Thursday, October 18, 2018

Riske Business: Horror University

by Adam Riske
Horror movie-related memories from my college days.

Hannibal (2001)

During my freshman year, I met a sophomore at a rush party and asked her out. Our second date was going on opening day to see Hannibal. It was her idea, which I thought was pretty badass. The whole movie I was trying to decide when to make a move. Hannibal didn’t help. Mason Verger is a mood killer. We didn’t have a third date.

The Others (2001)
I had a friend in my frat named Jeff who I used to watch movies with. He had terrible ideas (like eating shrooms or recruiting people to forego winter break to work at the Indianapolis airport doing…things?), but he was a very nice guy. One day he called me in and said, “Do you want to see The Others?” I said “Sure, when do you want to go to the theater?” He giggled and said, “I downloaded it!” I got very uncomfortable watching this hot copy. I made it about 30 minutes before the fear of going to prison overwhelmed me and I stopped watching. It didn’t help that I was watching it for the first time with Jeff and his roommate Scott sitting next to me providing commentary like “Watch this part. It’s so stupid!” or when Scott started chanting “Stinky Pinky,” which was his explanation why everyone in the house was afraid of the ghosts. I didn’t end up watching The Others in its entirety until last October. I liked it. Also, don’t join a fraternity.

Jeepers Creepers (2001)/Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

Until I found out about the filmmaker behind it, I was a huge fan of the original Jeepers Creepers. It’s such a bummer that I can’t watch it anymore without feeling enormous guilt. I saw the original at the College Mall Cinema (which was second-run) and was blown away, especially by the ending. I went to see Jeepers Creepers 2 with my roommate Tim a couple of years later during its first-run. We went to a 9:30 pm show on a weekday and were the only two people in the theater. I thought this was weird because it was on two screens with another show...also at 9:30pm! Halfway through the movie, Tim and I were bored, and I asked him “Do you think anyone is in the other theater?” The rest of the screening(s) consisted of us going back and forth from theater to theater as we watched both screenings of Jeepers Creepers 2 simultaneously and usually alone. I’m constantly tempted to buy the Scream Factory Blu-ray of Jeepers Creepers, but I feel like it’s a test of my integrity and I don’t.

Bones (2001)
After I saw the poster for Bones, I was all in. The cherry on top was the film was directed by Demon Knight’s Ernest Dickerson. I couldn’t have been more excited to it on opening night. As the day approached I noticed the showtimes for my local theaters didn’t include Bones. Surely, this would change I thought. It didn’t. How can a college campus not get the new horror movie starring Snoop Dogg? I was devastated. My friend Josh said “Well, where’s the closest place it’s playing?” I said “Indianapolis,” (which was about 60 minutes away and I didn’t have a car) and he goes “We’re leaving at 7:30 for the 9:30pm show.” Dude was my hero. I said “Better make it 7. In case it sells out.” We got to the theater (maybe five people were in attendance), the movie was not good at all, and we drove all the way back to campus sometimes silent and sometimes incredulous at how big of a miss Bones was.

The Ring (2002)

I saw The Ring with my college girlfriend who liked mainstream PG-13 horror, but not much of the grislier stuff. She really wanted to see The Ring. We both liked it at the time (it doesn’t work on repeat viewings, imho). I remember she left her car running in the parking lot the entire movie and somehow neither of us noticed until we got back afterwards. I’m surprised her battery didn’t die. I also remember my ex used to taunt me by making her wet hair cover her face like Samara from The Ring. I didn’t like it.

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Certain movies became missions for me in college, like Bones or The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (I must have watched that trailer fifty times over a one-week period). Bubba Ho-Tep, though, was the ultimate and a movie I still adore to this day. Like Bones, the closest place it played was in Indianapolis, this time at a run-down, two-screen art theater. The other movie, I remember, was Israeli. I went with Josh and the trip was a real trek, but very memorable and worth it. We went to a cafeteria style Jewish deli afterwards, which I remember being a prerequisite for him agreeing to drive over an hour to roll the dice on another horror movie with me. An absolutely perfect night.

Cabin Fever (2003)

I saw Cabin Fever alone on a beautiful fall afternoon during its opening weekend. Within five minutes, I regretted that decision. Cabin Fever needed to be seen with friends. I sat there loving the movie, but also dying inside knowing that nobody would understand Deputy Winston without seeing him for themselves. I dragged my friend Tim (of Jeepers Creepers 2 fame) to see Cabin Fever with me a second time. Tim and I still talked for years post-graduation. Fifty percent of our conversation was usually one of us talking about the Party Man being top priority and how the people up in Wambusau don’t know what we’re all about.

Van Helsing (2004)
This was one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my entire life for many reasons. First, Van Helsing is a terrible movie and, even worse, a missed opportunity. Second, my ex (who was in town that weekend for my college graduation) and I were in the process of breaking up in real time in front of my family for two days. Third, a member of my family started getting a pain in their side during the movie and had to go to the hospital afterwards. While at the hospital, my ex blamed me for taking her to the hospital because she said she could overhear someone dying and that it was going to scar her for life. What a shitty way to end college. It was pure horror.

Your turn! Leave your amusing college (or non-college) horror moviegoing memories in the comments below.


