It’s Halloween and I spent a lot of time trying to decide what review to post today. At one point I thought of posting the only other Halloween movie that fits within my 90’s time frame (Resurrection) but that seems quite anticlimactic. I started putting together a review of all the various one off specials and Halloween episodes that I watched this year, but ultimately decided against that too. I was ready to press ahead and just post my review of 1922 when I ran across an old blog written three years ago. It was a tribute to the website and forum that really groomed me for my love of horror. These two sites played a huge part in developing my love of horror and the community that surrounds it. I decided to leave the post intact from how I wrote in 2014. I fixed a few grammatical errors, but otherwise it’s identical to the one I published three years ago.
Horror movies were always taboo which appealed to me. It was that section of the video store you weren’t supposed to go into, but it was impossible to keep kids out of it. I was attracted to all the gross, bloody, and perverted box art that lined those shelves and looked forward to getting to watch them one day.
The first horror film I ever saw was Popcorn. I grew up watching Ghostbusters, The Monster Squad and Gremlins, so taking the next step to full blown horror wasn’t all that difficult. Back in the late 80’s, Freddy and Jason were icons that you could find in Nintendo games and action figures, so while it wasn’t “for” kids, it was definitely marketed towards them.
It was a thrill getting to see a scary movie, but it wasn’t until my dad purchased a copy of Halloween from a Blockbuster that I truly fell in love. I wasn’t a teenager yet, but he told me that I’d enjoy this movie and it would scare me. Boy was he right, and my love for horror movies began.
Back then it was a win/lose situation for horror movies. Tons of rare and strange horror movies filled the shelves of all sorts of video stores, but sometimes movies were just near impossible to find. When I first heard about Evil Dead it was out of print and people were trading bad bootlegs over the internet for it. If you ever went into the AOL Horror Chat room, you’d instantly get Instant Messaged looking for a copy of it.
This of course made it a priority for me to see, because what the hell was Evil Dead? I watched Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness, but it took me three years to finally get my hands on a copy of Evil Dead. It was a joyous occasion that I remember to this day. It was like digging for gold and then finding it. I don’t get that thrill from streaming video these days.
Besides the movies I knew such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Nightmare on Elm Street series, Friday the 13th series, and Halloween series, I didn’t really know what was good and bad horror. I tried out tons of movies and some I enjoyed others were just awful, but I needed a horror mentor, someone to guide me and verse me in the ways of the horror film. That guy was The Cryptkeeper at HouseofHorrors.com.
You got to remember, this was pre IMDB being a big deal with tons of information. It was hard to find a good website dedicated to horror movies that would reveal trivia about the movies or even which movies were worth watching. In the Vault at HouseofHorrors.com lie the key to the horror movie kingdom, a proverbial who’s who of the horror movie industry, independent and all. It was here that I learned the ways of a good horror movie and the masters of horror.
AOL had a Horror chatroom as I mentioned, and there was a good alt.horror newsgroup as well. Along with Fangoria magazine and Cinescape, these were my sources of horror information. I can actually find a few posts that I made in alt.horror all the way back in 1998.
Here is one called New Movies to come out from July 20th, 1998. It focuses on some upcoming horror movies. There is even a discussion about who is going to play Inspector Gadget in the live action movie. BTW: I was right, screw those guys.
Another one is from July 19th, 1998 where I compare the movements of WWF wrestler Kane to Michael Myers.
And while I found some great discussions and some good information from the chatroom and the newsgroup, it wasn’t until I found HorrorSpeak that I felt truly complete.
HorrorSpeak was actually part of HouseofHorrors. It was the most active and most intelligent horror message board I had ever seen. You’d find analysis, news, reviews, and opinions of everything horror. The threads would go on and on with great banter back and forth and for a guy who mostly lurked, I learned a TON. I had several usernames over the years, but I rarely joined in unless I really needed to get some information like what was the best version of the Evil Dead DVD to get.
For five or six years it was a site that I visited at least twice a day. It was just so active you had to so you could keep up. Sadly, that is not the case anymore. (2017 Note: HorrorSpeak was officially closed down last year.)
I visit HorrorSpeak probably once every six months. I can usually read the three posts or so that have been posted during that time. Almost without fail, an old member pops back in to say hi and reminiscence about the good ole days when HorrorSpeak was the ultimate in horror movie discussion boards.
But nowadays its sad when I go to visit, it’s like going to an abandoned theme park. Once there was so much joy and activity going on, and now it’s just a ghost town.
Other sites over the years took over at being the biggest and baddest horror sites such as Bloody Disgusting. And for a while I lurked there and even posted a few times, but it just never was as good as HorrorSpeak.
HorrorSpeak remains up in the pretty much the way it was when it was in its prime. (2017 Note: This is no longer true as of 2017) All the old threads are still available which is a neat way for me to go back in time. Most websites end up offline, but both HouseofHorrors and HorrorSpeak are still up and pretty much in the same condition they were when I first found them. I hope they stay up forever. Even if they aren’t updated, it’s like going home for me and I appreciate more and more as the years go by.
HorrorSpeak has become the haunted house that we all know and love. It’s a reminder of the fun times, but is in a rundown condition unchanged from those days. A few creatures lurk in the shadows, and the ghosts of happier memories remain.
2017 Note: After HorrorSpeak shut down, I waited to see if the domain would be renewed. I fully intended on purchasing the domain and creating a blog/website called Horror Speak just as a way to keep the name alive. Sadly, it seems the webmaster wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet and renewed it. I plan on keeping an eye on it and if he chooses to abandon it, I will definitely take ownership of it.
2020 Update: Still haven’t been able to snag that domain.
2021 Update: GoDaddy snatched up HorrorSpeak.com before I could and put a $1,500 price tag on it. I ended up buying HorrorSpeak.net. It’s not the same, but it’s the best I could do.