Monday, September 29, 2008
It Happened At Lakewood Manor
The 1977 made-for-TV eco-chiller It Happened at Lakewood Manor lingers on in my memory as the only horror movie of my childhood that I was too afraid to watch. There were plenty of horror movies back then that I watched from between my fingers or from a strategic position behind my stepdad's recliner but IHALM - about a resort spot overrun by killer ants - was the only one that I avoided altogether.
Why this, of all movies? I don't know - maybe it was the fact that I had been so traumatized earlier that year by Empire of the Ants (the first horror movie I had seen in the theaters). But when I saw the ad in the TV Guide for IHALM, I knew I couldn't subject myself to it. Just from the ad (I wish I could recall the details of it now), it looked far too scary to me. Whatever happened at Lakewood Manor was something I didn't care to know about.
To recall my crippling fear of IHALM thirty-one years later makes me nostalgic for a time when even the blandest efforts of network TV were too much for me to handle. Another eight years after giving the ants of Lakewood Manor a wide berth, I'd already be familar with the most graphic films my local video stores had to offer, scouring their shelves for titles like Cannibal Ferox - and with them, all the impalings, decapitations, castrations, and disembowelments that my parent's VCR could hold.
But at one point in my horror-loving life, I was too scared to watch a TV movie where a cast of B-listers (including Bradford Dillman, Lynda Day George, Robert Foxworth, Bernie Casey, and Suzanne Somers) were attacked by ants. I have to wonder sometimes what my eight-year-old self would think of the films I've subjected myself to since. I probably wouldn't have believed it'd be possible for anyone to make such movies (in 1977, I was still ignorant of the existence of such notorious films as Blood Feast and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
A quick look at Amazon.com tells me that IHALM is available on DVD (under its alternate title of Ants) for less than six bucks so if I wanted to I could easily seek it out at any time. But it's not the movie that I feel I'm still missing out on. What I miss is being able to be scared over nothing - when my imagination did all the work for me.