How Horror Movies Scarred Me for Life – By Nichele Johnston

Maybe this is something I shouldn’t be writing about and having published for all the world to see, but I have scars that will never heal. And those scars came from scary movies. Sure, you can say I’m exaggerating, or I have an overactive imagination, or maybe I’m just a run-of-the-mill wuss who can’t watch an episode of The X-Files without screaming bloody murder. That’s not the case. I can watch any old or new horror flick just like the next gal. But’s when the TV is turned off and the lights are out that my imagination takes over and makes my life hell.

First let’s have a little background. My parents pretty much allowed me to watch whatever I wanted….up to a point. I was allowed to watch Halloween when I was seven, but I had to go bed at 9 o’clock up until I was twelve. Go figure. Anyways, I literally grew up watching movies like The Howling, Friday the 13th, Salem’s Lot, and The Exorcist. However, I wasn’t allowed to watch Blue Velvet or The Lonely Lady. Maybe that was a good thing because The Lonely Lady is more horrifying than The Exorcist could ever hope to be.

Halloween is the film I credit with damaging my psyche the most. I can still remember the night I first saw it all those years ago. It was so scary…..Eek! The next morning I was afraid to open my closet door because Michael Myers might jump out and get me. That’s one of the silly and irrational fears that follow me to this day. The closet door has to be closed, and closed up tight! If it’s open, I can’t sleep. If you leave it open, I will hunt you down and shoot you like the dog you are. As if that’s not enough, I cannot stand to walk down a dark hallway. That’s when the monster always jumps out, isn’t it? In a dark hallway when somebody is all alone, right? Call me crazy but I’m always feeling for the light switch in that dark hallway. All because Michael Myers creeped me out when I was seven years old. Go ahead and laugh. But the next time your all alone and have to walk down a dark hallway try not to think about the first time you saw a scary.

Sometime after that I watched The Exorcist. Is it just me or does everyone who has seen this have that grimacing black and white face burned into their mind? Or the….um….crucifix scene, probably the most notorious movie scene ever filmed. Even after 30 years this movie completely freaks me out. I was born the year it was released. Coincidence. Um…yeah, probably. For all you people who laugh at this movie I just have to ask: “What is so funny about a girl stabbing her crotch with a crucifix?” Please tell me because I seemed to have missed the humor in that.

When The Howling came on cable television I just had to watch. Call me a glutton for punishment but back in the early 80’s this movie was da bomb! In my humble opinion it has the best werewolf transformation ever, even better than An American Werewolf in London. And guess what? I had endless nightmares about being chased by Eddie Quist. Maybe ten year old girls shouldn’t watch movies like this, but I couldn’t get enough of them. From an early age I loved scary movies and would stay up late to watch everything from The Horror of Dracula to Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. I couldn’t help, I had to get my scary movie fix even if it meant not being able to sleep without a light on for three weeks.

So there you have it. I’m a grown up admitting to silly irrational fears that were born 20 years before because of my strange infatuation with scary movies. As long as Michael Myers doesn’t jump out of a dark hallway to get me, I should be fine. But I’m still making sure the closet door is shut tight.