Monday, June 27, 2011

Have You Ever Slept With The Lights On?

I got an email from Classic Becky Saturday night after she had watched a film that scared her silly! She said she was going to sleep with all of the lights on after her little Horrorfest. Of course we had a good laugh about it then I got to thinking about films I've watched over the years that scared me that badly.  And here I am making a post about it and most likely traumatizing Becky again along with scaring myself.

Nosferatu 1922...Sorry dude but you're scary as H^#@ and your hands are just creepy but please revisit my Halloween post on that HERE!

I don't recall any film that I've watched from the Silents through the 1950's that has scared me at all. Well other than Nosferatu because let's face it he was beyond terrifying.  I've sat through about 30 Monster movie clips from the 1950's over the past few days and they brought giggles instead of fear (Thank you Nathanael!).  So where did my total fear of scary movies actually come from? Yep, I readily admit that I will NOT watch a scary movie just for kicks and if you will bare with me I'll tell you about the two films that not only made me sleep with the lights on but beyond traumatized for good and avoiding truly scary films at all costs.

As a kid growing up in California during the 1970's, one of the things that my parents really enjoyed was going to the drive-in theater. Of course it was always a triple feature with the first film being kid friendly and a night that we got so excited about because we could always invite one friend to pile into our station wagon.  Sure most of the time it was a Disney film but every once in awhile my parents would lose their minds and actually bring us to a scary R rated film, which we happily went along with donned in our one piece pajamas and dragging along our lawn chairs.

Well guess what? With the way things are now my parents would probably be charged with child abuse..Times have changed!  (If you're reading this mom and dad, don't worry I won't be mentioning your full names)  One particular drive-in weekend my occasionally naive parents took us to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974.  (I'll give them a break here and assume they thought it was a film on hand tool safety.) Just typing that title makes me want to cry, vomit and hyperventilate!  Who even thinks up something like that anyway? It was the most horrific and scary thing I've EVER seen. And while my parents were consoling me all while saying "We told you to hide your eyes and go to sleep" (I'm sorry but when you tell a kid to 'hide their eyes' guess what? They DON'T!) Sorry to get crude here but Leather Face, forget you and kiss my arse buddy!  The skin on his face and the chainsaw making that awful sound as he mowed everyone down was really uncalled for and never a good way to make an entrance if you want positive attention. I loathe you for inspiring remakes too but that's another blog post.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" 1974  (The scariest movie poster I've ever seen) Ya sickos.

So yes there's your answer! "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is the scariest film that I've ever seen.  I slept with the lights on for weeks and my older brother would sneak into my bedroom and make chainsaw noises just to insure I was thoroughly freaked out for months afterwards.

We move ahead to 1977 when I'm 3 years older and obviously I've gotten the hang of 'hide your eyes' so we head back to the drive-in for "The Hills Have Eyes". Now I don't know if you have seen the film but it is a mess from beginning to end and beyond scary.  A film by Wes Craven who will forever be banned from my viewing list even if he did find himself. And by finding himself I mean 'gross everyone out and make them bawl while in the fetal position'.  Eating other peoples heels and acting like depraved animals in the desert is basically all I remember but that's really just fine. Say what you will but showing films that depraved and scary should be against the law.

"The Hills Have Eyes" 1977  (Losing campers by the droves in desert states for years to come.)

I went on a blind date several years ago and he took me to a Halloween Haunted House. (Okay, given my history perhaps I was setting him up for failure but this isn't a therapy blog now is it?)  We weren't in there 2 minutes before a large guy rounded the corner dressed like Leather Face and carrying a chainsaw. I was so traumatized that I sat in a corner crying and begging this idiot to just leave me alone. It was obvious that he got pleasure out of seeing me so scared that he followed me with that chainsaw while I was being carried out of the place in tears. (I did not return my dates calls!) There really is no moral to the story just in case you were waiting on something profound here other than certain films really do have a lasting impact on us. To this day I die a little inside every time I hear a chainsaw in the distance. 

