Growing up, I always considered myself the expert on the genre. Looking back, it seems that it was probably more by default than anything else. I didn’t meet anyone else who liked horror more than casually until high school.
There were a few more horror fans in college, but most people there were more into flavor of the moment stuff. I probably sound like a snob here, but the majority of these people had just gotten into film when it was time to decide on a major. They tended to pick a few classics in addition to The Godfather, Goodfellas, and maybe some Tarantino movies to go along with a David Fincher infatuation (Fight Club came out at the beginning of my third year).
It wasn’t until the internet became such an integral part of everyone’s lives that I started to realize I wasn’t unique in my obsessions. There were people all over the world who not only fixated on the genre like I did, but knew a ton more than me. It’s a little disheartening when you spend so long counting on your love and expertise of something as your identity. I admit that it took me several years to come to terms with the fact that there was no competition and I didn’t have to “win” being a horror fan.
Now there’s a certain kinship I feel when I meet someone about my age that had similar experiences. As great as it is to now be able to connect with people across the globe with similar interests, there’s a certain amount of isolation that I felt growing up as a horror fan. It was part of what made me who I am now. I didn’t get into these movies to make friends or to fit in with a crowd; as far as I knew, that crowd didn’t exist. I did it out of love and that sense of identity that I mentioned earlier. It builds character to put a lot of work into something that no one else is really going to care about.
Before the internet, it really was a lot of work it to be a horror fan. Following actors, writers, and directors took perseverance. It was mostly trial and error (and maybe a little help from Fangoria). There’s little that can match the elation I felt when I realized Tom Savini had done effects for another camp slasher in the early 80s.
Since the internet, I think we’ve all gotten so used to having everything at our fingertips. The volume of information and content that can be called up at a moments notice is staggering. In some ways, I feel alienated and left behind as a horror fan. I often have no idea what people are talking about in regards to new movies and when I listen to horror podcasts I realize that I don’t even measure up on the old stuff as much as I once thought I did.
So, I kind of now realize that I’m right back where I was when I was about twelve. I honestly love what I love but don’t know a whole lot about other stuff. Now that I have a large family (four kids and a wife) and a mortgage and all that goes along with it, I realize that I am never going to catch up so to speak. I have much less time to watch movies than I did ten or fifteen years ago, so I have to be very particular with what I watch. Do I try to keep up with some of the great looking new releases or do I re-watch some of my favorites that have brought me so much joy over the years? I try to strike a balance, but lean more toward the latter.
There’s much less chance of being disappointed and and watching some movies on blu ray can be sort of a revelation. There’s also something to be said for watching the same movies over and over for 20+ years. You start to either notice things you hadn’t before or find something hilarious that was possibly only mildly amusing before.
That was the case with my recent viewing of My Bloody Valentine. There’s a scene a little over ten minutes into the movie where the mayor opens a candy box containing an ominous note and a human heart. This upsets him and the police chief to the point where they pull the truck over and haul ass back to town. In order to do this, they back into a driveway and pull out in the opposite direction. That driveway was apparently home to a frisky black dog who gives the truck quite a chase down the road.
It’s not like the dog is hidden or that I never noticed him before, so why did this scene tickle me so much? I think some of it has to do with how much the little guy reminded me of my old dog. When I first moved in with my wife, I would always bring her for a walk about ten or fifteen minutes before my wife got home from work. The dog would see my wife drive by and I would hold her on the leash until the car was closing in on the driveway. I would unhook the leash and she would barrel toward the house like she was fired out of a cannon.
The dog here has that kind of spirit. You can almost hear him saying, “Hey guys! What are we doing? You want to play?” He even picks up enough speed that my breath catches a little as I’m afraid he’s going to get out in front of the truck and end up under one of the tires.
I like to think that none of this was intentional and that they left the scene in anyway. I also picture the driver of the truck in that shot not knowing what to do because the dog was running faster than the vehicle and someone behind the camera yelling, “where the hell did that dog come from?”
Intentional or not, I had a good laugh watching a movie that I’ve probably already scene more than a dozen times. I may not ever be the horror expert that I once considered myself, but I know that the amount of enjoyment I get out of watching the movies that I truly love can rival anyone anywhere.