Horror AND sex!

Here we go again, with my fourth #31DaysofHorror extravaganza/exhaustathon. This year I just want a reason to watch a lot of horror films. Here are the rules I’m playing by:

  • one blog post about a horror film on each day in October
  • the posts must be published in the order the films are watched
  • the film must either be completely new to me or not seen in at least twenty years
  • to stay healthy, the challenge starts twenty-one days before the first post is published

I’ve talked about this before, but watching these sorts of films makes me feel like I’m hanging out with my dad. When I was eleven years old, on a rainy afternoon in a Saundersfoot caravan park, to stop me complaining about being bored, he let me read his copy of Salem’s Lot. On the same holiday, in a Tenby second-hand book shop, I bought Guy N. Smith’s Night of the Crabs because the fantastically lurid cover grabbed me, and in the back of the car on the way home, with a furtive look around to make sure nobody could see, I came across my first literary sentences about sex. Horror AND sex! (Let’s ignore that it was about crabs.) I was off to the races.

Around the same time, a VHS recorder arrived in the house, and the video shop became one of my best friends. Both my parents were incredibly liberal in what they let me watch—thrillers, horror, sci-fi, fantasy—and my dad started to introduce me to less well-known films, and eventually I discovered Moviedrome, that beloved late night BBC Two haven for cult film lovers.

Genre stories were my magic carpet. It’s shocking what I was allowed to watch (and read), but those films kept me company. They were a comfort and an outlet for my adolescent horror show. Later, once my son was born, I couldn’t watch horror films, because the world had become scary enough, and post-9/11 there was a lurch towards torture porn, which I hated. I only returned to horror recently, in my late mid-forties.

The 2020 challenge was a lot of fun. I did that one to stop the Trump/Brexit/Covid shitshow from filling up my head (there’s a list of the films from 2018 and 2019 there too). #31DaysofHorror started as a dare to myself, then became a protective mechanism against watching too much news, and now seems to have settled into a fun ritual. I think I know what my first film this year is going to be.