As is probably the case with most people these days, when I listen to music it’s usually in the form of mp3s, on my cell phone. For someone whose second album purchase (ten points if you get the significance of that) was the soundtrack of Superman, the Movie on an 8-track tape, things have come a long way. One thing that hasn't changed or at least, I didn't think it had, is my taste in music. I grew up in a house filled with music lovers, though each followed the beat of a different drummer. My eldest sister Wanda Susan loved Motown, our sister Dee Karen was deep into what I still think of as ‘hippie music’, the Beatles, the Doors, Janis Joplin. Our brother David was Southern Rock—Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot. The youngest boy, Mark, was a heavy metal headbanger who loved Def Leppard. Our mother was pure country. And from all of these influences, and others, my rather broad and eclectic musical predilections were formed.
I long ago thought that my musical preferences were set, carved in stone, beyond the point of change. From pure honky-tonk country, to 1950s Doo-Wop, to the symphonic works of Tchaikovsky, music remains one of the great joys of my life, and until recently I was content. However, while talking with a friend, the topic moved to favorite music, and she mentioned a favorite song of hers, one that she loved as a child, one that was on an old cassette of her mother’s. That song was Eric Carmen’s Make Me Lose Control, which topped out at #3 in 1988. My first thought was that I was twenty-four when that song came out, and she was not yet born. My second thought was that I hated Eric Carmen when he was ‘popular’, and then I realized, that very song is on my phone. Not only is it on my phone, but I paid $1.29 to put it there. When in the hell did I start liking Eric Carmen?
But as I pondered that, a more disturbing thought arose. That wasn't the only Carmen song on there, including some of his work when he was lead singer with the Raspberries. I soon realized that there were more songs from artists who I once disliked and who I now enjoy.
Okay, before you regular readers start believing that the Unimonster is now doing a music blog; let me reassure you that this article is about horror movies. It occurred to me, as I was considering the rather surprising turn in my musical affections, that there are movies which I disliked upon first viewing them, and about which my opinions have mellowed, somewhat.
One of these, and the one that might be the most surprising for those readers familiar with my love of the classics, is the 1992 version of Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Though far more faithful to Stoker’s vision than most of the films that preceded it, upon my first viewing of it twenty-two years ago I found it slow-paced, talky, and for the most part uninteresting. My thoughts on it, from the personal notes from my database of Horror films, were, “Overly pretentious version of the Classic vampire tale nearly works, but is finally dragged down by the weight of its own pomposity, as well as Keanu Reeves’ absolutely wretched performance as Jonathan Harker.” Recently however, I bought the Collector’s Edition DVD, released by Sony Home Entertainment in October, 2007. While Reeves’ performance is still just as wretched (seriously, was every other possible choice for Harker tied up at the time?), and the film still comes off as pretentious, I found it far more enjoyable that I did then. The 49-year-old Unimonster was more appreciative of the theme of the film, which is ‘Love, lost yet still eternal’, than the 28-year-old Unimonster had been. I also found the manner in which the historical Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula, was reconciled with Stoker’s fictional Count very satisfying. It will never be my favorite version of the story, but it’s definitely one I will watch again.
Another that has grown on me with repeated viewings is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This picture has gone from being one that left me cold, to being one of my favorites. My first thoughts on this movie, again from my database: “Though it may rule the midnight movie show, on TV it's just a silly, dated musical. Tim Curry's performance is inspired, but it can't lift this out of mediocrity alone. Without the insanity that is the Audience Participation, it just falls flat.” Boy has my opinion changed! So much so that I’m embarrassed at how wrong I was about this movie. While I've yet to attend a midnight showing of the film, experiencing it the way it was meant to be experienced, I can say that the experience of sitting in your living room, singing along with all the songs as the dog looks at you with a strange mix of concern and, yes, pity, must be similar.
However, the movie that surprised me with how my opinions have changed over the years is one that, if I had to be honest about at this point in time, is in my personal top ten of Horror films, of all-time. That movie is Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead. Now when I watch it, I see one of the most imaginative, innovative horror films of the last half of the 20th Century, a movie that defied conventions, low-budget, and good taste to become one of the most popular films of the Drive-In era. Compare that to my database: “Made on a nothing budget, Sam Raimi’s cult blockbuster has never been a favorite of mine. Still, its popularity can’t be denied … it’s become one of the biggest Horror franchises ever.” Well, I was right … and wrong. Not about the historical significance of Raimi’s movie; but about it not being a favorite of mine. That part is no longer true.
Will my taste continue to evolve over time? What will the 60-year-old Unimonster’s opinion be of the movies that his 50-year-old self detested? Some, I’m sure, will have aged well in my eyes, perhaps prompting a similar look back in the 2024 version of the Unimonster’s Crypt, delivered via thought waves directly into the brains of my readers. Does that mean I’ll be sitting through my eighth or ninth viewing of Snakes on a Plane? I wouldn't bet on that.