Monday, August 5, 2013

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers: What a Nightmare!

Well it's League of Extraordinary Bloggers time once again! Seems like I just did one of these... doesn't it? 


Last week the topic was "I Have a Dream..." so of course what are we following up with? 

When I think of nightmares... I think of my childhood in the 80's. I remember vividly as a young scamp being allowed to be "around" when my mom and my aunt were watching horror movies. Weird thing is, the would choose all hours of the day to do this. They would watch movies like Nightmare on Elm Street at noon in the summer time. And unless I wanted to be locked outdoors I was usually either watching too, or off in another room still able to hear the horrific action. I was exposed to SO many inappropriately terrifying movies as a child. I think I'll run down the list of the most traumatizing moments I was exposed to and then at the very end of this post I will detail to you the most memorable, vivid, and terrifying nightmare I had as a ten year old child. I still remember almost every detail of it to THIS DAY. 

So here are just some of the images that fueled my nightmare factory as a child.

1-a. The Stretchy Arms Scene from Nightmare on Elm Street Pt. 1

There wasn't much that didn't upset me about Nightmare actually. But this scene and a couple of others really stood out. Looking at the effects they use in this scene nowadays just kind of makes me cringe in an embarrassed way... but back when I was a kid this was just mind-numbingly horrifying. The first movie had very little on-purpose camp to it. It was deathly serious and used dream-logic to scare the audience, not to make wry puns or slapstick kills. Watching this shadow man's arms reach out and out and OUT just made me feel like there was nowhere I could possibly safe. 

A spring! A spring! A marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Slinky!

1b. ANY scene with Tina in a body bag in Nightmare on Elm Street.

This is the only time I will be dedicating a whole entry in this list to a different scene from the same movie. But dammit I NEED this one to be singled out on here! Any time Nancy would dream of Tina after she is brutally (and TERRIFYINGLY I might add...) murdered by Freddy, she's in her body bag... either soaked in blood... or pale and spitting up centipedes. A girl's gotta have options... I guess? Seeing Tina zipped up in a giant plastic bag in various states of death and distress was extremely mind-altering for me.


2. The Faceless Bounty Hunters from Critters

I personally think it's ironic that in this movie about carnivorous aliens the pseudo-heroes are the things that disturbed me the most as a kid. These guys are only faceless for a very short while... But It's that weird, pale, wet smoothness that just gets under my skin. There's this terrible sense of foreboding to them until they get their disguises on a short while later. It really climbed into my brain in a real way too, as I will explain later. 

Do NOT poke these dough boys in the belly.

3. The Chatterer from Hellraiser.

This guy is just a mess. Hellraiser was a sickeningly disturbing movie for me to glimpse as a child. I get that my mom was pretty progressive in letting me watch whatever I felt like I could handle... but I should never have glimpsed even an IMAGE from this film at that age. There are a good half-dozen moments, creatures, kills, visuals, etc. that I had stuck in my head for a long while after. Chubby cenobite Butterball is no child's fantasy of warmth and comfort and Skinless Uncle Frank running through the house, bleeding through all his outfits was distressing as well. But the Chatterer takes the cake. He's disturbing in the way the bounty hunters above are, in that weird, amorphous fleshy way... but turned up to 11. With the lips peeled back and the teeth clicking away... ugh. The Chatterer is the reason why characters like the fluke man from the X-Files and the Master from Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been some of my favorites. 

"You have Kool-Aid mouth."

4. "Fluffy" the Crate monster from Creepshow

Again, Creepshow is another movie that I clearly remember about a DOZEN disturbing moments from. The Caaaaake! Drowned, blue Ted Dansen coming back as a water-logged zombie... Steve King blowing off his head when he's covered in alien vegetation... All deeply traumatizing. But this terrifying ape-like creature from the crate under the stairs just absolutely wrecked me. I think the fact that he goes unseen for a good portion of the story is what really got me. He kind of embodies the nebulous threats that come from places like the closet or under the bed. And the fact that he was dragging full-grown adults kicking and screaming into his little hidey-hole just made it that much more horrifying. I was forced to go and play outside for large portions of this film (which was even more terrifying BY MYSELF in rural Maine...) because I kept jumping up off the couch and screaming my fool head off. 

