When I was just a little biscuit, however, shit used to get right to me!
I was thinking back on some of the things that used to strike fear into my young heart, and found it to be a pretty amusing list…
5. The Cat Creature from Scooby Doo.
Originally premiering on November 4th, 1978, the episode featuring this terrifying beast was called “Make a Beeline Away from That Feline”. In the episode, which I can still remember clear as day, the gang is visiting Daphne’s grandmother as a jewelry store is robbed. Old grandma has uncovered a strange cat medallion that she thinks is turning her into the cat creature every night.
Terrifying stuff, for sure, as evidenced by the video above…
4. The alien baby from the mini-series “V : The Final Battle”.
The mini-series “V” ran for two episodes in 1983, with a sequel called “The Final Battle” in 1984. I had never seen the first series, but my seven-year-old sci-fi loving self was brave enough to sit through the “Body Snatchers” storyline of the sequel. I was scared out of my wits as the characters you thought you knew changed in slight ways, setting into motion a full-scale alien invasion.
The three-part miniseries was fun and cheesy (in retrospect), but it held my rapt attention as a young impressionable horror geek in training.
All through childhood I continued to have nightmares about the final scene of part 2, where one of the leads gives birth to an alien baby…
I guess this one is more fitting than the rest of the list, but the story of how my 10 year old self came to see this film is a fun one.
My uncles were always trying to convince our young impressionable minds that Elvis was cool, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Namely the shit ton of horrible movies that the singer made during his career.
They did what everyone else did before the existence of the internet : recorded tons of movies on video tape from HBO. Your standard video length ran for six hours, and if you put a piece of tape or something over the little tabs on the corner you could record over them as much as you wanted to. This was the early 80’s equivalent of sharing your Netflix password with your family.
Only one of them has to have the pay channels and they would just record everything, filling the living room with stacks on stacks of VHS tapes. My uncle had all of the damned Elvis movies recorded on VHS with little hand-written labels and passed them on to us, in hopes it would make us like the over-rated “King”.
These movies were terrible, bubblegum crap, most of them only running barely over an hour of stupid hip-shaking shenanigan’s. So this inevitably left some space at the end of these tapes, that had in many cases been recorded over dozens of times.
So, on one occasion, after enduring an inane triple feature, this is what I saw…
Now this was a movie my ten year old ass wanted to see!
Chop-top, chainsaw rape, and a general sense of gleeful chaos, all things that had been sadly missing from Elvis’ adventures in Hawaii or whatever.
My uncle’s inadvertently changed my whole perspective on everything through those shitty Elvis videotapes, just not in the way they intended.
TCM2 is still one of my all time favorites!
The Snuffleupagus Dream
When I was a kid, I had a recurring dream.
In it, I am at the far end of a long black tunnel.
As I stand there, unable to move, a huge figure begins to charge toward me.
At first, I can only see a pair of wide eyes emerging from the blackness.
I can hear the snorts and growls of a ferocious animal.
It takes forever.
I am frozen in place.
And the eyes get closer, redder.
The sounds are from a rabid, snorting beast, expelling great effort, hunger and desperation as it lunges toward me.
Finally it reaches me, and I let loose a child’s scream, terrified and honest.
Lights burst, white and loud like a phosphorous grenade.
Suddenly, everything is bathed in white light, time slows down and the only sound is the ringing of my own ears.
The white light takes forever to fade, and when it finally does, I am still standing in the same spot, face to face with Snuffleupagus.
You know, Big Bird’s imaginary friend.
From fucking Sesame Street.
Snuffleupagus, that big brown hairy elephant with the sad eyes.
He looks me over, as the white light disappears.
His huge, black eyes interrogate me wordlessly.
Somehow, it makes me feel dirty, like I have done something wrong.
Those eyes drown me in guilt.
He blinks once.
Licks his lips with a slimy gray tongue.
Then lunges at me, as I scream myself awake.
1. Mrs. Butterworth
Last, but definitely not least, we come to the major nightmare of my admittedly odd childhood, the talking syrup bottle, Mrs. Butterworth.
Yes, the sweet old lady trapped in the syrup bottle that came to life to chat you up on the breakfast table in the commercials used to scare the bejesus out of me as a child.
I can’t be alone on this…
After giving it years of thought, and much mockery from my own friends and family, I think it is a combination of a few things that made this friendly syrup-filled lady a thing of nightmares.
First off, it is the idea of an inanimate object coming to life, a constant fear in many horror stories. From the television in Poltergeist to Chucky the demonic doll, this idea is prevalent everywhere in horror fiction, leading me to believe I am not alone in my irrational fear of the sickly sweet talking bottle.
Secondly, it is the fact that no one else can see it come to life. Like the damned singing frog in that old cartoon, the bottle only seemed to come alive when no one else was looking. In fact, I think that is my trouble with old Snuffleupagus (and all imaginary friends) above. Only Big Bird could see Snuffy, and who knew what shenanigans he was up to when no one was looking?
Same with kindly old Mrs. Butterworth…