“Don’t you know what happens on Halloween?”

Halloween (1978)

    When I was around 12 years old, Star Wars became uncool.  Not to everybody, but to me.  I’d watched my VHS tapes repeatedly for years and as I was entering adolescence, what was awesome to me as a child seemed lame as I approached being a teenager.  I was still enough of a dumb ass kid to want to watch a movie over and over again, but the Star Wars trilogy was out.  What movie would satisfy my now fully mature, 12 year old tastes?  I needed something more grown up, something that the ten year old me wouldn’t have watched.  I don’t remember how exactly it happened, but that movie turned out to be the 1978 horror classic Halloween.  I had a VHS in a plastic snap-case that and I watched it a million times.  I watched Halloween at night, in the morning, on rainy days and Sundays; I watched it on Halloween, but also Christmas, July 4th, Easter and Flag Day.  I loved that movie.  It was my early teenage favorite.  There was violence, some sneaky nudity, Donald Pleasance saying “Hey, Lonnie, get your ass away from there!” and my favorite, Michael Myers bringing the hammer of vengeance down on the sweet little town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

Image

Maybe my favorite poster ever

    The movie Halloween is just so Halloween-y and so essential to the fall season.  Watching it is like hearing the crispy leaves under your shoes as you walk along the sidewalk, having a little handful of candy corn (which will happen every Halloween season ever), seeing piece of shit costumes for sale at pharmacies, and feeling that first autumn chill as you go out to your car one morning.  I love fall; it’s my favorite season, and Halloween only makes me love it more.

Image

Michael Myers is here. My advice? Hide you kids, hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your wife

    Halloween is a really good movie.  I have fondness for the many sequels, but they all fucking suck; I think Halloween II sucks especially considering that Jamie Lee Curtis is in it and it’s set on the same exact night as the first one (and speaking of that, how did the Michaels Myers mask go from scary as shit in the first one to bland shitshow in the following movie? Unbelievable.).  But don’t let those inferior followers poison the original.  It is a legit good movie.  There are long takes and music cues that would impress anybody, and the suspense is real and spine tingling.  After watching Halloween constantly for a while, I put it up and didn’t see if for quite a few years.  I didn’t watch it again until I was nearly finished with college.  What  a delight that it holds up so well.  It’s a wonderful thing when something you liked when you were younger actually turns out to be good. If you haven’t seen Halloween PLEASE take the opportunity to watch it tonight.

Advertisements

Cover Me Bad: American Gigolo

Aside

If austere and spiritual French director Robert Bresson had wanted to make a movie about a materialistic gigolo in Los Angeles in 1980, he would’ve probably come out with something like Paul Schrader’s awesome American Gigolo.  The movie is kinda like Risky Business for the grown up, art house set.  Richard Gere plays Julian, a top dollar, high class companion for hire.  He rides around in a Mercedes, wears Armani suits and speaks several languages to better serve his international clientele; he’s the very embodiment of hollow materialism and soulless professionalism.  That is until he meets one special woman and his life gets turned upside down when somebody frames him for murder.  American Gigolo is a morally complex and serious movie, but you’d never know from the piece of shit DVD cover that’s currently in print:

Image

What the fuck is this?  I can’t even buy this in the stores; it’s too embarrassing.  And trust me, I am not easily embarrassed.  I once bought an issue of Playgirl without batting an eye because the dude on the cover looked exactly like my roommate and the comedic possibilities were too great to deny.  But this?  Aw man, it’s awful, especially when compared to the badass original DVD cover:  

Image 

Simone Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

The Tenant (1976)

    Very often time and place can really enhance a movie watching experience.  Try and see Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen (like Jeremy and I did last week, yes!), watch Annie Hall with the girl you like on a third date, watch Bull Durham in the spring as baseball season is approaching, and watch scary movies at night.  The Tenant is a scary movie from 1976 about a man who moves into an old, creepy European apartment where things go bump in the night.  I watched it when I lived in Madrid in an old, just slightly creepy European apartment where things went bump in the night all the time.  It had me feeling on edge and was quite a thrill.

    Roman Polanski, who specializes in movies with a sinister touch that can pull at the pit of your stomach, directs and stars in The Tenant.  The story centers around Trelkovsky (Polanski), a man who moves into a new apartment that is recently vacant due to the previous inhabitant’s suicide.  This unsettling premise proves hard on the psyche of Trelkovsky.  It’s similar to Rosemary’s Baby; I swear that 2/3 of the way through that movie the mounting dread began to make me feel sick, like, I could feel the movie in my viscera, bro.  Rosemary’s eating that barely cooked steak, her chalky pallor, the doctor betraying her back into the clutches of the satanists, oh man, it was all so crazy.  I love that movie.  The Tenant has that similar paranoia and descent into madness theme going for it, but it’s a slightly different thing.  Satan himself isn’t having sex with any characters, so that’s a pretty big difference right there.  

