Today is Halloween, and judging by your reaction to your first Halloween party last weekend, it’s not your favorite holiday. We dressed you up as a cow and we were cartons of milk. Everything was going fine until you saw a skeleton decoration hanging in the hallway. You screamed and cried and did not like Halloween all that much.
So I’m guessing you might not like horror movies that much when you’re older, which may turn out to be the best thing for you. Just so you know, horror movies are a staple of Halloween. There are two kinds of horror movies. Ones that stay with you and ones that don’t. It’s pretty easy to make a movie scary, but it’s another thing entirely to make a movie terrifying. People watch horror movies to find the ones that stay with you. That way, they can proudly say they watched it and they made it out the other side. A good horror movie makes you feel alive, Blue.
Growing up in the 80’s, I had my fill of horror movies. Every week leading up to Halloween, I would stay up and watch horror movie marathons on a wood-paneled tv. The ones that really left their mark on me were The Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
Let me give you the basic 411 on Freddy Krueger, the main draw of the movies. Horribly burned with a fedora, a red-striped shirt and syringes on a gloved hand, he is one of the most iconic horror movie ghouls of all time. He visits kids in their nightmares, and there, he can pretty much do whatever he wants until they’re dead. In real life. He was gruesome, sadistic and completely terrifying. Thus, a big Halloween hit.
The concept of a psychotic murderer hunting me in my dreams and being able to cause real, physical harm terrified me. Naturally, I watched every movie. See my reasoning above. But these are also school nights, and your grandparents are less than pleased that I’m staying up late to watch scary movies that encourage me to never sleep again. So they came up with a solution.
One night close to Halloween, your grandmother comes into the kitchen while I’m doing homework. Her face is pale and she’s visibly shaken.
“What is it, mom?”
“I think I saw something downstairs. I don’t know what it-“
The downstairs door to the porch slams shut. What was that?
I stumble down the stairs, turn the corner. On the wall, I see a bright light and a silhouette of a gloved hand with needled fingers. Just as quickly as I glimpse it, it whisks away out of the light. Then the door slams again.
Dad. It has to be dad. Not Freddy….Not Freddy…
“Dad! I know it’s you!”
“Honey,” my mom says in a worried tone. “Your dad went to the store, remember?”
Cue the shocked close up, the spooky piano keys.
For the next fifteen minutes, I plant my 11 year old self on the tiny patio between the two level of stairs. I’m too terrified to go downstairs to check it out, but brave enough to stand watch for Freddy Krueger trying to come up the stairs to get your grandmother and tiny baby uncles, sleeping peacefully in their beds.
Freddy never shows up again. My father, however, does walk through the door a half hour later with a grocery bag in his arms.
“Dad! I know it was you!”
“I know! You were Freddy Krueger! Don’t lie!”
He looks at me perplexed. “Michael, I was at the store this whole time.”
Oh no. He has invoked the law of Michael. Whenever he uses my real name and not one of the umpteen pet names he has for me, I know he’s serious. He really was at the store, and my mom was upstairs the whole time. There was someone else downstairs, and that person could only be the real Freddy Krueger. He was in our house.
I stayed up all night, too scared to go to sleep. For the next few days I tried to wrap my head around what happened. I was convinced that it couldn’t possibly be Freddy. That it had to be my dad. But how? He was at the store the whole time. How could he be in two places at once? He definitely went, because he had the bag. Those conundrums unsettled me, and my doubt left the slightest gap for the impossible to take root. It really was Freddy Krueger. In my house, trying to get me in my dreams.
I never watched those movies again. To this day, I haven’t watched them. And to this day, my dad has never admitted it was him. Even though I know it was. Had to be. There’s no other way, right? I mean…it can’t be…
Don’t worry, Blue. I’m STILL protecting my family from Freddy Krueger. He won’t get you.