How I Got Into Horror (or how horror got into me)

nosferatu image

@HellingsOnFilm recounts how horror reeled him in…

Once upon a time, way back when, in a time that the BBC was still good, they used to show the late night Horror Double Bill on a Saturday evening (tucked away on BBC2 so as not to offend the blue rinse, conservative audiences of the main channel, most of whom had gone to bed by that point or were waiting for the national anthem on BBC1).

It was usually an Amicus or some such like anthology followed by a Hammer film. Asylum and then Dracula, films like that. Needless to say, these were somewhat eye opening to a young boy. The dark endings without hope in the anthologies, the great battles between Peter Cushing’s marvellous Van Helsing and Christopher Lee’s classic Count. And then I knew that vampire films were a definite favourite and watched an old, silent, German film. A little something called Nosferatu with a funny bald bloke with odd fangs. Murnau’s classic was as disturbing then as it is today. Back then, local cinemas didn’t bother to have age restricted trailers with the main feature, as I discovered when they screened the trailer of The Omen (the original, not the tragic remake) with some Disney film. That was genuinely scary (the trailer, not the Disney film) and made me want to see The Omen, which wouldn’t be for a long while. When I did, it became a firm favourite and made me glad I didn’t have a nanny, or a Rottweiler, or a son called Damien.

Horror and its sense of the outsider always seems to appeal to adolescent boys (and girls) of a certain psychology and it appealed to me in the same way. After the old campy Hammers came the world of chainsaws and massacres, exorcists and zombies, quickly discovering Dawn of the Dead (the original, of course), which remains my favourite horror film to this day, and the world of Argento, still my favourite horror director, despite recent imperfections.

Though most efforts lately are generic to the point of being offensive to generic films, horror is still the genre with the capacity to surprise and excite. That’s why I got into horror and still am.

David Paul Hellings

Twitter: @HellingsOnFilm

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