What makes a film so scary to you that you've never forgotten it?  I want all of you who are still reading this to leave a comment (other than how ashamed you are at my parents) on the scariest film you've ever seen and I want to know if you've ever seen a film that actually made you leave  the lights on.  I'm no longer a kid being dragged to the drive-in or wearing one piece pj's but I did get talked into watching Paranormal Activity a couple of years ago and I was so freaked out by it that I slept with the lights on for a couple of nights.  

Thanks for indulging me and please share the scariest film you've ever seen and let my readers know what you thought of the two that I mentioned. Oh and I have to give a special thanks to Becky for bringing back horrible memories as well as inspiring this post.  BOO!

Excuse me while I go cry under a street light.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just Chill Out!

Just chill out and by that I mean stay cool while having fun whatever your summer activities include.  Here where I am we deal with constant 100 plus degree days so unless I'm in the pool or sitting out in the yard on a block of ice I just can't stand the heat. I don't run in the summer although my neighbors do which is their business and their physicians. Yep, I'm a bit jealous that they can still do their usual 5 miles without breaking much of a sweat or even reach a pulse rate over 100.  And when I want to be bad I'll get on my elliptical in my nice cool house with the curtains open while they run by looking all miserable like they just bit in to a bowl of habanero peppers soaked in kerosene.

Well enough of my whining but since I'm here on my laptop where it's cool we might as well have another look  at some Hollywood beauties enjoying the summer sun. Oh, I guess you thought Gene Kelly would have his little article up but guess what? I haven't forgotten about Gene at all and I promise to give him his due along with other stars very soon so stay tuned.  I do have one excuse though, the Corman Blogathon. I was honored with a Bloggers Choice Award by my fellow reviewers and it was great fun.

If there's anyone left on the internet reading this that hasn't signed up for Nathanael's next Blogathon on 50's Monster Flicks then get on over there and claim your film. The site is Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear  Oh, one last thing, if you are just going over there to get more info or you haven't decided to sign up be warned that Nate is very persuasive and you won't leave there without committing to a Blogathon for the next two years.  Brandi over at True Classics is also hosting a very fun Blogathon in August on Lucille Ball so please click on the Blogathon banner on the side bar and get signed up for that one too.

Ann Rutherford expecting us all to believe that she actually hangs out at the pool in heels.

Betty Grable looks like she's having a blast. Just watch yourself Betty! I can't count the times I've stubbed my toes on pool steps while trying to exit gracefully.

Carole Lombard has one of the sweetest loungers I've ever seen and by the look on her face she knows it. 

Poor Esther Williams. She has to get her umbrella set up all by herself. With a body like that she should have men swarming to help.

Ginger Rogers is someone I would never invite to one of my pool parties for obvious reasons. Looking that pulled together just isn't right in my neighborhood. 

Rhonda Fleming is smart enough to pose under some shade. I think we found out where Dorothy Lamour's Road film outfits ended up. I hope you got a bargain Rhonda.

Vera Miles is adorable in polka dots.

Errol Flynn gets some time on the court  and he's never looked more handsome. (I try to throw an Errol photo in for Becky any time I can and of course all of you other gals)

Sophia Loren and her curves looking shipwrecked in more ways than one. 

For all of you Betty Grable fans, she looks just as good on skates as she does in the pool! I'd like to see her navigate roller blades on an uneven sidewalk.

Here's hoping everyone is staying cool and having fun.  Please share your favorite summertime activities or better yet the ones you avoid due to the insufferable heat.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960): A Photo Review

Thanks for stopping by for my contribution to Nathanael of Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear's Blogathon which celebrates the films of Roger Corman.

