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How Horror Movies Helped My Mom Escape Her Own Monster: NPR


I can’t go a week without watching a horror movie.

I’m really into horror, whether it’s books or movies. At 12, my girlfriends were living with Judy Blume, but I was reading Stephen King thrillers for the second time.

The first time I got detention in high school was for reading Clive Barker. The game of damnation instead of assigned book. I thought I was clever too, slipping my latest horror book into my loose-leaf notebook. I was so engrossed that I gasped in the middle of class, much to the dismay of my classmates and my teacher. It was pretty hilarious. He took my book and gave me detention. I learned that he was a fan of horror and we discussed our favorite authors. He ended up reading my book while in prison and thanked me for introducing someone new to it.

My taste in movies runs the gamut with classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The brilliant to find movies like butterfly kisses and The lost footage of Leah Sullivan. For the first, I’m shaking with fear while enjoying the adrenaline rush. For the latter, I sometimes have fantasies of throwing my television out of my living room window to waste 75 to 90 minutes of my life. But yet, I still want (dare I say, obsessively) more.

My love for all things horror began when my mother let me read her “scary books” (her endearing term for horror novels).

I waited impatiently for my mother to finish her latest scary read, because I knew I would have it next. I would insert myself into this fictional world of monsters and demons living in terror to turn the next page. my mother read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and it definitely freaked her out. I developed the courage to read it years later, and then saw the movie against its will. It was the scariest movie I’ve ever watched, and the only horror movie I refuse to watch again.

How Horror Movies Helped My Mom Escape Her Own Monster: NPR

The author in his mother’s womb, 1972.

Nikki Jones


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Nikki Jones

Escape from a real monster

It took me years to fully realize why my mother loved those scary books so much. These horror stories gave my mother the courage to leave her abuser.

While my mother put on a brave face, she was dealing with her own monster. I believe his escape into the horror genre allowed him to face his reality in a controlled environment.

She knew her life was not in danger when she read these books. Her empathy for the characters being chased by monsters and possessed by demons, and the (well, sometimes) happy endings for those protagonists, is what I believe made her think that she too can escape the monster by returning work, and have a happy ending.

My mother found her strength in reading these books. She built her courage, faced her fear and learned to fight. It was a form of catharsis for her. Purification and purification. Purging of negative emotions such as fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. The purification of his newfound feelings of bravery, needing to annihilate his monster.

Where my love of horror movies began

Novelists like Clive Barker and Stephen King dominated our small shelves, but it was a book by Jeffrey Konvitz that tipped me on my axis. The Sentinel was written in 1977. I remember my mother hiding it in the freezer because she didn’t want me to read it. Of course, I saw this as a challenge. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to read this book until I was an adult. However, I did something much worse: I saw the film. And that, dear reader, is where my love of 70s and 80s horror movies began.

This movie has it all: big movie stars like Cristina Raines, Burgess Meredith, Ava Gardner, Chris Sarandon and an adorable young Beverly D’Angelo. There were mannequins, penthouse apartments overlooking Central Park, and a blind priest. And he had demons, both metaphorical and physical. This movie scared me. And I wanted more.

In the days before streaming, you visited video stores to rent your movies. We had Blockbuster, Erol’s Video and a ton of mom and pop stores. Every Friday my mom and I would go to these video stores for the best horror VHS tapes. She introduced me to movies like Ghost Story, Amityville Horror, Re-Animator, The Evil Dead and more.

Pass on a love of horror

How Horror Movies Helped My Mom Escape Her Own Monster: NPR

Prom night, 1990. We watched Resuscitator When I came home.

Nikki Jones


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Nikki Jones

How Horror Movies Helped My Mom Escape Her Own Monster: NPR

Prom night, 1990. We watched Resuscitator When I came home.

Nikki Jones

I always watch these films, usually early in the morning on weekends while my husband and daughter are still sleeping. I think of my mother and feel a sense of calm and peace. I remember Bruce Campbell making her cry because of his laughter in Devilish death. When it snows outside I will look ghost story, because she and I loved the beauty of the snow in the movie.

There are more recent films that I have come to love and/or respect – almost anything made by A24, Ari Aster, Blumhouse and Jordan Peele. Foreign horror, absolutely! IFC Midnight, holy smoke!

When I watch these new movies, I think of her reactions if she were alive today. I think my mom would be Jordan Peele’s biggest fan because of We. She would probably check Hereditary twice. Speak no evil would leave her speechless.

My mother passed on her love of horror to me. Those books and movies gave her courage, and she wanted me to live bravely. In her eyes, this gender would help her to help me be the strong, independent woman I am today. She was right.

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