Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father Knows Best: Father's Day Tribute to the Father of Terror

When you were a kid I bet there were movies that you wanted to see, but your parents thought it best to keep your ignorant of them. For most of you, this is probably an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick or maybe something with a bit o' boob in it. I on the other hand had the absolute pleasure and honor of having a dad who's bar was set just a little bit higher (or lower depending on your grading scale). While most parents were worried about a little S-E-X, my dad was worried about a little R-A-P-E or a little Sadism... maybe a little out and out witch torture.

You probably all had nice normal childhood's. I feel that I had a pretty damn fine one myself. Played with lots of Legos,Blocks, He-man action figures... Since I was a horror fan at such a young age, my father fostered that in me. I don't think it was necessarily a conscious effort. He wanted to watch what he wanted to watch and, within reason, why couldn't his progeny watch as well? I truly don't feel that anything I watched as a kid be it the Omen, the Exorcist, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Creepshow, Green Slime, Godzilla... none of 'em had an adverse effect on me. That god damn Care Bears movie... that might have fucked me up good and proper just lil' bit. Mr. Boogedy really got under my skin. Never ending Story? Forget about it. All this talk about feelings breeds sissy pansy boys.

I submit for your perusal a list of a few choice selection from the Harris... ah hem... Terror household's ban list (at least until I was sixteen or made my way to Long Valley Video all by my lonesome). I remember staring at the VHS boxes of all these films. I'd pick them up and say, "Dad, can we get this one?" It was always know with the same response to follow. Getting creative and slipping the box cover into the stack of acceptable ones didn't work either. Below is the reason why I couldn't see each movie. He was right. Absolutely right. Country's have even banned these.

This is a little blog called...


Mark of the Devil

Dad wasn't exactly clear as to why I couldn't watch this Udo Kier classic. He always sighted the words "too sadistic". A better term for this puppy would have been exploitation. Now when you're ten years old and perusing the video store walls this one jumps out at you. Scantily clad women, accused of witches. The VHS box says, "Boobs inside" without actually saying it. I don't think ten year olds need to see exploitation movies (gotta wait till you turn twelve sonny). At ten you can't understand why the gore is funny. You can't separate the boob from the blood or even why a director might put the two together in the same shot. Jokes based on stereotypes become lessons rather than exceptions to the rule. Good call dad. No trauma, no foul.

Incidentally, when I finally did see this one I wasn't all that shocked. I think I had already been watching the Faces of Death which, however faked, still was a step more gruesome than this 1970 classic. Good thing it was Ken Russell's the Devils that was on that shelf. Rule of thumb, kiddies: Don't show movies to your kids that were released with Vomit Bags or that were rated V for Violence.

I Spit On Your Grave

Again, scantily clad lady on the cover. Eye catching. Known also as Day of the Woman. Described as "rape revenge". Stars Camille Keaton. Why wouldn't you let a ten year old horror fan see this? Could be some valuable life lessons in this one akin to Boys Life magazine for scouting right? Kids barely understand what sex is much less rape. Probably need to keep this one out of their Twizzler stained fingers tips at least until 17 (when they discover that only high school jocks rape people... everyone knows that). Beyond just the concept of rape this one has 30 minutes of eye gouging rape. Anal rape even. This one's fuckin' bad. Made it to the Video Nasty list in Britain and didn't turn back.

Yes, it's an anti rape movie. I'm not condemning it for adult viewing nor would I ever. In fact both this and the remake are two big favorites of mine. I really wanted a T-shirt of the original, but the thought of explaining to laymen what the movie was about had me a bit tossed. "Yea, so this girl goes to the countryside and runs into these semi-redneck guys who really wanna get with her, but they don't stand a chance so they figure they'll take care of things in a more... forceful type manner, see? Only she's not havin' any of it and... then somebody gets their willy sliced off..." You can't say these things at the water cool at work (the water doesn't taste quite as nice afterward). Moving on.

Last House on the Left

This one had me stumped for years. Why couldn't I watch Wes Craven classic? I mean that guy did Nightmare on Elm Street. What could be worse than that? Hell, I even saw Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 at the next door neighbors among a haze of cigarette smoke, cat urine and women learning about how to properly dispose of their maxi pads (in the toilet? the big ones... they don't flush! and then there's lots of blood! whoa!). So what the fuck could be so bad about Last House on the Left? I had even seen the Valentine's Day edition of Penthouse by age ten... this was preposterous.


