As predicted in my last blog, I spent most of last night wide awake, waiting to be attacked by a Zuni doll. The bright side of my extreme tiredness is that I have really come up with quite a few movies to review this Halloween season. Although, I these reviews could easily be called ‘My List of Fears & Phobias as told Through Film’. I realized a lot of things give me the heebie-jeebies. Which brings me to my next movie, well… actually two movies: Jaws and Piranha.
Basically, you had to have lived under a rock for 33 years if you have never seen Jaws or heard the ominous thudding score that lets you know someone is in trouble. I really don’t think I need to go too much into the story, we all know it. A large Great White Shark terrorizes the New England shores and the new Chief of Police puts a team together to hunt it down… in the water… on a WOODEN boat… in the water… after they know the shark can chew up boats… in the water! Yeah, not me, no how, no way! There are plenty of terrifying scenes that haunt me to this day. Although, it is really just two scenes that really stand out for me. The first is the opening scene where a young woman decides to go on a romantic swim at night with her boyfriend. Unfortunately her boyfriend passes out drunk and she swims out to meet her new date for the night, a Great White Shark. She very violently becomes the shark’s first onscreen snack. Even without seeing this movie, NOTHING would make me go into the sea, river, ocean, bay, lake or any large body of water at night to swim. The second poop in my pants scene occurs while a diver checks out the underbelly of a boat (again at night) and a head pops out of a hole in the boats bottom. Even today, I know that shock is coming, and I still jump (and maybe scream a little). There are plenty of more chills and thrills, but nothing beats the ending that plays in my head as the credits roll. The movie ends with a shot of the stranded survivors waiting afloat for rescue in the middle of the water, no land in site. But I can’t leave well enough alone; instead in my mind a new bigger shark comes and eats them. This movie terrified me; I had constant nightmares and sleepless nights for many years. Jaws was the catalyst for the start of my many water phobias. And whatever fears I had not developed from Jaws, were completely developed with the next film, Piranha.
Piranha, first of all was filmed in San Marcos, Texas. That was a little to close to reality for me as a child. When you see a place that looks like where you have actually been before, the veil of fantasy is forever gone. This film also starts of with some naughty teens swimming at night, but this time they sneak into an abandoned military site and go skinny dipping. In short order they are eaten up. While Jaws had the foreboding warning music before an attack, these sounds happen during the attack. As the piranha feed, you have the pleasure of listening to wet, rapid chopping sounds and splashes of water. So even if you prepare yourself and cover your eyes, you can hear the attacks. (Shudder) The film progresses with a busybody insurance investigator and her woodsman guide finding the base and accidentally releasing the tank full saltwater fishes into Lost River Lake (aka the Guadalupe River). Well this should not be a problem; salt-water fish will die in fresh water, right? Nope! These are genetically altered fish tired of fish flakes and are now heading to Summer Camp overflowing with tasty children and naughty counselors that need to be punished. (On a short tangent, the horror movie industry is very big on saucy, sexy/rebellious teens who misbehave must be punished. There are many interesting articles dealing with this subject and that are very easy to find on the internet. Look the up, and enjoy!) So now the 2 fools that released the piranha race to stop the advancing piranha from feeding on the children. Oh, I forgot to mention they do this on a RAFT! As I am sure you can guess, plenty of mishaps and near misses happen along the way before they get to the pre-pubescent potluck for the fishies. I won’t give away the ending, except to say it is pretty cheesy. Unfortunately for me the real scary ending happens before the credits roll, and like my made-up ending for Jaws, a few fish escape into the sea. The movie ends with the screen bleeding red, and you hear the chopping sounds getting loader.
So that was it, I was done. These movies straight up, fucked me up. It did not help that around this time period, I almost drowned in Lake Conroe. So I already had an aversion to bodies of water. Now combined that experience with these movies and it left me done with the water. I was done with lakes, rivers, bays, oceans, sea and even pools. No more swimming at night in a pool, no being in water when no one around. I would not even take baths because I was so scared a piranha would come up through the drain and eat me. So regardless of how much I love the water, I fear more what it holds. I tell people all the time, if I can’t see the bottom, I am not going in it. Mark my words, people laugh at me about piranha being in lakes and oceans, but when the first attack happens, I will say I told you so.
I also developed a real fear of sleeping in my bed at night, I just knew when I closed my eyes, my mattress would become a raft and all the space around my bed turned to water. I was constantly fearful of something bumping my bed/raft and turning it over. Or by leaving my fingers dangling over the edge, it was calling the piranha to come have a little snack. I still feel this way to this day, but I am much better now. I have learned to sleep with my hands on the bed and not over. If you do that, nothing will bite you. Trust me on this…