website, blog and vanity nexus of writer R F Brown

Posts tagged ‘halloween’

The 10 Most Famous Ghosts Of All Eternity

Another scientifically surveyed Halloween countdown.  This time 10 ghost who really make the afterlife special.

link: Top 10 Most Famous Ghosts | LiveScience.

La Vampire Boheme

The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club. Track down today’s movie and post your comments.   Good?  Lame?  Scary?  Not scary?  Bring it.


Today’s recommended feature is:

Let Me In (2010, d. Matt Reeves)


I think it’s bad that vampires have lost their pseudo-European offbeatness.  Dracula was a genuine weirdo who slept all day in a creeky coffin.  The Count on Sesame Street suffers from a common manifestation of OCD, uncontrollably counting things, and yet he is never compelled to clean his cobweb quilted castle.   Lestat and Louis from Interview With A Vampire want the same legal rights afforded to corporeal couples, but they also want to live as artists in The French Quarter and raise their immortal daughter on human flesh.  Now, because of Buffy, Twilight and oodles of copy-bats,  vampires have become all vamp and no bite.  They drive Volvos and wear Burberry.  I understand Twlight’s hip Cullen kids are frequently spotted living-it-up at Seattle Marriner’s night games (although they are invisible on the Diamond Vision screen).  Maybe all that is why it seemed relevant to the fillmakers of Let Me In to set it in suburban New Mexico, early 1980’s.  Perhaps they wanted to construct a feeling  of innocence and nostalgia.  Maybe they wanted to take us back to a time when vampirin’ wasn’t cool.

 

"Is that dress a Vivienne Westwood?" - Let Me In

 

12 year old Owen’s nerdy kidness will be familiar to all because we all knew one or were one like him.  His hair is greasy.   He looks permanently sewn in to his oversize, dirty, fake-fur parka. He’s smaller than his classmates and frequently the object of ridicule and pummelings on behalf of a trio of school bullies.  Owen and his single mother live in a rundown apartment complex.  He has little to do but spy on his neighbors through a toy telescope.  One snowy, winter evening Owen watches a barefoot girl, about his age, moving her box of possessions into the unit next door with the help of an unkempt, middle-aged man. Slowly, over several night time encounters in the apartment courtyard, the girl, Abby, starts up an awkward friendship and juvenile romance with Owen, over the objections of the man.  Owen begins to figure out that Abby is not what she appears to be but rather an ageless vampire in the body of a twelve year old.  The unkempt man  is not Abby’s father either, but rather her longtime mortal consort, dating back to his own childhood.  His duty is to look after Abby by going about the murders of young men.  He collects their blood in a plastic bottle and keep his vampire mistress fed.  Eventually the man’s nocturnal activities are accidentally exposed.  He dies and  the trail of murders leads back to the apartment.  Abby must move on,  although she helps Owen in a final violent showdown with the school bullies.

 

Let The Right One In - these sweaters were more Dale Of Norway

 

 

Let Me In is a loyal remake of the sucessful Swedish movie Let The Right One In from 2008.  In terms of story and tone the two movies are nearly idential and both are great, although I think the American remake offers some important improvements.  I find the child actors in the American remake to better actors, and there is a more convincing, eerie chemistry between them.  Also, the Swedish version employs an ill fitting sub-plot about a group of local alcoholics who are both victims of the vampire misdeeds and the source of public exposure.  In Let Me In, that group is swaped out completely for a gritty homicide detective who is putting together the clues of the murders.  This makes it more crime-thriller.  Also, the American version of this movie folds in an interesting homoerotic subtext that brings some texture not present in the first version.  Owen is confused about his male image, particularly in his associations with the bullies, whose taunt him as a wimp and call him “little girl.”   Abby is confused with her feelings toward Owen, saying that she is neither a girl nor or boy.  And the man stalks active young men for Abby, when more yielding victims could be easier prey.

A mild objection I have is over the choice of setting for Let Me In.  It makes sense to me that vampires who burn up in sunlight travel to long Swedish winters where they might not even see sunlight for a few months out of the year.   Los Alimos, New Mexico averages 310 days of sunshine a year.  Look it up.

Both movies succeed in telling a compelling and sad story that leaves fascinating mysteries to the imagination.  Why does the man object to the children’s friendship?  He may be acting like a  jealous lover or he could be protecting Owen from Abby and the circumstance that befell his own youth.  Does the middle-aged man risk the danger in murdering young men because that’s what Abby prefers, or is he acting out on some projected self-loathing, or even sexual frustration?   Does Abby really love Owen or is she killing him softly, selfishly grooming him to become her new life paramour?   The viewers are challenged with these unanswered questions and by the  morality in our sympathy toward Abby.  She is a pretty, 12 year old girl, who is also a human predator.  Yet, her station is to live forever, from consort to consort, in an unforgiving existential transience – a shattered, improverished eternity.  The Cullen’s are Whole Foods.  Abby will always be strictly whole blood.


