Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.
In this installment, Jake from The House That Dripped Blog tells us why he never watched a horror movie to be scared.
Let me begin by asking if any readers out there have any knowledge of a film called Mole Men of Morocco. This film featured blue hands reaching out from cave walls and grabbing unsuspecting explorers. It was the scariest film my grandfather ever saw. Or it was a figment of his imagination. Stories like that created a world of horror entertainment that I could only dream about.
My grandfather, like everybody else I am related to, grew up in a small town in Virginia. Mike Starr’s great explanation of marketing in Ed Wood was accurate—the South loves crap like this. My grandfather would tell stories about seeing Tana leaves brewed up for Kharis, about the English policeman squishing a mewling half-Canadian/half-fly, and about Raymond Burr in the original-ish Godzilla. This last drive-in tale particularly captivated me because Godzilla had been an obsession since I can remember.
I think that it all began with dinosaurs. They were the first weird things I remember being in love with. They were like monsters but only real. They were colorful and came in a myriad of shapes and sizes. They had teeth and horns. I cannot remember a time before I loved them. I cannot remember the specifics, but this love segued into a love of Godzilla and Godzilla branched into a love of all things monstrous.
As a child growing up in America, it is impossible to be unaware of the image of Frankenstein or his mythic backstory. Perhaps it was this ingrained familiarity that prompted me to beg my mother to let me check out Ian Thorne’s immortal classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of checking out a yellowed Ian Thorne (actually a pseudonym for science fiction author Julian May) tome from a school library, let me explain what these books were. For me and a few other monster fans these books were what Famous Monsters of Filmland was to an earlier generation of horror nerds. Each book was on a different monster or specific film. The books gave a summary of the film and provided facts and background. They all featured full cover photographs of the title monster. They were easy to find by their bright orange spines. The last page was always a picture of King Kong saying “I suggest you read about all my friends!” accompanied by a list of the other titles. The town librarian loved me and would always pick up a new one on her travels to the other county branches. She would be there waiting for me, a copy of The Deadly Mantis or Mad Scientists ready to be stamped.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was the first one I ever read. It is the reason you are reading this. It is what got me interested in monsters. It is what got me interested in stories and film. It is what got me interested in the humanities. I owe a lot to that stained, vinegar-scented book. When I saw those pictures of Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. at each other’s throats, in full Jack Pierce regalia, something clicked. It all made sense. For some reason these black and white ghouls and their struggles struck a chord. I read and re-read everyone of the Ian Thorne monster books. When Universal did the big marketing push on the monsters in the early 90’s I was able to finally see the films I had read about. Also, the Creature from the Black Lagoon was on 12-packs of Mountain Dew. Still amazed by that! As I grew up, and I became even more of a weirdo it clicked even more. As a pre-schooler, I made paper Draculas. At elementary school I did a little report on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In eighth grade I got an A+ on a book report on Frankenstein. My AP English senior project was a comprehensive research paper on the first cycle of Universal Horror.
This passion for all things monstrous is odd because I really do not enjoy being scared. I once tried to walk out of a haunted house but my father made me stay. I was 23 when this happened. In fact, I did not watch any 70’s or 80’s horror films until I was in middle school. I thought the gore would be too much for me. I thought every horror movie made after 1960 was crass garbage. That all changed when I saw the Eighties versions of The Thing and The Fly. These films made me aware that there was more than Jason and his brainless kin in modern horror films. They could be as bizarre and poetic as the classics. Today I count films like Raw Meat, Re-Animator, and Return of the Living Dead right up there with Son of Frankenstein and The Island of Lost Souls. Maybe one day I will finally watch Saw and put it up there too but I doubt it.
I’ve never watched a horror movie to be scared. I like the novelty of them. I like the oddness. They just fit into my brain. I’ve been compelled to write about these things since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I once had a card catalogue of every Godzilla monster. Did you know Gezora’s primary weapon is his tentacle punch or that Titanosaurus can jump two hundred feet into the air? If you knew ten year old me, then you could discover these facts and many more.
Over the summer, I saw an article about the League of Tana Tea Drinkers on io9.com. This gave me the idea to weasel my way into the blogosphere. Thus The House that Dripped Blog was born. I write about any grisly topic that comes to mind whether it’s a vintage set of trading cards commemorating my home state’s bloody history or a celebration of Dr. Cyclops and the days before the Humane Society told filmmakers they couldn’t set an alligator on fire. I hope that everybody reading this stops by.
I also hope that someone can confirm or deny the existence of Mole Men of Morocco and help explain just what the hell my grandfather was talking about.
Hi, Hope you don't consider this too spammy but thought you might be interested in this show we're doing - if you have any pointers towards things that we absolutely shouldn't miss out, we'd love to hear them too (still working on it)
Posted by: Simon Hedger | February 22, 2010 at 05:10 PM