“When I’m home for the weekend, do you want to see the remake of Poltergeist?
This text was heartwarming news for a 61 year-old father whose daughter was planning to visit us a particular weekend in May – the same weekend that the remake was releasing. I worked hard during her childhood to make her into an honest-to-goodness horror aficionado. Our daughter is now in her twenties and I am pleased to say that my efforts have been fairly successful. While she isn’t drawn frequently to the genre, she has her favorite movies and is appreciative of certain formats and horror sub-specialties.
My efforts over the past twenty plus years proceeded along certain lines. First, I made good use of Disney movies. There are horrific elements to most of those films, and I always made it a point to comment on my enjoyment of the “bad guys/women” characters. Second, all kids like dinosaurs (myself included), and it isn’t too much of a leap to generalize from dinosaur movies (especially those portraying prehistoric creatures destroying Tokyo, London, and New York – all from my childhood in the 50s and the 60s) to other kinds of monster movies. Third, Harry Potter was a godsend. The first novel in the series became popular when she was in the first grade. We always read to her at bedtime, and I started with Sorcerer’s Stone at that time. She was hooked immediately – and the rest is history. When there wasn’t a Harry Potter story to read, there were other books with similar supernatural and thrilling themes. They didn’t have to be horror; there were plenty of thrillers, dark fantasy, and suspense books for kids that kept her on the edge of her seat. When she became adept at reading “chapter books” on her own, she chose comparable stories. (It wasn’t until college that other girls introduced her to chick lit. Sigh. I was hoping to keep her from that stuff forever. But, alas…)
There were a few mistakes along the way. I tried to introduce movies that were developmentally appropriate. For monster films, we tried the rampaging dinosaur movies from the 50s and 60s: Gorgo, Godzilla, The Giant Behemoth, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms…I even showed her Reptilicus. The latter was a weak moment, and capitalized on our Danish heritage. Unfortunately, my biggest mistake was showing her Jurassic Park too soon (I believe she was in the first grade). It was dumb, I know. For two weeks she kept waking up screaming thinking that there were Velociraptors in the basement. My wife had no sympathy for my plight and forced me to deal with every nightmare. The fears gradually subsided, and now Jurassic Park is one of her all-time favorites. We have our favorite passages from the movie over which we’ve bonded: the lysine contingency (she is a micro-biologist in training and has done research using lysine), I hate being right all the time (my favorite line which I repeat at every opportunity that she doesn’t take my always correct advice), clever girl, and a few others that aren’t coming to me at the moment.
Another bump in the road along the way: She also read and enjoyed all of the Twilight novels. I am not sure where I went wrong to foster this…
We are hit and miss on my favorite sub-category: supernatural tales and ghost stories. But, she will watch some with me – hence Poltergeist. We both felt it was so-so, by the way, not bad – just unnecessary.
A few weekends later she came home again for a visit which coincided with an appointment. It just so happened that it was the same release weekend of Jurassic World. We saw it together of course.
And we loved it.