Image

I believe Trelkovsky is thinking, “even my great big coat cannot save me…from myself.”

    I love a good slasher movie, but I’m not really frightened by them.  I mean, why should I be scared of somebody coming into my house?  That’s a bad situation for him, as I’m pretty big and just crazy as fuck anyway.  The Tenant, on the other hand, is the type of movie that scares me most.  The psychological dread, the weird imagery, the suspense that slowly tightens like a violin string.  I really like these movies when they’re done well.  Polanski didn’t just do it well, he pretty much cornered the market on it.  The Tenant is so good and so well-paced and dark, I couldn’t imagine another director who could do it half as superbly.

Image

Sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me

    The reason this movie sticks with me so much is that when I first saw it I could see elements of the movie’s setting all around me.  The light in the hallway that goes out after just a few seconds? We have one of those! A big huge, menacing armoire with a mirror?  There’s one in my room with me right now!  A bathroom across an interior courtyard with a thin window that I can see from my window?  Holy shit!  I have one of those too!  I better not look out there.  The similarities to my own dwelling, and its inherent foreignness and strangeness to me was only highlighted by this movie, and it enhanced the creepiness a great deal and made it an uncanny movie watching experience I’ll probably never be able to replicate.  What a fond and scary memory it is!

Three Reasons: The Music Room

Video

I’ve never seen this movie from Satyajit Ray, but after watching this, I REALLY want to. I guess that’s the point. It looks really good and I cannot wait to watch it. I mean, one of the reasons to watch this is PRIDE vs. ARROGANCE! That is so awesome. I like the music, I like the lights and the dancing, and I’m fairly certain I will love this movie. Gotta see it. Soon.

The Man of Our Dreams

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)  

    A Nightmare on Elm Street came out in 1984, the same year I was born.  I didn’t see it in theaters, because I was a baby and too stupid to understand words and pictures.  But I do remember being aware of Freddy Krueger at a very young age back in elementary school.  Every kid my age remembers him.  He was the de facto boogie man for my generation, much more so than Jason or Michael Myers.  Freddy was just easier for little kids to understand and relate to and be terrified of.  He had knives for fingers (a glove, but still), a scary face, a scary voice, and he wore the same striped sweater everywhere.  Even kids understand dreams and nightmares, so Freddy’s boogie man credentials were easy to understand: you fall asleep, and he’ll come kill you in your dream.  Jason and Michael Myers, with their silent ways and Shakespearean origin tales, were a bit more abstract.  They were scary looking, but really their slashing interests centered on sinful teenagers.  Every little kid knew the terrifying truth about Freddy Krueger, “he’s coming to get me!”

Image

Unwelcome guest: Freddy’s come to get Nancy

    1980s horror movies are as good and as bad as it gets.  I have fondness for the genre.  I love the teenage tales of the “odd girl out” fighting some monster or maniac, the never varying cast of suburban high school archetypes, and the uniformly terrible parents who never believe their kids when they say somebody’s out to get them.  This movie has all those things and it’s really very good.  My favorite scene is definitely when Nancy falls asleep in school and dreams that Tina is in the hallway in that clear body bag.  It’s a legitimately creepy and awesome scene, and I love the huge hallways of the grand old Los Angeles high school.  It seems like every teenage movie in the 80s takes place in one of these really beautiful old schools.  A Nightmare on Elm Street also has tons of unforgettable and frightening images: Freddy’s pushing through and stretching the ceiling above Nancy’s bed while she sleeps, Tina being lifted to the ceiling while Rod freaks out on the floor, Glen getting pulled into his bed and a thousand gallons of blood shooting out all over the place, the freaky tongue telephone, and the best of them all, Freddy’s glove rising terrifyingly out of the water while Nancy’s in the bathtub.

Image

This scene made baths 10x scarier than Psycho made showers.

    With the big horror franchises, the same thing always happens to the villains; they become familiar, less scary and we start to root for them.  Of course this happened to Freddy.  He is awesome!  But in the first Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy is still scary, and we want nothing more than for Nancy to get through this Nightmare in one piece.

“The horror! the horror!”

The horror movie genre is big on devotees, some people (Joel being one of the best) just LOVE horror movies.  I am not in this category, only because it takes strong genre devotion to claim it.  I like horror movies, the good ones.  I also don’t really like getting the shit scared out of me.  But, my overall movie love is enough that there are quite a few horror movies I have affection for, and I do have fondness for late 70s to mid 80s Hollywood crap horror.  So, in honor of the spooky month of October, I’m going to write essays on horror movies.  Tomorrow begins the terror and ghoulies.

Image  The Exorcist: WAY too fucking scary for me to review. Sorry.