Monday, October 24, 2011

Movies That Made Me a Monster Kid #4: Trilogy of Terror

Let me first confess that Dan Curtis is my hero.  Dark Shadows made a huge impact on my monster kid life (more on that another time), but his TV movies were also a great influence on the kinds of movies and programming that I would grow to love, as well as on the kinds of stories I would like to write.
Welcome to My Nightmare!

Trilogy of Terror, as a whole, is burned into memory, but it was one particular segment in the movie that was particularly seared into my monster kid psyche -- "Amelia."

Each of the three stories starred the incredible Karen Black.  Black was a mainstay in my childhood.  One of the few actors for who I recognized being there throughout my life.  I was always impressed with her -- mosty because of this very movie, in which she plays the eponymous character in each of the three segments.  In "Julia," Black plays a homely English teacher who becomes the target of one of her student's advances.  The boy is looking to find new territory to conquer, other than the usual cast of female students.  So, he sets his sites on the "she must be hot under those glasses and librarian clothes" teacher.  It turns out,  she is a lot more wild than anyone expected.  In "Millicent and Therese," Black plays sisters -- one meek and mild, the other crass and wild.  The last, and most widely talked about, is "Amelia" (sometimes referred to as "The Zuni Fetish Doll").  Black plays Amelia, a grown woman who is trying to cut the apron strings to her overbearing mother.  Eve though she's moved out, and has her own career, her mother still has a strong hold on her.  After a day of shopping, Amelia decides to brush off her usual dinner with Mom, for a night of solitude.  As if triggered by her guilt for lying to her mum, a Zumi fetish doll, that she's bought as decor for her new apartment, comes to life and attacks Amelia.  I remember being riveted, watching this segment, not only because the Zumi doll was so freakishly scary, but mostly because the attacks were terrifyingly brutal.
Waiting for Mum to visit

The image of the Zumi fetish doll would soon become iconic for 70s TV horror movies.  But the image that slayed me was that of Karen Black, crouched down on the apartment floor, stabbing a large butcher knife into the floor, the insane look of the Zumi doll cast across her face

True story -- this insane pose was mimicked, one dark and scary night, by my sister, who bore more than a resemblance to the young Karen Black.  Ruined me for life!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Films that Made Me a Monster Kid #3 - The Bad Seed (1956)

This was the movie that got me to be frightened of creepy little kids.  Heck, I was just a kid when I saw it, so the damage has been long standing.  It also gave me an appreciation for chilling movies that didn't dabble in th supernatural.  Little Rhoda Penmark (played superbly by Patty McCormack) was just what the title says -- a bad seed.  She didn't have the devil in her.  She wasn't swarmed by demons.  She was just the world's most insane little brat.

Some trivia:  The song that little Rhoda plays on the piano was the very first song I ever learned to play.  Us siblings would play the song with a blank stare in our eyes, to creep other people out.  It worked...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Film's That Made Me a Monster Kid #2: 13 Ghosts (1960)

This movie showed me the sweet sweet joys of being terrified.  Oddly enough, I watched this movie on a quiet, tranquil Sunday morning.  Sunday morning TV, when I was a kid, was very laid back.  We'd watch the local morning show, called Shhhhh, and then some Laurel & Hardy, and Davey & Goliath.  This one morning, for some reason, the wiseguys at the local TV station decided they'd put a creepy, ghost story on, for all the kiddies to watch, before their moms and dads got up for church.

I was mesmerized!

Until that cobwebbed covered ghost squished a victim in the killer canopy bed!!  The unique look of those ghosts was never really duplicated in other films -- I'm not sure why.  The corpse-like features and cobwebs, sometimes cloaked in the traditional clothe.  I thought they were creepy then, and still do!  The Zemeckis/Silver remake of 2001 was a fairly unfrightening, overindulgent, effects-laden attempt to bring horror into the big budget blockbuster world.  After seeing that flop, I was really wishing that Ghost # 7 would drop the dynamic producing duo into a hole filled with acid.  Sizzle!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Films that Made Me a Monster Kid #1 - The Tingler

BadRonald here, popping in for a visit on this festive Halloween Season.  I'd like to share with you some of the movies and shows that helped shape me into the freakazoid that I am today.  Props go out to the likes of Vincent Price, William Castle, Dan Curtis, the Hammer gang, and so many others.  Lemme start with a real creeper...

The Tingler, no doubt, is my earliest movie memory.  I don't remember what age I was, probably 4 or 5.  However, I remember sitting there in front of the old Black&White, completely scared out of my trousers.  The most vivid memory is the scene with the deaf, mute girl in the tub (hot dog!), about to be attacked by the huge killer bug.

You see, the premise -- as set up by Mr. William Castle in his preamble -- was that if you see the Tingler coming at you, you just scream, and that will chase it off.  Well, Miss Prettylady couldn't scream, so all she could do was leave me with the terrifying image of her and her gap-mouth silent scream!  Thanks lady!  Now naked ladies in tubs make me scared and silly willy.

This film was the very start of my life as a diehard horror fan.  And it also introduced me to my first favorite movie star -- Vincent Price.


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