[Exclusive Column] Scarred for Life – Tony Timpone

Ready for some summer screams? You’ll find plenty of ’em right here! In Gruesome’s ongoing survey, see what horror hits left today’s genre practitioners Scarred for Life! So, skip the beach and ballpark and curl up with a scary movie today!

Andrew Traucki, director (The Reef, Black Water, The Jungle, and The Reef: Stalked, streaming on Shudder July 29)

“There are a few films that get me excited when I think about my early fascination with thrillers and horrors. Certainly, The Evil Dead played a special role, especially for its sonic dimension. Close your eyes and just listen, it’s a truly amazing ride. However, I have to say my biggest influence was David Lynch and Blue Velvet [1986]. Indeed, in my first film, Black Water, I paid homage to Blue Velvet by having a severed ear in it. There was something about Lynch’s dystopian suburbia, with its twisted other-world characters, that really resonated with me. It left me feeling that nowhere, not even middle-class suburbia, was safe, just scratch the surface and you’ll discover a dark, seedy underworld. Love that film.”

Anita Rocha da Silveira, director (Kill Me Please and Medusa, opening in theaters July 29)

“A film that had a huge impact on me was Blue Velvet [1986] by David Lynch. It’s not a typical horror, but some scenes were really able to impress me and stayed in my mind, especially since I watched it for the first time at a very young age. When I was 9 years old, living in Rio de Janeiro, a gossip magazine used to sell VHS movie tapes at the newsstand. Every week, a different film. Most of the films were more commercial, but in the middle of other tapes, there was Blue Velvet. My parents bought it, together with other tapes, and one afternoon, alone in the living room, I put in the machine what I thought was a detective movie. From the rotten human ear right at the beginning to Frank Booth and his gas tank through the last scene in Dorothy’s room, everything in Blue Velvet is full of mystery, a fascinating macabre atmosphere, and the feeling that we are facing something innovative and original. I watched this film over and over until I got some sense of it. At least for a 9-year-old girl.”

Chris Sivertson, director (I Know Who Killed Me, The Lost, All Cheerleaders Die and Monstrous, now on disc)

“When I was a little kid, East Coast UHF TV stations would regularly show uncut horror movies. So, my introduction to the genre was a trial by fire. The most vivid of these experiences was watching Carrie [1976] when I was 5. Carrie’s mom terrified me. The image of Carrie covered in pig’s blood seared itself into my brain. But what haunted me the most was the St. Sebastian statue Carrie prays to when her mom locks her in the closet. The thing’s eyes seem to glow, staring right into your soul as Pino Donaggio’s score makes you feel like you’re going to Hell. When the movie comes full circle and Carrie’s mom essentially becomes the statue in death, I completely lost it and broke down in tears. It was awesome.”

Eric Brodeur, producer (11th Hour Cleaning, now on digital and VOD)

“I’ve seen a lot of horror films, but one stands out: the French film Haute Tension [2003]. The opening scene was short, but a genuine shocker. It got more and more chilling and exceedingly graphic, ultimately leading to a gruesome and bloody showdown with an unexpected conclusion. The killer and his methods felt so real that I couldn’t help but put myself in the victim’s shoes. There is more depth to the story and characters than at first glance, which makes the story even more terrifying.”

Ty Leisher, director (11th Hour Cleaning, now on digital and VOD)

“The horror film that scarred me the most was The Machinist [2004] by Brad Anderson. I’ve always loved psychologically twisted movies that make you question your sanity while watching. Christian Bale is absolutely terrifying as a malnourished and sleep-deprived man who must unravel a web of terrors. While The Machinist isn’t the most scary or gory film, it makes you question what you’re seeing, and losing your grip on reality is scary as hell to me.”

Jeremiah Kipp, director (The Sadist, Black Wake, Diabolical and Slapface, on DVD, digital and VOD July 26)

“Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm [1979] really spoke to me as a rural backwoods kid who, like the character Mike, was always sneaking through cemeteries and abandoned buildings without adult supervision. It was amazing to see a genre film with a child protagonist in an adult world who didn’t talk down to him, a world where the creepy Tall Man and his spheres and tiny cloaked monsters might be chasing after you in the woods…where you had shotgun shells lying around the wood-paneled house while your cool older brother was in the garage working on his muscle car or playing guitar with his Vietnam vet buddy who drove an ice cream truck. Yes, that’s a long run-on sentence about a movie that digresses all over the place, from mortuaries to alien planets to little old lady neighbors with ESP. In Phantasm, the phantasmagoric exists right next to everyday lower-income life. I have never seen anything quite like it before or since, where the low budget never restricted its vast wild imagination.”

John Adams, co-writer, co-director, actor (The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender, on DVD, digital and VOD July 26)

Phantasm [1979]. The idea of another terrifying world right next to ours was supremely disconcerting.”

Toby Poser, co-writer, co-director, actress (The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender, on VOD, digital, and DVD July 26)

“I first saw The Descent [2006] when I was an adult, but it struck me in a new kind of emotional, visceral, horrific way. The combination of deep-cave spelunking, perilous physical terror, the creepy, sharp-toothed sub-humanistic creature terror, and the deep-seated dynamics within friendships as they move through it all… just fascinating, frightening, and powerful from so many angles! Tremendous athleticism; do or die heroism; vicious vengeance; love and betrayal; claustrophobia! That film never ceases to rattle me.”

Zelda Adams, co-writer, co-director, actress (The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender, on VOD, digital, and DVD July 26)

Coraline [2009] was a movie that scarred me from a very young age. The evil ‘other’ mother felt so invasive, and her monster form at the end of the movie was like no other creature I had seen before! Coraline may be a kid’s movie, but it most definitely crawled deep into my young mind and gave me some rockin’ nightmares!”

Mark Meir, director (The Summoned, now on VOD)

“I grew up in a very conservative Catholic household and finally saw The Exorcist [1973] for the first time during a church lock-in. There’s absolutely nothing like being unable to escape the terror of all the religious iconography on the walls of the youth center I was in after seeing that poor child ram a crucifix into her…”

(Follow me on Twitter: @tonytimpone1 and Instagram: timponetony)

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.