I have to admit that going into this Blogathon I did not know that much about Corman and his work, his impact on film or the fact that he's a genius. Participating in a Blogathon where you feel like a duck out of water is a pretty awesome way to familiarize yourself with an interesting part of film history that by no fault of your own you missed  (Okay, my excuse being that I was a small kid in the 70's and I had no control over my parents allowing me to see a film then there's the fact that I could barely get a slinky to go down the stairs let alone drive myself to the cinema.)

I chose The Little Shop of Horrors because it's actually one of a handful of Corman's films I've seen and it's hilarious and insane from beginning to end which makes for a great film to do a snarky photo review on.  Did I play it safe? Perhaps, but it's also the one Roger Corman film that everyone has seen so doing my own interpretation won't take away from everyone's memory of it good or bad.

For those who haven't seen it, here's a quick synopsis through my eyes. It tells the story of a florist owner on Skid Row who finds himself in financial despair due to low floral orders but there's this sprite and somewhat dimwitted shop keeper (Seymour) who somehow winds up with this exotic plant that's supposed to thrive off of insects (The plot surrounds that same plant needing human flesh to survive.) Seymour is so attached to the thing he starts killing (mostly by accident) to feed it.

There's wacky patrons in and out of the shop and we even get a glimpse of the the shop keepers delightful mom who has a bad case of hypochondria and the crazies.  Bodies start missing and the cops start investigating (they're as inept as everyone else around) The plant keeps getting fed by it's dutiful shop keeper as the bodies pile up around town. But the real gem of the film is a very young Jack Nicholson in his first full length film appearance.  He's on screen less than 5 minutes but he's maniacal and beyond funny as a dental patient who gets off on pain.  Just picture Jerry Lewis after a three day paint huffing binge.

When you shoot a film in less than 3 days with a budget of $27,000 I'm sure you don't expect it to become a cult classic but Corman got just that. It's campy, it has great lines, there are no blood and guts or one scary scene unless of course you're a 4 yr old and afraid of giant objects made out of paper mache that eat rubber legs and hands.  When the 1998 remake with it's $25 million dollar budget stinks by comparison then you know Corman was successful in his vision.

So if you're ready let's get on with the photo review. (Unfortunately this dark comedy is also dark to look at so I apologize that the screen shots aren't all that appealing on the eyes.)

Jonathon Haze as Seymour Krelboyne
Jackie Joseph as Audrey Fulguard
Mel Welles as Gravis Mushnick
Dick Miller as Burson Fouch
Myrtle Vail as Winifred Kreloyne
Wally Campo as Det. Fink
Jack Warford as Det. Stoolie
Jack Nicholson as Wilbur Force
Charles B. Griffith lends his voice to the plant, Audrey Junior

We open to a little floral shop on Skid Row which is sadly named Mushnicks.  I wouldn't even buy fertilizer from a place with that name. From now on I'm referring to it as The Little Shop of Horrors (LSH) I had better see lots of horror and very little tulip arranging.

We get our first glimpse of Gravis who owns this dump. The advert signs are misspelled, his assistant Audrey is way too happy and not one of these lurkers are buying anything. 

The local dentist calls up to make sure his flower order is straight while his patient decides he can't wait so he inflicts some pain on himself.  I hear Skid Row is a rough place but acting like a loon for no apparent reason escapes me. Chalking this up to Corman so I'll keep it movin.

One of these days we'll have Obamacare and you won't get away with acting all depraved under the guise of a DDS. 

We get our first glimpse of Seymour who falls over everything and walks around looking like an Our Gang Kid on a snipe hunt. 

I'm actually starting to relate to Seymour as he cuts the same two flowers down to the nub just to get them even. I once talked my mom into buying me an expensive pair of bell bottom jeans and I thought I could hem them myself until I cut the same leg off twice. My mom was so furious that she sewed the short leg back on and made me wear them with a giant seam around the shin. Just put the clippers down Seymour and walk away buddy.

Customer #2 buys some carnations and starts eating them right off of the stem.  The fact that everyone finds this normal behavior when I want to punch him in the throat for ruining inexpensive funeral flowers makes me uncomfortable.

