I used to go to Saturday matinees at the CFB Winnipeg movie theatre. Between the ages of 5 and 8, I'd get dropped off with a girlfriend (probably Kristen), we'd enjoy our 2 hours with snacks and then late in the afternoon we'd emerge bleary-eyed into the sunlight seeking out our parents' waiting arms.
When I was about 8, Kristen and I went to see The Magic Sword. Our parents thought it was the Disney version. They were misinformed. This Magic Sword was the one with Basil Rathbone as an evil wizard and Anne Helm as the beautiful princess he was going to feed to a scary-ass dragon. It was made in 1962 with all its attending camp and cheesy special effects. It was the one where George (Gary Lockwood.) went on a quest to save the princess and people's faces melted off and there were vampires with electric green eyes who morphed into hags. George's attending knights kept dying, in more and more hideous ways. First Sir Ulrich of Germany and Sir Pedro of Spain are slain by an ogre (which in retrospect I can now totally see is a dude in a Planet of the Apes-esque suit filmed so that he looks like he's 25 feet tall). Then Sir Anthony perishes in a swamp, followed by the deaths of Sir Dennis of France,Sir James of Scotland and Sir Patrick of Ireland. All dead. All of them. Dead knights everywhere.
Crouched behind the seats in front of us, our hands over our eyes, Kristen and I glimpsed the movie... Unable to breathe for terror, knees sticking to the gum and pop-encrusted floor of the theatre. Hearts pounding, near-vomiting with fear. Running to our mothers after the show was over, pale-skinned and wide-eyed.
After seeing The Magic Sword, my already over-active imagination went into overdrive. I could relive every image from that movie as soon as I closed my eyes. Two bald dudes in a Siamese-twin outfit, 2-headed dragons, a chimp in a suit... some weird-ass shit.
My Mom came to kiss me goodnight and I wouldn't let her near me. She had green eyes, just like the morphing vampire. I was pretty sure that her eyes were glowing - I knew that she was going to suck my blood.
"YOU HAVE GREEN EYES!!! YOU HAVE GREEN EYES!!!"
I was in hysterics before my Dad, who didn't usually do bedtime, rescued me. That might have been one of the times that they gave me cough syrup to aid in knocking me out. After that Magic Sword fiasco, my Mom learned to double check what movie was playing at CFB Winnipeg before dropping me off on my own.
I was pretty good at avoiding things that would feed my imagination until The Exorcist was shown on primetime network television when I was 12. I was at a sleepover - I think her parents were out - I have a sneaking suspicion we were left with her older brother. That shit messed me up. I had post-traumatic stress after seeing it. Seriously. I slept with my little brother for 4 months afterwards, and to this day, if I even see a picture of Linda Blair from the movie, I want to throw up.