Once upon a time, back before I had kids and was therefore an expert on raising them, I was convinced that any children I had would be, basically, versions of myself. OK, perhaps the Lovely Mrs. Smith, perhaps a combination, but definitely easily recognizable “mini-me’s.”
That turned out about as accurately as you’d suspect.
For one thing, my youngest son is a big fan of slasher movies. You know, the “Friday the 13th,” Halloween” sort of films featuring people like Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers or Jason Whateverhislastnameis who are unkillable until they are. Usually after about 10 or 15 sequels. Or at least it seems like that many.
Not sure where he got that. If there is anyone less interested in slasher films than me, it’s the Lovely Mrs. Smith. Or, as we could easily refer to her, “She Who Controls the Remote Control, At Least Before or After College Football Season.”
You can see why we go with “the Lovely Mrs. Smith.” Much shorter. Rolls off the tongue.
Now, at various times my youngest looks and acts like either or both of us (depending on how much damage he’s done and who gets to make the call), so we know he wasn’t switched at birth or is a Changeling or something (again, both plots of bad slasher movies).
So where he got this affinity for films featuring large knives and chainsaws and, oh, yes, some actual actors is a mystery.
Maybe it’s his job. He’s in the Army, so when you spend your days contemplating bad people doing bad things in real time, how you’ll respond to that and what the potential consequences might be, maybe you and your roommates find watching movies about completely unrealistic mayhem relaxing.
Also, they don’t just watch slasher movies. They also watch “Rick and Morty” cartoons and argue about who would win a drinking contest between Abe Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Whatever it takes to keep us safe.
If you’re a slasher movie fan, this time of year is right up your dark, scary, forbidding alley. Thanks to streaming you can be screaming in as many languages as you’ll like (can you scream in a foreign language?). To completely mix our metaphors, Halloween is sort of slasher movie’s Christmas, and no one is happier about that than my youngest son.
Me, I’m a bit … ambivalent about the whole thing this year.
This time around I’m having a hard time embracing the concept of Halloween when, let’s be frank, there are more horrible things going on in the world than slasher movie master filmmaker John Carpenter ever imagined in his wildest dream. And those are likely some pretty wild dreams involving lots of garden implements.
Not sure we need whatever camp or small town or cemetery or wherever else slasher movies are set when we have the Middle East or Ukraine. Except we have a pretty good idea how the movies are going to turn out — villains dispatched until at least the next film, and not allowed to remain in power. The world? Anyone’s guess at this point.
And I’m not sure I need the anxiety of seeing if a bunch of teenagers make it out of the creepy house when, apparently, we can’t even get a leader for the House of Representatives, at least without much (figurative) backstabbing and speechifying (or maybe ranting?). We laugh because we can’t cry and seething doesn’t do much for our blood pressure.
But if you can’t understand why someone in slasher movies doesn’t respond to hearing ominous noises in the house by jumping in the car and speeding away from danger and toward the nearest taco stand instead of going to investigate armed with a flashlight (who actually carries flashlights anymore, anyway?), the intricacies of our current political landscape are probably going to escape you (and the rest of us) as well.
I will say the slasher movie fascination seems to have skipped the rest of our kids. Maybe it’s because they all have young children of their own, which means their movie viewing typically involves talking animals and singing. Maybe it’s because when you have young kids, strange guys in hockey masks are the least of your concerns.
So they, like his parents, love their brother and at least accept if not embrace his odd viewing habits. But suffice it to say we’re skipping the Slasher Film Festival this and every year. We don’t need the stress and life, for us, is scary enough.
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Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Elm Springs.