The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 27, 2012

MICHELE BENDER | Fright favorites

— Every Halloween some clever TV commercial tweaks my funnybone. This season, a group of costumed children confront a monstrous head curiously resembling actor Christopher Lloyd.

“I’m the Horseless Headsman!” the giant noggin proclaims.

A kid dips into his treat bag. “Here, have a Snickers. You get confused when you’re hungry.”

If that’s true, that explains a lot.

From an entertainment standpoint, 2012 appeared to be a yearlong Halloween celebration.

On cable channels, The Walking Dead have been plodding along since spring. “Falling Skies” are keeping aliens busy.

Vampire popularity peaked with the “Twilight Sagas” (which also have no end in sight) featuring attractive young actors hurrying to eat their soup before it clots.

Networks have saturated airwaves with the entire “Halloween” series; un-ending “Nightmares on Elm Street;” “Predator” flicks (although Arnold’s armor is dented). Frankenstein has been assembled and disassembled, and even married. Of course, that didn’t end well because all those women want DOCTORS!

Last year, I asked readers to tell me which horror movies made their skin crawl. I appreciated your responses and saved them until now.

A gal named Maureen emailed to say, at 8 years old, her mom forbade her to see “The Blob,” but her crafty 9 year-old cousin sneaked her in. “Even though it was black and white, I imagined everything in blood red,” she reported. “I finally got so frightened that I hid on the floor under my seat.”

Wonder what was scarier … moldy popcorn, discarded bubble gum, squashed Junior Mints, indestructible Good & Plenty … or “The Blob?” (Tie?)

Another emailer mentioned “SSSSSS,” a sci-fi starring Strother Martin as a loony researcher who injects his assistant with snake serum and turns him into a reptile.

My friend Lori’s dad is a minister. She believes her religious up-bringing helped make “The Exorcist” her all-time favorite fright flick.

A letter writer told me his family moved into a rambling old “haunted-like” house just about the time that “Dark Shadows” became a daytime-favorite “spooker-soaper.” His taste ran toward “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family.”

A music class assignment provided him with new insight when his teacher wanted a theme describing the impact movie scores have on the films. He selected “In Cold Blood.”

“I couldn’t sleep for a week afterwards,” he wrote.

My artist friend Lorraine chose 1944’s “The Uninvited” starring Ray Milland. Turner Classic Movies played it one evening last week, so I tuned in to refresh my memory.

I rarely disagree with Lorraine’s taste, but to me this was a “typical-pay-a-bunch-of-fools-to-spend-a night-in-a-haunted-house.” I fell asleep after the third idiot died. I suspect the rest expired from boredom.

For me, “Night of the Living Dead” ranks scariest of all. I have only ever watched the 1968 Pittsburgh cult favorite once. It was simply too terrifying to sit through again.

The premise was that radioactively charged zombies came to life seeking brains to eat.

Mind you … in Pittsburgh.

If that’s true, we’re probably pretty safe.

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