15 minutes later Seymour finally gets his flowers even. I told you he was slow, it took me only 3 minutes and a measuring tape to ruin my pants.

Unless Guido is going to be eaten (I assume this is the same florist that has a giant flesh eating plant) then kick him out already. He can go eat his carnations in the alley while trying not to get a beat down. Skid row is way too fancy and kind Corman so please scare me.

Seymour has wandered into a house and by his actions so far I can only assume he has no idea who's house it is. (How awesome would it be if this was the Tower of Terror and Vincent Price strangled him with his scarf?) 

For a second I get excited thinking he's going to play a Jet while dancing with a broom but he's just trying to navigate walking on flat surfaces. These people need proper healthcare! It's obvious he has an inner ear problem.

We get our first glimpse of mama who looks like Vivien Vance without a hair and makeup budget. She's got so many illnesses that she lost me at goiter and the fact that she birthed Seymour at one point.

Baby boy brought some of the good stuff and by that I mean cough syrup. Okay, settle down! She's a hypochondriac, not an alcoholic.  I know this because I don't see a goiter or reality anywhere in that room. Stay strong Seymour and go get yourself a plant or a puppy.

Seymour looks traumatized but at least he's sitting down on something in his winter wear and not falling down. Guessing Skid Row doesn't have heat or corks to make cough syrup last over one day.

Awww! Seymour found himself a plant and it's named Audrey Junior. He's going to nurture it, feed it then most likely fall on top of it and impel himself.

Mama doesn't look to thrilled! Just tell her it's like one of those mechanical babies that you take care of for Sex Ed class. Only it doesn't cry, need a diaper change or get left in the back of a school bus. (It was only for two days and my baby's battery ran out before it got to Encino so don't judge me.)

Audrey Junior makes her first appearance at LSH. She needs some Miracle Gro and some sun if she's going to do any damage. Unless there's a sequel Corman you had better move it along.

Real Audrey is enamored with this fancy plant. It's not all that attractive but guessing she's never seen tropicals or an ant that's entertaining.

A: Hey, I once went to 2nd base with a guy from Astoria after he showed me his rose rock collection.  

You can wear low cut dresses and flirt all you want Real Audrey but until you sit down in soil and resemble a dead avocado Seymour won't be interested.

Just in case you weren't sure why Seymour is all of a sudden so popular I thought you could use a closeup of Audrey Junior. Yep, she's a real show stopper!  Seymour has accidentally poked his finger on her, giving her a taste of blood so either Corman is getting the party started or Mama will have Seymour admitted for anemia within the next few minutes.

If you could read or focus Seymour you would realize you've been a very bad boy. Well at least you have a girlfriend even if you don't know what to do with her.

Gravis is overwhelmed by the shops new found popularity. (My aunt owns a florist and the only time she gets this flustered is when her poinsettia order gets screwed up) so do yourself a favor and hire yourself some help with an IQ over 40, save a few coins then take the first bus to Boca before these nimrods ruin your reputation.

Audrey Junior grew during the night and Real Audrey looks like her forearm became disjointed from her elbow but as long as these people are happy I'm happy.

Gravis is so thrilled with all of the new business that Audrey Jr. has brought in that he hugs the wool right off of Seymour's sweater. Any chance that Boris Karloff will come in and eat Real Audrey's arm off Corman?

Yep, it's gorgeous so either feed it a body or put it in a museum already.

Later that night we get a closer look at Audrey Jr. who looks like a coconut and a fuzzy papaya had a wild night together then once it starts talking I realize their love child is Peter Lorre.  It starts screeching "Feed Me" and I'm really ashamed that I actually like this movie.

Totally freaked out Seymour runs out into the night and decides to throw a few rocks. One accidentally hits this guy in the head but it doesn't kill him so it's okay to still like Seymour and to laugh hysterically at this poor guys luck.

