I’ve been suicidal since December. For as long as I can remember, the disconnect and loneliness of depression has crept in and out of my life, but this stretch has been different, its grip has been unrelenting for the past seven months. The story never changes, on its face I have nothing to be depressed about, no reason to no longer want to be here—I have great friends, am very active, go to the gym every day, make decent money—but it doesn’t change the fact that thoughts of ending it all are a part of my daily life. When you feel as though you’re trapped in a hopeless prison and derive no lasting happiness or fulfillment in the things you once enjoyed, the idea of it being over is enticing. Some days are better than others, but make no mistake, that monster lurks in the shadows each and every day, and the ideations have intensified to the point where thoughts of actually following through have invaded my mind. But when that happens, you have to find an outlet.
One of the worst days occurred a few weeks ago. I struggled through work, mentally isolating myself from everyone and everything important to me, and when it came time to clear out, the decision had already been made to skip the gym or eat healthy food and pick up a pizza and some Mountain Dew, even some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and head home to lay down and binge watch a little program I’d just discovered called Scary Sleepover.
I wondered if there were enough episodes to get through the night or if I would have to lean on go-tos like Ash vs Evil Dead or Hannibal, but I was thrilled to learn that there were two seasons to draw from, and knew I had something to distract my mind until I could go to bed.
From the HATCHET franchise to DIGGING UP THE MARROW to the Movie Crypt podcast, I have long been a fan of Adam Green’s work. Like me, he’s a horror freak and makes me laugh, and what’s more, it just feels like he’s one of us—a horror fan who followed his dream and made good—so we just can’t help but love a guy like that. To say nothing of the (as Tony Todd put it) “eye candy” at the ArieScope studio (circling back to Hannibal), because if there was one place I’d want to live aside from Dr. Lecter’s office, it would be Green’s studio because Mr. Todd was right, the surroundings and humor and camaraderie are a little slice of heaven.
From the moment Kane Hodder walked through the door with a goofy “Hiii!” in the first episode, I was transported to a place where my mind was calm and that feeling of hopelessness dissipated. Though momentary, for those who live with overwhelming thoughts as I do, that temporary reprieve is all we can ever ask for. Adam Green gave it to me that night.
As the episodes wore on (Season 1 in particular), however, I couldn’t help but start to draw parallels to my own life. Not making horror films or commiserating with celebrities obviously, but in the friendships that Green shared with so many.
When Kane fell asleep in the initial episode, Green tossed some unsavory comments his way to see if he’d truly nodded off, and when he directed a sped up “FREDDY VS. JASON” at the horror icon, doing the Dew nearly became a spit take. It was the kind of thing my buddy Tyler would do to fuck with me if he thought I’d drifted on him.
Danielle Harris revealed that E.T. terrified her to this day, and when she opened her eyes and saw Spielberg’s alien facing her from the next cushion over she leapt up screaming and exclaimed “Dick!” Thoughts of my friend Elle and her hilarious reactions to being scared danced through my head.
Later Sid Haig grumpily came through the door and declared “Ya know what? My pajamas are gonna be better than yours” and maintained half-smirked eye contact that kinda sorta felt like “Did I stutter, bitch?” It was exactly that playful shit-talk that my friend Erik unleashes whether we’re together or just texting. And when he blurted “Pizza and pajamas. What’s betterrr?” I knew my initial take was spot on, because Erik too can dance between intimidating and idiotic at the drop of a hat.
Then it was the ridiculously cute ramblings of Laura Ortiz and her constant stream of “Hey Adams” that led to questions like “Why are stars?” Though the gag was that she wouldn’t stop talking and let Green go to sleep, you couldn’t help but smile each time it happened, which of course was the point. Ortiz and my friend Jay have effortless adorability in common.
When Zach Galligan dropped by and Green asked him if he could just talk about what “Phoebe (Cates) smells like that would be awesome,” the size of my smile nearly shattered my face because Ms. Cates being the top of the mountain has been a running inside joke between my friend Chad and I for years. And yes, “Moving in Stereo” is stuck in my head as I type this.
Brea Grant plainly stating “I grew up as a girl” before cracking up at the realization of what she’d said couldn’t help but remind me of Alyssa, who says goofy shit like that all the time. Sometimes it’s deliberate, other times not, but she always laughs it off, and it’s never anything short of endearing.
And when Bill Moseley talked about his children having sleepovers and Green wondered if he’d ever scared any of them off, Otis just replied that while he didn’t think so “I’ve never seen the same kid twice, let’s put it that way.” Me and one of my oldest friends, Dan can be having a serious conversation that quickly has us cackling, and that matter of fact exchange and the laughter it created felt very familiar to me.
The sleepovers conjured memories of an all-night, horror marathon drinking game some friends and I shared a few months back. It was just a stack of movies and laughs and beer until the sun came up, and it was as much fun as I’ve had in a long time.
It all culminated in the first episode of Season 2, though, when Tony Todd shared the story of his brother Donald, who had passed a few weeks prior to that shoot.
Todd’s powerful voice softened and tears escaped his eyes as he shared memories of his sibling, who had been institutionalized when Todd was just four years old. The larger than life actor described the image that adorned the funeral form.
“On the cover was this horribly misshapen, man-monster with these spindly legs, accordion arms, big forehead, huge jaw—and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, some of these monsters that I get offered to play, that’s him, that’s it.’” Todd spoke of legacy and that he was working for his unseen muse, and that his brother no longer had to struggle to walk or deal with pain, that he’d been freed of that burden, and it was more than Adam Green could take.
The host broke down and asked the crew to stop rolling. When the episode came to a close, it faded to black with a single message, “For Donald.”
When you feel like your life isn’t worth living, that you are that misshapen figure, and that you are inconsequential, empathy from others makes you emotional, and that exchange, Green’s reaction, and the lasting image of the episode’s dedication had me pressing pause and purging emotions that had been building up for far too long.
Creatures are as much as part of the horror genre as slashers and buckets of blood, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Comfort food doesn’t have to be pizza and Mountain Dew, it can be a series of web shorts or a film or an album that takes you to a better place. For the past few weeks, whenever I need respite, I pull up Scary Sleepover and it helps me get through the day, to get to sleep, to carry on.
But it has less to do with Green or the guests as much as what it reminds me of: the friendships that I share with people who make me smile, who help me through the tough times, who truly care about me.
And what Green said about Ortiz applies to one and all, “my life would suck without [them] in it,” because they are a reason for me to stay, and it was a reminder that I needed very badly.
I’ve made it through the past few weeks and I’m here today, and Adam Green’s Scary Sleepover has been a big reason why. I’ve never met him, he wouldn’t know me if he saw me, but the reality is that he’s saved my life more than once, and I can never thank him enough.