My Nephew’s First Encounter with a Horror Movie

February 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

The Shining was on regular television the night of my Dad’s 60th birthday. My nephew Josh, ten years old at the time, saw a scene that I wish he hadn’t.

My sisters and I always enjoyed the movie because no one can play a crazy man like Jack Nicholson. He is so good it’s comical. Especially in the scene where he’s walking down the hallway before entering an empty bar where he hallucinates the bartender or as some movie enthusiasts would say, where he encounters the devil.

But it had been years since we’d seen it and we all forgot how scary it could be to a ten year old. As Christians we quickly realized how different we felt watching it through new eyes.

Josh had not been engaged from the beginning, he only happened to come upstairs from the basement into the living room where my sisters and I were watching the movie.

The scene: Danny peddled his big-wheel down the hotel halls, corner after corner until he came face to face with the ghosts of the creepy British twin sisters.

“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever and ever and ever.”

Flashbacks of the brutally murdered family strewn all over the hallway showed up in Danny’s mind between each “ever” of his encounter with the twins.

Didn’t they used to cut those scenes out on regular TV? By the time we had our answer, Josh had been locked into the moment before he realized he didn’t want to watch anymore.

He rolled his eyes and left the room. I know it scared him. He had not seen a horror movie yet. He’d only seen the covers of DVD’s in a movie store.

Those kinds of things stick with a kid.

When I was a child playing on the front porch of our house on Modesto Road in J-town, I saw through the glass door the scene where the guy pulls his face off his skull in the movie Poltergeist. My feet wouldn’t turn, my eyes wouldn’t shift. I don’t know if it was fear that gripped me or if it was a piece of my innocence drifting away while I stood dumb and powerless.

Most of us loose our child-like innocence in increments throughout our lives, not all at once, and that was one of my moments of loss.

Fear, for me, was when I saw the vacuum cleaner dart across the room by itself in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. After that, I went out of my way to befriend the vacuum cleaner. I treated it like a life sized doll. I put my arm around it when I watched television, I patted its handle when I walked by it, thinking to myself, nice little vacuum cleaner. I had nightmares that it would chase me so I tried to appease its wrath in my waking hours.

Josh would go on to talk about the scene he saw in The Shining to his friends as if he’d sat through the entire movie, a kind of show and tell badge little boys wear to accentuate their coolness. But in truth, it will stay with him as a moment of loss, not a moment of gain.

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§ 3 Responses to My Nephew’s First Encounter with a Horror Movie

  • Rich Bassett says:

    Thanks Tatum. I remember the old outlaw biker movies at the drive-in and the towel going up in the front seat during one “those” types of scenes. At times, I wonder if I ever had any innocence at all. Connelly and Carrigan will know that there is a lot of wickedness in the world; there is no need to fill their minds with horror images they will never forget. Keep up the good work; you have a great way with words.

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