Classic Movies: Movies That Scar(r)ed Me as a Kid @bernieh #movie #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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A couple of days ago, I pointed out two, unassuming songs that filled me with dread for some unknown reason. Today, I’m going to try to remember the movies for which the trauma they caused to me endured the longest.

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

This is the earliest movie I remember generating a long-lived fear. We saw it in the theater upon its release. For the life of me, I don’t remember a single frame from this movie. I could watch it in its entirety on YouTube, but I doubt it’s worth two hours of my time. I still haven’t watched Archive 81 or the final season of Ozark. I have higher priorities. Here’s the entire movie.

I feel like I just challenged myself to watch it.

The Fly (1958)

This was the one movie that traumatized me the most and for the longest period of time. I was fine throughout the entire movie, but this final scene is what wreaked havoc on my elementary school psyche.

I became a huge fan of Jeff Goldblum because of the 1986 remake.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

This movie is perhaps not as bad, but it road on the coattails of The Fly. This scene was the kicker.

I’ve had an irrational hatred for bugs ever since. All of them. Not just spiders.

Alligator (1980)

Do you know how you handle a monster like this? Shoot it in the head. Problem solved. But nope, “once it escaped, there was no way to stop it.” This has to be the dumbest one on this list, but I was 13. I sincerely thought that there was no way to stop it. I remember trying to calm my nerves and fall asleep after watching it, but I heard breathing from under my bed. (There was nothing under there but dirty laundry.) Here’s the trailer. Try not to laugh at it or me.

On second thought, laughter seems appropriate for both.

Exorcist III (1990)

At this point, I was too old to be afraid of movies, but I’ll be damned if this scene didn’t freak me out. Go to 0:40.

Seriously, the only scene that made me uncomfortable was an elderly lady crawling atop the roof unnoticed. I guess that it’s because I’ll never feel safe knowing that elderly ladies are capable of kicking my ass.

I also remember seeing a TV documentary on astronauts and suddenly being afraid that gravity would stop working. I didn’t want to float off into space. And while the Alien franchise didn’t particularly scare me even as a 9 year old watching it for the first time at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC, one of my few recurring dreams are nightmares of the Xenomorphs chasing me. Some things just stick with you.

Alien Loves Predator #14: Speed Dating
C/O Bernie Hou

I wish I know what made each of these movies scary for me. At some point before I was 9 years old — I remember I was still living in Silver Spring, MD — being the rational intellectual I always was, I realized my fear was irrational. I said to myself, “Even if such a creature exists, how would it know to come to my house to kill me only after I saw a movie about it? Why didn’t it show up last week? In the case of a phenomenon, why would it not manifest until I was made aware of its existence? That makes no sense. So, be afraid. Eventually you’ll fall asleep, and when morning arrives, you’ll wake up alive and well, showing you how stupid it is to be afraid of such things.” I was between 5 and 9 years old when I thought about this, and it kept me from being afraid of the dark for most of my childhood. But these movies still rattled me. There’s got to be a pattern, and it’s clearly not as simple as bugs (or even animals generally). It probably involves immediate circumstances of the time lost to my memory.

But it’s okay. Unlike the songs, these movies no longer have any effect on me. In fact, I find them (and all horror movies) silly considering the relatively primitive movie-making technology they use (not to mention the premise and execution of horror movies generally), but there you go. That’s what made me uncomfortable.

Again, I should see a shrink. if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.

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A Sad Tale, and Perhaps a Lesson: Ray Harryhausen’s Retirement @DenofGeekUS #DenOfGeek #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg

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This is a link to a sad story for me, care of Den of Geek. It celebrates the birthday of the special effects pioneer, Ray Harryhausen. As I’ve written, I love Clash of the Titans. It was a huge part of my childhood. It’s a shame that it represents the end of an era. TL;DR: A brutal review of Clash of the Titans by a dense, visionless critic (not my favorite group of people) writing for Variety drowned out the positive reviews and disheartened Harryhausen. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, causing him to retire from filmmaking. While his techniques had largely (not completely!) become antiquated at that point, my guess is that he would have adapted if he had stayed. We’ll never know. Even if that’s not the case, the article points out that he was more than just a special effects guy.

For the average person, social media isn’t as focused as a movie review. That is, as a non-celebrity, I don’t wake up every morning expecting an attack on my character, but the volume of commentary is so large that you’d be a fool not to think it’ll come your way eventually. Don’t let it bum you out, especially when it comes from people that don’t know you that are saying things that aren’t true.

Ray left for Olympus in 2013. Rest in peace, good sir.

Wouldn’t it be cool if he were buried on Mt. Olympus?

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Classic Movies: Excalibur @Tubi #movie #Excalibur #music #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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This past weekend, I discovered that John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) was available to stream on Tubi. In case you didn’t know, Tubi is a free streaming service with commercials, and it’s often useful for watching movies showing on pay services to which I don’t subscribe. I took advantage of a rare day of not working out and re-watched it.

