Now, way back in the mists of time, I remember having an Enid Blyton audio cassette. I seem to recall it was a Famous Five story involving smugglers, but werent they all? I would listen to aforementioned tape before bed, and Blyton's wholeseome yarn would lower me gently into the Land of Nod.
As I grew, however, Enid Blyton was found wanting, as my swelling lust for terror and all things horrific craved blood & monsters!
I borrowed a vinyl record from my local library, a Dracula-hybrid story of some description, and on a shopping trip to John Lewis with my mum, I asked her to buy me a new audio cassette; Tales of Terror: Edgar Allen Poe I had chosen.
Unfortunately the library record was scratched to buggery and barely audible and Poe's prose went straight over my 7 year old head. I could tell by the way the narrator was reading, that it was meant to be scary, but 'Vainly I had sought to borrow, from my books surcease of sorrow...' did little for me. What a savage, little philistinic child I was. But worry ye not, I would revisit Poe some time later and fall in love with him.
Mum was always sympathetic to my horror needs, and we would sit up late at weekends and watch horror double bills. This is converse to my dad who would take me to the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead where we would watch Sci Fi double bills. My parents were a sort of Horror-Sci Fi Jack Spratt and his wife. It has always suprised me that neither of them could make the jump either way, as there is such a blurry line between where sci fi stops and horror begins, and indeed vice versa. But all said, they could find common ground in a film like Alien.
Ill cover sci-fi in later blogs, but as we all know this is my last entry in the Halloween countdown of my personal and unforgetable moments of horror. Lists and top 10's are of course very personal and highly subjective things, and this last one brings me back again to the good old English style of horror to which I was exposed to so much of as a kid. This is horror moment No.5.
A happy 70s family in a happy car on a happy road going on a happy holiday.
That first shot of the hitch-hiker, stiff legged and motionless on the bank above the road still gives me the heebies. I remember being on holiday with my family in Spain and seeing hitch-hikers along the road as we drove around the country in our hire car. Jeezus! I begged, teary eyed and breathless not to stop and pick them up. I peered at each hitch-hiker we passed through my fingers wondering if they were the embodiment of pure evil.
The story of the Doppleganger is an ancient one, but I dont think I have ever seen it done so terrifyingly as in this episode of Hammer House of Horror's TV series: The Two faces of Evil. Yes, I even rate it above the masterful Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The directing is superb, the angles, the close-ups and the cleverly understated acting of everyone else but the wife, amplifying her helplessness, frustration and involvement in this terrifying predicament.
Of course that big haired, fat faced kid sorta reminded me of me at the time, so I stayed well away from farms and hay lofts. But you have to agree its a truly chilling moment when she looks up and sees her real child, dead and purple on the other side of the barn...
Its been fantastic sharing my horror moments with you and I hope youve enjoyed it too. Im not quite Mark Gatiss but, I could beat him up in a fight, and thats what counts.
Tune in to my next blog to discover the games me and my wife play... errr... computer games that is.
Big D out.