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By Doug Brunell | June 17, 2004

Back in the mid-Eighties I met a guy my age who shared my love of horror movies. His name was Rick, and we would spend hours upon hours talking about horror films, comic books and music. One autumn day while over at his house I pulled my newest purchase out of my school bag and showed it to him with the kind of pride only a teenage boy can have.

My latest acquisition wasn’t a poorly dubbed copy of “Maniac” or one of those EC reprints we loved so much. Nope. I had a hockey mask, which was a strange choice in masks for me.

I hated “Friday the 13th” and all its sequels. I considered them to be inferior “Halloween” rip-offs, and I always felt that Jason Voorhees was a lame movie monster. He never scared me, and I couldn’t understand why he scared anyone else. “Halloween” ruled, however, and Michael Myers had personality. So why did I have a hockey mask if I was a “Halloween” fan?

The mask was all I could find for Halloween. I was tired of rubber monster masks, and I figured this would really creep people out. It wasn’t exactly like Voorhees’ mask (it was actually just like the one in Jack Sholder’s “Alone in the Dark”), but I knew it would do the trick.

“Cool,” Rick said. “Look what I have.”

Rick had an honest-to-God Michael Myers/William Shatner mask. To say I was jealous was an understatement, and I grew even moreso when he showed me two nasty looking machetes. Real ones. Not the plastic bullshit stores trick kids into buying. These were the real deal. Metal and deadly.

“Wanna have some fun?” he asked.

Machetes and masks that represented unstoppable serial killers are not many people’s ingredients for a fun stew. We were a different breed, though. We were bold. Fearless. Reckless. Stupid.

“You bet!” I answered.

The sun was going down as we made our way through the woods behind his house, masks on our faces and weapons in our hands. Our first stop was a house we could barely make out through the trees. As we approached it, I wondered how the guys who played these characters in the movies ever got around. I could barely see s**t, and I was sure Rick was having an even harder time.

We finally made it to the edge of the woods and stared at the house. Light shined from a bay window and spilled out onto the manicured front lawn. It was the perfect target.

“Let’s go,” Rick ordered.

We stood in front of the window for about five minutes just watching the family of three eat. Eventually, the daughter, who was about twelve, looked toward us. She must have been able to make out something because her eyes got real big real fast.

We just walked away as casually as possible. For the next half hour we walked across people’s porches and stared in their windows at them as they watched television or ate. And they were freaking!

Looking back on this, I have to say it wasn’t the smartest thing to do. We lived in the Poconos and almost every house had a gun of one sort or another — usually a shotgun. We could’ve been killed. Nobody was chasing us, however, so we felt pretty invincible, and we really were having a good time.

It was getting dark, so we decided we had to go back to Rick’s. The only problem was that we couldn’t go through the woods. It was too dark, and we didn’t have a real clear idea of what direction we needed to go to get back home.

“We’ll have to follow the road,” Rick said.

In hindsight, we should’ve taken off our masks and done something to hide the machetes. But we were reckless and stupid, remember? Besides, cars would approach, slow down and then zoom off. It was hilarious … until one car passed us, slowed down and then pulled over.

A guy’s head popped out the passenger window. He looked about two years older than us, and he was pissed. “You freaks! You’re dead!”

Then the doors to the car started to open.

“This way!” Rick yelled, pulling me into the woods.

We ran like mad, tripping over branches and doing our best not to impale ourselves on the machetes. We kept our masks on, too. We really didn’t have time to rip them off.

“There’s a quarry this way,” Rick informed me. “We’ll be safe there.”

Why Rick thought this is a mystery to me. Quarries are the one place every teenager knows about. They’re where you smoke pot, get drunk and screw. Quarries are only safe if you’re dead.

We made it to the “safety zone” out of breath and thankful to be alive … until the car full of teens came peeling around the corner.

There we were, trapped between the car’s headlights and a fifty foot drop into a shallow pool of brackish water. We kept those masks on, though. Stupid and reckless.

The car doors opened and three teens stepped out. The driver and passenger were older and bigger than us. The kid in the backseat was our age, though he looked incredibly surly.

“You think it’s funny walking around dressed like that and scaring people?” the driver asked.

We remained quiet.

“Do you? You think it’s funny to carry around knives and scare people? Take off your masks!”

Neither of us moved. We had the advantage. We were masked and carrying weapons. It obviously freaked out our adversaries. We were quickly losing that advantage, though. If we didn’t do something soon, we were screwed. But what could we do? Attack them? Maybe. We did have machetes.

“Take them off!” the other two demanded. They kept glancing at each other nervously.

We didn’t say a word. We just stood there, machetes at our side, slowly catching our breath.

“You guys are freaks,” the driver observed. “Take them off, and we won’t beat the crap out of you.”

That worked for Rick, much to my surprise. He started to pull his mask off.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“We have no choice. They won’t recognize us anyway.”

Our masks came off and our pride went straight into the quarry as the youngest of the three pointed at Rick and said, “I know you! You ride my bus!”

Rick just sighed. “You must sit in the back.”

The guy laughed. “Yeah.” He laughed some more, and then they called us “faggots.”

It would’ve been less humiliating had they beat us up instead of laughing at us. They didn’t even think we were worthy of an a*s kicking, and after a bit more ridicule, they drove off.

I looked at Rick. “This sucks for you. What are you going to do?” I didn’t tell him how thankful I was that nobody recognized me.

He shook his head. “I can’t ride the bus for a while. That’s for sure.”

We started to walk back to Rick’s house — sans masks. “I don’t think I’m going out this Halloween,” I told him. “I think I’m getting too old for it”

“Same here.”

We walked in silence for quite some time until Rick asked, “Wanna do this again?”

“Oh yeah. But let’s give it a week or so,” I replied. “That way people will forget about it before we hit them again.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Just like the real movie monsters, we never learned and were impossible to keep down. Yeah, I was a teenage Jason Voorhees, and until I got caught, beat up or — even worse — recognized, I was going to be out there scaring the s**t out of families and household pets.

We never did it again, though. Rick’s parents made him take the bus to school, and he was teased something terrible. When it came time to go back out and terrorize families, Rick voted against it, saying, “I just don’t feel like it.” I never saw his mask again.

Me? Honestly, I still do crap like that. I just do it in a more controlled environment. I usually wear a Bender mask (you know, the robot from “Futurama”) and hold a large butcher knife while staring out my window at the people on the street below. (A friend of mine saw me do that once and said it was the creepiest thing he ever witnessed.) That’s a different column, though, the one where I delve into my mental problems. And besides, “I Was a Teenage Jason Voorhees” sounds a lot cooler than “I Am a Thirty-Three-Year-Old Freak Who Wears A Bender Mask.”

Sure I have problems, but what the hell are you doing with your free time?

Discuss Doug Brunell’s “Excess Hollywood” column in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>

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