In this installment, Nate Yapp of Classic Horror hits the wall, and climbs over it in classic style to continue his quest for horror.
Even without horror, I would still be a movie blogger of some kind. When I was seven, I read Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide from cover to cover, imagining each film in my head. Cinema is part of my basic identity. Horror came to give that identity a focus, not once but twice in my life.
While I was still seven (or possibly eight), I wandered into the living room just as the infamous sewer grate scene from Stephen King's It began. I was terrified. I did not like it. My mother, who grew up watching a local late-night horror program, decided that the best way to handle my almost crippling fear was to show me her horror films -- Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Pit & the Pendulum and the like. I was hooked. For whatever reason, these resonated with me. I would search bookstores and libraries for tomes on my favorite monsters.
At age eight, I was proud owner of William K. Everson's Classics of the Horror Film and Alan Frank's Horror Movies (although many of the full-color pictures in the latter volume disturbed me). I even bought a copy of Lotte Eisner's The Haunted Screen, because Count Orlok loomed on the cover. A friend's parents were kind enough to tape AMC's Monsterfest for me and I pored over all of those movies. I could not get enough.
Until I eventually did.
I hit a wall. I couldn't stomach blood (my first viewing of Curse of Frankenstein ended when the monster was shot in the eye) or anything made past Roger Corman's Poe cycle. I was too young to purchase my own videos and television was stingy about showing my kind of horror. Without a lot of new material to satisfy my macabre hunger, I moved onto different entertainment diets. I became a Trekkie for a while. I collected comic books. I obsessively cataloged how many different characters each member of Monty Python played over the course of Monty Python's Flying Circus (I wish I still had the figures for that, but I believe that Terry Jones or Eric Idle "won"). These were all fine, but they were fleeting, one melting into the other as I became distracted by a new bit of weird.
Fast-forward to my sophomore year of high school. I was stuck writing a research paper on any subject I wanted. I chose horror because I knew it and I'd be able to finish quickly. Roughly around the same time, a friend, shocked that my education in horror hadn't traveled past the 1960s, bought me The Evil Dead. Well, the process of researching the paper reminded me why I loved classic horror films and The Evil Dead showed me that there was a lot I had missed in shunning all new horror. The obsession began anew. My after-school and summer jobs gave me the disposable income to buy the tapes necessary to fan the flames of my rekindled love. I even paid $50 (by check!) for Phil Hardy's Overlook Encyclopedia: Horror. I was learning HTML at the time, so why not create a website as well?
Let me tell you something I've learned in the last ten years. At age sixteen, you have no idea what the hell you want. I began Classic-Horror with what seemed like a simple idea -- to provide a haven for the kind of horror movies I loved. The Internet was glutted with poorly coded websites talking about the "classic horror" of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, so I would create a site that stood in opposition to them. I thought I was king of the clever people, the only person on the Internet who had the gumption to create a website about Karloff and Lugosi and Real Horror Movies. Clearly I was useless with a search engine back then or I would've realized that I was dead wrong on that count. In any case, it was a shallow website with a fairly undefined point and almost none of that content remains on today's version of Classic-Horror.
Thankfully, at some point, the whole thing clicked. The more reviews I wrote and the more research I did, the more I realized that I didn't just love horror. I believed in it. I thought and still think today that horror is an important part of the sociological fabric of civilization. As an expression of fears both conscious and unconscious, it can tap into the cultural zeitgeist in ways that other genres cannot. Our first response to change is fear and the first response of great horror filmmakers to that fear is to send it back out into the world as a vehicle of entertainment.
Horror matters, pure and simple. I believe that with all of my heart and I use Classic-Horror as my vehicle to explore and expand this belief. I hope you'll join me.