Horror Movies

Dear Mom,

I doubt that you remember 1958, when the original movie of THE BLOB was shown at the theater. I was nine, and even though some of my friends were allowed to go and see it, you said no. I was too young, and prone to a vivid imagination and nightmares, you said, and I didn’t need to see a movie that was  so scary. I was allowed to go to the other movie–I don’t even remember what it was–but not to THE BLOB.

After I got my popcorn, I slipped into a seat in the back row of THE BLOB. It was Steve McQueen’s debut leading role, but I don’t remember him. I do remember the old man on the screen who watched a blazing mass crash to the earth, and how I cringed as he went over to the crater of bubbling red and jabbed it with a stick. When he held it up to study the slimy oozing mess, it crawled down the stick…and on to his hand.

I dropped my popcorn and screamed, and then I jumped when I felt the hand on my shoulder. Your hand. You didn’t smack my shoulder or jerk me out of the seat. You nodded toward the exit. The look of disappointment on your face said it all, and I solemnly followed you out of the theater.

Even though it was for only a few minutes, I still remember the sights and sounds, the eerie music and the escalating fear of the movie. That’s what scary movies do best, and the bursts of surprise and fear are the trademarks of horror. Once I was old enough to appreciate good horror and suspense, especially psychological horror, I went to lots of horror movies. On very rare occasions you’d go to see one, too, like the time I took you to see ROSEMARY’S BABY. (I still remember you telling me after the movie that Rosemary’s hair was too short, though it was probably easier for a pregnant woman to take care of, but you’d never heard of a pregnant woman craving a raw chicken to gnaw into. You also said  that, in your opinion, ROSEMARY’S BABY wasn’t near as good as THE SOUND OF MUSIC.)

I won’t be reminding you of THE BLOB or ROSEMARY’S BABY, Mom, and when we talk on the phone I won’t tell you  about the sad and terrible thing that  happened here in Colorado two days ago. It still has me upset, how a theater full of movie goers in Aurora went to see the opening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but it turned out to be a very real, horrible, dark night for them. A young man who called himself The Joker randomly killed a dozen of the people in the audience and wounded more than fifty more. All of us watching the news account–and especially the police who responded to the crises and the medical personnel who rushed to the hospitals to help those who survived the attack–will probably never understand why a person would do such a horrible thing. Those who survived the attack, and the friends and families of those who did not, will struggle with nightmares that plague them for the rest of their lives.

When I was a child, Mom, you were right to take me out of a movie I wasn’t old enough to see or understand.  But no one was old enough to experience, witness or understand what happened in Aurora. It was real life horror at its worst,  without mothers’ hands on viewers’ shoulders, guiding them away from the danger.  Through the years I’ve seen you respond to heartbreaking, tragic events. When there was something you could do to help, you helped. When there was nothing you could do, you  would fold your hands, bow you head and silently pray for everyone involved.  The list of those needing prayers in this case would be very long, and I think it would include The Joker’s family, too, because you would also understand their sorrow and grief at the damage he’d done.

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18 Comments

Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, movies, readiness for certain movies

18 responses to “Horror Movies

  1. That was beautiful, Marylin. I would love to have met your mom.

    • Her 94th birthday was last week, Susan, and she had several mini-parties with cupcakes, pies, and Happy Birthday To You sung by many visitors. She probably doesn’t remember any of those celebrations, but while they were going on, she enjoyed them. One of the few memories I don’t mind Mom’s dementia erasing is the one when she led me out of THE BLOB.

  2. Very well written, done with compassion for all!

  3. Molly

    Wow…..I didn’t know that you were such a naughty girl to sneak into the wrong movie!!! I ca

    • Well, dear daughter, now you know. But other than sneaking in to watch the opening scenes of THE BLOB, I was a perfect kid. ;=) Looks like this post left you speechless…I’m trying to guess what you were going to say when you wrote “I ca ” !

    • Molly

      SORRY MOM…..I guess it didn’t keep all my message…..I was going to continue and say,

      I can just picture G-ma leading you out of the theater. She would have had the look of disappointment, and perhaps a few “you really need to think about it” kind of words. Where when I messed up, my mom would always have many. many, many words….and not in a soft tone either! My parenting style is definitely a combination of both of you….neither is better, I think both get the same points across.

      As for the Aurora theater experience, I am know exactly how Grandma would have reacted. She would question why someone would do what he did? She would pray for all the victims and their families, and then she would also pray for the shooter and his family.

      I just love Grandma (and you), and I love the way that you tell the stories about her, and tie it into things that are going on in the world.

  4. juliabarrett

    Great mom! She obviously understood you very well!

  5. I bet you’re glad your mom pulled you out of that theater so you wouldn’t have nightmares. I wish what happened in Colorado was a nightmare but unfortunately it’s real.

  6. Karen Keim

    Marylin,

    Was your Mom watching the safe movie with you when you slipped out and went to THE BLOB? Or did she come to the theater just to check on you, knowing what you might do? I guess my Mom (your Aunt Wanda) was too busy to do either, and I wasn’t daring or confident enough to sneak into horror movies. What your mother did for you was very supportive.

    • Hi, Karen. You know, I’m not sure, but I think my mom knew me well enough, and knew how determined I was to see the movie, that she came to check on me.
      Believe me, I realize how supportive she was, and how she never lost her temper…but how she also never gave in or gave up if she felt something was important for me to do or learn. Your mom, my Aunt Wanda, had twice as many children as my mom had, but I have a feeling she was on top of things, too.

  7. Nancy Gibbs

    The image I’ll remember from this post…a mother’s hand on a shoulder, then and now.

  8. I remember the blob (even though I was born the year it came out). Lots of prayers needed indeed concerning this young man and all the pain he caused. Angie

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