Seymour stands upright for a change and in shock as the hobo who's disoriented runs into an oncoming train. 

There's a Lorre, papaya hybrid that needs to be fed and a crushed body lying about so why not take advantage. It all makes sense to me and anyone who's accidentally forced a hobo to wander out in front of a train. 

It's obvious Corman saved a lot of his budget by recycling old mannequins from "The Undead"  I just hope Rob Zombie didn't see this! It would crush him and then he would scare me into never watching another horror film again by making "House of a 1000 Corpses" just to prove a point.

Gravis and Real Audrey decide to have an expensive dinner to celebrate their new found success and the beginning of their lives on the run. Unfortunately Gravis didn't bring any cash so he has to head back to the flower shop so Audrey doesn't have to pull an 'eat and ditch' for the second time this week.

Oh for Gods sake Seymour, either save a few parts for later or get yourself a partner in crime. Or here's an even better idea, toss the plant in the neighbors trash and work on your floral arrangements because they suck!

Gravis, fresh from his Bela Lugosi's How To Look Menacing seminar, walks in to find Seymour in a feeding frenzy.  He doesn't confront Seymour or throw up so I'm guessing he's just angry that Seymour is stealing mannequins from the boutique around the corner.

The next morning Gravis is dealing with turning Seymour in for Mannequin molesting or just showing up at his crowded florist like nothing ever happened. 

He gets his first glance at Audrey Jr. who looks like a baby who's had double feedings of Similac with a side of plastic legs.

He confronts Seymour who's worried about a bad tooth.  Gravis has an order for six Gladiolas sold so there's no hurry to turn Seymour in or to actually call the local boutique to offer up some funds to replace their missing mannequins. (You deserved that one Roger!)

Since theres only one dentist on Skid Row, Seymour shows up for his appt to get manhandled for no apparent reason.

These two don't get along because they are both unbalanced psychos (Blame Corman) which ends with Seymour 'accidentally' killing Dr. Rough House with an aqua pic. 

Heerrees Jack!  The most anxious patient ever to see the dentist.

The dentist is dead and the substitute is dressed for Aspen but this nutter wants some teeth pulled so just figure it out.

This should be easy! He doesn't want Novocaine, just pain and a few kicks in the afternoon. Obviously he hasn't heard of being drug behind a pickup truck through gravel while wearing shorts which causes pain and road rash but at least you can still smile and pass a job interview.

My favorite scene of the movie but yet it's all so twisted.

You look fantastic Jack! Now go eat some corn on the cob and stand under a street lamp then wait for spare rocks to hit you in your head.

The dentist is offered up to Audrey Jr. because a girl has to eat to keep her girlish figure. 

Nothing showcases the fear of a giant flesh eating plant like paper mache balloons and low lighting.

Detective Stoolie visits Detective Fink to discuss the recent missing persons on Skid Row. 

With these two on the case to find the missing hobo who just happened to be an undercover cop it should all be straightened out by brunch.

Well here you go! The majority of the film budget went into paper mache minus a few mannequin hands and some Skid Row carnations.

Seymour is thrilled that Audrey Jr. has taken over the shop with her tackiness and star power.  Unless the Mayor shows up to give you the key to the city I wouldn't get too excited. 

Fink and Stoolie show up asking questions about the missing hobo and dentist. Obviously the carnation eater is on his best behavior otherwise this could really get weird.

Gravis knows Seymour is behind the missing bodies but on the upside his funeral arrangements are selling like hot cakes.

Word has gotten out and Loretta Young's stunt double shows up to announce that Seymour is up for a botanical award. I'm guessing she hasn't had a close look at this mess or Betty Sue's hybrid roses over in the Bronx. They're fabulous and they don't reek of death.

Real Audrey has dinner over at Seymour's house of mirrors where Mama looks somewhat normal in really fantastic living room lighting. I think these kids might have a shot.

The first course is cough syrup with a side of delusion. 

