Friday, November 06, 2015

fright nights

Last month I indulged my love of scary movies and held my own, informal spook-a-thon. I am more a fan of atmosphere and dread than blood and gore, which is why the majority of films are more ghostly than violent in nature. Here's a rundown of my top picks:

Crimson Peak. (Creepy and gorgeous).

The Last Man on Earth. I wanted to see if I'd like this Vincent Price classic, based on the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend (which also gave birth to The Omega Man and Will Smith's I Am Legend). I did. Black and white and eerie zombie/vampires are as creepy as ever.

The Conjuring, The Enfield Haunting, and The Quiet Ones. Haunted houses and possessed kids. All movies had great casts and were OK, if you're in the mood for a haunting. But I had more fun finally reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. What a great, unsettling read.

The House at the End of the Street. Jennifer Lawrence is the reason to watch this teen-Psycho movie. It's too predictable to really be fun or scary, I'm afraid.

Scarlet Johanssenn's tour-de-force in Under the Skin. What a wonderfully icky movie. Almost a silent picture, with some times lush, sometimes gritty visuals. And a perfectly haunting soundtrack. A definite successor to The Man Who Fell to Earth, I can't recommend this spooky sci-fi/monster mash highly enough. It's hypnotic, sometimes hard to see and always hard to understand. I loved it.

"Need a lift?"

Scarlet Johansson, on the beach, in one of the most chilling scenes in Under the Skin.

Friday, October 23, 2015

crimson peak: gothic, romance, creepy, lush, wonderful ...

Film is a visual medium. Not every movie takes that feature to the absolute, ultimate limit, but Guillermo del Toro's latest, Crimson Peak, does. And then some. Del Toro loves movies and pop culture, and there are film and literary references galore: Hammer horror, Vincent Price and Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe-based films, Alfred Hitchcock's version of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, Henry James and The Turn of the Screw, and even earlier del Toro films like Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy.

Crimson Peak is a gothic romance, with a whisper-thin plot and twists that even the most unobservant viewer should spot coming a long way away. But none of that matters. The movie is a feast for the eyes — from gorgeous set design to costumes to actors to effects. Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the film is that for a ghost movie, the spirits are maybe the least impactful aspect of the story. They may try to guide the heroine Edith to discover hidden secrets and horrors, but it is her own bravery, intelligence, and capacity to love that carries her through.

A quick word about the gore. I'm no fan of excess blood and violence and how it seems to be de riguer for our best films and television of late, but that is a topic for another time. I steeled myself to wade through buckets of blood in Crimson Peak, and I was surprised by how the violence was depicted. I won't lie — the blood definitely flows — but the violence is rapid, brutal, and serves the story. I didn't enjoy it, and have to admit to covering my eyes and looking away a few times, but it was, considering the rest of the film's visual excess, fairly contained. And more horrific when it happened. Del Toro has said in interviews that he wanted to serve up not a horror film, but a gothic romance, for adults. He did. And a creepy, beautiful one.

You can't blame aspiring author Edith (Mia Wasikowska). Who wouldn't fall for the charming Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston)?

Oh darling, did I forget to mention I live in one of the spookiest homes in England?

And have you met my sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain)?

Friday, October 02, 2015

waking up at the nursing home ...

When I arrived, Mom was sleeping soundly.


Victor Mature and Betty Grable were the feature item, in "I Wake Up Screaming."



It's film noir, so Elisha Cook, Jr. was on hand too, of course.


Happily, Mom woke up smiling : )


And it was smiles all around.


Monday, September 07, 2015

treat yo self

It's September, birthday month, so my mantra for the month is three little words ...