Tag Archives: Texas Chain Saw Massacre

“LITERAL BESTIES”: HOW ONLINE HORROR GAVE ME ONE OF MY MOST CHERISHED FRIENDSHIPS

When I woke this morning, I happened upon a tweet from @lindseylouwho that spoke to me:

It opened a floodgate of thoughts and inspired this post, so please, come with me for a minute.

In another life, I was Sports Director of a local television station by day, and hosted a late night, B-movie homage to Joe Bob Briggs by night. We were having a hard time getting the show sponsored when the idea occurred to me that I had interviewed 17 Hall of Famers for the baseball website I’d been writing for, so why not try to do the same with horror personalities? With Halloween and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) looming, I gave it a shot. Soon after, Kane Hodder was booked for a phone interview, Halloween Express backed it and from that moment on, the issue of sponsorship was permanently in the rear view.

Less than twelve months later I decided to take a crack at horror writing and Googled “horror website writers needed.” I submitted to one site and one site only, and thankfully they opened their doors to me.

For most of my life to that point I was a freak. No one understood my “odd” fascination with horror or could wrap their heads around the idea that Halloween could be anyone’s favorite holiday. Then one site invited me in and I quickly discovered that I was anything but alone in my sensibilities. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed to find fellow “freaks” for whom Halloween was not a single day, but a lifestyle.

Then it happened. On a random night nearly eight years ago I got home from work and sat down to write my first article. What should I write about? What could I write about? My mind landed on SILVER BULLET and I started punching the keys.

Shortly after posting I received a message from another writer in the site’s administration group gleefully declaring that they didn’t think anyone loved Stephen King’s werewolf adaptation as much as they did.

One message turned to several, and almost a decade later, it hasn’t stopped.

That fellow writer was the owner of this website, Patti Pauley.

We partook in group conversations, yes, but it always returned to direct messages because as she once pointed out, “we share the same brain.” A fact that makes me laugh and proud in equal measure.

Before long I was looking for a new show to binge and asked if she had any suggestions, which led to “have you ever seen Twin Peaks?” It didn’t take long for my “thanks, now I’m obsessed with Audrey Horne” to be met with laughter and “welcome to the club!”

In fact, just as I was landing on the final episodes of the original series, Showtime announced that we’d be returning to a place wonderful and strange. So, when Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) declared “I’ll see you again in 25 years” I nearly exploded my laptop hitting pause. It was all new to me, but my David Lynch baptism made it clear that it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Season 3 was predetermined, the fruition of one of the greatest long cons in history. There was only one person I had to message to share that my mind had just been blown–Patti–and by the point, it wasn’t a DM, but rather a text.

Hell, we had talked about how much her son loved Bruce Campbell, and I told her that if I ever landed him for an interview, I’d ask him to say something to her boy. So, when I finally landed a Q&A with The King, I kept my word, and the look on his face was worth the price of gold. Still one of my proudest moments that I could do that for a friend.

For reasons I’m not going to get into now, we both grew disenchanted with that site and went our own way, but the connection never ceased. We talked, we sent shit to crack one another up, shared cool new shirts or collectibles we knew the other would flip over, but we also had serious conversations about life. We discussed triumphs and tragedies, we vented to one another, offered support and encouragement, and of course, we laughed. A lot.

The number of horror aficionados who want to write about the genre they love are legion, and there are times when those waters prove shark-infested and alliances one thought strong were actually feeble. But not with Patti.

Her friendship and loyalty has never waned, and in this life, that is not only a rare commodity, it’s borderline unicorn.

And make no mistake, Ms. Pauley is absolutely a unicorn. A horror-loving, demon unicorn, but a unicorn nonetheless.

Look, anyone who writes–for a living or as a hobby–carries hints of self-doubt. They wonder if it’s any good, if they’re any good? It takes courage to expose oneself to the piranhas, to lay bear the most personal of thoughts and feelings. And sadly, quite often if anyone has something to say, it isn’t complimentary. Truth be told, it’s more akin to offensive commentary than biting criticism.

That’s never stopped her, though. Patti has always maintained that she does it for herself and for those who grew up loving all things spooky as she did, drawing from a well of horror memories shared with her father.

