Blood, guts, slasher gore, psycho clowns, fangs, ghouls, monsters—my childhood best friend lived for horror movies. The scarier the better. I, however, lived to avoid horror movies. My overactive imagination recreated the movies, altering the plot so that all the mayhem happened to me, in my room, at night, while I was trying to sleep.
“Chicken,” CBF would taunt when I tried to beg off watching the latest flick to come on HBO. In the bright light of day, I’d deny everything. “I’m not a chicken! I can watch anything you can watch. I just thought making cookies would be fun.” It never worked. Watch the movie I would. Then night would come and no amount of daytime bravado would save me from the terror.
For her tenth birthday party, we all watched Poltergeist. That clown. Oh my god that clown. Clowns still freak me out. Poor Mrs. CBF. She had a roomful of traumatized children. If my mother’s reaction was any indication, Mrs. CBF got an earful for allowing CBF to screen such fare at a birthday party.
But Poltergeist was the parent-sanctioned horror. That wasn’t the year that Valentine’s Day immediately followed Friday the 13th. That wasn’t the year that CBF had me watch My Bloody Valentine, immediately followed by the first Friday the 13th. That wasn’t the year I completely lost my shit.
That fateful Friday the 13th I slept over CBF’s house. All day at school she’d been talking about how her two favorite horror movies were going to be on cable that night and we were going to sneak downstairs and watch them while her parents were sleeping. “It’s going to be so scary!” she said. “Just you wait! It’s going to be great!”
I was quaking in my boots on the inside, but I just said, “Yeah!”
Later that night, as CBF’s parents snoozed away, we crept downstairs to the living room. We grabbed some cookies from the kitchen and some soda and settled in. The first one we watched was My Bloody Valentine. I’ve blocked out most of the carnage, but I do remember that this wasn’t the one that did me in. That mask certainly creeped me out, and there was a lot of blood, but I managed to hold it together. At least kind of. I knew I’d be up all night, but I figured it would be OK after that.
Then it was time for Friday the 13th. I’d heard of it. I heard it was the scariest movie ever made. It took place at a summer camp. I went to summer camp. All the counselors get killed in the woods. What if I got killed in the woods? These thoughts were racing through my brain as the opening scene started. What was that? “Kill kill kill”? “Ha ha ha”? Then something slashed those counselors to death. CBF was bouncing up and down, she was so excited. I was bouncing up and down because I was catatonic.
Kevin Bacon got a spike through his neck after having sex with one of the other counselors. Then a girl got an axe in her head. There was a creepy old guy warning everyone. More blood. More blood. More blood. AIEE! The mother showed up. “His name is Jason. He was my son. And today is his birthday.” AIEEEEEEE!!!!
Then the plucky girl cut Jason’s mother’s head off. And then Jason popped out of the water. That did it. I couldn’t even scream. His skin was falling off. And he was still there. In the water. What was I going to do?
All night, I kept hearing, “Kill her, Mommy! Kill her!” She was coming after me. So was the dead boy in the water. CBF slept soundly. I didn’t dare wake up her parents. CBF would get in big trouble, and I would forever be known as a wimp. I was eleven. And eleven year olds are supposed to be able to take it.
I sat up in bed. I pulled up the covers. I shrank away from the window. I listened to CBF breathe. I didn’t breathe. Every little noise made me die a little inside. We went to bed really late, but daylight never came. I kept hearing the voice hissing, “Kill kill kill! Ha ha ha!” I don’t mean I heard it in my head. I heard it. The streetlight reflected in the window was the glint of the blade. CBF rolled over. I nearly fell of the bed. When will morning come? I can’t see! They are going to get me! What am I going to do?
I stayed awake all night long. The next day, my mom asked me why I looked so tired. I just burst into tears. I didn’t rat out CBF, but I never watched another horror movie with her again. I also didn’t sleep for a month.
Epilogue: Somewhere in my late 20s, I finally figured out that the boogie man is not out to get me. I love horror movies now, and I love watching horror movies on Friday the 13th, especially when the next day is Valentine’s Day.