The horror genre has had many peaks and valley, but when it comes to the gore and slasher genres, 1987 is about as prime a year as there can be. Todd Rogers of Junk Fed was at that perfect,formative, age at the time, and takes us back to a time to the Halloween of dreams. Find out how he developed a latex allergy, used to "worship" the dead and watched Last House on the Left with his grandmother...
By the 8th grade my horror movie immersion was at its zenith. I had a subscription to Fangoria and would supplement the time in-between issues with copies of Gorezone, among others. I had amassed an impressive mask collection from Halloweens past, my favorite of which was the full head and shoulders rotted skull mask that I had worn the year I went as Big Ben from the movie House. Freddy Krueger and Iron Maiden posters decorated the walls of my bedroom (I wasn't even an Iron Maiden fan, I just loved Eddie, the band's undead mascot), a hockey mask hung from my bedpost, and a rubber severed hand gripped the bedroom doorknob. When I wasn’t wearing my Freddy Krueger sweater, I sported a Nightmare on Elm Street 3 T-Shirt or one that featured a glow-in-the-dark rib cage. I had just moved to Connecticut with my mom after having lived with dad for a few years in Massachusetts. My mother was genuinely worried.
|1980s horror movie magazines|
Despite the risk of running into something terrifying, I adored Halloween. I couldn’t wait for late September, when the back to school hoopla was stricken from department store shelves and replaced with Halloween provisions. In my neighborhood, most of the Halloween shopping was done at the local K-Mart, where an entire oasis dedicated to all things spooky had sprung up overnight. The isles were stocked with die cut cardboard decorations like witches, arched black cats, full-sized poseable skeletons and Frankenstein's Monsters, or the strangely textured plastic popcorn decorations which looked to me like crayons melted into the image of jack-o-lanterns, skulls and ghosts. There, I'd procure the obligatory set of glow-in-the-dark fangs and a tube of fake blood gel by Imagineering. Though I had no intention of going as a Dracula, these items served as party favors to celebrate the coming of Halloween.
|Vampire Kit by Imagineering|
|Ben Cooper Stormtrooper costume via rebelscum.com|
|Ben Cooper Hairy & Scary Dracula mask|
|Make-Up Monsters by Marcia Lynn Cox|
|Posing in our haunted house costumes, 1987|
I entertained the idea of moving to California after high school to go special effects school and I even went as far as ordering brochures from schools advertised in Fangoria. I imagined myself as the next Rick Baker, Tom Savini, or Kevin Yagher. Around this time, my mother went from being a lapsed catholic to born again Christian. Her concerns about my fascination with the macabre were rendered as proof that she needed to save my soul and I was forced to take down my posters, and get rid of my masks and props. I packed them up and kept them at my dad's house, where my horror mania was born. Years later, my mother forced me to take down my Jim Morrison posters in a similar effort to keep me out of the Devil's hands. Her concern was that I was worshipping the dead. The Doors are one of my favorite bands, but I can't say that my fandom ever reached worship status. Not in the way a person might worship Jesus Christ, who happens to be a dead guy. Eventually, my horror mania faded. Instead of makeup effects, I opted to study art at a local college. My interests broadened and I felt that most of the horror movies released after the 80s paled in comparison to those that had come before. This is not to say that I don't love a good horror movie, when a good one comes along that is. Most modern offerings suffer from hyper-slick production, numbingly predictable plots, and inflated budgets yet neglect to tap organic fear that was so present in the iconic movies of the 70s and 80s. Still, I celebrated Halloween with zeal, planning my costumes at the close of summer. My last big hurrah was Nosferatu costume that involved teeth and nails that made eating and bathroom usage very difficult. You try unzipping your fly with Lee Press On Nails.
|Nosferatu hanging with the Grim Reaper, 1997|
Todd Rogers is the founder of Junk Fed. Visit them on social media @JunkFed on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Originally published on Junk Fed October 20, 2013