  1. The shining (1980)
    Freshman at college, The student body was holding a horror film festival. My girlfriend at the time and I checked it out and this provided my first viewing of the shining. It absolutely blew me away, I sat there astounded during credits. My girlfriend, however, left deeply disturbed by the experience. She claimed that there must be something WRONG with anyone who would enjoy the macabre and nastiness of the shining.

    Our relationship did not last. Later in life, My wife and I actually got married in the notorious Shining hotel, The Stanley in Estes Park,
    Colorado. So now watching the shining together takes us back to that wonderful time.

    From breaking up a college romance to binding my marriage together, the shining has had a profound effect on my life. It's the most influential film of my life and remains one of my favorite.

    1. That's awesome. Thanks for sharing. The Shining is fantastic.

  2. Howdy, ma'am. Everything's Fine. Just go back inside, have yourself a big 40... just party.

  3. I bought the Scream Factory Jeepers Creepers after debating it for months, and have regretted it ever since. It’s currently sitting in a cupboard along with other regrettable purchase like Sucker Punch and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

    This isn’t college, but I saw The Ring 2 with a high school girlfriend and after it was over she looked me right in the eyes and said, “That’s my new favourite horror movie.” It was the lowest moment in our relationship by FAR.

    1. I'm actually relieved by your Jeepers Creepers story. I have now learned from your experience.

      The Ring 2 is one of the two movies I remember seeing opening night that got loudly booed as the end credits rolled.

    2. holy motherf***, i didn't know about the director. i've never watched those movies, i don't think i ever will now

      i'm not sure i agree about you other 'regrettable' purchases though

    3. I am also a Jeepers Creepers fan (I even remember enjoying the second one) that has yet to be able to buy the Blu-ray, and I'm guessing never will. I can only separate art and the artist so much.

  4. I went to see the Ring in theaters...

    I was in my second year at college, Wright State in Dayton if anyone cares. I had been working at the library and generally being my awkward, not confident self, when I noticed the girl running the circulation desk in Periodicals.
    She was strikingly beautiful, and I clumsily handed her the returned periodicals that had been left at our desk on the first floor. Our exchange was extremely brief, but being me, and still trying to get out of my shell, I decided before I left for the day that I would ask her out.
    It took me a little bit to convince myself to go through with it, but I did. After I clocked out, I went upstairs and introduced myself as the guy who had previously brought her the returns from the main circulation desk. Our brief interaction went well, so I just launched into it.
    "Would you like to go out sometime?"
    It felt like I just asked her to sit on my face, I'm such a terribly uncomfortable person when it comes to interacting with other humans. I hate this fact about myself, and at the time, I was convinced that I needed to give life, "The old college try." So, I spent a lot of time forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and this. was. big.
    To my shock and dismay, she was receptive and took my number. Yeah, I didn't even think to ask for hers, that's how cool I was.

    A week went by and nothing.
    I had come to the conclusion that she was just being nice, and that was that. No harm, no foul. At worse, a girl I would have limited interactions with in the future, thought I was awkward and weird. Which I was.
    Finally, she called and explained that she had had a bad cold, and would I still be up for that date?
    Our date was seeing The Ring.
    Throughout the film, I kept my hands to myself, and I guess was waiting for HER to make a move.
    She didn't.
    Afterward, we went to Waffle House to get hash browns and talk about the movie.
    I thought things went well, and when I dropped her off, I walked her to her room, and we talked a bit more. Mostly about movies, and Anime, which she was big into, and I didn't know much about.
    I got a hug as I left, and thought things were going great.
    Spoiler alert, we had one more date, and that was that.

    She was the only complete stranger that I have ever asked to go on a date with me. And, by the grace of god, she was lovely. It just wasn't meant to be.

    1. You do have a short-term positive memory about it though which is nice :-)

  5. 1996 - Scream - One of my best friends was a projectionist in college so a bunch of us would join him on Thursday nights when he previewed the weekend's opening films. A bunch of us showed up to watch "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" and afterwards he said he had to preview this new horror film from Wes Craven. At this point, I had pretty much given up any hope that horror would ever come back and was fine with just watching older horror films for the rest of my life. I reluctantly agreed to stay as did four or five other people. Then I went in and watched what would become one of my all time favorite films. I still remember after the opening scene, my friend turning to me and saying "Well, that didn't suck."

    1997 - Devil's Advocate - I was in L.A. with my girlfriend at the time visiting a couple of friends. We had been dating for a year at this point. After watching Devil's Advocate, she claimed that she was shocked I enjoyed it because no good Christian man could ever like filth like that. She broke up with me probably a month later. For the record, I had never claimed I was a good Christian man, and I honestly had zero clue she was religious until that night.

    1997 - Starship Troopers - Same trip to L.A. we got invited to a test screening of Troopers and I had never been to one so I went and enjoyed the hell out of it. Told all my friends how great it was and when it opened a few weeks later they all proceeded to tell me I was an idiot. Between that and the girlfriend, I did not feel great about myself in late 97. Went to watch it again thinking maybe just the press screening excitement swayed my opinion, and enjoyed it even more. Twenty years later I feel a bit justified.

    1. The story about Devil's Advocate is really funny.