Poltergeist II: The Other Side -- The Braces Monster
It was 1987 and I was 4, which meant that I had to climb the stairs from the basement bedroom, to cry about the scary darkness, ask for a cup of water, and repeatedly have to go pee. That was my job. But when I got to the top, before I could interrupt, the movie caught my eye. I was entranced by the whimsical Jerry Goldsmith score and the strong family vibe it gave off with the cute lovable kids. I just stood quietly behind the couch and watched it.
The only other horror film I had seen up until this point was Evil Dead 2. And even at age 3, I was bored and annoyed at its sophomoric humor. So I had never really seen a horror movie. But I was proud of myself for being able to handle it. I didn't have to cover my eyes. Never screamed once. And even managed to sneak away unnoticed just before the very laughable final scene. I lied in bed thinking about what I just saw and how awesome it was. It wasn't scary at all. Monsters were just as awesome as I had built them up to be in my mind. Maybe I could even be their friends? I drifted off.
My unconscious had a very different plan for me. You know the part in the movie where the little boy is cleaning his braces, and then mystically those braces animate? You know, they take over and cover his body and then baracade him to the ceiling only revealing terrified tiny child eyes? Well that metal/human blob was a monster in my nightmare. And then the monster survived my nightmare and moved into both my bedroom closet and under my bed. It would slither across my room creating a kind of oozy metallic scratching, that I'm pretty sure began my nightly teeth grinding. One night I was sure this thing was on top of my body, but screaming for my Mom miraculously made it retreat.
I can't watch this movie without feeling palpable nostalgia. I can even remember those first dreams. It is the foundation for my love of horror and for being scared. And every once in a while, The Braces Monster will come back and haunt one of my dreams. Only now I'm not afraid. I just want to be his friend.