Hammer House of Horror: "Witching Time" - *Plot:* *Composer David Winter stays up late scoring a horror film, one which stars his own beautiful wife, Mary. But while he works at their home in the...
Friday, January 20, 2012
Mark Morris, the monster movie marauder over at the always enjoyable site Exclamation Mark, tells us about his undying passion for the crackling classics of yore and his unforgettable encounter with a little girl vomiting pea soup...
The first time I witnessed the Gillman's ominous claw emerge from the murky depths of the Amazon and clutch at Julie Adams' delicate ankles I was hooked. Like a lot of kids of my generation, I was introduced to B-movie horror and science fiction films through a local “creature feature.” Each Friday night I would stay up late with my little brother (and sometimes my best friend, Tony) to watch rubber-suited monsters nab beautiful women, or alien beings attempt to blend in with Earthling society.
Those hours enraptured in front of the television with my brother and friend are some of my favorite childhood memories. I associate those days with forts assembled from sofa cushions and impromptu tents constructed from common blankets and kitchen chairs. Strange to think that in that idyllic childhood world I would willingly invite Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, and an assortment of ghouls, creatures, and malevolent aliens. But I did. Lots of us did. It was a regular Monster Revolution.
At first, the classic Universal monsters were my primary interest. I both feared and empathized with creatures like the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster. With a little age, the names of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing came into my consciousness, and I fell in love with the more adult-oriented remakes by Hammer Films. In between, I watched any and all science fiction/horror films I could get my eyeballs on. I fell in love with Vincent Price and the works of William Castle. I cherished the schlock as much as the high art.
Something happened in 1973, though. I was eleven years old and a new horror film was making a big stir. The movie was The Exorcist, and it was being hailed as the most terrifying movie of all time. Being brought up in a Catholic family, my mother instantly stamped the picture, “OFF LIMITS.” However, the buzz about its horrifying premise, combined with its taboo status, only fueled my curiosity.
That night, my brother-in-law drove me, my sister, and little brother to the drive-in to view the infamous film. My trusting mother believed we were all going to Herbie the Love Bug Rides Again, and before the night was over, I wished that we had. I spent most of the evening in the back seat with my eyes closed and ears covered. The transition from “Eeeek, a monster,” to “Your mother sucks cocks in hell,” was too much for me. I was absolutely traumatized. My brother, who had a front seat vantage point, fared even worse and had nightmares for months. All these years later, neither one of us have taken the time to watch The Exorcist again.
After The Exorcist, my beloved monsters seemed a lot tamer and friendlier, and that was fine by me. I came to appreciate Boris Karloff’s sentiment when he stated, “The films I have made were made for entertainment, maybe with the object of making the audience’s hair stand on end, but never to revolt people.” I decided revulsion was not my cup of tea, and I championed the horror flicks offered by my local horror host.
Of course, with a little more age, I came to enjoy a certain amount of revulsion in my horror. During my high school years I appreciated films like Halloween, The Howling, and An American Werewolf in London (I’ve always had a soft spot for werewolves). Still, my passion was for the creature features of my youth. Those movies had something of charm and poetry to them, and I still cherish their memories.
My site, Exclamation Mark, is an extension of those memories. I am not so much a critic as I am a person who simply enjoys spouting off about the movies that have made such an impact on my life. In my mind, my page is just as much a tribute page as it is a source for reviews. Although I'm still interested in horror films, I find that I go to fewer and fewer each year. My devotion remains to the vintage horror that thrilled my boyhood imagination. It’s not a taste that everyone shares, but those who do, understand my fervor.