After having watched Last House on the Left years later I found myself completely in love with it. Funny at times (tongue in cheek of course). Nice kill shots. Blow job turned late night snack. Chainsaw battles. Junkie's killing themselves. Women pissing their pants on command... what's not to love!? Do I fault my father for not letting me see this one? No. It's a good one to keep away form the little ones. How exactly do you explain the forced lesbianism or forced pants pissing to a kid? It's probably not something you want them repeating in school to their other friends (explaining all the curse words to them on the back porch in second grade, that was educational at least).

David Hess is now one of my favorite actors (for this role only). The Collingwoods are two of the greatest set of parents a girl could have.

Bloodsucking Freaks

Years later, when I found out this picture was distributed by Troma (directed by Jerry Reed) I knew why dad didn't want me seeing this one. Troma is boobs and blood and guts, oh my. This was no different. I don't even think my dad saw this one, but the woman with her head in the vice on the back, that probably gave it away.

Plenty of good reasons not to let the youngsters see this one. Brains drunk through straws. Women used as tables. Full frontal jungle bush. Midgets eating human flesh and the ultimate Italian hot dog, penis on a bun at the end. This one's a bit much for most adults much less the youngens.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The good ol' Rock Opera that started the whole world singin' along. My dad actually gave this one a chance with me. We rented it when the girls were out of the house. I don't think he fully knew what it was about and I certainly didn't. To me it had a great VHS cover and a bad ass title. Worth the watch right?

I think my dad shut it off at the first sign of homoeroticism. Probably at Sweet Transvestite. I don't think the film is inappropriate. I just don't think he knew how to explain the whole thing to me. We really weren't enjoying it anyway. The music wasn't quite to our liking (then... now... I love the god damn thing). So we shut it off, watched something else and were no worse for it. I'd watch it years later, love the music and performed it in my living room every other day.


Last but not least on our movie's dad said no to... Tobe Hooper's classic. It's a blast having seen this on 35mm this past year. A true honor. Why didn't dad want me to watch it? Stanzi gets naked. Stanzi who? You know, Christine Ebersole from Amadeus. Maybe it was the strange monster-deformed man sex scene with the strange old lady.

Looking back this one wasn't nearly as bad as Dad had made it out to be, but it was creepy. It is marvelously creepy. That carnival still gets me... Alive, Alive, Alive! People with hatchet's in their heads. Women in various states of undress. The adult tent, go go strip tease. The opening "Myers-esque" slasher scene with the rubber knife. Hell, I think my buddy owned that damn rubber knife. Question I always had... was that kid really interested in seeing his sis's boobs? Now that's just weird. Maybe dad was trying to avoid putting that little gem in my impressionable brain.

Dad let me see some movies that he probably shouldn't have, but he did so responsibly. Most of the movies, Exorcist, Omen, were cut and taped from television. Can you imagine me seeing the "Jesus Fuck Me" scene at age six? How would I have looked imitating that scene with my mother's nativity set? He wouldn't let me watch the Omen off TV because it was "too cut up". Now that's looking out and mentoring a fresh young horror fiend like I was.

He made sure I watched the classics: Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein, Commander USA... he had me watching everything. What he didn't show me himself, I watched from the hundred plus VHS tape library we accumulated off television. It was a treasure trove of classics. He had me watching Five Million Years to Earth and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors before I saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure! The Howling... man, the list is endless.

Thanks Dad for giving me this gift. My only regret was not showing you the Lego Orca and Shark I built to reenact Jaws every day of my summer vacation. It's probably the reason I never did well at sports. You know what I say? Let the jocks have their sports. We've got a giant VHS vault, cheese doodles and Black cherry soda from Shoprite!

-Dr. Jimmy

And no... I didn't see Cannibal Holocaust until just two years ago. I'm glad I waited on that one though not because I couldn't handle it... but because I was in no place earlier in life to appreciate the soundtrack as much as I do now. Enjoy readers.

For the Road:

1 comment:

  1. My dad and I watched a lot of horror movies together as kids, usually me behind the couch peeking out from behind while he slept and left HBO on. And I definitely let my kids indulge in the horror realm (and yea, my kids aren't pussies!!) But always made it clear what was realistic and what wasn't. And no, no boobies til you're old enough for a girlfriend!! P.S.- I've never seen a Faces of Death. Blockbuster had them a looooooong time ago, but my ex always said it'd freak me out. Love Funhouse though! That was one of my faves as a kid!