Category 3: Nostalgia Views
October 20: Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror and Treehouse of Horror II. Rating: 5/5. Comment: I always looked forward to these episodes when I was growing up. While all three segments in the first show are excellent, I’m especially fond of their version of The Raven. The second one was also really well done, and my favorite (unsurprisingly, as I’m an English major) is The Monkey’s Paw.
Category 3: Nostalgia Views. October 19: Lady in White. Rating 5/5 (Originally 5/5). Original Comment: This is a sad story of child abuse, murder, and revenge. Throw in a couple of ghosts and a 1962, small-town, heart-of-America setting, and you have an instant classic on your hands. I have loved this movie since I was a kid (and perhaps that colors my vision and affects my rating a bit), but I enjoyed it as much as ever tonight. Update: This movie is incredibly hard to find and ridiculously expensive. Totally worth it. I conservatively estimate that I’ve seen it 30 times in my life, but I still found myself crying at all the same parts. This was the first time I’ve watched it since becoming a human-son mom, and it hit me on a whole new level of sad and scary. If you are lucky enough to own a copy, be able to rent or borrow a copy, or willing to spend the money, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It hits the heart.
Category 8: Josh’s Phobias. October 18: Arachnophobia. Rating: 4/5 (Originally 4/5). Original Comment: The star of the show, as usual, was John Goodman. I don’t have a huge fear of spiders (more like I have a healthy level of respect for my eight-legged, freeloading roommates), but this movie still made me jump. Imagine, if you will, that a deadly spider the size of an apricot drops onto the couch cushion beside you from above, and then runs off with the speed of a miniature Usain Bolt. If that doesn’t make you afraid, you likely have some sort of emotional disconnect and should probably go to the doctor. But not in Canaima. Update: There are parts of this movie that I feel keep it from a perfect 5 stars. That being said, it’s worth a watch if you don’t like bugs or the rain forest or small towns or the elderly or Wheel of Fortune or dead bodies or police corruption. So, there’s something in there for everyone.
Category 3: Nostalgia Views.
October 17: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Rating: 5/5 (Originally 5/5). Original Comment: I remembered every scene of this 1949 Disney cartoon, but did not recall the actual details of how horrible, immoral, and unlikable the characters really are. Ichabod is a lazy, gold-digging “ladies man” (the term used by the narrator). Brom is a violent bully who only wants the trophy wife so that he can “win.” Katrina is an egotistical player who enjoys watching men fight over her and doesn’t genuinely care about anyone but herself. Sadly, the group can’t be rid of the lady in the green dress fast enough, because despite her obvious excitement at their attention, she is neither wealthy nor beautiful. Sincerely worth a watch — it will bring you back to childhood, but with an adult viewpoint you will see the true message. Update: I contemplated lowering the score because the characters are such awful people and the moral is to win at any cost. Yet, the music is catchy (who doesn’t love Bing Crosby, for goodness’ sake) and the story is, after all, based on a classic American short story. It’s literature and it doesn’t need the heartfelt feels to be worthwhile. Disney, particularly in earlier works, is known for its reprehensible content, from blatant racism to appalling sexism, and this short film supports some pretty egregious actions and attitudes. But I loved this movie as a child and I can’t help but love it now.
Category 2: 21st Century Favorites.
October 15: Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Rating: 5/5 (Originally 5/5). Original Comment: This musical is way beyond amazing. Johnny Depp is a Renaissance man, while Helena Bonham Carter once again holds her own. In turn of the (last) century London, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street takes down his enemies (as well as complete strangers) one by one in a truly inspired and gruesome fashion. I highly recommend you check this out after you put the kids to bed. Update: I have noticed how Depp-heavy my favorites list has been this year. Can I help it if he makes all the best movies? My 2nd husband is, as expected, remarkable in this one, perhaps because he emits nothing but pain and despair. That’s where he really shines. Honestly, though, if you haven’t heard him sing, this has to go on your must-see list. Voice of an angel, if that angel were a tragically demented, Victorian-era British murderer bent on a rage-filled path to destruction.
Category 5: Actually Scary Movies.
October 14: Nightmare on Elm Street. Rating: 5/5 (Originally 5/5). Original Comment: This is possibly my scariest movie of all time. I still jump every time I watch the Tina-in-a-body-bag-calling-to-Nancy-and-then-being-drug-down-the-hall scene. I’m not sleeping tonight. Update: Guys — guys! I second everything I said the first time. Are some of the graphics silly and outdated? Yes. Does some of the dialogue feel forced and awkward? Yes. Does it feature young Johnny Depp in a midriff-baring cutoff shirt? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! As I watched (nervously snacking, covered by a clowder of cats), I figured out why this film gets to me every time; the answer is twofold. First, it is a horror movie that I, in the epitome of childhood foolishness, viewed before I was even in double-digits. It forms some of my earliest memories. Did I go to first grade? Probably. But I can’t remember it due to the “One, Two, Freddy’s Coming for You” song taking up that valuable real estate on Memory Lane. Second, Freddy is quieter and more terrifyingly unknown in this than in any other in the franchise. What are humans more scared of than anything else? The unknown. (I was going to say “Getting stranded on the tarmac while seated next to Roseanne Barr” but I thought “the unknown” was more applicable to demonstrate my point.) By the second movie, Freddy had a much more overstated, flamboyant personality — he was cracking jokes and talking nonstop, which eliminated some of the mystery that creates fear. Predators instinctively know this: it’s why you don’t hear a lion, or R. Kelly, sneak up behind you. But the original Freddy remained hidden until he wanted his victims to see him. He could be there and gone in a flash. He barely spoke. He caused dread because we didn’t know much about him but his violence. Ah, the good old days.
Category 3: Nostalgia Views.
October 12: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Rating: 5/5 (Originally 5/5). Original Comment: In honor of today’s blizzard (I truly wish I was lying), Josh and I decided that this was exactly what we needed to prepare us for Halloween and put us in a winter mood. Its original excellence has never wavered, and its musical score is both catchy and brilliant. I fear my students have never seen it; the thought honestly makes me sad. Update: In honor of the recent blizzard…just kidding. That was a complete coincidence. I love this movie so much. There will come a day when Nikolai will watch this one with us, but it is not this day (and probably not for many years, because he screams at Bubble Guppies). I greatly look forward to that day. If you haven’t seen it before, or even if you have, please watch it soon. I promise it’s worth your time.