Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

CONSTANT COMPANION: A LOVE LETTER TO ‘JASON LIVES’

Memory can prove an unreliable witness after thirty-five years, but gazing through the haze of recollection I can see with absolute clarity a childhood event that formed the very bedrock upon which I stand as an adult.

Come with me for a minute.

I spent every other weekend at my father’s house during my formative years, and though I didn’t look forward to those visits (my sperm donor was a verbally abusive alcoholic), they weren’t completely devoid of appeal. You see, my dad would put me to work in the yard mowing lawn and trimming bushes, but this won’t be some nonsensical take about adopting a work ethic, rather what I did with that hard-earned chore money once the landscaping had come to a close.

We’d hop in the car and head for the video store. But here again, this will not be where I regale you with stories of a younger me perusing the enticingly hypnotic cover art of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) or THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), because I knew exactly what rack I was locked in on: Horror section, F.

On Saturday afternoons each fortnight I’d scoop up every FRIDAY THE 13TH VHS Midtown Video had available and my weekend was made. I would return to my father’s, retreat to my room and revel in Camp Crystal Lake, far away from my dad (at least in my mind) to kill the hours until I returned home on Sunday night. A religious routine that never got old.

At that time, we were only up to A NEW BEGINNING (1985), but that singular event was just around the corner, waiting to change my life permanently the following year.

My grandmother was dying of cancer, and not to put too fine a point on it, but my home life wasn’t what I’d describe as stable. Struggling each day to come to terms with losing one of the few people I felt close to (never mind the constant chaos at home), I found myself at the Book Nook with my father and sisters. I distractedly wandered the aisles for a few minutes when my eyes fell upon the cover of a paperback strewn with lightning, a tall, slender machete dipped in blood and a familiar hockey mask draped in shadow. The title made my heart leap: JASON LIVES. And the tag made me dizzy: HE’S BACK. AND YOU WON’T WANT TO BE ALONE.

For the first time my chore money wouldn’t be laid down for FRIDAY tapes, but rather for the novelization of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI (1986).

For the first time I had something to focus on other than my grandmother’s inevitable passing. I had torn through the pages before the weekend was out, an act that was repeated innumerable times, and if I was at my dad’s, the book was with me. It was a friendly and familiar guide through a painful year.

I had yet to see the cinematic version (and regrettably lost that book in a move sometime later), but I knew that it had changed the game. Then I saw the movie.

Director Tom McLoughlin’s immediate nod to the Univeral monsters had me smiling and C.J. Graham’s soldierly portrayal of Jason resurrected by aforementioned lightning left me on the verge of squealing. I was in love with Thom Mathews as Tommy Jarvis and his jean jacket before I even understood why I was so drawn to him, and for the first time a flick proved better than the book.

Look, I know the novelization of a horror franchise’s sixth chapter isn’t exactly Stephen King, but when you experience equals parts ghast and glee as you read about Sheriff Garris being turned into a human folding table only to find that McLoughlin, Graham, David Kagen (Garris) and the effects team had seamlessly translated Simon Hawke’s words into celluloid images, your devotion is lifelong. I watched that scene over and over with a grin that nearly ruptured my skull as I chuckled, “being a cop is backbreaking work.”

It helped me mourn, it helped me get through weekends where I just wanted a time machine to get back home, and it kept its promise from that paperback tag: I didn’t want to be alone, and with JASON LIVES, I never was.

In the decades since, JASON LIVES has not lost an ounce of impact. To call it a comfort movie is insufficient because it is home to me. Whenever I’m tired and need soothing sounds to slumber — JASON LIVES is the DVD of choice. Should I be feeling uncertain or anxious and need to calm frayed nerves — JASON LIVES. Overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness (hello pandemic) or inadequacy (hello losing my job during said pandemic) — JASON LIVES.

While an accurate count would be impossible to tabulate, rest assured that I’ve seen JASON LIVES well over 100 times. And I’m not ashamed to admit that. Growing up as the freak whose favorite holiday was Halloween and no one in my life could wrap their craniums around my love of horror, I had long since come to a peace and understanding of who I am and what I love. And JASON LIVES is my holy grail because it was there for me when nothing else was.

Now that I’m settled into my life, I have plenty of friends, friends whom I consider family, but that doesn’t mean the same old lack of understanding doesn’t crop up now and then.

A few years back I had to have a tooth pulled, and as luck would have it, I got the flu that same weekend. I spent two days in bed falling in and out of sleep, eating popsicles and reaching for a bucket; all while JASON LIVES played on a loop. My then girlfriend would pop into the bedroom from time-to-time to check on me and say “you’re watching it again?!” My head merely tilted from Bob Larkin making eye contact and dropping “some folks got a strange idea of entertainment” like he knew me to peer into hers as I deadpanned “Yeah. I am.” She just shook her head and exited stage left.

