Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guest Post: True Horror Is Not Having a Gin In My Hand

Editor's Note (Kevin): This first entry in our Halloween Spooktacular comes from our friend Loretta, who, well, is awesome, and I got her to write about he favorite scary movies because it's that time of year. I truly love this list because it has a lot of stuff that usually doesn't show up in these kinds of lists. It's great and I'll bet you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Without further adieu, here's Loretta:

Whenever I watch any movie, I am reminded of watching movies with my Grandpa Joe - with his Jameson whiskey in hand he would point out important scenes and inconsistencies, interesting lighting techniques, recognizable background actors, and even quiz me afterwards.  Our family may be Catholic but I think our true religion is food, drinking and movies.

I always forget that horror movies are a favorite of mine until I come across them again; mostly I find them funny, and I laugh out loud at the most gruesome scenes.  A few years ago AMC broadcast a compilation of the best horror scenes and I never laughed harder than at watching continuous murder after bloody murder... fun!

So picking just a handful will be hard, but I can try...

Bad Ronald (1974)

 I remember watching a rerun showing of this with my Ma; she tells me it was an after school special. It was about a dorky kid who accidentally kills a bully; his mother (Kim Hunter) hides him in the walls of the house, but she dies and another family (led by Dabney Coleman) buys the house.

Ronald becomes obsessed with the new family's daughter - he draws a whole fantasy world all over the inside of the wall, with her as the princess and he as her prince (this may be why I was never one of those little girls who obsessed about princesses).  Eventually bad Ronald bursts out of the walls and scares the crap out of the daughter.

I have not seen this movie since and refuse to watch it again, in fear of disappointment that it would no longer be scary (not to mention terrible.)

Side note: When I first started living on my own, the apartment I was in had a family of birds living in the walls.  I could hear them scratching at night I was convinced that one day Bad Ronald was going to burst right into my room. 

With all the crappy remakes of good movies out there, here is one movie that should be remade into something better; and the Zombieland kid should play Ronald.

One of the first scary movies I recall watching with Grandpa Joe was Psycho; we often drove past the looming Westward Ho Hotel in downtown Phoenix, the first hotel seen in the movie.  Even before seeing the movie I was wary of that hotel; though no scary scenes take place at that location, there is something nefarious about its slightly off-kilter tower.

There is a scene in the movie that stands out ahead of the others.  Anthony Perkins is looking at the sign-in book while eating (nuts, I think), and he turns his head in such a way that the screen is filled by the underside of his chin and neck, amplifying his chewing motions.  Joe pointed out the lighting and questioned the reasoning behind that scene and it has become as iconic to me as the shower scene.

Believe it or not this was a family film... well at least to our family (I remember seeing it with everyone around the TV).  It starts in a true slasher fashion with teens in a parked car; a hooded man starts menaces the couple and chews the hell out of the girl.  Joe made it all the scarier by pointing out constantly that it was based on a true story.

Ben Johnson plays "Captain Morales" in search of the hooded killer - Ben Johnson was in a lot of westerns including Shane ("Shane!!!"), so there should be no doubt why - as a family - we would sit together and watch this film.

Mama Querita (Spanish dub of Mommie Dearest) 1981

Faye Dunaway plays Joan Crawford in the movie version of daughter Christina Crawford's tell-all memoir.  Some would not place this in horror movie genre - those people are wrong and have never seen this movie dubbed into Spanish.  I grew up being yelled at in Spanish and the actress dubbing Faye Dunaway's performance is pure genius (and may very well have studied under my great grandma).  Truly frightening.

Of course,  when we talk of Mommie Dearest I have to talk about Mike, my Ma's long time companion.  One day I came home from school to find Mike wearing my mom's headband in the style of Joan Crawford by way of Faye Dunaway, acting out whole scenes from the movie (this was his idea of babysitting).  At one point his "acting" was almost ruined by his joy at finding a wire hanger to rant about in my closet.

Speaking of Spanish versions, I've only seen this a few times but it stands out for me.  I don't speak Spanish, but have seen the Bela Lugosi version enough to be able to follow along easily.  Carlos Villarias may even make a better Dracula than Bela Lugosi, and they used the same sets and costumes (it was filmed during the off hours of filming the English version).  I would love if this kind of thing was done today, without the whole "let's remake a foreign film and dumb it down for dumb Americans" approach... or maybe I wouldn't.  Hmmm.

Janet Leigh, Rory Calhon, DeForest Kelly, and killer bunnies! 'nuff said.

Also, my husband requested that I include this:

Oh, remember when Christopher Walken still acted and was not a Christopher Walken parody?  Who am I kidding, I love Christopher Walken, no matter how he is acting.  I was surprised to learn that David Cronenberg directed this movie. as it is the least Cronenbergian Cronenberg movie that I have ever seen.  This movie is the reason that whenever I see a person jogging I hope they do not get hit by a milk truck and gain powers of mystical foresight.

I cannot stand the sequence in this with the cucarachas and am gettin all cucuys just thinking about it.

Note: "cucarachas" means "cockroaches" and "cucuy" means "boogieman" but can also express a general sense of being creeped out-ness.

I can watch Ernest Thesiger's Doctor Pretorius play with his little jars all frakkin' day.

I guess this is more of a Mexpoltaion movie than horror, but it is bloody and being Mexican never made me so proud!  Danny Trejo looks just like my Nana's boyfriend Gabe...  Jessica Albas "acting"...  They do the huevo thing... and the foley on the hidden cell phone is just priceless.  What's not to love?

(Thanks Loretta!)


  1. I recently saw The Town That Dreaded Sundown late night on ThisTV--Dawn Wells gets shot through the face! And my favorite scene, death by trombone: