I recently was put in a position where I asked my father for some fatherly advice. The reason why I ask isn’t relevant to this post but, the answer I was given is what this is all about.
I was told to come up with what I am passionate about and to devote my time to doing that. Now he didn’t say give me a list of all the things you’re passionate about, I’m passionate about a lot of things. what he said was “Find the thing that you are most passionate about, and figure out how to do that”.
As I said I’m passionate about a lot of things. This article is an open conversation with myself as to if horror and dark fantasy are the number one passion. For argument’s sake, my family and dog are removed from the passion running because I obviously am dedicated to them first. Also, the movies I love most are the dark fantasy and supernatural ones but that seemed too specific of a subject to truly devote ones life time too. So we’ll just call it horror for the sake of conversation.
My very first thought as to why I should pursue horror as a life’s passion is because I have always loved it. Even before I knew it existed I loved it. I know that sounds like a ridiculous comment but, when you grow up loving things like The Secret of Nimh, The Dark Crystal, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, when your favorite part of Phantasia was Night on Bald Mountain, and so on, it is not an all too unlikely an evolution that you will end up at the horror genre for life.
When I was little my mom and I would go to the Los Angeles Public Library. There we would get the new fancy invention that was driving families wild, the VCR. Yes, at the time you were able to check out a vCR and videos from the local public library.
Everytime I would, for my picks, I would check out collections of merry melodies and silly symphonies. These we old black and white kids cartoons and the precursors to looney tunes and such. In these old collections of cartoon shorts there was always one or two that were horror themed. One might be a musical number with skeletons paying their bodies as marimbas, another would be a fly finding on a picnic that is hunted and eventually ends up in a spiders web. While I found animation on the whole fascinating, so much so that it to landed on my list of possible passions, it was the darkness of the story that truly inspired my imagination. Moving from these old cartoons to The Dark Crystal, Legend and other dark fantasy was less than a third of a hop, skip and a jump.
So here I am in my nine, ten, tweens and early teens and a few things happen in my life that drew me heavily to horror and dark fantasy.
First I start staying home from school all the time and discover my local video store. At the time the local video store had no policy about renting R rated movies to underage children. I found that if I rented a horror film it was highly likely that I would see a pair of boobs. I realize this is probably not the most classy of reasons to initially fall in love with horror but, it is one of them. (Give me a break please. I was a young Buttonface just discovering myself.)
Another situation during that time is when I was nine my father took me and my brother to London for the first time. There we were exposed to classical architecture and a city that is considered to be one of the most haunted cities and while I did not know that at the time, what I did know was, that its where Jack the Ripper was from… It’s where Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde took place… it was the country were Christopher Lee was from, it was the country where Peter Cushing was from… it was the country where Hammer films were from.
While we were there my father also took us to several musicals and plays. All of them were incredibly inspiring and I remember all of them very well to this day. The one I remember the best, of course, was Phantom of the Opera. Here I am a nine-year-old boy watching one of the greatest horror stories of all time unfold in front of me. I have to admit I’m also a sucker for musicals. You can probably blame that on both of my parents.
Another thing that happened around that time (I was probably 13) is I went on a ski trip with my mom, her sister and the rest of our extended family up to Bend Oregon… Sunriver to be exact. Not what one would believe to be the most horrific of locations but, I was already a loner by that point and the idea of going skiing with my entire family for 5 days in a row made me want to scrape my face skin off of a potato peeler. So, one day I asked my mom to rent me a VCR and some movies and I would stay home while they went skiing.
The video store had very little in the way of horror. What they did have was a huge section of Godzilla movies. I rented them and for the next 8 hours, I sat in front of the TV in a snow-covered cabin in the middle of what is probably considered one of the most beautiful places in the northwest and loved every minute of it.