For a child growing up in the '90s, the weekend meant one thing - horror movies. Advertisements for them creeped their way into television, newspapers and my subconscious. Every time the weekend came around, I felt my innocence fade away. It was replaced with a strong, inexplicable desire to see these grisly, otherworldly visions of terror.
To me, watching these films was a rite of passage, a sign of growing up. That's what drew me to them. I'm grown up now (for the most part) and oddly enough, these films make me feel like a kid again. I'm always reminded of the mystique they had during my childhood, their air of forbidden mystery.
Many people seemed to share these feelings at this weekend's Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention. Hordes of fanboys and girls gleefully roamed the ballrooms full of merchandise, taking comfort in the iconic images of Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, Pinhead, etc.
The people involved in these films were humbled by this response. "We just set out to make a good movie. The fans made it a classic," actor Russ Streiner said during the Night of the Living Dead panel.
Night of the Living Dead is 43 years old. Which films of this generation will we celebrate 43 years from now? Saw? Hostel? The torture films that reflected a nation with torture on the brain - and in international policy?
Horror films tap into the zeitgeist more aggressively than any other genre. As make-up artist, Tom Savini said, "they put a finger on the pulse of modern America." 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre reflected the brutality and stifling anxiety of the Vietnam era.
In the 1980s, our fears of disease and foreign attack were reflected in the deformed, sneakily invasive characters of Freddy Krueger and The Thing's alien - a nightmarish symbol of disease (specifically AIDS) and our nation's view of those afflicted with it.
The '90s explored parents' fear - the fear that teenagers would become the monsters they saw terrorizing teens on the silver screen in the late '70s and '80s. It's eerie how those 90s slashers, particularly Scream, foreshadowed later acts of teen violence with their bogeymen being youths.
Now, we fear the Apocalypse. With two-year-olds smoking, oil leaking up the wazoo, and KFC bacon sandwiches that use fried chicken as the "bread," the 2012 Judgment Day date is looking pretty accurate. Now is a ripe time for horror films to hold a cracked mirror up to society's fears. I just hope they are able to maintain a sense of fun while they're at it, so we can celebrate them years from now at a joyous convention like Famous Monsters of Filmland.
The Famous Monsters Convention at Wyndham Indianapolis West(2544 Executive Drive) ends today at 5 p.m. Don't miss it.