"I am the one hiding under your stairs...
fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair!"

5. Whatever the F**K this guy is from From Beyond.

I have never gone back and watched From Beyond as an adult. I remember it being so deeply mind-altering to me as a child that I have never been able to bring myself to do it. And I LOVE HORROR MOVIES! (In fact most of the movies I take scenes from on this list are favorites of mine as an adult) I remember a LOT of body horror, a LOT-LOT of skull-tentacles... and a LOT-LOT-LOT of smeary-faced people eating parts of other people. This movie makes a barbecue rib eating contest look like tea with the Queen. I didn't know what it was (still don't!) that had gotten inside that guy's head to poke that weird feeler out... but I knew it made me desperately uncomfortable. (Another one that I always get confused with this is "Brain Damage" which has a lot of horrible imagery in line with this film as well...)

Just no.

6. Almost EVERYTHING from Night of the Creeps... but if I had to pick one: This guy.

Yeah, Night of the Creeps was just wrong on so many levels. As a kid I knew that leeches infesting your brain until they made your head explode was a bad thing. The fact that as a side-effect they zombify whatever bodies they've infested, be they living or long, long dead... just made it all so much worse. This is the reanimated corpse of a serial ax-murderer who was himself murdered 20 years or so before the story takes place in the film. He spiced things up a bit, that's for sure. Zombies terrified me from a very young age anyway, and this guy did nothing to help that. 

A zombie with an ax and alien leeches in its brain.
Not overkill at all.

7. The face-peeling scene from Poltergeist.

Everyone always seems to remember the clown and killer tree scenes from poltergeist. Me? All I remember is the guy from the paranormal investigative crew who has the vision of himself tearing off his own face. Well... that and the slimy skeletons popping up in the muddy pool-hole. That was pretty messed up too. But watching this guy strip off his face like the skin off the back of a Thanksgiving Turkey will ALWAYS stay with me. 

Damn. Now I just want turkey.

8. Again... a LOT of stuff from the Prince of Darkness... but forced to choose: This chick.

Yeah... she nasty. There were so many new concepts to learn about from this movie! Possession by demonic forces for one. The scenes where this scabby-faced woman would reach into mirrors and enter a murky, dark-water-filled realm that imprisoned the Prince of Darkness also freaked me deeply. It's honestly one of the reasons why I have such a hard time going swimming in the local lakes and ponds around here. All I can picture is some eczema victim reaching her crusty hand in and pulling out a monster. The whole movie deals in disturbing concepts. People being devoured internally by bugs while they talk in creepy voices... The big black guy singing as he stumbles around... Even just watching people getting squirted with the evil fluid from the big green tube was scary. 

That stuff sure wasn't Oil of Olay.

9. The closet monster from HOUSE.

It was partly the same reason that "Fluffy" from Creepshow above freaked me out... same kind of "monster from the unknown" concept... but then look at this thing. Part of it was that you knew this creature brought madness with it when it came out that door. I understood that it was defying logic whenever it showed up. That closet was normal one moment... and then it contained this slimy green mess of sinew and bone and teeth and snot, all asymmetrical and insane the next. It represents the polar opposite of everything children take comfort in. I heard more of this movie from the upstairs of my house than I actually saw... but seeing this guy and the big fat-lady monster was enough to send me squealing from the room more than once. 

Not the be confused with Mike Wazowski.
Different department at Pixar.

10. Big-Mouth Amy the vampire from Fright Night.

I look at the effects from the end sequence of the 80's Fright Night film these days and I'm forced to chuckle. But back when I was a kid? Seeing Amy in this state sent me over the edge. I felt like I was going to fall completely into her bottomless, gaping maw if I just leaned too close to the TV. I remember my mother, frustrated, explaining to me that it was actually just a "dark comedy" over and over again and that I just needed to calm down. I didn't see the difference. I didn't see the "dark comedy" difference when we went to see "An American Werewolf in London" at the drive-in either. My reaction to Fright Night got me banned from watching almost all of "Vamp" when she rented that. 

