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Movies That Made Me Sleep With My Parents

October 6, 2010

We knew we would be scared when we stayed up to watch it. We went to the movies in packs and held hands, had a lookout to tell us when we could take our fingers out of our eyes. There was always one person who could take a tuna sandwich, unwrap the stinky thing, eat it and watch the movie without it ever affecting him. Someone’s older brother named “Dave”, as in Big Wave Dave, with arms like tubes of baloney, hair grease running down the back of his neck, and despite the fact he shaved his cheeks, the hairs over his chubby upper lip were soft like a kitten and gave you the creeps, and always black so they were hard to miss. That Dave. Who copped a feel and you didn’t want to tell his younger sister, your best friend. We used to race to the car, his car, fighting for the chance to sit in the BACK seat.
He laughed when the shower scene came on, and sometimes tickled the backs of our necks, made us smell like tuna.

The contraption
that caused a slow, slicing death? The raspy voice of Vincent Price? His wild eyes…I’m forever damaged. Forever. And never saw Dave again either.

Vincent was always frustrated, having trouble with his women, so he tried to preserve them, since they were cold to him anyhow. Must admit, I did feel a little sorry for him during the fire at the end, ruining all his perfect wives. Men have paid big bucks to find such a wife…beautiful, but a little quiet.
THE BIRDS, filmed right around the corner from me. Boy did I want that car! How did they ever manage to keep it so free of bird pooh? That’s what I was wondering. Never fed seagulls again. Every time I exit Safeway (especially this time of year) and hear the blackbirds in the tree chirping ominously, I think of Bodega Bay, wonder when they’ll swoop. Do you look at parrots in the pet store and see more intelligence in their eyes than before these movies came along?

Big jump to the ’80’s and ’90’s, after spending the better part of ten years watching every horror film made while breast feeding or not being able to sleep due to an enlarged belly and ankles. I finally ventured out to the movie theaters again and we had sexy vampires. Frank Langella in Dracula and Gary Oldman’s wonderful performance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The shaving scene was pretty creepy, as was the Abbey. Oldman certainly can give a close shave, without wasting a drop.

These are some of my very faves, ones I still get the chills just thinking about. Creative, memorable characters, plots not too complicated. Lots of conflict, internal and external strife. The beautiful, the love story right next to the gory parts.

The biggest impact these horror movies have had on my writing is that they introduced me to the variety and interest of tortured souls. For this reason, don’t think I have ever written a character that is perfect. I like flaws. The bigger the better. And compulsions. In romance, their ultimate attraction will out trump any logic, where the least likely pair will find true love and heal themselves in the process.

What about you? What is your scariest movie, and how has it affected your writing? Your reading?What do you think is the all time best in both those categories?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2010 8:59 am

    Great job, Sharon! The opening with creepy Dave seriously freaked me out! Yikes!

    My favorite scary movie? Hmm… since I don’t watch many I’d have to say Misery . But now that you and Greg have introduced me to the oldies – the ones before gratuitous blood and gore were the norm – I’ll have to venture into watching more.

    Can any one explain the term “film noir” to me? Is it referring to the darkness of the lighting or the subject matter? Or both? I’ve often wondered about that.

    • October 6, 2010 10:28 am

      Yeah, hindsight is always 20-20. I’d react totally different today. He turned out okay.

      For years our family used to rent the WORST horror films of all time for New Years. Our version of a movie marathon last man standing. Usually my son, who later majored in film, would be the winner. You really should try some of those classic bad boys. And yes, I recommend you wait until they are old enough to be able to laugh at the fakeness-that’s another thing that I’d do differently today.

      I think the answer to your Film Noir question is: both. And it covered a specific period of time, but is copied today sometimes. Maybe I can get my son to weigh in here. David, Gregory and some of our other “crew” probably have a more intelligent answer for you.

  2. Donald James permalink
    October 6, 2010 10:55 am

    Film Noir refers to a period of American Cinema when Post War France suddenly was able to see banned “American: Read Enemy” films between 1942 and 1944. What the French saw (which would have been the equivalent of our Dollar Theater) astounded them. They saw dark pictures about people plotting to kill their lover’s husbands and run off with the insurance money — DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944).

    Film critics of the day like Nino Frank used this term to describe both the subject matter of the films and the ways in which they were lit. Hollywood three point lighting system is the most imitated in the world. It’s foundations are KEY, BACK and FILL.

    KEY- a bright light shown directly on the subject.

    BACK – a softer light shown behind a subject in order to distinguish it from the background. (Something more common now that we’re going into 3-D tech).

    Fill – Something very soft to the left or right of they Key to further give texture to the subject.

    Film Noir reversed this process by making the Key light very dim so the subject was always in the shadows.

    • October 6, 2010 11:26 am

      Great explanation! Thank you!! I always wondered about that.

    • October 6, 2010 11:31 am

      Thanks, DJ.

      You should “hang” with us more often…Your knowledge of film is astounding.

    • October 8, 2010 7:32 am

      Donald, I would like to add my thanks to you as well for the film noir lesson. I, too, have always wondered just what exactly that meant!

  3. October 6, 2010 3:27 pm

    Unfortunately, I think we all knew or knew of a “Dave” in our youth.

