As a child, my sister loved nothing better than a good story about “Bloody Bones” right before she went to bed. My father would oblige her, sitting on her bed and using that tone of voice adults use to convey mystery and suspense and I hated it, lying in my bed on my side of our tiny room.
This was heap big fun for those two and I never understood why Bloody Bones was an acceptable bedtime activity and my telling Kathy that the world was coming to an end tonight, was not. Many were the nights Daddy would wake me from a dead sleep because he had found her quivering in bed, her tiny heart trying to get right with God, as I snored on. He didn’t see the humor it it, and at that precise moment, neither did I.
I don’t go in much for horror movies. I always think they are apt to be accounts of actual events. But if you want some quality viewing this weekend of some of the best scary movies, let me recommend the following.
You may keep your Jasons, your Freddie Kruegers, your Chuckys and his bride. I believe this list encompasses the creepy, scary and bizarre, but does so with style and taste. The 1970’s was a rich time for horror films. First on my list is the 1977 flick, “The Sentinel.” I saw if at the dollar theatre on Western’s campus, and it was frightening, suspenseful, disgusting and gross, in equal measure. I saw it twice. Hated it both times, but there was something about it. I suspect the language was terrible, and I know some of the scenes at the gates of Hell bordered on the depraved, but it starred a young Tom Berringer, Christopher Walken, Christina Raines, and Beverly D’Angelo. Oh, yes, and Burgess Meredith. Nobody did creepy like he did creepy.
“Carrie,” in the original, was also a 1970’s horror flick, starring a young Sissy Spacek, who went on to bigger and better things, and William Katt, who did not. This might have been the first movie with the passion play subplot of all the bad acting teenagers getting what they deserve.
John Carpenter raised the ante with his seminal movie, “Halloween,” which served as a model for all the following movies involving teenagers. He directed it on the slimmest of budgets, $325,000, and it went on to gross 70 million dollars world-wide. Michael Meyers, the murderous teenaged escaped mental patient, wore a two dollar Captain Kirk mask, spray-painted white. The audience spends some time inside that mask, seeing what Michael sees, and we hear his breathing, and it is subtle, yet confusing, and horrifying, too. I won’t watch it alone.
We also have “The Omen,” all about Damien, the little adopted Antichrist, and you won’t believe it, but he kills people left and right, in all sorts of ways, usually through unexplained accidents. The search is on, then, for his true origins, and wouldn’t you know it, his mother was a jackal. Starring my man, Gregory Peck, it’s a really good one.
One of the scariest movies you might want to find this weekend is a children’s movie–and I am not kidding you–a Disney film, called, “Something Wicked this Way Comes.” It is based on a story by Ray Bradbury and it involves an evil carnival, as of course it would, and it seems to be shot entirely at night, even the daytime scenes, and it stars Jason Robards and Diane Ladd and some other people you probably don’t know. Lots of rattling leaves and unexplained thumps and bumps. Not really for young children.
But the granddaddy of them all, the best of the best, has to be this old childhood favorite, “The Wizard of Oz.” When I was a child it came on once a year, usually at Easter time. Why, I couldn’t possibly say. But of all the movies then, or since, it is this one that has haunted my dreams, given me nightmares, and sent me scurrying through the dark halls of my house looking for my mother.
The tornado, Miss Gulch turning into the Wicked Witch through the swirling window, the fire ball she tosses to the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road, “Surrender Dorothy” written in the sky. Flying monkeys, people! The soldiers…ho-eee-yo…until finally, the Wicked Witch melts into a pool of herself, mourning “all her lovely wickedness.” Shew.