But a truly frightening, bone-chilling book or movie will scare the pants off me. I’ll lose sleep thinking about it, replaying it in my head.
First came the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. I loved the movie, until the place where the Wicked Witch of the West sends the monkeys after Dorothy. Oh, my lands, I scrunched down in the theater seat, curled my ten-year-old self into a ball, and covered my eyes and ears—as best I could. Every year, that movie was re-run on television around Easter—I don’t know the connection—and still, every time the monkeys flew out of the fortress, I’d run for a blanket to pull over my head.
In 1968, Rosemary’s Baby appeared in the theaters. It was Roman Polanski’s first film. My husband didn’t care to see it, and I was just dying to. So, he baby-sat while I went to the movie alone. Big mistake. I vaguely knew the premise, so I thought, “I’m a big girl, now, I can watch this.” Even the upscale New York apartment in the movie was transformed into a sinister projection of Rosemary’s fears. Let me tell you, even when the creepy neighbor Minnie Castevet came to call and brought chocolate mousse with the chalky under-taste for Rosemary, just the music and the looks from Minnie told me “something really bad will happen.” Sure enough, Rosemary dreamed a beast raped her that night—a very real dream—and I have cold chills right now as I write this, remembering that scene. Had I not been an adult, I would have curled my body into a ball in the theater seat and covered my eyes and ears. I don’t like chocolate mousse to this day.
The scene, which truly scares me even now, is when Rosemary first looks into the bassinet and sees her baby. Her reactions—unbelief and sheer horror—send chills over me to this day. She asks, “What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with its eyes?” A man answers, “Why, he has his father’s eyes.” “No!” she screams, “Guy’s eyes are normal!” He answers, “But he is not the father. You though, Rosemary, are its mother.” (Notice the word ‘it’ for ‘baby.’) Ewww!
Rosemary’s Baby inspired a wave of satanic horror from The Exorcist in 1973 to Omen in 1976. I saw the Exorcist, and of course, it scared me silly. I absolutely hate that movie. But it finally taught me to stay away from that sort of thriller. The movies also upset some people, not only because of the satanic viewpoint, but because the sacred event of childbirth had somehow been marred.
I never need to worry about horror films anymore, because I read the reviews, watch the trailers, and red-line the scary ones. No way will I give my ten dollars to a filmmaker for something that I know will scare me Sleepless in Texas.
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
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SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com