Things that scared the shit out of me as a kid:
- Salem’s Lot.
“Put the cross down shaman, turn to The Maaaaaster”.
James Mason nailed it. Actually everyone nailed it in that wrongfest. So many scenes deeply disturbed me in that film. Every time I look out of a window at night, I still expect to see that foul vampire kid floating in his pyjamas outside, scratching at the glass, petitioning me to let him in so he can eat my neck. Horrid little fucker.
- The Dr. Who episode where a giant rat came scurrying through a sewer chasing someone.
Did anyone else think his last name was Who or was that just me? That also applies to Jim’ll Fixit, first name Jim’ll, Last name Fixit. Jesus – I wrote to that guy once begging him to “fix it” so I could go to the Lego factory so I could have some free Lego at the end. THANK JUMPING ROYAL FUCK that my diplomacy skills were sadly lacking when I was 5 years old is all I can say!(If you’re outside the UK, Jim’ll was relatively recently outed as a raging paedo)).
Anyway I’ve gone way off track here. So there was this episode set in Victorian London with Tom Baker wearing a deerstalker, an extremely un-Chinese looking Fu Man Chu character, and this mutant rat monster gobbling people up in a sewer. The rat really scared me.
To be fair I could fill this list with Dr. Who references but let’s just agree that this rat entry is a proxy for all of them. And if you don’t agree, then I’m going to have to ask you to leave I’m afraid, cos this is my house and I don’t like your face.
- Davros, leader of the Daleks.
OK so I totally lied just then – I lack resolve. Clearly. But it IS my house remember. I won’t warn you again …
Oh how that furious wizened devil prune made my flesh creep when he was on TV. I had to run off and hide. The grating voice made my ears bleed. Like claws dragged down a blackboard.
Urgh – what the hell were they THINKING? Bad guys now are so cuddly and unthreatening compared with that unholy abomination.
In later years I had a whimsical dream where Davros was torturing me on an operating table putting huge poisonous hypodermic needles into my head. No!
Honestly though, I’m more scared of Tom Baker now than Davros, the rat, the Cybermen or anything else. OK OK OK – I promise no more Dr Who now. You’re not my dad!
- Dr. Who.
… ha ha ha – just kidding!
- The Children of the Hydra’s Teeth and Talos from the 60s Jason and the Argonauts movie.
The skellingtons(down pedant!) were the worst. Cursed and seemingly undefeatable killing machines coming for you in a frenzied blood lust, dementedly focussed on accomplishing the task in hand – ending you in unpleasant ways and with extreme prejudice! Oh how they delighted in their work! The musical accompaniment added an extra element of imminent bone menace(oo er).
Talos on the other hand was MASSIVE and his human appearance belied a complete absence of emotion or any other human facet. If you stumbled into his gaff, then your initial euphoria at finding a private island full of booty(treasure not wobbly asses(more’s the pity)), was quickly replaced with horror as you realised you had unwittingly volunteered to be the latest prey in Talos’s isolated hunting ground. No place to hide, and no hope of outrunning the hunter.
The Greek gods were morons though and, like Achilles, Talos had major heel issues.
Ray Harryhausen was a frigging genius.
- The Ghoul.
Pretty much all Hammer horror films scared the hell out of me but this one stuck with me for a long time.
When you’re a wee whipper snapper(wait a minute – what is a whipper and why do little children snap them?) these things are like unpredictable mischief dragons on a hair trigger, just waiting to fuck something up with their horrible slobbering faces full of teeth, scanning the immediate environment for small children to devour. I think I was set on by a couple of dogs at an early age and it made me dogcist for life.
That said, I do get on very well with my sister’s Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu cross now, but to be fair, she’s more of a comedy lamb than the kind of dogs we’re talking about here.
- Going to castles with my mental dad.
Being a deeply insecure sadist, he would always find some crumbling lofty battlement without protective barriers(only in the 70s! – well apart from the 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, 10s, 00s, 1890s … I could go on, and I bloody well will if you’re not careful) and drag me up there kicking and screaming, then force me to walk along the edge of it whilst blasting me from the side with an industrial fan.
OK I made the fan bit up. I don’t know if the fear of heights came before or after that. Why did castles always smell of wee anyway? Some questions really answer themselves don’t they – I think in my childhood innocence though, I thought it was the smell left over from the original medieval incontinent residents. Ahhhhhh bless.
- The Yew Tree Gang.
Where I lived in the 70s, a fabled gang of cutthroat psychopaths from an adjacent neighbourhood were said to roam the streets at night causing chaos. Occasionally you’d overhear a housewife say to your mum “spsss spsss spsss The Yew Tree Gang spsss spss spsss” so as not to distress you, and you knew wrong-doings were afoot somewhere. Hammers, butterfly knives, chainsaws, halberds – those housewives were OUT OF CONTROL man. But back to the Yew Tree Gang. Oh c’mon!?
I question now if The Yew Tree Gang even existed or if it was a cunning police initiative dreamt up to keep 70s street urchins indoors of an evening.