We check in at the LSH where Gravis is keeping watch so that there's no more late night feedings or courting of weird plants.

Mama serves up the main course which is Cod Liver Oil soup. If you want a healthy girl mama you might want to avoid serving a natural laxative at dinner but that's just my advice.

Gravis falls asleep while Audrey Jr. gets a bad case of cotton mouth.

Audrey Jr. lets it be known that she's hungry which leaves me wondering who's left in this film that's dispensable. 

Corman interrupts before I get my answer with a very welcome burglary. Here's hoping it's a gang of mannequins looking for revenge. This film is missing violence brought on by an actual grudge.

It's just a robber wanting money. I'm guessing Gravis is regretting his fancy new signs and increased traffic.

In a very predictable scene he coaxes the robber into crawling into Audrey Jr. to find hidden cash.

Seymour is trying to sell Real Audrey to Mama but she has great advice. "Never trust a girl who looks too healthy". Here's hoping a nice girl with tuberculosis and a love for cacti moves in next door.

Real Audrey and Seymour show up at the florist the following night for a picnic.  Yes, I'm sure everything will work out here once your mom let her go after some lab work and a lobotomy. 

Audrey Jr. starts moaning again so Seymour plays it off like he's actually speaking. It's painfully stupid and Real Audrey agrees as she bails before being fed cod liver oil with a side of Mentholatum rub again.

Audrey Jr. isn't looking so fresh! Have you thought about what might happen if you ignored her for a few days since she's just a plant?  I'm more than happy to send you some photos of a few of my plants that I left for dead due to neglect and laziness.

He runs into the street and into a hooker who's peeling a banana which he slips on. You're killing me R.C but the fact that he's in a trance and she's acting like a Stepford Hooker amuses me at the same time.

Seymour is standing under another street light which means rocks are about to start flying. 

This is a funny scene with the prostitute showing up over and over as Seymour wanders around avoiding banana peels and her sexual advances. Finally he asks if she is trying to volunteer herself. He finally throws another rock in the air which hits her in the head. He really is a modern day Charlie Chaplin meets Ratso Rizzo.

Long after Seymour is out rounding up hookers by no fault of his own, Loretta Young's stunt double and Skid Row's top detectives show up at the florist for the award ceremony. 

It's time to watch Audrey Jr. bloom and we get to see really fantastic special affects and by that I mean horribly done 

Brace yourself Mama, your baby boy has some issues but surely you knew that when he kept falling down and invited house plants to all of his birthday parties instead of real friends.

Alright Corman, I saw the prostitute in bad lighting but it wasn't necessary to give her Joan Crawford eyebrows and a Mae West jawline.

Seymour is on the lam while Skid Row's finest do a consists of a chase through a rubber plant at low speeds....nobody is in any hurry in this film. I'm starting to think they're all zombies and Corman is waiting to spring it on us at the end.

I think Corman is trying to tell you that your life and your career is in the toilet Seymour but I admire you for taking one for the genre.

Mama who looks like Mae Murray after 30 years in the grave sees her baby boy. 

There has to be life insurance to cover things like this and a studio prop department who's hanging their head in shame right now. If only Corman would have had a $50,000 budget we could have had growing tentacles and Boris Karloff doing the voiceover.

Real Audrey realizes that she is stuck with Mama and a laxative habit for nothing....well Audrey Jr. needs to be looked after and if you can hang in there I hear there will be a remake in another 26 yrs.

Well there you have it! Thanks for getting through this long photo review and please share your thoughts on the film, your favorite scene or anything else that comes to mind other than Joan Crawford's eyebrows (We've beat those to death previously.)

Off to read the other reviews and thanks once again Nathanael for putting such an interesting Blogathon together.

On a side note: I just realized that Debbie Reynolds very vast and impressive collection is LIVE on the auction block today so if you find the time after the great reviews here's the link that shows the entire catalog and what the items are selling for. The link Debbie Reynolds movie memorabilia auction catalog