Friday 16 May 2008

Horror That Made Me #10

Gotta say I rather love the post Horror That Made Me by Arrow in the Head’s Matt Withers. As he says, “it’s not a list of faves (though some certainly are), and it’s not even a list of movies I recommend (although you could do worse in most cases). It’s just the pics that when I look back I realize that I wouldn’t think about horror the way I do if I hadn’t seen them”. For me, many of the films I review at Anchorwoman In Peril! are the sort of thing I spent my formative years watching – from the TV movies videoed in the dead of night, to the forbidden horrors illicitly viewed over at friends’ houses (movie-wise, obviously). So, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be counting down the ten horror films that made me, beginning with...

Child’s Play (1986)

No, not the Chucky-doll classic (although that’s surely a regular on many lists) but an episode of the TV anthology series Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense. This was my first experience of being utterly compelled by something other than a cartoon on the screen, and the reason it worked so well is because the set-up is so simple, the scenario so familiar, that there isn’t a suburban seven-year-old in the land that wouldn’t be able to relate to it. How does it all begin? You wake up in the middle of the night and decide to go downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water.

But this isn’t your house, remember – it’s Hammer House... So expect mystery! Expect suspense! Because what you see when you happen to glance out of the window isn’t your back garden. It isn’t anything. Because there’s a strange metal wall blocking your view. And the same wall blocks every window – and, in fact, every other exit. Not only that, but the temperature inside the house is slowly rising...

From here on in, what started as Just Another Night quickly becomes a frantic nightmare, until Child’s Play suddenly pulls back to reveal its true intentions with a kicker of a twist ending. Admittedly, it’s a twist that might have retained more of its kick back in 1986, but you have to admire its sheer surreal audacity. I was certainly never the same again afterwards; never quite as trusting of a seemingly straightforward plot, and always aware that the delicate house of cards that makes up a good story can often be easily shuffled to produce jarring, unexpected terrors.

Lesson learned: Horror pulls the rug out.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ross

I too remember this one which much fondness. It played regularly on some UK satellite channel in the late 80s - possibly one of the movie ones as I was under the impression for years that this was a feature length film. Its only recently I discovered it was from the Hammer House of Horror series. Must try and track it down - I especially love the strange gloop coming down the chimney !.

Ross Horsley said...

Ah yes, the mysterious gloop! Only those who've seen Child's Play will know what that turns out to be... and I doubt anyone else would ever guess.