Sunday, June 26, 2022

This Time it's Personal by B. Harrison Smith, Yes it is

The summer of '81 saw me getting ready for my senior year at Newton South High School.  I had two loves...the Boston Red Sox and horror films.  Was scared of girls and had never dated back then.  The 'Sox and slasher films were all I needed.  Then apocalypse!  Major League Baseball entered in an elongated strike.  Even worse, America was pre-occupied with the two English dweebs, Charles and Diana and their forthcoming wedding (gag me with a spoon!).  Now I just had was gone.  Remember, this was the summer of '81...what a summer this would be.  A unique story about growing up?  I thought so.  WRONG!!!  Other's have had similar experiences.  Who knew?  Today we look at B. Harrison Smith's, This Time it's Personal.

Enough about me.  Horror film director B. Harrison Smith tells a similar story.  In his auto-biographical type book, his story helps me realize what happened to me, many decades ago.  Dealing with "shit" and being a kid, then a teen, Mr. Smith is brutally honest about himself and what sent him into adulthood...and it all centers, in this book, on his companion...horror films.  Ph. Ds would look at Smith and his childhood years (and mine, too) and project him (us) as serial killers, or school shooters in the making.  Don't even bring up Tipper Gore to me.  Guess what...violence of any kind just was not in us.  Surprise.  A theme that Mr. Smith comes back to often in this volume is something his grandmother, Cloris Leachman (not really, but you'll see) told paraphrase, you don't need to fear the dead (vampires and ghosts)...fear the living.

This is not a selfish book.  If you are not into coming of age stuff, fear not.  It is also a love letter to some great horror that guided us through our kiddie and adolescent years...and beyond.  You were not the only one to be horrified at "Let's Scare Jessica to Death," or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."  You weren't the only one to have imaginary girlfriends taken from early 80s scream queens (mine was Rebecca Balding, "The Boogens.").  Mr. Smith gives us permission to realize we weren't as weird as we thought.  We weren't stunted by our horror mania.  We weren't destined to be deviants.  Horror was a protector, we know that now.  It gave us hot girlfriends, even though they were imaginary.  They inspired us to fight evil.  They inspired us to independent thought.  Horror made it easier for us to see the bullshit even when everyone else was buying into it.

This Time it's Personal is so much more than what I have written above.  It brought me back to my most awkward days when I snuck into The Saxon theater in Boston to see "Blood Beach."  Now I realize this was a time to treasure and look back on with fondness...not shame or guilt.  Read this B. Harrison Smith book...and you will see what I mean.  Mr. Smith, even though you may never meet him, will be your new best buddy.  When your friends extol the virtues of 1980s movies like "Ordinary People," and you desperately want to answer with your experience with "The Burning" and the crush you had on Leah Ayres...that little voice you hear whispering "It's okay...go ahead...tell them," will be B. Harrison Smith's.

To order This Time it's Personal on Amazon, click on this link This Time It's Personal 


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