    And good ol’ Vincent Price. Always willing to play the tortured soul. I would also put Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone in that category. Outside of Dracula, Lugosi really shined in some difficult roles, while Rathbone was the consumate villain before becoming Sherlock Holmes.

    Today’s films need to have gore or think they need gore or cheap thrills. Genuinely creepy films like “Ringu” (the scene at the end with Sadako coming through the TV set still chills me as much as that “Night Gallery” episode where the guy in the painting keeps getting closer to the house).

    Thanks for the reference to “The Birds.” Amazing how filmmakers today keep trying to remake these classics. They don’t realize that the real success of these classics comes from directors like Hitchcock and John Carpenter, plus the likes of Vincent Price and Anthony Perkins.

    Great blog today, Sharon.

    • October 6, 2010 3:55 pm

      Thank you, kind sir.
      Going to have to look up Ringu. Night Gallery, yes! And forgot some of those great episodes of Twilight Zone.

    • October 8, 2010 7:34 am

      (Raising cup of coffee in the air) Cheers! Thanks, Greg. The only film which was screaming to be remade was The Amityville Horror, which is one of the scariest books I have ever read. Most other films should have been left alone.

  4. October 6, 2010 5:33 pm

    Great post, Sharon. I, too, have recollections of the Pit and the Pendulum… it left quite an impression on me. Memorable for quite a specific reason! But more of that in my post… 🙂

  5. George Allwynn permalink*
    October 6, 2010 5:48 pm

    I’m not too sure if I could chose a favorite ‘scary’ film for my adult sensibilities.

    However, as a child – the made-for-television movie, “FRANKENSTIEN -A True Story” (1972) scared me soooo bad, I had to carry a flashlight with me for weeks afterwards.

    Looking back – it wasn’t a scary movie. It wasn’t even gory. The thing that caught my 8 year old imagination, was the scene where the disembodied hand used it’s fingers to ‘crawl’ across the stone floor, in search of killing the doctor…

    (*the 8 year old child still inside me shudders at the memory…)

    Another movie, I’ll never forget for scaring the sh!t out of me, was the Amnityville Horror.

    Me and my buddy Bart were the ‘horror film connoisseurs’ of our hometown. What else could a couple of adolescent, closeted queer nerds do before being able to legally drive?

    So, when the theater announced it would show Aminityville Horror, we hardly talked about nothing else.

    Having read the book and every National Enquire article we could get our hands on (after all, it was touted as a ‘true story’) we couldn’t wait for the walls to bleed blood right before our eyes.

    Ten minutes before seven, my mom dropped us off in front of the small theater, slipping us each a few bucks, enough for us to purchase our tickets, popcorn, drink and M&Ms (to throw at people during the scary parts) with a buck left over to go to the pool hall next door and play the pinball machine after the movie let out.

    Built in the late 1920’s, the dark theater was small, with a heavy velvet curtain framing an overly large, mis- proportionate screen on the back wall. The speakers and general acoustics of the old building were bad as well. Because of this, the best seats were mid section, on the side. But that didn’t stop me and Bart. We sat first row, necks cranked back, willing to become one with the action.

    As usual, Bart and I get seated, our grub in our hands, woofing down half of it while watching people come in, taking turns snickering at and chucking M&Ms at the ones who claimed to be scared already, or wrinkling our noses and chucking ice cubes at those who sat in the back, already making out.

    The lights dimmed and the movie started, void of any previews.

    We sat still, eyes glued to the screen. For a couple of 12 year olds back in the mid 70’s, we dealt with things well. We were cool, though one time we had to hold our crotches and giggle when a scene had a screeching black cat leap up and startle the main character and half of the screaming girls in the theater.

    We also held it together when the little girl’s ‘imaginary friend’ made a sudden, yet brief purple appearance.

    However, when the flies were in the window – and the priest was trying to do his blessing, and the walls were bleeding – there was this horrific voice that whispered…

    “…get out… GET OUT!”

    Remember how bad I told you the acoustics were in the theater?

    Well, when those words were shouted, the volume was so high that it shook the whole theater, vibrating the seats we were in and loosened the bar which held the curtain and the screen, toppling down on the first few rows…

    …you know, where Bart and I were…

    The dust flew.

    The reel kept turning.

    Panic ensued.

    Leading the pack on a dead bolt outside the theater and screaming like a couple of kindergardeners?


    Me and Bart.

    To this day, I can’t watch that movie during the part where the demon screams get out…

  6. October 6, 2010 5:59 pm

    David, can hardly wait!
    George, funny! You two were your own Abbott and Costello. I’ll bet with of all the capes you wore over the years, you never wore a red velvet one.

    Oh I was so wanting some of you guys to weigh in today.
    Love my writer friends.

  7. October 6, 2010 6:49 pm

    I love Bram Stokers, Dracula…It was the one of the best Vampire movies made, in my opinion. It held me, and scared me. I’m one who will avoid a scary movie. Not a slasher type, at all, but love a good mystery and suspense, that keeps me on the edge of my seat…

    Congrats again, Grandma…

    • October 6, 2010 8:21 pm

      Ah, thank you, Lee. She knows I was made a second grandma today. Little Micah Liam was born at 5:38 am Virginia time, and I got to give him his first cell phone love message. I hope as the years go by, if he’s as good looking as his parents, he will get many, many more.

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