Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 20 of the 30 Day Horror Challenge: We're Going to Need a Bigger Erector Set - Jaws!!!

Day 20 - Your favorite horror film involving a killer animal –

Music in horror movies that you remember… GO! Psycho. The Exorcist. Halloween. Some say Friday the 13th. All say Jaws! I say Jaws. It’s great music. John Williams probably has it play when he flushes his toilet and then gets scared enough to look into the flushing bowl to make sure a Great White shark doesn’t rip him a new one. I know it’s true. That’s what I’d do! It’s a damn fine movie. I think we all know why it’s great and who’s in it. The story line. The score. The dialogue word for fucking word. I think I could actually write the script from memory. That should really be a contest for its 50th anniversary or something. Hooper, Quint, Brody. Let me tell you a little story that gives you some perspective on how much I adore this film and what makes me tick.

My dad recorded Jaws off WPIX channel 11 when I was very young just after we purchased our first family VCR. I have a keen memory for the little WPIX logo popping up in the bottom right hand corner. The channel’s call station symbol pops up right during the scene where the lights go out on the Orca, right before Quint starts to sing. It was timed perfectly for maximum effect. The reason I remember this is because I watched this VHS recorded version of Jaws until the tape wore out. The only part of the movie I can’t quite write down is the curse words; I’ve figured them out by readings lips.

I showed this VHS copy (edited) to the entire neighborhood. Parents were furious. They still bring it up to me this very day at Christmas gatherings after a few too many cocktails which is awe inspiring. All my friends had nightmares, and somehow I didn’t. Would you like to know what I was doing while watching Jaws? The truth may terrify you.

I constructed, out of Legos, the Orca. I built it out of multi colored building blocks, complete with wench and stern cleats. It had the crows nest up top and the harpoon channel out front. It had weapons and barrels and a shark cage. Several of my space men performed double duty as undersea observers and as our fearless main characters. The shark was made out of multi colored Legos as well. This is either before they came up with an actual shark Lego piece or I simply didn’t own one but I built the Great White (which was blue, yellow, red and green… maybe a little white… maybe). Daily I would carry out the boat ride to find Jaws. The murder of Quint. Hoopers Cage Folly. And Brody’s dominance over that big fish. I would do it in real time. Over and over and… I would say, “Smile you son of a …” every time!

I’d later create Jason Voorhees and several cabins and reenact Friday the 13th. I traded for a machete from a friend who had a jungle set. The cabins were pretty small by that point. I was running out of Legos by that point. I cut half of a spaceman’s helmet and drilled out the eyes, painted the spaceman’s shirt green and then had a plastic blood bath. The last incarnation of my Lego massacre series was a Saw-like foray into my basement involve a hacksaw, a vice and hammer. Saw wasn’t even at yet and I was inventing Lego Torture Porn (someone get on that with the fucking Lego theatres I’ve been seeing). I know that in recent years we’ve seen some pretty cool Lego sets. Classic Universal Monsters, Shaun of the Dead and the like. This was home grown and don’t think I haven’t considered resurrecting this old hobby. Wish I had pictures.

Few things probably confused my parents as much as my reenactment of Jaws. I mean when I was kid I thought that movies were re-acted over and over again each time as I watched them as if they were mini-plays on my television screen. It only made sense to act along. So that’s probably where it all went wrong (or right). Watched the Exorcist off of a TV cut my dad recorded. The Omen (until he deleted it because they cut it up so badly). Halloween daily. It was the god damn TV. I love every memory with that big brown box. I loved learning to record on that old silver VCR. I got me a horror education based on TV edits of R Rated classics. I’m not sure I’ve even seen all the “good parts” of half of the movies in my horror arsenal. Time will tell. You should have seen my face the first time I watched Johnny Depp come out of the bed in the first Nightmare on Elm Street. Whoa!

So I love Jaws because it was formative for me. I imagine it helped me get into the god damn Gifted and Talented program. I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for at least ten percent of my vocabulary and my affection for apricot brandy. Also, probably responsible for this rather strange urge I have for being a fisherman even though I’ve barely fished a day in my life. The only time I was ever really scared was during family vacations down at the shore. The ocean at Wildwood, NJ was scary enough without sharks. Hey, Jaws was based on a real incident that occurred only just up the coast right? Jaws must have swam by our little beach too. Also, had a problem with the deep ends of pools for awhile. I would stare down into the water and my mind would play tricks on me Seeing a giant shark at the bottom of the pool was terrifying and later I’d also see the giant gator from Alligator.

-Dr. FreudenTERROR

Runner up for this category was: Kingdom of the Spiders (sorry Billy Shatner)
P.S. I never expected to actually find anything on YouTube when I went look for a Lego rendition of Jaws. I didn’t expect Google to actually yield picture results. This has included only a smathering of what I found and none of it is mind. These are so good. People are way way more talented (and gifted) than me.

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