Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post: The Movie That Started it All, Or: How “Halloween” Changed My Life by Rusty Fischer

I am so excited to have Rusty here with us today! I have been a big fan of his ever since he was on The Bookish Brunette during her Zombie Craze 2011 and I have been stalking…I mean following him ever since. Before I get myself into some trouble please help me welcome Rusty to the blog.

Now here is Rusty:

The first, and really ONLY, movie to ever truly scar (typo, but I’m leaving it for obvious reasons) me – we’re talking jump out of your seat, hide behind your hands, don’t care who thinks you’re a wimp scared – was, is and always will be John Carpenter’s Halloween.
I know lots of folks will say Jaws was their first scary movie, and yes it had its moments, but it wasn’t “real” enough for me. Even though I grew up in a beach town, I was never a big surfer and always preferred the calm pool to the rough ocean, so the chances of me encountering a 30-foot Great White were pretty much nil.
But me being slashed open by a knife-wielding guy in coveralls and a spooky mask in the middle of the night in my own bedroom? With an awesomely spooky soundtrack playing in the background?
At the time, they seemed positively overwhelming!
If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go back to see a dinosaur chew grass or even talk to Abraham Lincoln. No, I’d travel back in time to 1978, to watch Halloween live on the big screen in our little small town theater. THAT would be a trip worth taking!
As it happened, the only way an 11-year-old like myself could watch Halloween was late at night on HBO. (And later, on video.)
Now, of course, you can see Halloween anytime you want, all year long, on Netflix or demand or own a DVD copy for five bucks from Wal-Mart. Back then, it was a pretty big deal whenever it came on TV.
Especially if you were 11- going on 12-years-old. Watching the movie now is more of a nostalgic experience, almost as vaguely comforting as sitting through a Charlie Brown Christmas ever year. (And, yes, I know how weird that sounds.)
You know what I mean, though; it’s more a tradition than anything else. Like eating a bag of candy corns or carving a pumpkin, it’s more of a should-do than a want-to.
But I can still remember – and quite vividly – the visceral terror I felt watching Halloween those first few times as a “kid.” Every time Michael’s mask appeared – between the fluttering sheets on the clothesline, behind a shrub or peeking out from a bush, in a doorway or passing by a window – it just floored me.
More so than the actual bloody violence, though that was never easy to watch, the 12-year-old me was addicted to “Michael sightings” throughout the movie. Just waiting for them and, later, expecting them filled me with doom in a way I haven’t re-experienced in years.
And I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. Since then, I have pretty much watched every wide release horror movie to come down the pike, and once I got on the Netflix train, quickly set about watching every non-wide release I’d missed in all that time! (I’m still playing catch up!)
But as much as I enjoy a good scare, I rarely find one. I still enjoy horror movies, but I don’t expect to get scared. Grossed out? For sure. Upset? Often. Shocked? Not really. Queasy? Oh yeah. (The queasiest I’ve felt in a LONG time was the gymnastics scene in this year’s Final Destination movie, but that’s a whole OTHER blog.)
I don’t think it’s Hollywood’s fault, either. I think there is something about your first big scare that changes the game. I’m talking the first time you realize that a movie, or a book, or even a spooky song can alter your mood and affect your life. And I think that has to happen when you’re young.
You can’t recreate the experience of your 12-year-old self watching Jaws or Star Wars or even Halloween and being totally transported. If my 43-year-old self was to watch those movies for the first time I would be moved, I might even be thrilled or awed, but I have changed and know too much to ever be truly frightened or awed or thrilled or even shocked like I was as a child.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Or YA? Or zombies or even vampires? Well, this is my first Halloween with a YA supernatural book out; several books, actually. Each one featuring a zombie, a vampire, a werewolf or, in some cases, all of the above. I never stopped to ask “why” I chose to write about such creatures, but I know now that a secret part of me is trying to recreate those emotions I felt as a scared, trembling, hand-over-his-eyes 12-year-old watching Halloween for the first time.
Not that my books are scary, or gross or even all that bloody for that matter, but in each case I’m actively trying to create a mood, or an experience, or a world that will take readers to that same place I went all those many years ago: someplace creepy, foreign, new, exciting or unique.
So I guess, in some way, every day for me is a little like Halloween. (The holiday, not the movie!) And that’s not a bad way to live…

Rusty_zombie-fiedYours in YA,
About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of several YA supernatural novels, including Zombies Don’t Cry, Ushers, Inc., Vamplayers, I Heart Zombie and Panty Raid @ Zombie High. Visit his blog,, for news, reviews, cover leaks, writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!

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Zombies Don't Cry: A Living Dead Love Story
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