When I was about 15 my parents worked nights a lot and would leave me to my own devices of an evening, which usually meant renting videos from the local rental place and expanding my movie education. Somehow I had come to an arrangement with the proprietor of said local video establishment that I was able to rent 18 certificates, which generally meant I spent my evenings watching action films of the more violent persuasion (remember when action films actually used to get 18 certificates?), or gory slasher flicks of the Freddy Krueger variety.
When I picked up Candyman I thought I was getting a run of the mill Eighties horror, but what I got was one of the scariest films my then young self had ever encountered (which I still daren’t rewatch even now) and a severe inability to look directly into the mirror when brushing my teeth. After cursing my solitude in the house and trying to distract myself with a few hours of Super Nintendo playing, I eventually took myself off to bed. I eventually got off to sleep, to dream fitful wasp-infected dreams filled with looming men with hooks for hands.
In this state, when my father burst into my room at three in the morning, flicked on the lights and started screaming at me, I nearly had a coronary. In my mind the figure before me most definitely had a hook, and it took a good 30 seconds before I realised that he didn’t, although the realisation then came upon me that I was in serious trouble for some as-yet unknown crime. The blood rushing in my ears and the wave of panic and confusion starting to ebb away, I started to plead my innocence in the way that all children do before even trying to find out what they had done.
It turns out I had gone to bed with the windows and curtains drawn throughout the house (in order to ensure no reflective surfaces where I might be tempted to utter Candyman five times) and the Pot Pourri smell had flooded the room in the intervening hours, so when my parents returned they assumed that I had started a dalliance with herbs of a different kind. In my bemused and terrified state I managed to convince them I had done nothing of the sort, and was eventually vindicated the next morning when the smell had not dissipated. But now whenever I think of sheer undiluted terror, my mind goes straight back to Tony Todd, his hook hand, and my father; all muddled together in one terrifying ordeal.
What horror movie scarred you for life, stuck with you through your formative years, or opened your eyes to the possibilities of the genre? Let us know and you could win some amazing Halloween goodies!