To me, Excalibur is a classic, and it has a moderately funny story behind it (for me). My dad was always present but never paying attention. He left our upbringing to our mother, taking interest only when our interests collided with his. So, if you weren’t playing tennis, playing chess, or visiting the Renaissance Festival, you were a nuisance. He wasn’t cruel; just uninterested. When Excalibur came out, both he and I were interested in seeing it. I was a mythology buff, and he a history buff, and the movie appealed to both of us. Well, I was 13, and when my mother found out how much nudity was in it, she blew a gasket. Of course, my dad was pissed off at me because I was the one that told her.

That was a fun day.

My Impression

Nudity aside, I loved the movie. I was familiar with the basics of Authurian legends and wanted more. The next time I saw the movie was in high school, which were the days of VHS movie rentals. My cousin and I rented it, and my view had changed. I found the base storyline just as interesting but the delivery goofy at times. Also, being a high school kid, I was a bit put off by seeing Sir Lancelot’s nut sack. This weekend was the third time I had seen it, and it was fantastic, errrr … nut sack and all.

It’s a quick telling of the Arthurian legends, taking some liberties with the story in the interests of getting the story told in less than 8 hours. What’s not to love about that? I’m sure many readers agree, so I’m not going to dwell on any of that. Instead, I’m going to point out something I found interesting and unusual.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is, as one would expect, filled with grandiose, classical music pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that the music never played (to my recollection) during the battle scenes. All you heard was the sound of battle, and that produced a chilling effect. Because I’m a nerd, I’m reminded of an observation Lt. Cmdr. Data made about alien poetry that often included pauses that could last for days. That seems ridiculous, but pauses do have value. They’re analogous to negative space used in graphic arts, such as the arrow in the FedEx logo between the ‘e’ and ‘x,’ and this effect was used very well by John Boorman here.

As always, YMMV, though how could you not like Excalibur?

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Classic Movies: Top Secret @valkilmer @CBSAllAccess #TopSecret #movie #CBSAllAccess #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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The other day, I was thinking, “I’d really like to see Top Secret again.” This weekend, I watched the latest episode of the Stand, and afterwards went browsing through the movie list on CBS All Access and found — you guessed it — Top Secret.

This category, Classic Watch, is reserved for classic movies like Casablanca and Citizen Kane. Perhaps it was inappropriate to include the Nightmare Before Christmas, but I make no apologies for including this one. This movie is a classic as far as I’m concerned. It’s stupid fun. Some of the gags were dated, in part because younger people won’t get the references (e.g., the exploding Ford Pinto), and in other part because people today are far more sensitive than they were in the 80s. I must admit that the latter makes me snicker a little bit.

As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: The Nightmare Before Christmas @disneyplus #ClassicWatch #DisneyPlus

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My Classic Movies category is reserved for movies like Citizen Kane and Casablanca, but I couldn’t help but include this movie in that series. It’s only 27 years old, but it’s a movie that everyone told me is a “must-watch.” Thought I enjoyed it, and it’s probably as good as any Halloween movie for viewing during that holiday season, I wouldn’t place it in that category. As with many movies, this one may have earned its reputation based on nostalgia rather than filmmaking technique.

Or not. Maybe it simply didn’t trigger things in me that it does in most others.

Even if you also merely like it, it’s short, fun, and thematic, so it’s not a bad watch at all. As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Cassablanca @hbomax @movie #ClassicWatch #QuarantineLife

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I’ve discovered Turner Classic Movies on HBO Max and thought it would be a good idea to watch some of the “classics” I’d never seen. I started with Citizen Kane, and now I’ve moved on to Casablanca.

Of course it suffers from being out of time, but overall this movie stood up well. For example, though 78 years old, it’s actually quotable, and a Nazi gets shot. The story isn’t what you typically see today, so the ending isn’t what you may expect from today’s formula. From what little I know about Gone with the Wind (soon to be viewed), it also avoids the trite ending. Maybe these elements were typical in the late 30s and early 40s — I don’t have enough data points to say — but in any case it helps Casablanca stand out. Dooley Wilson was great as Sam. The primary setting is a crowded bar, and his occasional musical numbers help set those scenes, but the movie smartly moves on from that setting when the story needs to go forward. As Time Goes By remains a classic.

All that said, the best part about watching this movie is that I now understand completely one of the best Saturday Night Live skits I’ve ever seen.

Kate McKinnon is so good that she gets the final word in this post. As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Citizen Kane @hbomax @movie #ClassicWatch #QuarantineLife

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I’ve discovered Turner Classic Movies on HBO Max and thought it would be a good idea to watch some of the “classics” I’d never seen. I decided to start alphabetically at Citizen Kane. Bad start.

It didn’t age well. The movie is inspired by William Randolph Hearst, who means absolutely nothing to me. I’m a guy born long after Hearst died (1951), and even longer after Citizen Kane was released (1941). I can’t relate specifically, and the general story is just blah. I’m also annoyed at the “twist” that’s been the subject of so much praise. I see it as less a “big deal” and more a “big disappointment.”

Nevertheless, I at least respect what this film means to the evolution of cinema. According to those in the know, it was a necessary step towards the great movies we have now. I also liked that it went out of its way to highlight new actors in the end credits, one of whom, Agnes Moorehead, played Samantha’s mother in Bewitched.

If, like me, you just have to see it, then do so, but don’t expect much. As always, YMMV.

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