Musings in the Dark: The Midnight Hour


The Midnight Hour

Halloween 1987:  ABC broadcasted a made-for-TV movie called “The Midnight Hour.”  It first aired in 1985, but I never saw it until the aforementioned time.  I was a prepubescent middle-schooler and thrilled at the prospect of anything Halloween- and horror-related coming on TV.

The movie starred gorgeous Shari Belafonte and the lovely Jonelle Allen and it’s about a bunch of teens who fucked around with some sort of ancient curse and woke up the dead.  Story-wise, it’s so-so. Meh.  Why I’m even bothering to mention it is because of this:

Seen here:  The best vampire bite ever.  EVER.   It is violent, it is sexy, and the wine acting in lieu of the blood ABC couldn't show is absolute perfection.  Dracula himself couldn’t pull off this level of intensity.

This is, as far as I’m concerned, the best part of the entire movie and it played a defining role in my development as a writer.  I watched it, wide-eyed, gobsmacked, unable to process how fast my mind and my neophyte Muse were absorbing the images and the music.  I never forgot this scene.  Never.  Not ever, and decades have passed with this scene still crystal and pristine in my mind.

The accompanying song is The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” but at the time, I had no clue as to its title or who sang it.  But it haunted me; it dug into my subconscious and took up permanent residence.  It surfaced time and again, and it is a song that has been used often since its release in 1985.

I came of age in a time before there was the Internet, YouTube, music sharing, alladat stuff that kids today take for granted.  I grew up in a time where there were such places called record stores and the people who usually worked there were well-versed in music.  Over the years, I searched high and low for that song in various record stores, and to be honest, I know I had to sound like a complete dweeb to the clerks.

“I’m looking for a song that was in a movie I saw on TV in 1987.”

“What’s the name of it?”

“Don’t know.”

“Who sings it?”

“Don’t know.”

“Can you sing it?”

I couldn’t even hum it.  All I could offer was the chorus, and I couldn’t even get that right.  Needless to say, I left with my hands empty and my heart in my stomach each time.  My friends thought I was nuts.

Fast-forward to the newborn millennium, the Internet, infantile search engines and Napster.  I typed in the chorus and the song popped up under the erroneous title “I am Human,” but the group’s name was correct. 

I won’t lie; the anticipation had my hands sweaty.  When I sampled it to make sure it was what I wanted, I cannot express the deep, pure joy I felt when that haunting guitar riff filled my ears.  Immediately I was transported back 14 years, back into the body of that skinny four-eyed gangly pigtailed mesmerized nerd, staring at the TV screen in a daze.  I saw Shari, who was searching for a bottle of wine in a dusty wine cellar and I saw Jonelle as the beautiful vampire thirsting for her blood.

I listened to the song over and over and over…you can probably imagine my mother becoming absolutely sick of hearing it, but fucks to give I didn’t have.  All I knew was that deep, dark part of my paleocortex from where the Muse draws her power and influence was satisfied.  Deeply satisfied.  I have written so many damn stories while that song played in mind and in reality…and always, the images of Jonelle drinking Shari’s blood accompanied it.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I even knew the correct name of the track. 

The point of the above is this:  There is nothing more corruptible, more influential (save an idea) than a very powerful memory, as far as I’m concerned.  A lot of Stephen King’s work is driven by his memories of particular experiences he had as a child, or memories of the effects certain events had on him.  (Source: Danse Macabre)  

As far as my own creative efforts, there are few events, people, or occasions that have had as magnetic an effect on them as that scene.  The only other experience that comes (damned) close is hearing the remix of Massive Attack’s “Dissolved Girl” in the Bruce Willis assassin flick The Jackal.  I wasn’t a teenage girl when I first heard it and there wasn't an accompanying scene to go with it, but it was no less influential.

I can’t say with too much certainty that I’ve experienced anything like the above since “Dissolved Girl,” and I don’t know if I’m sad about it.  The things that influence the Muse; the thing that commands me to tell the stories I tell have a direct link to that wine cellar scene.

Powerful memories are powerful.

If you want to see the entire movie, it's available on YouTube.  God bless the Internet.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Please be sure to leave a name; I like to know who I am talking to.