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October 03, 2012

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Chris H

I'm very impressed you were checking out, or at least paging through, Irving and Poe when you were 7. My son is 7 and he mostly brings home crap from the library. It's not really his fault. Books for his age are all mostly crap. There are exceptions of course. I find William Steig to be deeply moving. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble in particular can really choke me up. Of course, Steig wrote adult books for children.

As for movies, I suppose like most 7 year olds, my son is pretty engaged with what's on the computer. Some content more edifying than others. PBSkids.org, for example, has some great stuff. Unfortunately, he's been into the various Disney pre-teen and teenager shows. iCarly comes to mind. I find those shows to be idiotic at best.

Anyway, I've recently been watching a fair amount of gangster movies. I chose a handful of titles form your 50 best list at MSN movies to watch. The Petrified Forest, The Beast of the City, The Maltese Falcon are some examples. I generally, don't invite my son to sit with me having learned from experience that that can force things too much. However, the computer and the TV are in the same room. It's delighted me to see him gradually spend less time looking at his screen and more time looking at my screen. He often gets very interested in the movie and asks so many questions I sometimes can't hear the dialogue. I love the fact that movies, even some old, kinda creaky movies, can have such an impact.

In fact, recently he and I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. While I, watching with 39 year old eyes, found much to object to in the movie, he was blown away. His legs were shaking. He was scared and excited and thrilled. Yes, that's a much more recent movie and Spielberg, for all his flaws, is a genius at pacing. But the movie seemed to have been not simply entertaining to him but it got him thinking as well. A few days later my son said to me, "Why in movies when someone is going to fall off a cliff, and you know they're going to be okay, do you still get nervous?" Movies absolutely still have tremendous power.

And finally, in addition to exposing him to entertainment different than most of the pablum available to kids today, I truly hope that our time staring at a screen together now will provide him with good memories in the future.

Fabian W.

My mom made me watch "Cabaret" when I was five. And thus, my path was set.

Really really great piece. Thank you.

rotch

This was beautiful. Thank you very much Glenn.

Also, why is it that the most honest cinephiles always start their relationships with cinema through the horror genre?

David Ehrenstein

I saw "The Haunting" when it came out in 1963. I was 16 and it scared the living shit out of me. Still does. What was has done here is make the ultimate Val Lewton movie. We see next to nothing, but we hear TONS. The soundtrack created for the film is incredibly dense and complex. We hear what seem to be voices speaking something we can never quite make out. Therefore we lean into the screen to hear more, and are perpetually frustrated when we don't. As for sights there's that bulging door, but more important the living characters. Julie Harris is the victim who is also the real monster. It's her desire for a rapprochement with ghosts that propels the plot. That and the phenomenal sets.

This is one of Roman Polanski's very favorite films, and it's easy to see why. Obviously the tracking shots through the castle in "The Fearless Vampire Killers" come from it, but less obviously there's the hotel by the ferryboat landing in "The Ghost Writer."

The woman who suddenly appears in that cubbyhole doesn't scream, BTW. WE do.

FOR WE WHO WALK HERE WALK ALONE.

Tony Dayoub

This is the sweetest ode to the power of movies I've read in quite some time.

"He was a very shy kid, and underneath the quiet lurked a truly delightful sense of humor... The final page was a drawing of Captain America and Nick Fury shaking hands, and the caption below read "We did it again, Nick!" And in marker on that page Joseph drew a horizon line behind the two figures, and on that line, between the men, a mushroom cloud."

Classic. I think we've all had a friend with that kind of sense of humor. Is this the friend you mention here from time to time, Mr. Failla (hope I remembered the spelling correctly)?

Glenn Kenny

Thanks, Tony. And yes, same guy!

Pete Apruzzese

Thanks for the plug, Glenn. Just got back from inspecting the Blimp print and it's a beauty that will look great on the screen Saturday.

To keep your theme going, here is our HorrorThon lineup for October 19-21:

Friday 10/19
7:30: The Shining (digital)

Saturday 10/20
1:45 - The Wolf Man (35mm)
3:45 - Dracula’s Daughter (35mm)
7:30 - Double Feature: The Pit & the Pendulum (new digital)) PLUS The Premature Burial (35mm) plus vintage snipes, movie trailers, etc., between the features.

Sunday 10/21
1:45 - Dr. Cyclops (35mm)
3:45 - The Black Room (35mm)
7:30 - The Mad Magician in Polarized Real-D digital 3-D – East Coast Premiere!

Paul

Terrific piece. I was traumatised by Poe around that age, and remember seeing bits of Masque of the Red Death on TV, enough to give me colourful nightmares. Thankfully The Haunting didn't come into my life til I was old enough to, whaddayacallit, compartmentalise.

atk

Great piece, enjoy Saturday!!

Kevin Michael Grace

The Haunting played fairly regularly on Vancouver TV in the late 60s, when I was just about a teenager. I used to bet myself I could watch 15 minutes of it alone, in a room with the door closed and the lights off. I always lost that bet. I'm pretty sure I'd lose it today.

The Exorcist came out 10 years after The Haunting, and it's a fine film, but it changed the genre forever and not for the better. Since then, instead of horror engendered by the fear of what we don't know, we have gotten horror engendered by the fear of what we do know to be at the top of the stairs: detailed and disgusting images.

MSK

A walk down memory lane. Really good stuff. Say 'Hey' to the gang!

Grant L

Joining the pile-on for what a great film it is, though I have to do another shoutout, because my first exposure to this material was the original novel, which in its own way does just what the movie does in an equally harrowing way. Considering the fact that she also did The Lottery, We Have Always Lived In the Castle and that's just the undeniable stuff, Shirley Jackson's name isn't mentioned half as much as it should be these days.

David Ehrenstein

Indeed. She's as unique and indelible as Patrica Highsmith.

That Fuzzy Bastard

Another vote for this movie! Scary as the screaming face is, it's the two women staring at the door that makes me wring my hands in terror every time. Helps, too, that the cast is uniformly terrific---the women are obviously compelling, but let's spare a thought for Russ Tamblyn's ability to actually invest some feeling into what is, on the page, a pretty dull part. Clarens' complaint is interesting, though, and I see exactly what he means--- Lewton's horror films, even the ones Tourneur directed, have a deliberate lack of visual exclamation points that makes everything feel genuinely uncanny; the visuals aim for eeriness rather than traditional scares. The Haunting is much more a traditional spook show; you can feel a film-maker trying to make you jump, particularly with the voice-over and the occasional fast dollies or quick cuts.

MarkJ

One of your best-ever posts Glenn. Takes me back to happy memories of my own movie-obsessed childhood and college days.

Michael Phillips

This is lovely, Glenn. Bravo. These things stay with us. "Mysterious Island" on TV, watching with my dad; "Funny Girl" at the theater w my mom. A few years later, the three of us at the most cynical PG-rated double feature ever: "The Getaway" and "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean."

Hope to see you before too long.

raygo

Did you have the "Movie of the Week" when you were a kid? I grew up outside Philadephia in S Jersey, and channel 17 had a "Movie of the Week", where one film was played at different times of the day for an entire week. I must have watched "A Night to Remember" at least 20-30 times growing up. It was in frequent rotation. And yeah, my mom was none too please with her couch potato son.

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