Punctuated by horror movies

Dracula, 1958, with Christopher Lee.

I hail from Romania. so o, course. I remember watching this particular Dracula with my little sister, my cousin O (lifelong partner in horror-appreciation), and my aunt, O’s mother, at home. My parents were away for a wedding, probably. We all got so frightened during that movie that my aunt got us all off to her own place after the movie, in the middle of the night. Because none of us could sit for one more minute in the house where we had watched the film and where now obviously evil resided.

A more recent Dracula retelling that I really enjoyed was Dracula Untold. A beautiful, moving movie, I thought.

I owe a lot of my love of horror movies to my cousin O. This was the time of video cassettes, in Romania where there was no Blockbuster, but only tiny neighborhood shops with walls lined in pirated tapes, the name of the movies written by hand on the edge. My cousin lived in a bigger city and had an older brother, which afforded her more access to movies than I could ever have in my provincial little town. But we met on summer vacations and filled our time with stories. Many of them from horror movies. That is how, one of my favorite horrors from middle school I actually got to watch a couple of years ago. At the time I only saw it through O’s detailed retellings of every scene and in-depth interpretations of motifs and symbolism. I loved it. But I couldn’t find it for the longest time because the bootleg VHS that O had watched had the movie’s title translated as The Devil’s Cabin. Never to be found as such again. The movie, I later discovered, was The Evil Dead (1981).

As I said, this was the time of the videocassette renting and watching movies at friends’ houses, and as I remember it, every time my parents were out of town, we’d be in the mood for horror, which my poor kid sister endured stoically and with severe scarring for the rest of her life. She was marked by a particular one: the Omen (1976). The movie dwells heavily on the number of the Devil. My sis is born on June 6th, and we kind of convinced her that her birth time might have been 6 o’clock. 666. She’s still not over it, which makes me aware that I must not have been the loving and compassionate big sister I’ve always considered myself to be.

Time passed. I don’t remember a lot of horror watching during my early adulthood for some reason.

A strong memory, however, is watching Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) the Japanese production. I watched it in Mumbai, with my husband and his brother. Scary. The scariest thing I’ve seen. It took me a long time before I could watch The Ring, which was a Japanese movie remake, because I have made up my mind that I am not strong enough to handle Japanese horror.

I had a long time of being unable to watch horror, actually. During my pregnancies and while my children were small. Not for lack of trying. When my daughter was very little (or maybe I was still pregnant?) I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose with my husband, in our suburban rental apartment. It was not good. The same night after watching the movie we were woken up by a strange sound in the apartment. It was a sort of deep thumping that reached into your stomach and made it seize. We discovered quickly enough that the DVD player had somehow reloaded the movie and there was a breathing sound on the menu screen, which kept playing in a loop. We turned it off and went back to bed, a little shaken. It was 3 am.

So yeah, that put a hard stop on my horror watching for a few years. But I am back and making up for it now. A couple of more recent movies that I enjoyed quite a bit are The Woman in Black and Crimson Peak. The first one was beautiful and very scary, the second one mainly beautiful.

Gothic horror will always have my heart, what can I say? Speaking of which, I thought Penny Dreadful, the TV series, was breathtaking. What could be better than having all your Gothic horror favorites playing together? Dreamy.

I could think of more but I am going to stop here, on this high note. What movies have been horrifying you?


  1. I love this post.
    Here are (some) of mine:
    Dracula: Pages From Virgin’s Diary (Guy Maddin, director,
    I want to see his Forbidden Room as well)
    Dracula with Frank Langella (so handsome)
    Siuspira (Argento)
    Don’t Look Now (Roeg)
    Nosferatu the Vampire
    Mr Vampire (Chinese, when I met my daughter we communicated through charades–we both knew and loved this movie)
    Dawn of the Dead
    A Quiet Plce
    Hereditary (dollhouses and dread)
    many 1970s movies with Vincent Price, red carpets, Gothic settings…

    • Thank you so much for this list, Tess!
      Yes, I remember the Frank Langella Dracula. I loved that one too. I never watched Dracula: Pages From Virgin’s Diary! So excited to find this one! Suspiria sounds vaguely familiar but I am adding it to my list.
      Don’t Look Now! This is one of my favorite short stories ever. I think it is masterful. And I loved the movie too.
      Nosferatu is so scary. Are black and white movies scarier? I think so.
      Never watched Mr. Vampire but it sounds wildly entertaining.
      Incubus, the 80s movie, has such a strange mythology around it! It looks like many of the people involved ended up in violent death.
      A Quiet Place was not bad, although I find it a cheap shot to kill a small child at the beginning of the movie.
      Hereditary I loved although found too many loose ends and unjustified directions.
      Give me a few scraps of Gothic atmosphere and I am hooked.

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