“Oy mister – get us some fags, shandy and a porno mag from the news agents will ya?”.”Nyaiiiiirrrr – gid airt of it ya little bliiiighters!”.
- The 11 plus exam.
This was hanging over me like The Spatula of Darren(sorry only kids who passed the 11 plus are allowed access to The Sword of Damocles – us comprehensive THICKOS have to use The Spatula of Darren, the Tesco Value alternative for gypsies) from the age of about 8 to 12. I wasn’t stupid but I was a late developer(I mean my brain, not my trousers you retro paedo pervert weirdo(hmmm good name for a band?)). So when I was that age I was more your rough-and-tumble, let’s climb a tree and make a den, draw a pirate ship, make a clay pot, hold up the bank and torture the manager kind of kid; than the kind who bowed to authority and liked poring over boring books in the library. Actually that phase lasted way into my 20s to be fair. If 20s means 40s. Fuck my life.
Anyway I was so afraid of this looming exam cos everyone expected me to pass it but it wasn’t fair cos all the kids who passed had private tuition and I didn’t have any so I didn’t stand a bloody chance really. But by the time it came round I was pretty much catatonic with fear of failure so I failed. All my friends went to the posh grammar school where they got to be in the cadets and go on field trips and give the teachers nicknames and get up to jolly japes and get access to the most basic level of education; while I got sent down to the local gladiator academy to endure big cocks drawn on seats, feral mutant rat children from the local estate being naff and riffy, used condoms rammed in my face for no reason, fights between our year and the next year up(yes the entire year – there was no hiding – there were no teachers anywhere to be seen! WTF?), teachers’ strikes 90% of the time, and the chilling spectacle of witnessing wretched teachers slowly contorting into inconsequential wraiths before your eyes because their dreams of Goodbye Mr. Chips had been brutally gangbanged into a waking nightmare instead.
Before the 11 plus I could’ve been somebody. I could’ve been a contender. Since I failed it everyone’s hated me. Apart from my old cat, Sambo, who stood by me throughout. And don’t even THINK about picking fault with his name or I’ll eviscerate you with my mouse right here on the blog room floor. Different times my friend! DIFFERENT TIMES!!!
So all in all, I think my fear of the 11 plus was justified!
- Evil teachers in junior school.
Some teachers had a certain reputation and you dreaded crossing them. Now I realise they were geniuses who made kids so fuckin scared with some hollow fantasy idea of how evil they were, that the kids behaved like angels in their lessons. Well up until comprehensive school. Then kids got wise to it, and started nutting teachers in the face for fun and attacking them with nun chuks. True story!
- Swallowing bubble gum.
My dad once told me if I swallowed it, it would balloon up inside me until I burst. That guy has some serious issues.
- Swimming baths.
Oh my god. An irrational fear of swimming baths. The smell, the echoey sound, the stench of chlorine reacting with bacteria. Floating human detritus. I now think I’m a reincarnated sailor who drowned at sea OR a reincarnated World War 1 soldier who was gassed with chlorine. Cos this was a pathological fear. Interestingly the friendly face of the “Learn to Swim” TV campaign is now doing time for molesting children so, again, maybe I just had great paedar.
- The sandman
If I stayed up too late a monster called the sandman(who I imagined as a man made out of sand) would sneak into my bedroom and rub sand into my eyes. At least that’s what they told me! I swear the kids of today would sue their parents if they tried pulling any shit like that.
- Tube trains.
I distinctly remember going to London as a kid and having an inexplicable fear of tube trains. At some point, there was a very strange and vivid dream involving a demolished house in London, flooded with tomato soup, with fallen wooden beams everywhere, and something to do with tube trains. A strange fear was born. I later had to overcome my fear of tube trains when I became an extremely successful high-powered business executive entrepreneur guru yuppy Sloane ranger type in London.
- Fake Rotary santa.
An imposter Father Christmas from Rotary used to come round to the house before Christmas on a car decorated as a sleigh that belted terrifying festive music through a speaker. Would’ve made a great character in the Mad Max universe.
He’d act overbearing and say trite Christmas nonsense to you while your parents and neighbours stood around going “Ahhhh isn’t it sweet”. Kids were supposed to love it, but I was so scared, I used to hide behind the sofa to avoid him. Maybe he was a child molester too? God I’m good.
A creepy campaign of TV ads warning kids about the dangers of electricity made me petrified of anything involving electricity. Well that and touching a live wire one time – that’s an invigorating old sensation let me tell you!
I got my super powers that day. I’ve said too much.
- The IRA.
- Nuclear war.
OK I’m sorry – the list was a playful rollercoaster ride then it took a serious nosedive at the end there. I probably should’ve put those two first shouldn’t I?
i.e. lowered your expectations, then built them up again to a dazzling finale. Ah if only there was some way of deleting or rearranging it all. I tried the eraser on the screen but it does nothing and leaves these weird marks. And the problem with Tippex is you eventually run out of screen and have to buy a new one. I swear typewriters were easier than this shit. So-called progress!
Anyway I was shit scared of those last two so you should all be applauding me for my honesty really and sending me money.