Like a lot of city kids, I would get shipped out to my grandparents’ house in the suburbs for a week or two each summer, supposedly to give me an appreciation of grass, trees and fresh air. The candy was terrible, the plastic covers on the furniture annoyingly sticky in the heat, and the rules regarding “guest” towels and soap labyrinthine. The one glorious redeeming feature in all of this? The finished basement had a huge color TV, my grandfather’s state of the art VHS, and a pile of tapes that would do a Blockbuster proud.
Bored on a rainy day and rooting for something to watch, I pulled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre out of the pile, since it was obviously something scary, and even 8 year old me loved horror above all. I had a steady diet of midnight B movies, Twilight Zone reruns, and silly slashers like Chopping Mall. I could TOTALLY handle this.
All of 3 minutes later, I bolted upstairs and hung on to a very bewildered cocker spaniel mix for dear life as my whole concept of terrifying rearranged itself. I didn’t watch the rest of the film for several decades. It didn’t have quite the same power, but I had twenty plus years to learn more sophisticated ways of torturing myself.
Hey thanks for this perfect traumafession GGG! I can relate! I’ll never forget the first time I saw TCM and neither will my little brother! My mom had gotten us take-out fried seafood and we ate it on TV trays while watching the movie and we were both left queasy and sick for hours! Took me years to watch it again!
I’m glad I’m not the only one. For years after this incident I hid the fact that I was too traumatized to watch it as a badge of personal shame.