Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory why it freaked me out as a kid. It's a pretty basic fear to be impaled or be killed by having something shoved in her mouth and or face. The kebab itself looks kind of tasty though. The gimmick of this film was to boast that all the kills in it are "bizarre." By today's standards of course, they are pretty tame and boring. Unfortunately I didn't see this one until high school and by then I'd seen a lot worse. The gore is rather good though and the story your basic, is the weird girl the killer premise. The first kill which really should have set the tone for the remainder of the "bizarre murders" of the film is rather tame. A girl gets her throat slashed after being strangled. Either way, it's definitely a fun slasher flick and one I often rent on my own birthday.
It's Alive (1974)
This image has stayed with me all my life. It's not shocking or gory. It's creepiness is subtle and slow burning and it definitely scared the shit out of me as a kid. What's in the basket?!? What IS wrong with the baby?!? What the fuck is up with it's hand?!? Why can't I see this alone?!? The image of the baby carriage turned just away from the viewer which somehow manages to make the mystery of it incredibly menacing has become somewhat iconic. Copied several times by Basket Case sequels, the It's Alive promotional campaign and cover art remains for me one of the greatest uses of subtle demonic imagery that causes the viewer to imagine the absolute worst in whatever their own personal nightmare might be. What's more frightening than that?
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Speaking of demonic baby carriages, it wasn't so much the mystery of the monster in the basket to me for this one as it was the horrifying photos on the back of the cover. As a kid I had a HUGE phobia of vomiting. This was a result of being puked on at least once in every grade in elementary school as well as having watching The Karen Carpenter Story when I was four. The image of the girl on the back being force fed by Freddy only to have her face explode in vomit was probably for me at the time, the most frightening thing I could ever imagine.
|"Rainy days and Mondays always get me down..."|
You might notice there is a bit of a pattern here when it comes to little things that kill people. Troll was no exception. The movie itself is rather tame. The original Troll makeup is kind of creepy, but the storyline is actually somewhat kid appropriate. In fact, there are conspiracy theories that J.K. Rowling stole many of the elements for her Harry Potter novels from this film such as the main boy being named Harry Potter who must learn ancient magic from the secret sorceress who is living in his apartment building in order to battle the evil Troll and his magical ring. Who knows. The movie is somewhat entertaining and definitely a lot lighter fare than the menacing Troll on the cover would suggest.
Night of the Demons (1988)
It's kind of too bad that this video cover scared the shit out of me as a kid just because when I actually saw the film later when in high school, it became one of my favorite horror movies of all time. The story is your basic teenage haunted house party goes awry when demons start possessing people and killing them, but there are some great elements that make this movie a stand out in the genre. The characters are fairly memorable, including a fat guy named Stooge with a surfer accent and painted fades in his hair that calls every girl "babe" and is just trying to party. Night of the Demons also began my love affair with B-movie goddess, Linnea Quigley. Anyhow, definitely check out this film. The demon make up is great, there are plenty of tits and one-liners and Linnea Quigley sticks a tube of lipstick into her nipple while possessed by a demon. All that aside, the cover is still fucking creepy, right?
The Howling (1981)
Although I consider this film to now be one of my favorite horror movies, I wasn't able to watch it fully until my twenties. Most of my life I have had an incredible fear of werewolves. I think it stems from a general sense of germaphobia. Either way, the transformation scenes and werewolf makeup in this film actually scared the shit out of me until adulthood. I'll be honest, while googling the VHS cover for the movie, I did get a little uncomfortable looking at all the werewolf pictures. I'm a pussy okay, I'll admit it, but you have to admit this cover is ingeniously horrifying. Especially if you happen to be an impressionable little fat kid who is scared shitless of werewolves.
The Blob (1988)
The video cover for the 1988 remake of The Blob, BY FAR, frightened me more than any other horror movie cover as a kid. In fact, I had a hard time going to my local video store when this display was up for a few months. The movie isn't too scary, but is far superior to the original and the special effects really hold up to this day. The acting is a little shitty, but this is definitely made up for by all of the intense and horrifying kills committed by the pink blob ooze. This movie is a must see for any horror fan. Look at this cover though! What the fuck! It still creeps me out a little to this day! Genius!