It must have been some time around 1981 when we got our first video player, the ultimate Sony SL-C5. Smooth sleek design, a classic which set the benchmark to all those other machines at the time. Of cause, the C5 was a Betamax. Superior in many ways to the more commercially successful VHS with incredibly crystal clear quality viewing. I can vividly remember my folks binging it home: for some reason, they got the bus home with it, even though the car was on the drive. Must have been a killer carrying it. The miracle that was the video player/recorder back in ’81 was stunning and quite difficult to express by today’s standards and realistically, it wasn’t really that long ago.
So, for the first few months, I watched a small handful of movies, over and over and over. Ned Kelly (with Mick Jagger), Gone with the Wind, Butch Cassidy and then there was Halloween. A strange collection of films thinking back. I can remember my folks watching Halloween first, screening and weighing up how nasty and possibly how disturbing it could be and drawing to the conclusion that I, at age 10, would be ok to watch this one. From that point on, Halloween was played probably once a week with friends sometimes, who left my house pale as the day, parents wondering why their children couldn’t sleep at night after the horror which thy witnessed. For me though, the first viewing was one of mixed emotions, excitement and terror, one which I embraced and took the white knuckle ride. Myers’ picking off the local girls, his dominant pose, expressionless mask and unknowing rationale. Back then, I’m not sure how much I actually understood what was going on, not that there is a complex plot or anything, but I seem to think I used to skip the first 20 mins or so to get to the real spooky stuff. Myers behind the white heart with glasses etc. The wardrobe scene was and possibly still is quite harrowing but I loved it.
I find it quite amazing though, thinking back on this journey of mine into my horror milestones that Halloween is my second notch after my primary introduction with Frankenstein five years earlier. Only after my 365 project did I realise the mirroring of the 70’s horror offerings with the original Universal classics. Myers, Leatherface, Pluto et al, all reincarnations of horror henchmen from the castles, Hunchback, Phantom, wolfman and of cause, Frankenstein. Unstoppable villains, silent, overpowering, masked and monstrous with a real direct link between Myers and Frankenstein both in stature, dominance and power. Again, how much of an impact has this film had on my young mind?
For the following year, we’d joined the local video shop. Ours was a real classy one with a massive selection of every type of film. Walton Road video. I used to stand looking at covers, imagining the plot, the adventure and always knowing that the films I’d be quite interested in would never be selected by my folks. Virus, Exterminator, Martin, Shivers, Microwave Massacre, GBH. Pigs was one such film, with a picture of a pig on the cover eating a human hand. (I might have imagined this one) but instead, we’d be taking home Kramer vs Kramer. A friend of mine at the time, Kevin, lived near this video library, above a pub. His brother used to rent the lot. He’d tell me all about them, full detailed plots which only encouraged my desire to watch horror and films of the fantastic.
Next time, further obsession with Video rental, Linda Blair and a lost unrecognised classic from the ’80’s.