There were once these closet sized stores with shelves full of "video cassettes" or "tapes" which contained recordings of movies and were available to rent. Some stores even had a bottom shelf of Beta tapes for those who weren't yet hip to the ways of VHS. These "video stores" were magical places of wonder and delight. Our first video store was inside a pizzeria. Talk about efficiency.
I would study the VHS boxes of these glittering movies intently. Here are the movies whose art left me frozen in their wake with the terror that only an overly imaginative, unsupervised child who had no business looking at them, could conjure.
They scared the crap out of me.
Disembodied, rotting hand ringing your doorbell. Whose hand is this? Where is the rest of the body? Who's inside the house and who's going to answer that door? Please don't answer that door. One version of the poster had the tagline, "Ding Dong, You're Dead." I'm never answering the door again, Girl Scouts be damned. I had no idea what the movie was about. Hell, I still don't. I don't think whatever horror awaits will ever scare me as much as that damn hand.
Good God, that face is gonna eat me. Those eyes just grabbed a hold of my soul and held it hostage. Is it a vampire? Christ, what are those other things floating around this floating head? Who the hell is standing in that window and why aren't there any more lights on in that house? Why are there never enough lights on?! You're right, poster. There are some great reasons to be afraid of the dark, and this poster added a slew of new ones to my nightmares. So, thanks for that.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Oh yeah, sleep was off the schedule. Screw that. Disembodied knife hand man? What? Does that hand belong to the rotting, lidless, hovering face? Is that even a human? Is that a dog with razor claws? The terror in her wide eyed stare made my blood run cold. Trying to hold perfectly still so the monster won't see you, so he'll just go away, hair clinging to your sweat drenched face, soaking your pillow. Don't move. Don't breathe. Don't look. And never, ever sleep again.
Oh man. Where did this guy get knifed? Was he in the lake or was it just raining? Did he just lose his shoe, and if so, is that his blood? Or did that guy get away and that's someone else's blood? That's a big-ass knife. Oh good, there's a letter that will explain things. Oh no, the author is getting scared and all the kids are...what? All the kids are what?! Dead. Dead is what it looks like. I had never been to camp and this poster really cemented my resolve to never attend one.
Can you hear the cackle? Musty old blanket, one friggen eye just boring into your brain, wispy hair blowing in the wind. Wind? Is this theater even operational? If this is how creepy the ticket booth is, what the hell does the inside of the theater look like? Am I going to touch that skeletal hand with rotting flesh hanging on it when I take those tickets? Is he daring me to take them? Who the hell brought me here? Will he sneak up on my during the show? Only in my nightmares, and often.
What in God's name is that thing? WHAT IS THAT? Is it a dead guy? An alien? A dead alien? It has no lips which make biting things, like my face, easier. Realizing that what I'm seeing is a reflection in that guys sunglasses which puts that dead human/alien...right behind me. It's behind me, isn't it? Now I'm looking for this guy in the reflection of every window or TV screen I pass. Run. Just run and never look back. Ever.