Like Mother, Like Daughter…Scary!

Whenever someone tells me (or someone else) that I’m acting just like my mother, it’s typically not meant as a compliment. What they mean is that I’m acting in such a way that they don’t approve of and attribute my behavior to something genetically inherited from my mother.

However, I am like my mother in some ways, good and bad.

For example (and for Halloween), my mom and I both love horror.

The last time I was at her house, AMC was showing all four of the Alien movies and Mom and I watched the end of Alien and most of Aliens. She loves the SyFy channel on the weekends for movies, no matter how bad they might be. The People Under the Stairs was on Saturday morning and I immediately thought of Mom. She watched that movie a couple of times a week when I was a kid.

She took me and my friend to see Se7en. She rented me Rosemary’s Baby and brought home Dracula from the library for me when I was sick.

Mom is the reason I know who Stephen King is. She read all of his books. I can specifically remember her reading Salem’s Lot. I remember the cover of the book. I remember reading the dusk jacket.

I have yet to read it, though.

When I was finally allowed to check out an adult book at the library at the tender age of 11, Mom didn’t bat an eyelash when I came back with Jaws.

I can’t say that my mom is the reason why I like horror (as I said in my post about why I write horror, I’m not sure exactly WHY I like it or write it), but my mom was definitely a horror enabler. She liked it, realized I liked it, and encouraged me to explore it.

Of course, we don’t always agree on our horror likes. Mom liked Scream enough to make me watch it (during Thanksgiving dinner, naturally). I hated it. I enjoy Vincent Price more than Mom does.

It doesn’t matter, though. The point is that it’s a bonding point for us. Our relationship hasn’t always been the greatest, as happens sometimes with mothers and daughters. Sometimes it’s easier for me to focus on the differences and disagreements. They’re easier to see. It’s easy to forget when we get along or agree. The lack of conflict seems to diminish the recall on the memory.

But even as I picked my brain for more memories of the Mom-horror connection, I was shocked at the warmth that bubbled up behind them. It’s kind of odd that I’d get sentimental and gooey watching a guy run around in a gimp suit while he shoots through the walls because one of his cellar children escaped into them because it reminds me of my mom, but there you go.

My mother and I have an interesting, if not unique, relationship.

You can tell by the ways I take after her.

Writing–Why I Write Horror

If people show any interest in my career as a writer, the one question they always ask is why I write horror.

For the record, I don’t only write horror. Yes, a majority of my short stories do fall in the horror category, but I’ve written a few that weren’t horror. And my longer works, though I’ve tried to write straight horror, I can’t do it. In my eyes, they end up more dull than anything else. I joke that it’s because I can’t keep a straight face for that long. I mixed comedy and fantasy with my horror and that’s how I got The Outskirts.

But, yeah, the short stories I’ve had published, the short stories I self-published, the stories that are going to be published, are all horror fiction. So the question about why I write horror is valid.

The answer? I don’t know.

Horror has always been a genre I’ve been drawn to, whether it be movies or books. I can remember looking at the covers of the horror movie videos at the video store, fascinated by them, knowing that they would give me nightmares if I watched them. But that fear didn’t keep me from looking at Fangoria magazine in Radio Shack or watching Creepshow through my fingers in my best friend’s basement or picking Jaws to my the first adult book to read. I’ve had nightmares about Michael Myers since I was six, long before I’d ever seen Halloween, which is now my favorite horror film.

I can’t really explain it. I’ve always been drawn to the terrible and horrible.

I didn’t always write horror. I wrote my first letters and words at three. I wrote my first story at six. I’d literally been writing nearly twenty years before I tried my hand at horror. Something in me clicked. Answering a “what if” question with a horror answer just seemed to come more naturally to me. Since then, I’ve played to that as my strength.

I’m sure this doesn’t satisfy everyone’s curiosity. I’m sure they were hoping for some buried trauma that warped my brain. When you write warped things, it makes people question why you would want to, particularly if they don’t care for or haven’t really explored the genre. I can understand that.

I feel the same way about romance novels.

Bad Movie Bliss

If someone invites me to the theater or over to their house to watch the latest critically acclaimed masterpiece that doesn’t feature dwarves, elves, and Andy Serkis, I’m probably going to take a pass to watch a cable chopped version of Alien:Resurrection. Why? Because bad movies are where I live.

I’m not a big movie person to begin with. I like movie trivia, but I was voted least likely to sit through one (if such a vote ever took place). I’m no end of frustration to my friends because when they ask if I’ve seen a movie, nine times out of ten I haven’t. That tenth time, the movie is probably horrible and I’ve seen it a dozen times. The only reason I’ve seen some of the more popular/critically acclaimed/so-cool-I-can’t-believe-you-haven’t-seen-it movies in the past couple of decades (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, American Beauty, Clerks, Fight Club, the list goes one) is because somebody MADE me.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon. I can remember being little and my beloved Papa making me watch The Princess Bride. I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. My attitude was not unlike Fred Savage’s in the film. By the end, I was hooked and wanted to watch it again. And again.

While most people’s guilty pleasures are the crappy movies I live on, mine are the opposite. Two of my favorite films are Delicatessen and My Dinner With Andre. At first glance, Delicatessen is right up my alley. It’s a black comedy. Why is it a guilty pleasure? It’s French. It’s a foreign film. I have to read subtitles. Just the fact that it’s from another country should automatically put it out of my league.

And My Dinner With Andre? It’s two guys sitting and talking for pretty much the whole film. That’s it. It contains nothing the movies on my shelves have going for them.

But this isn’t about the good. It’s about the bad.

Horror movies are my favorite. Naturally, I love the greats like Halloween, Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Alien, Friday the 13th, and so forth. But I also love their sequels. I’ve been known to waste afternoons watching Friday the 13th movies that I even I think are crap just because I’m still watching Jason Voorhees and that beats anything else playing at the moment.

The SyFy channel was made for me. Those B-movie concepts are my cup of tea. I’ve been known to cancel plans for Pterodactyl, Sharktopus, and Mega Piranha. I can put those on and enjoy without being expected to think. If it’s possible to less than think, then that’s what I do watching those movies.

With Halloween approaching, my TV should soon be glutted with horrible delights, if I’ve got any luck at all. Between SyFy and AMC, I should get more than my fill of both the good and the bad. It’s something I look forward to all year.

And am always disappointed when they put the best stuff on at 3AM so they can show Constantine and Return to the House on Haunted Hill.

Some bad even I won’t touch.