DAVID BOWIE had a birthday a bunch of days ago and that made me remember the first time I was made aware of him, as a youngin’ staying up late watching SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. In a few short years I’d be a huge fan, my first stadium concert experience would be seeing his “Serious Moonlight” tour but that SNL performance did nothing but freak me out. I think I was sadly raised with a rather concrete understanding of what was normal and what wasn’t and it was truly alarming for me to witness someone acting so wildly bizarre. He was shamelessly strange and my little brain couldn’t comprehend. I decided I should find the episode on Netflix Streaming and so I did and appropriately enough the often unnervingly intense MARTIN SHEEN was the host.
Fast-forwarding through the episode to find the musical portion, I spotted a skit that I had completely forgotten about but recognized at once and it’s so kindertraumatic in theme that I have to share it here. SHEEN plays dad, JANE CURTIN plays mom and GILDA RADNER expertly portrays their excitable daughter Jenny. Dad has just finished reading POE’s “The Raven” to Jenny and now it’s time for her to go to sleep. He turns off the light, leaves the room and Jenny is soon terrified, imagining she sees a bear. She calls to her parents who come in to calm her and inform her that it’s all in her mind. Next an intruder (GARRETT MORRIS) enters the room and Jenny screams. It’s just a handyman returning for his tools the summoned parents reveal and so it’s lights out and back to bed she goes. Next her bed starts to shake EXORCIST-style and the child yells again for her parents who return exasperated and explaining that they rented out the underside of her bed to a family of gypsies. Left alone once more, poor Jenny decides to put her mind at peace by making sure there is nothing in the closet. When she opens the closet door she sees this…a bloody-faced man with one eye falling out of his head, holding a hatchet!
How did I ever forget this? It was 1979, I was mad into horror and gory special effects and now I recall how amazed and fascinated I was by this figure! I remember how excited I was when she opened the closet door for a second time so that I may get another view! This was live television, I couldn’t rewind it, I could only ogle heartily and try to gather as much detail as possible while I could, chances were I might not ever see it again! Jenny calls to her parents one last feeble hysterical time and their angry, frustrated voices are all she needs to know. Rather than call them back into the room and face their wrath, she’ll take her chances with the psycho in the closet. I know how she feels. I realize it’s highly unlikely that it was BOWIE under all that make-up doing double duty as the scary monster in the closet but I don’t care, I’ll imagine it was him anyway.