Hell, a girlfriend before her once agreed to sit down and watch it with me (her first and last viewing) and at one point she laughed sarcastically and blurted “this is so stupid.” Keep in mind that this was at the exact moment C.J. blew the door off of an upended RV and walked across its smoldering carcass to the badass beats of Harry Manfredini horns. We didn’t last long.

Since, I’ve worked in television and newspaper and dabbled in horror writing, utilizing convenient skills to secure interviews with Graham and Mathews, and Guastaferro (twice). Vinny even lauded me for properly pronouncing “ya-bang” instead of the incorrect “you-bang” he’d heard from many others. I immediately shot back that “you-bang would be a different genre” and he howled for a good ten seconds. It made my heart soar to offer such enjoyment to someone who has meant so much to me, even if it was momentary.

I’ve written about Kagen being the straight-man to JASON LIVES’ self-aware and deprecating humor, and how Jennifer Cooke (Megan Garris) is perhaps the franchise’s finest final girl this side of Amy Steel (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, 1981). Hell, I’m flanked in my office by a “Leaving Forest Green” sign and autographed Guastaferro “ya-bang” as I write this, all while a Jarvis jacket hangs in my closet.

Even this week I’ve watched it twice. Once to prep for this diatribe, and the other as a nap aid.

I have never felt alone because of JASON LIVES. Odd as it may sound, Camp Crystal Lake or Forest Green is my happy place that transports me to serenity. Regardless of how I’m feeling emotionally, from that day at Book Nook to the film’s 35th anniversary that we celebrate today, JASON LIVES has always been with me, a constant companion that shall forever leave me echoing Mathews’ Jarvis:

Landon will return to the area that’s familiar. No matter what you call it, it’s still home to him.

5 Nostalgic Horror TV Shows That Need A Comeback

There’s no doubt about it. Horror TV shows have come a long way from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and over the last decade, have become more of the norm when it comes to a variety of series’ available while browsing for that next binge. Shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead opened a can of worms that had long been forgotten, and studios have been forging full steam ahead breaking out, what it seems anyway, a new horror series on the now multitude of platforms at our disposal every few weeks.

Things sure have changed since the one Saturday Night horror movie given to us once a week on basic cable.

Sure, a lot of these shows are great and all, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING compares to that introductory trip into a desolate graveyard showered with lightening strikes that led into the Crypt keeper‘s lair and a new tale every week from the undead King of puns. And I sure do miss it. Now, while I’m not a huge fan of taking something as precious as that and reworking it for a new generation, I’m not entirely against it either with the right team on board. A genuinely perfect example of such being the newly remodeled Creepshow series that transferred the creativity from several horror masterminds to one in himself, Greg Nicotaro. And it worked beautifully as the anthology turned series remained true to the horror-comic style of storytelling that Creepshow made infamous visually on the big-screen. It can be done! We just need these titles we’re about to break down to get a shot at redemption and a proper send off.

Anyways, here’s at least five nostalgic horror shows I would like to see get a much-deserved reboot.

Full disclosure: Nightmare Nostalgia is an Amazon Associate and if you click on one of these handy links and make a purchase, It’ll buy me a Chalupa Supreme!

Hammer House of Horror

Hammer, who built its reputation on the gothic likes of Dracula and Frankenstein, turned it’s wheels onto British TV back in 1980 with 13 glorious episodes starring witches, werewolves, and even cannibals! On the bridge of a decline in Hammer horror interest, the studios fired back with a vengeance proving the style was never dead by embracing it’s powerful gothic storytelling and showcasing it on Primetime. And it worked!

As far as a reboot is concerned, I feel like this is something gothic visionary Guillermo del Toro could tackle while respecting the legacy that is the Hammer films. The director handled Scary Stories wonderfully and would love to see this happen!

EERIE, INDIANA

Eerie, Indiana, population of 16,661. A beloved cult series about a young horror fan playing Nancy Drew in his strange hometown and uncovering some wild shit deserves a goddamn comeback already! It drives me crazy that this show only lasted one season, but that was enough to brand its legacy into young horror fans clamoring for more as we head into he show’s 30th anniversary!

So how would a reboot work? Well, I believe a continuation of sorts would work with grown versions of Marshall Teller and Simon Holmes to start. However, much like with the Are You Afraid of the Dark reboot airing on Paramount, I’d like to see it grow along with us and become darker to cater to it’s original fans back in 1991. Perhaps, Marshall is now that creepy introvert locked away in his house trying to solve old mysteries. Just throwing out some ideas here.

Friday the 13th: The Series

Once you get over the fact the Friday the 13th series has absolutely ZERO to do with Jason and the Camp Crystal Lake narrative, you come to realize it’s a pretty damn good show that got cut WAY too soon before we ever got a conclusion.

With the likes of David Cronenberg and Mick Garris behind the scenes, the series which debuted in 1987, consists of an antique dealer who made a deal with the devil to sell haunted antiques bound with misfortune. However, in exchange for power, came with greed and the devil took the dealer’s life as a consequence. Now, his niece and nephew who have inherited his store, have to deal with his bullshit curse along with it. To break it, the kids have to obtain these items back and of course all hell, literally, breaks loose in attempting to do so.

