There are 10 differences between the image above (A) and the image below (B). Can you find them all?
I need your help as winter approaches. I have a movie stuck in my head and I can not find the name of it. All I have to go on is it was on TV, not sure when or what channel, and it might be a made for tv movie, I am not sure. All I can remember is that there was an avalanche, and someone is dying , and up to their neck in snow and they start hallucinating and talking to a rock of all things. I remember the guy naming the rock rocky and the rock had a mouth that said I have always been here and always will be. Then the mouth on the rock vanishes and the guy gets a little frantic and the screen fades to black shortly after. I need to know I was not just making this up, and any help will be appreciated.
I always have time for a movie concerning witches and if it’s casting its spell in gorgeous black and white that’s even better in my book. Directed by Don Sharp (who helmed the equally atmospheric KISS OF THE VAMPIRE a year earlier), WITCHCRAFT is a surprisingly dark and moody tale with a superbly gloomy ending. I’m a little shocked that it has evaded me for so many years because it seems like it should be mentioned alongside some of my favorite titles like BURN, WITCH, BURN (1962), HORROR HOTEL (1960) and THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945). Truth is, I found it streaming free on TubiTV and liked it so much that I went online to buy a copy only to recognize it as something I already owned and hadn’t viewed yet (it’s in one of those “Midnight Movie” double feature sets from MGM with DEVIL’S OF DARKNESS (1965)). I know that’s not a very interesting story but I want to publically yell at myself for purchasing movies and not watching them. Plus, I’d like to alert the world that my brain has seen better days.
WITCHCRAFT opens with gravestones being crushed by a bulldozer. Because this film takes place decades before POLTERGEIST (1982), it’s not yet public knowledge that putting a land development on top of a graveyard is a rotten idea. The legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. as Morgan Whitlock is seeing red about the desecration (as well he should) because the very same family disturbing the graves (the Laniers) buried his relative Vanessa Whitlock (Diane Clare) alive under (accurate) accusations of witchcraft there. It’s sort of a Hatfields vs. McCoys situation except one family are greedy jerks who steal land and the other family are cool witches who can make you think you’re driving your car on Main Street when you’re really driving off of a cliff. Making things even stickier is the canoodling of two young lovers (David Weston as Todd Lanier and Diane Clare as Amy Whitlock) from each clan who hope to bypass all this ancient history and start anew. Peace and tranquility are hardly in the cards though because Vanessa Whitlock has risen from the grave and she looks fierce, awesomely creepy and totally pissed.
This toasty flick is tailor-made for watching from under a blanket with a reliable cat at your side. There’s a big old dark house full of menacing shadows and dizzying wallpaper, foggy walks to a torch-lit crypt, a bed-ridden old lady cackling out warnings, and a funeral for nearly every character who doesn’t abide. Plus, you get chanting Satanic cults, voodoo dolls and the kind of lovable score that doesn’t mind beating revelations into your head with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Some of it may be a bit tame and hokey by today’s standards (at one point we’re meant to be alarmed by a toad) but underneath its reserved veneer, it couldn’t be more dark and pessimistic (one character, who seems primed for redemption actually ends up with a wicked demise). The resurrected witch Vanessa Whitlock is pretty charming and alarming to behold and in a world starved for female ghoul representation, I think she deserves much more notoriety. Like all great monsters, she’s as sympathetic as she is frightening and I’m a little sad she didn’t leave a deep enough impression to warrant a sequel. #justiceforvanessawhitlock
It’s been decades since I first saw Flash Gordon in the movie theater as a kid and to this day I am loathe to reach my arm into someplace I haven’t thoroughly inspected. I still go through this circus every day when I need to check my mailbox. Each time I reach my arm into that dark recess I thoroughly expect to feel a sting and pull my arm out dripping with green goo only to ask Timothy Dalton to run me through with a sword and spare me the madness.
