I asked the rather awesome Adam Akers (webmaster over at Attack From Planet B) if he would be interested in contributing to my humble little blog. Thankfully he agreed instantaneously by providing this piece on his first encounter with horror films (more specifically Texas Chainsaw Massacre). So sit back and relax as you read the first in a line of guest posts from other talented writers.
I have to say that films have been an important part of my life and have given me as many hours of pleasure as well as hours of pain. Films have been a route for escapement on a rainy Sunday afternoon or a passage to unknown topics that have heighten my interest in different subjects, such has historical events to famous people. However, one film, though never watched in it’s entirety by myself, ignited a need to know how films were made and therefore increased my interest in films as a whole. This film was the “poster boy” of video nasties of its time and due to some lack parenting skill and difficult times, I had the miss fortune as a 7 year old to witness Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
This film, now regarded as one of the most important horror films of our time, was then a video nasties that was handed around from person to person in brown paper bags our order by mail order. In school you would hear of one person or another who knows someone who knows someone else that could get a copy, though nobody ever saw it. That was the case for me, until that fateful night.
I can remember the whole evening as if it was in Technicolor on a twenty foot screen right in front of me now. I was staying at me Dad’s over one of the school holidays and as babysitting was an issue back then, so we all went round to one of his friends houses for the evening. I was a 7 year old boy of a quiet disposition and was sat in the corner of the sofa in the corner of the room with a few toys, a couple of books and an Argos catalogue. For some reason the Argos catalogue was always around and my face was always in it looking through the toys section. Though I didn’t know then, this Argos catalogue would become my greatest defense with what was to come.
It was then discussed by the adults present -forgetting that I was there- that the friend of my Dad had come across this film that was very hard to find and that they should all watch it. I was not really listening at the time (as the latest Star Wars or Lego toys in the catalogue were holding my interest more). It was then that the television was put on with the video heaved into a top loader VHS player.
With the sound of the mechanism so loud it managed to break my concentration from my studies of the Argos toys section. Being 7 and in the 80’s, the television only heralded things of fun and excitement to watch such as the A Team or Swap Shop, and knew very little of what television and film could also produced.
I sat there watching as the opening moments of the film started, with Argos catalogue still on my lap. Words appeared on the screen say that something had happened to some people and this film was about these things. As a child, when you read something on screen or anywhere, you take what you have read as fact; this was not a good start. The next thing I remember was of a group of people in a camper van driving along with someone stranger in the van with them. I remember this as my parents and I once went on a holiday to Wales in a very similar camper van a few years before.
However, what came next didn’t happen in Wales. I remember seeing the stranger take a photo or something of one of the girls in the van, then burring it then cutting himself or the girl in the photo. From that point on I know was not going to like this and the Argos catalogue started to become my first ever security blanket.
From then on I only saw brief moments of the film as I buried my head deep in the pages of the Argos catalogue. Though the overriding thing of this film as it played were the sounds, the noises and the music that played throughout. Images can scare but sounds have such a deep effect, the sound of a chainsaw even more so when accompanied with screams.
With more sounds and images imprinted into my 7 year old mind through that night, for the next few days and nights and maybe longer, sleeping or being left alone was not the most fun of experiences I ever had. However, one thing did come out from this. As I started to come to terms to the things that I had seen and that those images were not real and had not happened.
One thing that had help me realise this (during the same time that I had seen this film) was Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom and was one of, if not my most favorite film at the time. Seeing the exploits of Jones and the evil Mola Ram conducting open heart surgery over a flaming pit, I could see comparisons, if only slight between the two film. I knew at the time Jones wasn’t real, as it had Han Solo in it, and yet the things I saw looked real. Seeing this and then understanding that it wasn’t real ignited an interest in me of how do they do those things and make it look so real.
I was then hooked on all things filmed related, help also in part by my Dad’s great interest in old classic films and of the studio system back during its heyday in Hollywood. He had many large leather-bound books on the subject, only kidding on the leather, though he did have many books (most of which are now in my possession).
So from some miss guided parenting and an introduction to horror via the most renowned horror film at the time, my interest in film took on a life of its own. However, still today I have never or will ever watch Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I am now too big to hide behind the toy section of the Argos catalogue, as I can’t see it without it.