Joe Bob Briggs once said, “the only sin a movie can commit is to be boring,” and the same sentiment applies to Patti’s writing. Boring is not a word that could ever apply to her style. The passion and knowledge drips off the page (in today’s world, the screen) in a voice that is unique, energetic, and often times hilarious. Need evidence? Let’s wind the clocks back to SILVER BULLET. Patti describes Uncle Red’s showdown with the beast at the conclusion of the film as “Gary Busey doesn’t just fight, he wrestles with a goddamn werewolf!” I laughed out loud, and have never seen it the same since. Her thoughts and words stay with you.

When she told me that she’d scored a gig with a prominent horror magazine I was elated, but when she posted for one of the elite websites I immediately read it and teared up pouring over the paragraphs because with each passing sentence her growth as a writer leapt off the screen. I was a brother proud of my sister.

So, when she told me that she was venturing out on her own, that Nightmare Nostalgia would be a thing, I was thrilled, and did not hesitate to offer my help in any way that I could. Sadly, life gets in the way and I don’t write nearly as often as I used to or would like, but she has never so much as hinted at disappointment, she merely continues to encourage and says “whenever you have something, I want it.”

I interviewed Joe Bob, my lifelong hero because of her website. In fact, his rep shared what I’d written following his original (believed at the time to be his farewell) Shudder marathon on Facebook with a single word, “This.”

When I discovered it, I was shopping with a friend and stopped dead in my tracks, tearing up. If John fucking Bloom thought what I wrote was good, it was the only validation I’d ever need. And when I asked if he’d be generous enough to sign that piece when I met him after his How Rednecks Saved Hollywood show in Minneapolis later that year he asked if’d he read it. I responded that it had been shared on his Facebook, to which he replied “if it made it to Facebook, I definitely read it” and started to jot a message. I was floating.

Patti gave me those moments.

She also provided a platform for me to share my most personal pieces–from suicidal ideation to JASON LIVES guiding me through difficult times–Patti not only welcomed my most delicate thoughts and feelings, but applauded that I shared them and helped me exorcise demons.

So, once I got the idea in my head to start making Halloween cards, she was at the top of the recipient list. Always personalized, she has opened orange envelopes revealing laughs from some of her favorite flicks — THE FLY (1986), SILVER BULLET, ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK, and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974).

In fact, when I penned what amounted to a love letter to Teri McMinn for the TCM hook scene, she texted “you are my favorite kind of freak.”

These might seem small or insignificant moments, but I assure you that they are anything but. The support and encouragement contained an unspoken maxim: be who you are. And believe me when I say that Patti has played a large role in my personal acceptance of who I am.

Cards turned into a six-foot, Coors Light cardboard Halloween stander I found at a thrift store (which still stands in the lobby of she and her husband’s business), and this past year, I added a Twin Peaks tee to the fray.

Not to be outdone, she shipped an 11 x 17 Jason Lives poster for my birthday. I just stared and smiled. One of the best gifts of my life was accompanied by a note. It was only three words, but they resonated.

Remember that we share an affinity for SILVER BULLET? It’s long since been a running joke that Patti is Jane (Megan Follows) and I’m Marty (Corey Haim), because of course we are.

The letter said “Happy birthday booger!”

That is who Patti Pauley is.

Funny that SILVER BULLET has so much to do with the moon, because something that Archibald “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster) said in FIELD OF DREAMS applies to our friendship: “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening.”

I didn’t realize that a random message from a fellow writer would materialize into such a deep and meaningful friendship, but as time has marched on, that relationship has only strengthened, and I have never taken it for granted.

Who knew that I was friends with Darcy the Mail Girl before any of us even knew who that was?

The closest we’ve come to a face-to-face was when I was in her town for a bachelor party, but it was a brief stay and our schedules just didn’t jibe, but it only delayed what will inevitably happen.

Patti runs this site, and does so with thoughtfulness, kindness, and above all, passion. The horror community is lucky to have her, so if the opportunity should ever arise, message her through Nightmare Nostalgia’s Facebook page to thank her, or better, tell her how awesome she is.

And if you have a friend whom you met through Twitter of Facebook or Instagram or wherever else, don’t for a moment question the validity of that friendship, because the bond you feel is not imagined, but very real.

Patti Pauley is my friend, my colleague, my boss, my sister; and she has my loyalty for life. To steal one of “her” lines: I love you too, Janie. Good night.