Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Uninvited 1944

I have had this little haunted house ditty sitting in my DVR queue for quite a while.  I don't know why I put off watching it for so long, after all, I love Ray Milland, who stars here as Roderick Fitzgerald, a down on his luck composer and impulse house buyer.  It also stars Ruth Hussey as Pamela, Roderick's sister, who, I can only guess, is a spinster in training and money drain.  While on vacation the siblings decide to purchase Windward house, a gothic mansion on the English coast, for shits and giggles. 

The Fitzgerald siblings move in right away, despite being warned that the old house may be haunted.  Instead of scaring them off, it only intrigues them.  People after my own heart!

Roderick is equally intrigued by Stella Meredith, the young lady who grew up in the house.  Her Mother died under mysterious circumstances (suicide or murder: no one one knows for sure.)  Her Father died many years later, and Stella is in the care of her elderly Grandfather, Commander Beech, who sells the house to the Siblings Fitzgerald. 

Commander Beech is quite insistent that Stella never step foot inside Windward House.  As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult for Roderick to court her. 

Roderick and Pamela soon discover that the haunting rumors are true.  At night they hear a woman crying, the house has cold spots, and and certain times the air fills with the scent of Mimosa, which Stella explains was her Mother's signature scent.  Instead of running scared, the siblings decide to investigate.  They uncover all sorts of gothicky goodness.

Turns out Stella's Father was getting in on with his Spanish model Carmel.  Mary (Stella's mother) knew all about it.  Mr. Meredith finally asked Carmel to hit the road shortly after his daughter (Stella) was born.  Carmel, in a fit of rage, grabbed baby Stella and threatened to jump off the cliff.  Mary ran after them, and fell off the cliff herself, dying, as one does, in the process.  Carmel died a week later under mysterious circumstances.  This is the story told by one Miss Holloway, a former Nanny still obsessed with Mary Meredith (cue hidden lesbian themes and comparisons to Rebecca here.) 

Does Mary and Carmel haunt Windward house?  Will Roderick ever score with Stella?  Why the hell does Pamela mooch off her Brother so?  All answers are revealed in this wonderful spooky little film.  So spooky, actually, that Martin Scorsese named it one of this top horror films.  I wouldn't go that far, but the film is atmospheric and has a great storyline.  The characters, particularly Roderick and Pamela, are all interesting.  The Uninvited would make a great addition to your haunted house movie marathon.  As a bonus, the composer for this film, Victor Young, created a piano piece for Roderick to play called "Stella by Starlight."  I had no idea this jazz standard came from this film.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Monstrous Manifesto

“If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams
Come stand by me.
If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone
If you have been starving, a creature of bone
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.

If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.”
— A Monstrous Manifesto, by Catherynne M. Valente

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Birthday you Crazy Bastard!

H.P.Lovecraft would have been 122 today, and probably still kind of an asshole.  But, I love him. I also love this:

Making my reservations soon for NecronomiCon-Providence August 23-25 2013.  Check out more info here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TCM Event Series: Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein

I had a day off and finally some time to watch a horror movie!  What did I chose?  Hellraiser 3!  I forgot I watched and wrote about it 2 short years ago.  I looked back at my post and realized I was going to write the exact same thing this time, with more emphasis on the awesomeness of shoulder pads.  I will spare you all and instead share this awesome info: On October 24th, as part of TCM"s Event Series, theatres everywhere will be showing a double feature of Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein.  It is a Halloween dream come true!

Tickets are already available.  Check it out at:

They are also playing The Birds and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Thank you TCM for giving us all a chance to see these classics up on the big screen!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Battle Royale

I was lucky enough to see Battle Royale in the theatre when it was first released.  I was living in England and it played at all the major movie theatres.  In the good old States, most people would have to wait about 10 years to see this film, seeing how touchy we are about violence (?).  Considering the film was released shortly after the Columbine High School Massacre, this begins to make more sense.  Battle Royale is about a class of school mates who are shipped to an island and forced to kill each other.  They have 3 days and there can only be one survivor.  If they refuse, their heads get blown off by this nifty little necklace they are forced to wear. 

Known for it's over the top violence and brutality, made all the worse that it is perpetuated by children, Battle Royale has quite a reputation.  Honestly, I found it all a little boring and melodramatic.  Perhaps if I was 15 I would have appreciated how hard it is to kill the boy you had a crush on but were too shy to tell him.  As a curmudgeonly 30 plus year old though I found it all a bit ridiculous.

 Not saying I didn't love the over the top violence.  It is no wonder Tarantino lists this as one of his all time favorite films.  Some of the performances are very good, especially Kou Shibasaki as the lethal Mitsuko Souma, the quiet girl turned deranged killer.

If anything, re-watching Battle Royale some 11 years later made me want to read the 1999 novel upon which the film is based.  There is a lot of interesting stuff in the film, particularly the flashbacks that give more insight into the characters, that I would assume are more fleshed out in the novel.  Give me a few chapters about Mitsuko and I will be happy.

There is no comparison between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games to be made, so I am not going to bother.  They are totally different in style, intent, and execution (pun intended.)  The films might make a good double feature however. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PA 4: I can't even remember what the last two were about.

I am pretty over these.  Ready for them to go the way of Saw.  Of course, I will go see it...