I grew up in a household where horror movies weren’t a part of our entertainment diet. Now we weren’t weird religious people, it just wasn’t something we watched. But then one night, after driving for hours in the desert on a winter night, we arrived at my uncle’s house and he had this newfangled device called a VCR. So with all the lights turned off and the fireplace roaring I finally got to see my first horror movie: Poltergeist.
I had no idea that horror movies could be fun. Or that parents could smoke pot without any negative repercussions. I also didn’t know that I should be scared of clown dolls that come to life and attack you in your own bedroom. The poor son in the movie already had a tree try to eat him and now this clown doll is trying to kill him. It’s not only terrifying, it’s rude.
The thing that stuck with me in this movie is that it’s the first time I remember seeing a misdirect in a movie. When the kid thinks the clown is under his bed, he very slowly reaches down to look and… nothing! Phew, all good then! But the camera pans up and the clown is right next to him! What the heck? I thought we were safe. I was tricked and I loved it. Kudos Tobe Hooper (or Steven Spielberg according to rumors).
Either way, a lifelong love of horror was born that night as well as the knowledge to never feel safe until the credits roll.