Haunted Honeymoon

Everything I learned about dating I learned from renting horror films

There are many lessons a person must learn in life, and there are various ways that one can go about doing it. One of the hardest lessons for some to learn is that ability to meet and actually get to know that special someone that they just might be able to spend the rest of their life with. There are many ways for people around the world to do just that, yet most simply rely on the most untrustworthy and risky manner of doing it. Every night at taverns around the globe young and old hopefuls sit in the dingy darkness waiting for their chance to find love, even if it’s just for one night.

These encounters in the smoke filled bars can lead to relationships, Lord knows I have met a few this way, but in the long run the bar scene is hardly a safe way to do it. Inside of those smoke filled taverns is a host of strangers who could end up being not at all what you might think or want them to be, and these days it is better to be safe than to be sorry. 

I have taken all of the things I learned from my youth at the small video stores and applied it to these bar settings and you would be surprised just how similar they really are. How you might ask exactly is finding that special someone in the world like finding a sun faded VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead, well read on and I will explain everything.

First one must look at the two locations that are in question. I have decided first to use the video store that I frequented while I was at college. The store was a very small one and it was just half a block from campus, a great way to lure the crowd in. The store was always dirty and everything was cramped close together, you never had to worry about being hounded however because the size and set up of the store allowed for the one employee who was usually working to easily watch the entire inventory to make sure no funny business went on.

Since the store was a small and independent one there were loads of films that one wouldn’t find on a shelf at the local video chain so obviously it became like heaven to me. The horror section was right next to the room where the adult films were kept, so often one would run into several horny young men who would embarrassingly walk into the room and walk out with their purchases safely hidden from view underneath their arm.

The local tavern here where one goes to meet others isn’t a far stretch from this video store. The place is usually pretty packed tight and it’s usually full of things that won’t really grab for your attention. The floors are sticky and it isn’t uncommon to find people doing drugs in the bathrooms, again as I have stated dating within a bar scene is hardly safe. The music that is played at the tavern is hardly enjoyable to me, though the packed dance floor usually assures me that at least someone out there likes it.

At first the two areas really do not seem at all that similar but let us take a closer look at the two shall we. The horny guys who would come in and out of the video store are also there at the tavern, except they aren’t hiding a seedy title under their arms, instead they are walking out with phone numbers or women under their arms. These guys are often desperate and know what they want so they just go right for the things that are going to give it to them. Both of the establishments had sticky floors and how they got that way no one really knows. The establishments are also full of the young and inexperienced that really has no idea what they are looking for; they are just hoping that they can find something to get their interest.

Horror fans aren’t strangers to traditional romance; if one were to simply watch some of the films it is easily discovered. Films such as Shaun of the Dead (which has become somewhat the horror film fans date movie over the last five years) are full of romantic stories of blundering morons who finally see the way things are meant to be. Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive) also has a romantic twist in the film, both Brain Dead and Shaun however have a very strong female character, the male character comes off as a silly immature boy most of the films with the woman stepping up to fight off the things that come their way.

Even the once attacked slasher genre embraces the idea of romance. For the last thirty plus years the slasher genre has pretty much made an entire career out of boys chasing pure and virginal survivor girls, I’m sorry ladies there aren’t too many survivor boys and what there are end up being like the kid in The Burning. In these films the good girl is the one who lives and the one who has the final battle with the said monster that is after her and her friends. Male horror films fans are imprinted with images of these women in hopes that one day just maybe we can find a woman like Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2.

Though these relationships can be very happy, usually the slasher movie will end with the boy kissing the final girl right before the final scare; there are the films out there that don’t portray such a happy image of romance and relationships. 

Films like May and Love Object deal with people who are alone and social outcasts, I like using these two films when I discuss this because May has a woman and Love Object’s main character is a man. 

Neither of these characters have very many social skills and neither one really knows how to talk to the opposite sex so they create their own way to do it with horrifying results. There are also characters like Brazil’s Coffin Joe who have been chasing the idea of the “perfect woman” for nearly forty years, even though Joe’s attempts are more on the harsh end of the spectrum. 

Okay there is some romance in a lot of these movies anyone can agree to that, but some of you still might not see where I am going with this so let me describe some of the inhabients of the video store’s shelves and some of the people one might see dancing around the tavern.

As I stated up above yes those horny guys are in both places, there is also the creepy people that seem as if they stare through you. However most guy’s eyes are on the pretty blonde girl who is dancing on the dance floor. The said pretty girl probably spent hours getting ready to go out into the tavern and she wears clothing that suggests she put on several outfits before it to try it out. 

