I’m not sure when that moment is between when we are kids trying to seem older and when we become adults hoping we can still pass for 5 or 10 years younger. We always want to look like we’re in our prime. I’m just not exactly sure when that prime is. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in out 20s.
Growing up, I always looked young. This isn’t as cool as it sounds. What 13 year old wants to look 10? The payoff was always going to be how gracefully I aged. Somehow in the intervening years, I either skipped or didn’t notice when I was the optimal age outwardly. As I notice gray creeping into the hair on my head and the stubble on my chin, I think it’s ridiculous that I ever desperately wanted to look older. Why not just enjoy my youthful appearance and go compete against younger kids? Surely creaming some elementary school kid would be good for a junior high school ego.
Alas, I couldn’t do it. The first instance where I have a distinct memory of lamenting my youthful appearance happened in September of 1991. Over the previous 2 years or so, I had become completely obsessed with horror, especially the big franchises. I drew Jason and Freddy all over my book covers and notebooks, I theorized endlessly about who that guy with the weird tattoo in Halloween 5 could be, I watched and read anything that seemed even remotely related to these movies.
Suffice it to say, I was all in when Freddy’s Dead TV spots started playing on TV. I would put a blank tape set to EP in the VCR when I went to bed and I would record 6 hours of MTV. When I got up in the morning, I would fast forward through all the content in order to catch the previews.
I did some wheeling and dealing and my parents agreed to let my aunt take me. She brought me and my Asian friend and the girl at the ticket booth looked at us skeptically and said, “Are you their mother?” She said, “No, he’s my nephew and his friend.” I knew the jig was up as soon as I heard the question. She told us, “They have to be with a parent to see an R rated movie.” My aunt didn’t seem nearly as bothered by it as me. She just turned to us and said, “Sorry guys.”
There was so much there that went wrong so quickly. Maybe we would have gotten in without question if my friend didn’t insist on looking so Asian. This was one instance where the racial diversity of my friends did me no favors. I also figured an aunt would count for a parent or guardian. Couldn’t she have just lied anyway? I can’t imagined they would have really pressed the issue if she insisted that we were her kids. That couldn’t be the weirdest thing she’d ever seen.
This bothered me even more years later when I was finally old enough to go see R rated movies. Where was this moral crusader when I went to Scream with a gaggle of unsupervised middle schoolers? A less obnoxious theater might have relieved some of my angst.
To make matters worse, when I went to school the Monday after it came out, there were a few kids at my school sporting the 3-d glasses from the movie. These weren’t Freddy fans! They just went to see whatever new releases looked interesting. I even grilled a few of them as to whether or not the movie mentions Alice from parts 4&5 and they had no idea what the hell I was talking about.
Not having any real problems in life, this consumed me. I didn’t even find any relief when it hit video. The Video Paradise that I frequented was constantly rented out of Freddy’s Dead. This was before we had a blockbuster that stocked hundreds of copies of new releases, so this wasn’t all that unusual. Still, it went on for long enough that I never actually saw the movie until it hit pay per view. By then, my parents had heard enough of my whining to relent.
As frustrating as this months long ordeal was, it’s probably more memorable than anything that happened in the movie itself. Aside from a cool song at the beginning and another cool song at the end, I don’t have many special memories from the movie. Of course, this didn’t stop me from watching the scrambled version on pay per view several more times during its run.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that this was all an investment. After another failed attempt to see Hellraiser III in 92, my father caved and brought me to see Jason Goes to Hell. Even though he checked his new Indiglo watch about 40 or so times, I got what I was after. He even did it one last time for Halloween 6 before I turned 17 later that year. It took me a long time to appreciate that my dad sat through some shit that he absolutely hated to make me happy.