Andy surprised me this year for Halloween. He strategically arranged our Netflix queue to dole out a steady stream of carefully chosen spooky movies throughout the entire month of October. This man loves me.
After three years of co-habitation, he’s gotten used to the fact that one of my Halloween rituals is pacing up and down the Horror aisle at Blockbuster (yes, I’m still guilty for patronizing The Man) searching, more often than not in vain, for a film that has a sufficient balance of intelligence, artistic expertise and benign fright. No torture-porn allowed. That craze escapes me. Invariably I end up settling for something that’s either new-to-me and disappointing, or familiar and merely tolerable – because by Halloween weekend, all the classics are nabbed already.
A few weeks ago, when “The Host” arrived in our mailbox, I immediately realized that Andy had treated me to a good old-fashioned spooky movie festival of my very own. He’s the one person I trust to choose my motion pictures. This man reads more than anyone I know. He reads the AP wires daily. He’s on top of what’s going on in the world, and he also knows where to find credible reviews on whatever TV & filmmakers are churning out. So while you may be thinking, “’The Host’? Isn’t that the one with subtitles about a giant sea monster set in some Asian country?” Andy knew that it had also been called, “a humane and tragic view of life worthy of the greatest films.”
I found it delightful – and a great start to Scare Fest ’07.Shortly thereafter came “1408”, rented only because of our undying affection for John Cusack.
“The Hunger,” (the live action version of a Nagel print) came next. Twelve minutes in, we unanimously dubbed it “like thumbing through a photo book while listening to music,” and sealed it back up in its mailer pouch without a second thought.
Much more satisfying was “Angel Heart” – another photo book – but this one came with fine acting and a killer plot. Andy has recently waxed poetic about the artistic merits of this gem, and while I agree with him (and hold a guest spot open on this blog so that I can share his musings with you) I’ll keep my comments on the more superficial and sentimental side. Simply put: We miss Mickey Rourke!
I’m sure I’m the seven hundredth person to make this observation — so ironic that the best film he ever made is about a failed attempt at a second chance. And more commonly observed — is it possible for someone to put his face back the way it was? P.S. remember the Lisa Bonet controversy? Poor chicken. Good times.
Which brings me to last night’s selection, “Poltergeist.” At 12, 17, even 23, I watched this movie from the point of view of the children. But last night, coming from the other side of the generational divide, I was moved in a new way. When Tangina-O.G. (The Original Ghostbuster) is trying to make contact with Carol Anne, she asks the parents, “Which one of you is she more afraid of?” Tangina prompts the dad to threaten Carol Anne. Craig T. Nelson plays the scene beautifully—there’s palpable internal conflict. We see a father’s desperation to have his daughter back safely along with the pain of being forced to lie that he’s angry with her. Knife through the sternum—Spielberg strikes again.
When is someone going to cast JoBeth Willams and Christine Lahti as sisters?
After “Poltergeist,” we started “Ghost Story.” Yawn. Might try it again today and see if I can stay awake.
Tonight’s selection is “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.” I can’t remember whether or not I’ve seen this one before. I’m hoping it’s light on the gore. Back in 1985 or ’86 when I was finally old enough to see Freddy # 1, I was absolutely wooed by the fresh premise.
Nowadays, I’m too faint of heart to give it a revisit. Still, it’ll remain emblematic for me. I’ll continue to long for the next Elm-Street-like-revival to the genre. I’m aware we’ve been treated to injections of originality with The Blair Witch and various J-Horror influences. But for the most part, the evolution of The Horror Movie hasn’t pleased me: ix-Nay on the aw-Say.
Halloween Night itself is rapidly approaching. Dear Andy left that slate blank for my choosing. I’m going to take a walk down The Aisle over at The Man’s today & see what pops out at me. If nothing new & risky strikes my fancy, I’ll settle in with “The Others” (PG-13 for Perfectly Gentle). Or perhaps the eternally life affirming “Shaun of the Dead.”
God bless Simon & Edgar!
Happy Halloween, everyone.