As a kid, I’d prepare at least a month in advance (now its 2 months)! Mr. Hyde and The Wolfman were always my favorite monsters, so it was a great excuse to drag my mother to “higher end” shops that offered the wool crepe hair and professional make-up.
Imagining myself a Junior Lon Chaney, I’d spend hours creeping up and down the aisles of the Hollywood Magic Store, or Buddy’s Fun Shop on Lankershim Blvd. Buddy was a kindly old proprietor with one leg shorter than the other, and he’d perform feats of magic for customers— he’d only show you how the trick was done if you made a purchase. Nothing like a dark and mysterious magic shop to fuel the imagination…
Which brings to mind a question I’m asked on occasion: “What scared you as a child?”
I’m pretty jaded as far as “scary stuff” in film, haunts, art, or whatever, but there are some childhood scares that will forever stick in my spine:
1. An episode of TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled “The Magic Shop”, of course, about a very peculiar, gifted child. David Opatoshu is the CREEPY proprietor.
2. That FACE in the wall of 1963’s THE HAUNTING.
3. A little person (or child??), dressed as a murderous ventriloquist dummy, in a film called Devil Doll.
4. The guy with his eyes pecked out in Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, and while we’re at it, Norman’s mother doing her rocking chair spin in PSYCHO.
5. Victor Buono.
6. And finally, a dream I once had of being chased out of my house by a malevolent washing machine, all the way to the local park, where it moved through the sandbox like a shark, its gaping maw lunging at me while my feet sank the more I struggled…
I used to be able to shake myself awake during a nightmare when I was young— I’ve since lost that ability. I’m very lucky I don’t have bad dreams anymore (well, at least hardly ever).