By Kevin McCabe
What movie had the biggest impact on me?
Whether it’s movies, music, art, or writing, it’s an almost impossible task for me to choose a favorite or the most influential. I have been losing myself in these media since the late 70’s when I was about five years old. One of my greatest pleasures is to see how creative someone else can be. So, to make this topic simpler for myself, I’m borrowing the same format of questioning I recently read in Entertainment Weekly in an interview with Emma Stone. Let’s hope my answers are different than a 23-year-old actress.
The first movie I remember watching: The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975). Back before cineplexes, multiplexes, mega-theatres, etc., there were small town theatres with one or two screens. My home town had one and I loved going there with my family. I can almost remember driving there in our family truckster (nod to the original Vacation, another personal classic) and sitting in a room that had 50-60 seats. I’m not going to lament about the low cost of the ticket, but I know the candy and popcorn were still reasonable for those days.
The first movie I watched at a drive-in: The Black Hole (1979). It was an RKO drive-in where you’d pay one price for a car stuffed with kids. This was the first film that scared me and made me cry, for different reasons. That night I was crying and couldn’t sleep because the robot V.I.N.CENT. died in the movie, and my older sister came into my room. This was the first, and last, time I can remember her being truly nice to me. Who could really blame her though, I was a younger brother.
The first R-rated movie I ever saw: Stripes (1981). I was about nine when I saw this. Don’t blame my parents though, it was during a sleepover at a friend’s house. Blame his parents. Shortly after this came the Porky’s trilogy, then Kentucky Fried Movie, followed by a plethora of B-movie softcore porn flicks. But on a serious note, to this day I love the work that Bill Murray does, whether it’s comedy or drama. If I ever went into acting, I would probably try and conjure my inner-Murray to pull off a scene.
The scariest movie I ever saw: The Shining (1980). I saw this on HBO at home at night by myself, and I loved it. To this day I compare most scary movies to this. Do they have as much suspense, drama, horror? Shortly after watching this I also saw The Making of the Shining, and that documentary had an even bigger impact. Now I could see anything and it really didn’t SCARE me. I would see Freddie’s signature hands and wonder how the make-up artists constructed them. I could watch The Exorcist and laugh when Linda Blair vomits all over the priest. Sure they still scared me sometimes, or made me gasp, or spill a little popcorn when I jumped in fright. But it stayed in the theatre or on my couch. I never took those moments into my dreams. I wish there were more horror movies like The Shining. Today it’s all about gore.
I guess it worked. Without trying I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to these films. They really have made me partially who I am. I love going to the movies and escaping into the minds of the director and the actors. The sense of peace and joy it brings me stems from my adolescence and the great times I had with my family. Before this exercise I also didn’t really know why my two favorite genres were comedy and horror.
Now if you ask me this same question in another ten years, I’m sure it will have something to do with parenting or children growing up. I honestly believe that each day brings us new experiences that change us, hopefully for the better. And it’s not until we look back far enough that we can see just how much we’ve been impacted.
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