"Black Hole Sun... won't you come..."

So there are my 10 most emotionally disturbing horror movie memories from childhood. Or whatever. Now what that was all leading up to was this: 

The Worst Nightmare I Have Ever Had

I was around 10 years old and I was spending the summer with my grandmother in North Carolina. I was playing with my action figures in her upstairs hallway. I can see myself sitting on the floor up there, just totally oblivious to anything else in the world. I am looking down at myself from the top corner of the room... like an out-of-body experience or whatever. What I can see from my vantage point up by the ceiling, and that the other me playing on the floor can't is that the door to my grandmother's bedroom is slowly sliding open behind me. The room is pitch black. And then a figure steps out of the doorway, very slowly and into the hall behind me. The figure is clothed in all black. A solid black body suit. It reminds me of the cenobite gear from Hellraiser. But the head and face are completely blank like the faces of the bounty hunters in Critters. I want to warn myself that someone is there, but I can't make myself talk to the me on the floor to tell him. I am trying desperately to move, to reach out... to do anything. I watch in mute, growing horror as the me on the floor slowly stands up. The faceless man hasn't moved from the spot just outside my grandmother's bedroom door. He doesn't move at all. The me that was playing on the floor is now standing, and turning around slowly. The faceless man moves now, but only to step to the side. He's letting the other me walk slowly past him into the dark bedroom. I disappear into the darkness. I'm still watching all this from the corner of the ceiling. Then the man seems to look up at me there by the ceiling, and then he follows the other me into the dark, and slowly shuts the door. As the door shuts, I am suddenly slammed into my body... the one that is now in the darkness with the faceless man. And I start to scream. 

That was when I woke up. 

Let's see what's disturbing the slumber of the other League Members shall we?

- Chrisloc over at Random Nerdness had a similar idea for his nightmare post, as he recounts some of the move moments he remembers as a kid that gave him nightmares! 

- Ashley at Life With Fandom recalls a vivid nightmare involving a Russian invasion!

- G.I. Jigsaw lived out a real-life nightmare!!!

That's it for me today kids! Come back soon because I'll be showing off some Geeky Goodwill Goodness! Until then, Happy Hunting!


  1. You sent me back to therapy with that Poltergeist scene. Well played.

  2. Every single pick on this list is fantastic.

    But you should go back and watch From Beyond again at some point. Totally worth it.

    1. Oh I totally plan on it soon actually. Just have to track it down.

  3. Oh man that dream sounds terrifying! What did you do when you woke up?

    1. I was actually sleeping on the floor of my grandmother's bedroom (yes THAT room... the one I walked into in my dream) because it was the only room that had air conditioning in it, and it was summer in North Carolina. I was screaming and drenched in sweat I remember. She managed to get me back to sleep awhile after that... but it took me a while of crying and just full-on screaming. It was HORRIBLY disturbing.

  4. I know! This was a good list! I still get freaked out by Freddy's long arms in the alleyway. That was always terrifying. Really fun and creepy list, and that nightmare you had sounds terrifying. I've had nightmares slightly similar, and I always hate those.

    1. Thanks Miss M! I only ever had one other dream that I can remember being even nearly as scared of and it pretty much just involved me being chased around by one of my MUSCLE Thing figures (it was life-sized) around a grocery store. It just didn't pack the same emotional punch though.

  5. It sounds like the '80s were a renaissance era for horror. Makes me almost sorry that I missed it.

    Your captions are what really killed me. This kind of sense of humor is exactly why I wanted in with the League.

    1. Man, if my stupid captions made even one person laugh then I'm just going to walk around with a big stupid grin on my face for the rest of the week. Thanks for the kind words!

      The 80's are truly a stunning time-period for horror films. Back when a kid wandering through the video store could give himself nightmares just looking at the box art.

  6. I couldn't sleep for a week after I saw Poltergeist for the first. I had a clown like the one in the movie that freaked me out after. Thanks for the reminder. ;-)


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