Childhood Trauma

My love of horror films goes way back.

By J’Mel Davidson

Halloween! Some people say it’s their favorite holiday. These people are heathens, of course. Christmas is the Jesus of holidays. Yet, I, too, have a special place in my heart for this time of year. Mostly because I get a few more chances to see some scary stuff on television.

What I want to do this month is share a few terrifying tales of apathy in an article that just had to be called: Tales from the Basement! (Because I’m typing it in the basement. This basement may be haunted; I’m not sure. I plan on haunting it when I die, so eventually this basement will be haunted.)

Let’s start with my earliest memory of cinema horror. When I was three, I had the misfortune of witnessing a sight that would warp me and distort my horror sensibilities forever. When I was three, I saw the trailer from a film called Magic. If you aren’t familiar with this horror show, I’ll hip you to it. Magic is simply the tale of psychotic ventriloquist Anthony Hopkins and his desperate attempt to bang Anne Margaret. Who wouldn’t, right? I mean, 1978 Anne Margret was right in my cougar-loving behind’s wheel-house. But the horror stems from the trailer which was just the ventriloquist’s dummy, Fats, staring into the camera and reciting a creepy poem about being dead while creepy harmonica music played. This was a bad time to be a child. I know for a fact that children all across America suffered the same trauma I did from seeing this. But, rather than cause me to shy away from horror, it caused me to chase the dragon, as it were. I’ve spent the last 35 years trying to find something as frightening as that again. I’ve come close many times, but I’m afraid that outside of relationships with Jefferson County women, nothing will ever scare me as much as the trailer for Magic.


Film That Makes Saw Look Like Amelie: Martyrs

On the DVD for Martyrs, the director apologizes for making the film and apologizes for what you’re about to watch. This isn’t an apology for the quality of the film, but rather, for the fact that it exists. The film is incredibly rough. It makes no sense for even the most dedicated horror fan to want to see it more than once. (I have seen it more than once. I actually own it.) Here’s a brief plot synopsis which I will keep spoiler-free because I want you to see it for yourself. But remember: don’t hate me. The director takes full responsibility for what he’s unleashed into your DVD player.

A family is having a nice breakfast. Sister jokes with brother, mom talks to dad. All seems well. Then, a young girl comes to the door.

Once inside, she slaughters them all. Don’t worry, this is just the setup. After she’s done, she calls her friend, who quickly comes to the house. Turns out, this family isn’t what it seems to be. There are more sinister things going on in this house than one could ever ever guess. I mean, you could never in a million years guess how much worse this film gets than the killing of a family in cold blood. And yet, dear reader, I cannot reveal any more. Just pray to whoever you assume cares about your soul and press play.

A few years ago, a lazy journalist coined the phrase “torture porn” to try and classify the type of film where the viewer took pleasure in seeing the victims of certain films pushed to physical extremes before being killed. Films like Saw, Hostel, and Sex and the City II.

“But, J’Mel, if this film is so terrifying and life changing, why would you want me to see it?”


…Merry Christmas!

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