28 years ago, when I was 5, my old man took me to see my first horror flick at a movie theater – Halloween. Naturally I was terrified and spent much of the experience hiding under my seat, asking now and then if the victim was dead yet. As might be expected, this was the genesis of some real fear issues in my childhood. Hell, I still occasionally scamper up the stairs after turning off the lights and calling it a night because I think Michael Meyers could be on my tail with an 8” Wustoff. And don’t even get me started on the soundtrack they played over and over when the boogeyman was stalking his prey. Jesus, it gives me chills just thinking about it.
This begs an obvious question that might be even more terrifying and disturbing: why the hell would a father take a 5 year old to see a horror film?
If he and I cross paths again, it’s on the list of questions I suspect I’ll ask him. Needless to say, he wasn’t exactly a stand-up dad. Who knows – people change, so maybe he has evolved. I’ll leave some room for the benefit of that doubt. That’s neither here nor there and not the point of this post.
Oddly enough, I developed a real taste for horror flicks in my adult life. You might expect that a guy who, as a kid, carried a steak knife in his back pocket when his parents left him home alone would want nothing to do with scary movies. For some reason, that’s not the case, as I generally make it a point to catch as much of that genre that I can.
I paid a visit to my shrink about 6 weeks ago to take an inventory of myself. Too much mental and emotional debris had begun to clutter my cellar and weigh me down, so a psychoanalytical spring-cleaning was needed. It absolutely helped, but some of my follow-through on his suggestions could be occasionally called into question. His primary recommendation was that I have the nanny stay late two nights each week so I can have a couple of hours here and there to round myself out with activities other than work and parenthood, the only catch being that I don’t spend these “off” nights drinking and smoking. My wife tends to work long hours, which lands me in the Mister Mom role 5 nights a week. While I absolutely love the Jackal, that song and dance on the heels of every crazy work day was wearing me thin. Okay, enough said…
Today after work I decided to catch the post-apocalyptic horror flick, 28 Weeks Later, at Mazza Gallery, which is right across the street from my office. I walked away satisfied, not demanding those two hours of my life back. The first installment, 28 Days Later, was more artistic – what I’d call a “film,” if you can buy that. The sequel was more of an adventure in sensationalism and gore, which I expected and accepted. As I took in various scenes showing infected psychos bashing skulls, gouging eyes, or munching flesh, I caught myself wondering if this was the kind of therapeutic use of my time the doctor had in mind. It is kind of odd that today’s refuge from the world happened to take the shape of some ultra violent, bloody, horror flick. Here’s the thing – I never said I was not odd.
An email from a close friend I told about my plans hit my blackberry during the flick: How scared are you right now? More scared than mature?
28 years later, I can’t come up with a straight-faced answer to a question like that, so I just laugh my ass off and continue to not take myself too seriously. Maybe the minute I start taking myself seriously is when I develop an aversion to flicks like 28 Weeks Later.
Now that, my friends, is a thought that scares me.