Scary Snoring and rubber chickens: How I fell in love with horror


I believe we fall in love with people and things that are complicated and special. When I fall in love I don’t want to change anything I see or hear. I just want to be a part of it. This is how I fell in love with horror.

The attraction to horror was pretty slow. I was drawn to it when I was a kid. Things cooled off after I saw The Exorcist. Then I found the great anthologies of the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve lived happily ever after.

Growing up Ghostbuster

I didn’t know I was into horror as a kid. I was fully aware I was a nerd about all things Ghostbusters.

The movie came out when I was 3 years old. So, my earliest exposure was The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. I watched it obsessively.

I begged my mom to get me all the toys. Some of my most prized childhood possessions were the firehouse and Ecto-1. I would use markers and draw my own details and logos onto Ecto-1. Then I’d clean it off with soap. Then repeat.

There was a dark, gothic feel to the first season or two of The Real Ghostbusters. It eventually got more bright and plain. But by then I had discovered the 1984 classic movie.

Horror-The Real Ghostbusters-Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Television

I watched Ghostbusters hundreds of times. I made audio recordings of keys scenes so I could listen to them when I was in bed. I drew my own cartoons at home and school. My favorite thing to draw was detailed pictures of the inside control panel for Ecto-1.

When I was 8, Ghostbusters II was released. Back in those days, novelizations would come out well before the movie would. I read it in one day. I had all the spoilers.

Everyone knew exactly when my mom was taking me to see it. I told everyone I saw. Stranger danger? Whatever. Even randos on the street needed to know the greatest movie ever was coming  out and I was going to see it.

Horror-Ghostbusters II-Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Ghostbusters II scared me. When we walked out of the movie, my mom expected me to be pelting her with “told-ya-sos” about how good the movie was. I was pretty silent.

It was broad daylight, but I held her hand. I remember asking if people could really jump out of paintings and talk like that. I remember the look on my mom’s face: oh poo.

After that experience, I quickly withdrew from Ghostbusters. My dad died less than a year later. I didn’t need any more scary stuff in my life.

Snoring is Evil

I never considered that Ghostbusters was horror until Ghostbusters II. Up to that point, hauntings, ghosts, and slime were just cool things kids talked about and watched on TV. No one got hurt.

Everyone was happy at the end. I didn’t know how heavily Ghostbusters was influenced by and paid homage to horror movies until I saw The Exorcist.

I was an 18 year old high school graduate working at my first adult job. One of my co-workers was absolutely obsessed with The Exorcist. She was as geeked about it as I was about the Ghostbusters.

Eventually she convinced me to take the video tape home. It was in one of those big plastic commemorative cases like the ones Disney movies used to have.

The title was in blue-white marshmallow looking letters. That made it oddly inviting even though it had stills on the back that let you know this was not an inviting movie.

I took it home a couple of times, but would bring it back to the co-worker unwatched. I was already scared. But, for the first time in my life, I was facing real peer pressure. It worked.

On Thursday, October 20, 1999, I got a friend to come over to my apartment and watch The Exorcist. I decided to plug the VCR  into my stereo system. It was not robust. There was no subwoofer. But every single sound and voice was super clear and in faux surround sound.

Horror-The Exorcist-Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The movie ended. I looked at my friend. He looked at me. We talked a little. We decided it wasn’t too bad.

We watched TV for a while until we got tired. When this friend came over, he usually slept in the front room and slipped out around 5:00 AM because he wanted to beat traffic to his girlfriend’s house.

This night, without a word of notice, he slept on the floor at the foot of my bed. When the lights went out, I started going over the movie in my head. It was realistic and psychologically terrifying.

And the voice of the demon was so creepy. Man alive. It sounded like…it sounded like…THAT!

I got very still and had to catch my breath before I realized the demon voice I was hearing was my friend snoring. Louder and louder. He was scared, but also legit tired. So he dozed right off to terrify the breath out of me.


Ghostbusters was playing on TV later on that Fall. I tried to watch it until Dana got possessed. Her possession, her voice, the fact she turned into something hideous were all cues from The Exorcist. They weren’t rip offs.

It was a brilliant use of clash of contexts. Ghostbusters managed to make levitating off the bed sexy. I mean, even Gozer the Gozerian was kind of hot despite the fact that she had snorey voice.

Horror-Ghostbusters-Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

I would occasionally try to watch other horror movies. But, the fear of watching something like The Exorcist again would make me too apprehensive to get into them.

After 9/11, I started to watch Svengoolie regularly. He’s only been nationally syndicated on ME-TV since 2011. But Rich Koz has been playing the character on local Chicago TV since 1979.

Sven introduced me to a lot of classic horror films from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They were nowhere near the level of The Exorcist. Plus, Sven comes in at the beginning and end of commercial breaks.

There’s usually a few sketches and a song. Stuff to break the tension and make fun of how absurd some of the movies are. Plus, rubber chickens. Tons of flying rubber chickens.

Horror-Svengoolie-Courtesy of U-City Productions

From there, I started to look for the classic horror anthologies that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. These became my guys. I knew I would get a good story that would be recycled in a way that didn’t suck. After 9/11 and all of the forced normalcy of the years after it, these horror movies gave me comfort.

Horror is BAE

Maybe 10 years ago, I braved my first AMC Fear Fest. They had a Halloween marathon. I know. They do that every year. But I was a newbie.

I instantly fell in love with Annie (Nancy Kyes). And also the cinematography, the score, and the characters. I’d never seen a female character be frightened to her core and hard core at the same time. (This was before I got into Alien.) Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) wanted no part of The Shape (Nick Castle), but she wanted to live. And she was a bomb baby sitter.

Horror-Halloween-Courtesy of Compass International Pictures

All of the sequels hold a special place in my heart. Sure, Halloween II turns Laurie into a shrieking damsel in distress and Halloween 5 is pretty much a snuff film. But I love them all.

So, what I had truly always loved as a kid came back to me. Like a real relationship, I have boundaries. For some people that could be S&M, meeting the parents, or opening a joint bank account.

For me, my boundary is The Exorcist. I’ll watch clips for research. I’ve since read the book. But it’s not something I’ll watch to relax.

And that’s fine. For me, horror has always been a source of simple storytelling with evocative atmospheres that manage to include social commentary without beating you over the head with it.

light. Related Story. Halloween Horror: Upper Michigan’s Thomas Theatre Group screening The Exorcist

Sometimes the genre goes too PG-13. Sometimes it goes too gory. I enjoy the ride. Horror is something that I never want to change, but I almost always want to talk about. I’m clingy. And I’m in love with horror.

What made you fall in love with horror? Let’s discuss in the comments!