Behind You!

By scairdy emmet

I have spent much of the week on my gas station couch watching various versions of the “Halloween” franchise. As a fading lecher, I was much more interested in the hot pants of the counselors than Freddie, or whoever was coming out of that lake to kill another camper. The creepy music did get your attention, but…come on.
If three of the campers are already missing and you hear a midnight noise in the bathroom, just stay in bed. Wet the bed if you have to. Any fool would have fled (in the daylight) several days before. If you get up and wander around in the rain with your flashlight, you deserve to die. I’m sorry. I have turned off this series in mid-movie several times to cook another English muffin. That’s the sign of a lousy horror movie.
The more subtle movies of my youth scared me much more than that. They scared me so much that you could never turn them off. If you turned them off without seeing the monster get killed, that was your problem. He was coming for you.
I was alone in the house when I first saw “Follow Me Quietly,” with the immortal Bill Lundigan as Harry Grant, shot around 1949. (Hey, I’m old.) The plot is that Lundigan is an LA detective (natch) who has an amazing amount of bodies piling up around him, always strangled in the rain. Dorothy Patrick is the very cute newspaper reporter. (You remember them.) The police department is so baffled with all these murders that they create a dummy in the homicide room which resembles the elusive “Judge.” The frustrated Lundigan confronts the dummy (It is raining) and promises that tonight will be the last murder. Lundigan goes off on his rounds. The camera rolls slowly up on the dummy. It is actually the murderer, sitting in the middle of LA Homicide.
Scared the hell out of me then and again when I saw it a decade later in my Commonwealth Ave apartment, an alleged adult. Alfred Hitchcock admitted that he stole a little of the dummy scene for “Psycho.”
I was much more obnoxious when I was young. Honest. When we went to a horror movie, I always started screaming, just to see other people react. I went to see “Diabolique” in the drive-in the bad old days with a bunch of guys. Welcome to my world. Usually you don’t get scared surrounded by a band of ruffians. I had never heard of “Diabolique. “ But I never forgot it.
It has been remade a few times, so you might have seen it. This was the original, filmed in 1955. The plot is that the principal of a private school is so obnoxious (worse than I) that his wife and mistress plot to kill him and take over the school. They drown him, all right but the body disappears. They scare the hell out of you until the wife (Simone Signore) walks down the corridor in a see-through gown. (Hey, it was the 1950s) She walks into the bathroom and there is the corpse, siting in the bathtub, covered with seaweed. While she is screaming, the “corpse” sits up right in her face. It was a double-cross and the husband and mistress cooked up the scheme to get that fatal heart attack out of the wife.
I still check the tub when I walk into the bathroom. I cannot keep the shower doors closed. Just in case. He could be in there.
There was tremendous screaming in that drive-in car and I was amazed to find out that it was me. An absolute classic. Hitchcock tried to get the rights to the book, but it was sold to French director Henri Georges Clouzot. It was the favorite horror film of Robert Bloch who wrote….Psycho.
There are horror movies, and then there is “Psycho.” You are probably too young, but in 1960, it was the first movie than banned admittance after the start. In those days people would wander in at any time, and then leave when you said “This is where I came in.”
I have only a few years left because I am almost as old as Cousin Jerry, now hiding from himself in Germany, of all places. But I don’t ever, ever expect to see anything as scary as “Psycho” again. Possibly when the Grim Reaper opens my shower door.
The famous shower scene kept people from closing their shower door for generations. I never saw the scene when they turn around that chair holding the “mother” for years. I was under the movie seat at the time. I bet you don’t know that the book was based on a Wisconsin grave robber named Ed Gein. Everyone talks about the shower scene, but the overhead shot of the killing of the private detective (poor Martin Balsam), with that damn screeching noise, is almost as scary.
But forget the splashy gore of those “Halloween” imposters. Even I, a noted fraidy cat, am not scared of those.
Well, maybe a little bit.