever held. It was so much more than a child's fear of the dark and the monster in the closet. It was fear of change, fear of growing up, fear of losing a parent, fear of failure and also fear of others learning of my fears.
Even while writing this and looking back on a full life, I know, that movie - that monster - that atmosphere of dread - represents complete and total terror.
Kajsa Anderson
31. KajsaAnderson
For me, it was Martian Chronicles, at age 5 or maybe 6. I don't think I saw the whole thing, but the idea of duplicating the town and people, and the astronauts NOT KNOWING that it wasn't really their town, their families just messed with my head. How do you know anything is real! I know that one gave me nightmares.
Steve Boyett
32. Ommadawn
Doctor Who was my personal bugbear in my younger days in the late 70's and early 80's. One story in particular gave me nightmares for weeks... the Arc of Space I think it was called, and was based on a space station with giant insects attacking it. I saw it again a few years ago and I realised just how cheesy and bad the special effects and costumes were, but I will never forget the abject fear I felt, hiding behind the lounge chair and sneaking peeks to see what would happen.
Steve Boyett
33. Martha715
My scariest movies as a child were: OMG The original Amityville Horror. My older, wiser & supposedly smarter sister for some reason decided I needed to see this movie at 12, WTH was she thinking. For over a year I slept with a light on, a cross, a bible and a St Christopher (I'm not catholic) and refused to be in the same room with Chinese Temple Dogs until I was in my 20's and I STILL hate barn shaped houses. This movie seriously scarred me. To this day still cannot watch it.
And the Trilogy of Terror, the story at the end where the little cannibal guy chases, I do belive Karen Black, all over her apt and at the end (spoiler) she throws him in the oven, you think he's burned up and then dumb, dumb woman opens the oven and he come flying out of the over while on fire with a HUGE butcher knife between his teeth. Keep in mind I woke up around 10 at night ( I was about 6) and walked in on this terrifying scene. Didn't sleep good for weeks, refused to sleep with my closet door open and would try to get as close to the bed as I could as I turned out the light and would then pole-vault into bed.
I do believe these rank as my top 2 most horrifying movies of from my childhood.
Steve Boyett
34. CopperPayne
Despite being a total wuss when it comes to slasher films, I like a good suspensful horror (so long as I have a nice boyfriend to hide against during *laughs*) The movie that really really scared me, though, was "Carrie." I was home sick and for some reason, the movie just...captivated me. Right up until the dream sequence at the end. Swear to God, I jumped about five feet off the couch and dialed my mother at work, babbling incoherently about how freaking scary it was. And granted, I've had movies gross me out and make me not watch parts of them, but that was one that I always remember scaring the begeezus out of me.

I also used to hide whenever Medusa would come on during Clash of the Titans (the original, not the remake.) And my mother's new doctor and I are apparently going to have words about how hokey I found the original Salem's Lot when I watched it as a kid. It's apparently her favorite horror movie...
Steve Boyett
35. WalkDontWalk
When I was about 7, my dad played an audio recording of the Orson Welles radio adaptation of War of the Worlds; the combination of subject matter, Welles's voice and the music was enough to give me sleepless nights for weeks. I still get chills, 20 years later, when I hear the main theme.
I know it's not a movie, but I felt I should post this to prevent future generations of sci-fi fan parents scaring the @#$@ out of their children.
Steve Boyett
36. Lee Studley
I used to be riveted by the classic movies and miss the style, but I admit I've become desensitized by the level of acceptable gore in todays tv and cinema. It used to be more tactfully delivered. Now it has to have an twist to be scary. I thought Insidious' "red/black demon" was spindley in a cool scary way, but took from DarthMaul and SAW_n puppets. I still think of the face rip from the 'Return of the Aliens Deadly Spawn'
http://www.1000misspenthours.com/reviews/reviewsn-z/returnofthealiensdeadlyspawn.htm
Aimee Stewart
37. Foxfires
My dad was a slasher movie kind of guy. He thought nothing of turning up the volume and letting the horrid screams and abject terror of people getting mutilated fill our house, while my mom sat quietly in the other room trying to block it out by reading Anne of Green Gables. I was somewhere in the middle, one foot in Avonlea, and one foot precariously perched on the edge of a murderer's axe.

I also had a brother who was eight years older than I was. So when he would sneak and watch the movies that he was forbidden to, I crept down the hall and peeked over the back of the broken down La-Z-Boy and watched with a silent scream bitten into the back of the headrest.

I braved most of the movies valiently. The Shining, Poltergeist, all of the Creature Features, and everything in between. But the two that gutted me... the two that I absolutely could not make it through, and to this day can't even see an advertisement for (whether remakes, or plain old retro ads on YouTube) are Amityville Horror, and The Exorcist.

My skin would nearly lift off my muscles in fright. To make it worse, my mother was a doll collector. Baby doll collector. ANTIQUE...baby doll collector. The kind with broken glass eyes and little fake teeth that want to rip you to shreds the moment you turn your back on them. And MY room was upstairs at the end of a hall, with a tiny hobbit door in my closet leading to the attic. Every room in the house (except my bedroom) had scores of baby dolls on every hutch, dresser, and chair. Dolls that rocked other dolls in their arms when you wound them up, as their internal music boxes chimed "Twinkle Twinkle". Oh yeah. Don't think I didn't hear footsteps coming up the stairs behind me every. single. freaking. time I sprinted up to my room. Don't think I didn't hear slow shuffles of feet in the hallway after my brother was old enough to leave home, and I was left upstairs on my own to fend off possessed babydolls from hell. Don't think I didn't freak the fudge right out when one of those dolls DID start to play it's music box all on it's own one day. Yeah, that sucker got drop kicked into the garbage can before it could eat me alive. I would even have nightmares of these things talking to me. All I needed was a little fuel from either of those movies, and holy hell.... I was terrorized for weeks. And Dad would just rock in his La-Z-Boy eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and laughhhhh and lauuuuuuuugh and lauuuuuuuugh.

So yeah. Amityville. Exorcist. Both seemed wayyyy too real. Way too close to home. Like, if I watched either one, some bubble eyed dolly would decide it was going to start spinning on the dresser that it called home, spewing Holly Hobbie cake mix in every direction while it's eyes rolled in it's head and glowed murder-victim red.

Cripes... just thinking about it all has me creeped right the hell out. I honestly don't know what amount of money it would take to get me to watch either one of those movies, but I do know none of it would be enough to make me do it! And not a single baby doll do I own. Heh.

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