My friend Laura posted a funny question on Facebook today: what movie scared you to death when you were a kid? The answers were wide-ranging and often funny, because what's scary to one person isn't always scary to another (i.e. someone said Beetlejuice, which is a movie I inexplicably loved and watched multiple times growing up). And sometimes what's scary just makes no sense at all, as evidenced by our Clue-tastrophe in December 2013. Which, by the way, both Gracie and Bridget will use as their answer to this question when a friend poses it to them in 20 years.
It took me exactly .01 seconds to determine my answer to this question: hands down, The Day After. It was a made-for-TV movie that I watched in third grade (why, parents, why?!) that scarred me for life. LIFE, I TELL YOU. The gist was horrifying: the USSR launched a nuclear missile attack on the U.S., everyone's car mysteriously stopped on the interstates and highways just before impact, then everyone was zapped so you could see their skeletons and whoever didn't die immediately died a slow, terrible death from radiation sickness. I can still see the zapping skeletons walking down the street, and despite the fact that Matt assures me the car bit would never happen in the event of a nuclear strike, I still live in low-level fear of all the cars around me abruptly losing power. ZAP.
Aside: it is all kinds of ironic that I married a missileer, whose primary job in the Air Force is to mind the nuclear weapons.
As I was thinking about this horrifying chapter in my movie-watching history, I googled The Day After to see if it existed somehow on the internet. And then I found this article from the Washington Post, which made me screech to a halt:
What!??? THIS SCARRED OTHER PEOPLE TOO???
I have not watched The Americans but I think I might need to now. And the author of the article? He is older than me, but he gets it. It not only was a scary movie, it mirrored a scary time in which people like me really did worry about impending nuclear holocaust (at least some of the time). I don't think I will take the suggestion to relive it on YouTube, but I feel strangely comforted that there might be other people out there who get a little panicky when a car stalls nearby. Give me Beetlejuice anyday. Heh.