This essay is a [now belated] Christmas present written for all you young bastards out there. First off, I know many of you aren’t actually bastards. I use the term as a sign of fake-tough guy affection. Because deep down, we are all fake tough guys. That’s why we watch horror films.
But maybe some of you are too young to watch horror films. Stupid mom won’t let you and you don’t have a dad (again, I understand that you probably have a dad). I used to be in your boat. My mom wouldn’t let me watch any horror films until I was about fourteen years old. While most kids pretended to get lost in the video store so they could ogle the porn room, I spent my video story visits pretending to be lost so I could stare at VHS box art in the horror section, which admittedly had its fair share of boobs, as well.
I had a serious horror film itch, and there were only two methods by which I could scratch it. One was to stay the night with friends, since most of them lacked mothers as lame and draconian as mine. Unfortunately, this rarely worked out. Most of my friends had no interest in horror films or had already seen them before too many times. I saw Halloween 4 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 by this method, but that’s about it.
Fortunately there was method two: Television. Granted, this wasn’t good for horror films but it worked wonders for horror itself because mom couldn’t monitor everything I watched. Plus, she figured if it was on TV, it had to be suitable for children.
Both Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th had television shows. The USA network had great “Up All Night” programming. We had The Hitchhiker, a new Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks offered weird surreal nonsense when it wasn’t caught up in Soap Opera nonsense, even Stephen Spielberg’s Amazing Stories occasionally hosted genuine scares. And then there was the king of hidden TV horror: HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.
It seemed like a golden age of televised horror. But it wasn’t. Compared to what you guys have today, the horror solace I found was like a G-rated examination of the powers of friendship starring a bunch of big-eyed cartoon ponies. My point is, you really young horror fans need to take a moment to marvel at how good you have it.
Today if you’re hungry for horror you can turn on the television and watch The Walking Dead, a show that might suffer from two years of narrative stupidity (something you probably don’t care about when good violence is on the horizon) but it still represents a new high water mark for zombie makeup and gore. And as one of the highest rated shows on TV, you don’t even have to search that hard to find it. We live in a zombie-happy culture, and The Walking Dead is everywhere, teaching young horror fans all you need to know about human anatomy and the many ways it can be destroyed. Plus, it seems to be improving by the episode.
If you think your budding horror fandom might run a bit more kinky than that, current TV has you covered as well thanks to the truly mental American Horror Story, which outshines pretty much any 1980s VHS treasure my mom tried to protect me from as far as perversity goes. Aside from American Horror Story’s completely thorough, yet possibly affected stupidity, the show offers you a plastic mixture of Cronenberg and Verhoeven that has the potential to implant the more impressionable among you with really unique and interesting lifelong fetishes.
Even if you think you might like horror, but feel a bit wimpy about it, you can fall back on the middling masterpiece that is Supernatural. Currently in its 100th season, Supernatural is not as scary as it used to be, but you still get a good kill every once in a while. Plus it’s hilarious and will teach you all ever need to know about the bible. On this same note, if you’re not afraid of watching something a little dated: Buffy the Vampire the Slayer. Or, if you’re a boy (and I kind of didn’t write this paragraph for boys), Angel. Both shows are probably rerunning all over the place right this very moment.
Here’s my point. You kids have it better than we ever could have dreamed. And because of that, you’re going to grow up even more awesome than we are even in our own heads. If you want a prepubescent dose of horror, all you have to do is turn on the television and it’s there in high definition, most of it probably eons more gruesome than Freddy’s Dead. If your mom comes in the room, you need only change the channel. With this power, I do believe you are all going to make the horror world a better place. Please keep in mind, there are no television horror shows based around the found footage concept. So there’s no need to make that part of your takeover. Unless you know a way to make it awesome.