I really enjoy the site. Keep up the good work.
Anyhow, I suppose that as a young child, I was exceptionally sensitive and was repeatedly trauma’d by 1970s pop culture: the cover of the Queen album News of the World; those huge monsters that ate people on the MUPPET SHOW; the trailer for THE DEVIL’S RAIN (which ran before some thing much more mundane at the drive-in); and of course my cousin Roger’s thoughtful description of PHANTASM which I really didn’t understand but caused me to steal and bury my neighbor’s silver sphere garden decoration.
However, I must (somewhat shamefully) admit that the mightiest trauma didn’t come down until I was 12 or 13 years old. I was told by some of the older kids on the block that I should see this hi-larious movie called RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Now, I’ve seen the film a few times as an adult and it is pretty damned witty, but the kids on my block forgot to mention that the film could also be regarded as being UTTERLY HORRIFYING by a kid that was afraid of (certain) Muppets. I was doing O.K. until the “tar-man” zombie showed up. After that it was zero chuckles and pure white knuckles.
There was something about the RETURN zombies that really shook me up. These zombies were so much like living people that their acts of cannibalism seemed much more terrible. Freddy’s slow transformation from loving boyfriend to brain-craving zombie really underscored the point. Further, although they were much more human than other zombies, they were essentially unstoppable, which made me feel helpless. Finally, they wanted to eat living human brains, which greatly bothered me for reasons that I still don’t fully understand to this day.
My viewing of RETURN began a new phase in my life that lasted for years. I would not go near a cemetery and memorized the locations of every one in town so that I could plan my bicycle rides accordingly. Same with funeral homes, natch. Hospitals were nearly as taboo, as I knew that corpses were kept somewhere therein.
I was very uncompromising about my new extreme phobia. A friend of mine lived a couple of houses away from a cemetery, so he was scratched off my buddy list. My grandma lived near a gigantic military cemetery, and although I could not opt out, I counted the seconds until we left during each visit.
Nightmares about a full-scale zombie uprising were the norm. Looking back, these were really the catalyst that kept the trauma rolling along. I clearly recall waking from these night terrors covered in sweat and spending the rest of the night looking outside my bedroom window, anticipating the moment when that first decaying shambler would appear under the streetlights.
At some point my zombie-phobia simply faded and as I grew older I came to enjoy all things zombie. I’m sure a shrink could bill a few grand dissecting how I embraced my fears and wanted to connect with my childhood and blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, zombies have of late become so overexposed that for the first time in my life I’m becoming finding them to be somewhat boring….
Oh well. All good things must one day end.
Maybe I’ll steal a decorative silver ball and bury it for old time’s sake.