Much like with Eerie, Indiana, a continuation would work with the original cast, now older and wiser as the show ended quite abruptly. Give us a real ending please!

Tales From The Crypt

A few years back, the HBO horror series was slated to be revived by M. Night Shyamalan and all systems were a go… until they weren’t anymore and it was a massive bummer to all who were looking forward to a revival of the beloved tales of terror. And I’m here to say- MAKE IT HAPPEN ALREADY.

Much like the prior mentioned Creepshow series, a new slew of tales hosted by the Crypt Keeper would be ideal; however, this is what caused the project to be shelved in the first place concerning legal rights about the character. My thought would be how about HBO take out that protruding stick up their ass and just greenlight the damn thing already. The audience is here and waiting while you buy out horrible films that tank like Wonder Woman ’84. Ugh and GAG.

Freddy’s Nightmares

Syndicated to television hot off Freddy Mania and Dream Master, Freddy’s Nightmares was a horror anthology series set in Springwood with different tales of terror; hosted by none other than Freddy (Robert Englund) himself of course. While the show itself, with the exception of the first episode, left Freddy out of the picture as far as storytelling, it was a glorious piece of nostalgic 80s’ cheese that needs to be revived once more.

If Englund can host again, and I don’t see why not other than his own personal reasons, then this show can and would be dynamite in terms of rebooting. Let’s bring in names like Ari Aster, Rob Zombie (for a fun mix-up), and André Øvredal to write and direct and we got ourselves one killer hit. Shudder, I’m looking at you to get the ball rolling here.

So what do you guys think? What are some nostalgic nuggets of horror TV history you would like to see brought back to life? Let me know in the comments and let’s blow up Shudder’s Twitter to get this idea in their heads!

[Full Show] The 1991 Horror Hall of Fame Awards!

If you were a blossoming horror fan and of sound mind in the early 90s’, you may remember the glorious annual Horror Hall of Fame Awards. The Oscars for horror films, as they advertised it, only ran from 1990-1992, but goddamn it was the coolest thing ever. Oh, and Robert Englund hosted all three ceremonies. Fantastic times my friends.

The first annual Horror Hall of Fame ceremony at Universal Studios, California in 1990, was really something special in honoring the best of horror films, TV, actors, and special effects designers that would otherwise most likely not get recognized by that snooty little fellow by the name of Oscar. Alongside the induction act, are some really great segments and horror movie trivia from the cast and crew of said honored movies. The fact this only stuck around for three years is a damn shame. Sure, we had the Scream Awards 15 years later, but that since has gotten the ax as well. And sure, we have various virtual awards offered through some great horror magazines, but it’s just not the same. I long await for the day where this could be a thing again.

Anyways, marking 30 years since the 1991 awards returned to Hollywood, let’s focus on the second installment. The awards ceremony kicked off with Englund hosting once more, with the fantastic Cryptkeeper serving as co-host; and by co-hosting I mean slipping some awesomely random puns and gags in between inductee segments. The horror duo together set the stage for a new set of inductees to imprint their mark into the genre’s horror history books. And what better way to open the festivities, than a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with a parody starring Freddy himself?

Yeah, I can’t think of anything right now.

The darkly lit stage sprinkled with generic Halloween decorations set the tone for the all-time greats to receive recognition for their hard-earned contribution to the horror genre, and of course, you Fred-Heads may remember this was indeed the year Freddy Krueger was to make his final appearance as the Springfield Slasher on-screen in the form of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare; the sixth and presumably at the time, final chapter in the Freddy saga. So along with issuing achievement awards to the likes of Bela Lugosi and Roger Corman, the iconic slasher that Englund had made so legendary in a span of seven years, got his own little farewell tribute in a sort of twisted “In Memorium” piece brought to you by the late, great Sam Kinison. Kinison in true Sam fashion rushes the stage in the middle of Robert talking, takes over the podium, briefly roasts Englund, and goes on to present a tribute video to the fallen slasher, Freddy Krueger. All While Robert is laughing hysterically in the background. Priceless entertainment people.

The program also included make-up bits performed by special effects wizard Steve Johnson and the lovely Linnea Quigley, with sneak peeks for the upcoming and highly anticipated Addams Family movie. The Horror Hall of Fame 2 was every bit as fun as its predecessor the year prior. And some damn fine people got the recognition they so well deserved. 1991’s gallery of horror heroes included the following:

  • Film- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 
  • Film- The Birds
  • Publisher- EC Comics
  • Production Company- Universal Studios
  • Producer/ Director- Roger Corman
  • Actor – Bela Lugosi
  • Award for best movie of the year went to Silence of the Lambs. Nominees included were Misery, Child’s Play 2, Predator 2, and Jacob’s Ladder.

And well, maybe just relive it yourself! With a courtesy upload from Youtuber Doug Tilley, let us thank the Horror Gods for this little slice of treasure that once was, and maybe one day, can be again!