Let The Right One In (2008, d. Thomas Alfredson)

More Fun Halloween Hits: Classic Teen Death Ditties

In the early 60’s there was a fad in Top-40 music for story songs in which teenage characters die.  A car crash with a weird moral ending was almost a guaranteed hit.  Blogger Robert Fontenot lists some of these songs at the link:

link:  Teen Tragedy – The Fifties and Sixties.

Here are a couple of videos with performances from this list.

Halloween Hit Songs

A link to blogger Robert Fontenot’s list of the Top 10 Halloween hits.

link:  The Top 10 Halloween Oldies.

Also, Youtube vids for 3 of the songs:

BSD Halloween Movie Club: Amityville II, The Possession

The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club.

Watch today’s movie and posts your comments.   Good?  Lame?  Scary?  Not scary?  Bring it.


Today’s recommended feature is:

Amityville II: The Possession (1982, d. Damiano Damiani)

If you’re a fan of the original Amityville Horror movie from 1979 or the 2005 remake, this sequel is the prequel.  If you’ve never seen The Amityville Horror, this one works as a stand alone as well.  The first Amityville Horror was based on the  terrors of the Lutz family who moved into the Long Island, pumpkin-eye windowed, Dutch Colonial house unaware that it had recently been the site of the grizzly Defeo family murders.  Amityville Possesssion is drawn from the story of the Defeos, although there isn’t any reference to the Lutz incidents and there’s no indication in the script or art direction of time setting.  The real Lutz incident is to have taken place in 1975; the preceding Defeo murders in 1973.

Standing in for the Defeo’s are the fictional Montelli’s, who also purchase the Amityville house for a dime and soon become the surprised victims of it’s aggressive behavior.  Then the teenage son is overtaken by a demon and goes on a shooting rampage inside the house.  A family priest feels responsible for not trying hard enough to save the family.  The priest kidnaps the teenager from police custody and takes him back to the house to perform an unauthorized exorcism, a dramatic showdown between good and evil.

Amityville Possession is a paint-by-number haunted house movie, another in a long list of The Exorcist copycats, and you don’t need a degree in psychology to break down the obvious metaphor between evil spirits and sexual temptation.  However, they did a great job with scary effects and sound.  Also,  there are some big surprises in the last third of the movie that all happen after family is murdered.

If you want to watch The Amityville Horror before or after, the 2005 version is an excellent remake, made almost beat-for-beat, accept for the ending.  I prefer the 1979 version because the filmmaking is grittier. Rod Steiger is great as the family priest and James Brolin is a slow-boiling kettle of phycho.

There are a also a bunch of Amityville sequels I haven’t seen.  Some apparently continue the story of the house, some are just sponging from the name.  A guy buys a stapler from the Amityville house estate sale and now his office is haunted sort of thing:

Amityville 3D: The Demon (1983)

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)

The Amityville Curse (1990)

Amityville: It’s About Time (1992)

Amityville: A New Generation (1993)

Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

Feel free to comment on this post if you know any of these to be good.

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The Amityville Horror (1979, d. Stuart Rosenberg)

The Amityville Horror (2005, d. Andrew Douglas)

BSD Halloween Movie Club: "Let's Scare Jessica To Death"

The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club. Track down today’s movie and post your comments.   Good?  Lame?  Scary?  Not scary?  Bring it.


 

Today’s recommended feature is:

Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971, d. John D. Hancock)


When I was a a hyperactive kid in the early 1980’s one of the local tv channels ran a packaged, late-night movie show every Friday called “Shock Theater.”  I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking in allowing me to stay up for it, especially because I was already such a fraidy-cat spaz.  I’ve gone back to some of the movies from that show that I recall really freaking me out.  Some don’t hold up to adult discernment, Let’s Scare Jessica does.

Jessica has just been released from a 6 month stay in a New York City mental hospital.  Her devoted husband, Duncan, cashed in their savings to buy a bucolic farm house and abandon orchard in the hope of building a more tranquil life for Jessica.  Upon arriving at the house, they find Emily, a squatter who says she’s been living in the old house “for a long time.”  Being groovy people, the couple invite Emily to stay on with them.  Not being what she appears to be, Emily begins to discretely terrorize the already nervous Jessica and seduce Duncan.  When Jessica starts to wig-out, and grows unable to separate reality from illusion, Duncan goes to a nearby town to find help.  But the townspeople are hiding a dark secret about Emily and the old farm house. When Duncan doesn’t return, Jessica must fight for her sanity and her life.  Who is Emily?  Is Emily really even there or is Jessica going mad again?

Let’s Scare Jessica is from a period of independent filmmaking in the 60’s and 70’s, between the campy creature features and horror cinema’s exasperating decline into vulgar, repetitive slasher sequels.  In that era, filmmakers combined novel stories of demonic possessions and the occult with stark, European inspired neo-realism.  Let’s scare Jessica is brilliantly stark, moody, non-professionally cast, and actually scary.

BTW, listen for awesome sound effects work in the movie.  Sometimes what you hear is freakier than what you can see.

P.S.  I can’t find any information about “Shock Theater.”  I always that it was put together by the local station in my home town but am told that it may have been a syndicated service.  It was on in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Let me know if you remember it and what your favorites were.