A theater downtown has been showing older/classic horror movies every weekend for the past few weeks. Being the pop culture junkies that we are, Alej and I have been going to all of them. The first was Lost Boys, the 1987 vampire movie. I had thought it was based on a Stephen King story, but I think I was confusing it with Salem’s Lot. I had never seen either. I don’t know why I never watched Lost Boys, we had it on VHS when I was growing up, but I was probably too busy watching The Monster Squad to care about Kiefer Sutherland as a very giggly vampire. I don’t know if that was intended to be a character trait of these vampires, but they never stop laughing. Those are some happy vampires. It was an okay movie. It had some laughable special effects and lots of cheesy action. It was also apparently the start of the Corey craze that swept the nation back when I was still too young to care.
The second movie was the original 1970s The Omen. Another one I hadn’t seen. I thought The Omen was pretty good – there was one death in particular that was shocking in that it was so well executed, I didn’t expect that level of quality from a movie that old. Overall though, I don’t think Alej liked it. It moved too slowly for her. I agree, there was a very long, slow build - especially by today’s standards. There was also a very odd buddy-road-trip kind of thing shoved in the last third of the movie.
Before they play the movies, one of the theatre employees warms up the crowd by telling us facts about the movie. There’s a scene in The Omen where a goldfish bowl breaks and the fish spill out. They did not, to my relief, use real goldfish in the filming of those scenes. However, in another scene, to get some baboons to attack a car, they locked a baby baboon in the car to try and incite the baboons. When that didn’t work, they locked in the alpha male. They didn’t want to kill any fish, but psychological manipulation of primates was okay with them. I know I have a documented history of selective animal cruelty, but if you make the effort for the fish, you should also make an effort for the baboons. That’s all I’m saying.
The third movie was Carrie, one of my mother’s favourites. It, along with anything Romero, was on the TV a lot while I was growing up. My mom is a big horror/suspense fan. One of my mom’s favourite activities is to watch horror movies while she knits (Which, when you think about it, could be a horror movie in its own right. A little old lady knits while she watches horror movies and all the bad stuff she sees while she’s knitting gets woven into the sweaters she makes for her grandkids, and when they wear them people start to die. We’ll call it Death Sweater. That’s the perfect name, because it’s easy to make sequel titles: Death Sweaters, Death Sweater: the Unravelling, Death Sweater: Dyed in Blood, etc. Although, in the UK we’ll have to change the title to Death Jumper which doesn’t work so well…).
Anyway, Mom can watch the same movies over and over and doesn’t get tired of them. And she did this when we were kids too. She was always trying to get us to watch them with her: “Leslie you’ve got to see this, it’s so good. This is the movie that turned me off ketchup forever, even though they only use corn syrup for all the blood!” and I was just like, “Mom, I’m 7. I want to watch Parent Trap.” My landlocked Ontarian brother blames his fear of sharks on mom letting him watch Jaws when he was too young for it. Think what you may about my mom’s parenting philosophy and lack of censorship; she’s the model of sanity relative to Carrie’s mother.
Actually what struck me most about Carrie were a) the gym uniforms (sweet mother of Jesus, those things were awful) and b) the way the gym teacher was constantly slapping, swearing at, and throwing around her students. It goes without saying that you couldn’t do that today, but back then the students were more upset over having to exercise than they were watching their teacher slap a student. Fun fact about that movie: Sissy Spacek was willing to use real pig’s blood in the famous climax. But they didn’t. I suppose someone other than Spacek didn’t see the need to kill lots and lots of pigs just to make a movie.
Up next: Gremlins!!