This woman is a lot like the title Hell of the Living Dead. The pretty blonde looks the way she does because that is what the media and the rest of the world projects on her. This goes way back to when you were younger staring at those VHS boxes and the images would start to promise you sights you would never forget. 

Of the titles I saw on the shelves as a younger man Hell of the Living Dead always screamed out to me, that zombie on the cover just looked cool and I kind of thought it looked like the same zombie that was on the cover of City of the Living Dead. However when I took Hell of the Living Dead home I was disappointed on a major level, genre fans who know of this film already know about its disappointments for those not in the know the film mainly takes advantage of a lot of stock footage and blatantly plagiarizes Goblin’s score to Dawn of the Dead. 

The lesson learned by this one, done judge based on outward appearances because once you get it home and away from all the lights you are going to just find it’s full of the same of stuff you’ve already seen and really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

There is a sense of danger when one goes to meet others in tavern like environments that can’t compare to a video store. There are some people in the world that are just sick and deranged, this doesn’t mean that they are going to personally kill you but how do you know that perfect person across the bar isn’t shooting illegal drugs in-between their toes just so they don’t leave marks? It is impossible to know and sometimes one feels like I did when I was younger and took home a copy of Faces of Death. Faces of Deaths cover just screamed cool at me and the stories I had heard about it just made me really want to see that movie (stories about tavern patrons is a whole other article in itself not even related to horror movies). When I got the film home and half way through it I realized what it was I started to feel violated and somewhat cheated. 

Here was a film where there wasn’t a plot what so ever just set up after set up where a death occurs at the end of each one. This wasn’t the kind of movie I wanted so although I enjoyed various segments of the film as a whole the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

There are the older types in both of the establishments, and these older types usually have a thing or two to bring to the table. In the taverns the older men will often jump to the protection of a young woman like the knights of old times. In the video stores the old titles sit on the shelf with their covers faded by the sun just waiting to be seen. 

Films such as Torso and Bay of Blood might look boring at first when one glances at their cover but once they are taken back into a viewer’s house the viewer learns that these nasty little films pretty much influenced almost everything that they were looking at on the shelf that particular night. Torso and Bay of Blood have been called the “grandfathers of the modern slasher film”, and with good cause Friday the 13th Part 2 blatantly plagiarized two death scenes from Bay of Blood alone! These old titles are the things that influenced all of the young titles in the first place; to them there isn’t anything new.

At any given tavern on any given night there is also that person who has just had way too much to drink and is making a fool of themselves; Lord knows I have been that guy in the past. These people are represented on the video store shelf by such titles as Troll 2, Pink Flamingos and pretty much anything directed by Ed Wood. These things are all fun at the time, but once their novelty wears off they become really not all that amusing.

Eventually when one rents videos they will start to notice trends that they like in the films, this isn’t too far fetched from dating where one finds traits they like and eventually does develop a type. When a horror fans discovers something they like they usually will begin to devour everything they can with that something in it. 

Tom Savini’s FX work for example is a staple among many genre fans, a fan will like the deaths scene in the original Friday the 13th and start to track down other films where Savini has done the FX eventually causing them to see titles such as Maniac and The Prowler (two nasty little films that contain some of Savini’s most gruesome FX work). A horror film fan might also watch Lucio Fulci’s Zombie and eventually find their way into seeing The New York Ripper or Cat in the Brain (which contains an excellent scene of Mr. Fulci running over a hippie’s head multiple times with his car!). Sometimes this can back fire though, just because you liked Friday the 13th doesn’t mean you are going to like Don’t Go into the Woods.

The hardest lesson one has to learn though when comparing the tavern to the video store is: What one takes home from the video store can easily be returned with just a shudder of a bad memory, sometimes what one takes home from a tavern will always stay with them. We are living in modern times and the art of renting films is slowly starting to dwindle away. Some folks steal their films off of the internet just like some people date using the internet. With the prices of high definition players shrinking a lot of horror fans are simply starting to buy their titles, this is very similar to when one gets older and stops attempting to take home everything that catches their fancy. These home libraries though they contain some stinkers usually contain only the best of the best that the genre has to offer and how did they discover all of this by safely renting.

There is also the most important lesson one has to learn in dating and in renting horror films. Sure one can go into the store and walk out with any title they want but if you want to watch The Mutilator and it isn’t there you are just going to have to suck it up and come back later and hope that it is. The waiting like Tom Petty said is the hardest part in dating and renting horror films, but most often those titles that you have waited on will become the most cherished memories when you get older.

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