But I think there is a bigger, more symbolic meaning here. Remember as a kid when the mail was the coolest thing ever? I would race to the mailbox to get my catalogs from Sears, Toys R Us, Service Merchandise, Cabelas, Gander Mountain, etc. and pour over them for hours looking at all the cool things they offered and I couldn’t afford. One day I’ll be able to order whatever I want, I thought, and my wife will be one of those girls in the Cabelas catalogs who sits around in her flannel pajamas and sips hot tea with honey from a giant Cabelas mug in front of the fire.
But as life wore on and many of the delights from childhood faded and soured, mail became its antithesis. Now instead of joy, it delivered a merciless sting: an endless parade of bills, collection agents, tax notices, registration and license renewals, and the ugly faces of pandering politicians at election time. Timothy Dalton said: “Death is certain, but only after tortured madness. (“How long?”) Hours. days, depending on your strength.” If that isn’t an allegory for how life wears us down, I don’t know what is.
P.S. Please feel free to use the attached picture I made of my actual mailbox (No Prince Barin’s were harmed in the making of this picture.)
About 15 years ago there was a program on PBS I believe, maybe during their beg-a-thon, it seemed to be a documentary about a play(?) because there were clips of the thing and clips of people talking. Anyway, the particular scene in question was of a small child, a boy I believe, on an alien island possibly? Or planet? Not sure, but he awakens from his sleep to see some plants with pods on the top of them and they were sort of sway-dancing in a very creepy manner. There was a choir in the background (sound-wise) and then it jumped to a scene of the young boy frying eggs on a rock, throwing the fry pan to flip them in the air with the plants behind him. I haven’t been able to find anything about this (all the searches for alien plants come up with is Little Shop Of Horrors which is definitely not it), and there is no PBS schedule from this time on the net. It scared the bajeesus out of me when I was youngish and I’m dying to find at least something about this.
Mike Flanagan is an incredibly talented filmmaker with singular talents and a sincere love of the genre that consistently flows through his work. He also doesn’t mind driving me insane by wearing his heart on his sleeve, underlining things that don’t require it and hitting sour notes at the worst possible time. Is it just me? I think it’s just me and I have to accept that. I loved THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE but felt kicked in the shins by its neatly tied in a bow closure. I think he achieved the impossible adapting GERALD’S GAME but felt yanked out of the drama by the overstated villain. Now, I absolutely loved about eighty percent of DOCTOR SLEEP only to find portions of its climax practically cringe-worthy. But look, eighty percent is a great grade. It’s basically a “B” right? I just feel like a real stick in the mud about this because I see so many with nothing but hearts in their eyes concerning this film. It is unquestionably quite an achievement, with inevitable classic status performances; it flies admirably high but to me, its landing is kinda janky.
Ewan McGregor is Danny Torrance (now Dan) all grown up and slipping into self-destroying, memory-buffering alcoholism. Luckily fate does him a solid and pushes the nicest guy on Earth, Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis) into his path and soon he’s collecting AA coins and helping the elderly through the doorway of death with the help of a psychic cat (all cats are psychic and this is the part of the movie where I wish it was a mini-series so that we could spend more time in this cozy zone). He also discovers another person with his “shining” abilities, a staunch young girl named Abra (Kyleigh Curran) who he messages with frequency via his groovy chalkboard wall (he has the coolest apartment since MORK & MINDY). Trouble arises when a vampire-like group of psychic energy-sucking miscreants led by “Rose The Hat” (Rebecca Ferguson) get a whiff of Abra’s whammy fuel and decide it will be really awesome to smoke her like a doobie (these rats are so unscrupulous that they chomped on a little boy after a baseball game in the movie’s most disturbing scene). To be clear: acting and casting-wise, everybody in this movie is uniformly excellent. McGregor is deep as a well, Curtis is rock solid, Curran is steadfast, Ferguson delivers something for the ages and her right-hand henchman Crow Daddy (Zahn McClarnon) and new recruit “Snakebite Andi” (Emily Alyan Lind) are as compelling as they are threatening. Even more incredibly, Carl Lubly as Hallorann and Alex Essoe as Wendy Torrence (!) occupy their legendary roles effortlessly.
I’m all in and things keep getting better and better and its all beautifully winding its way to the inevitable confrontation at the ground zero of Dan’s distress. I’m floating on a cloud. I love these people, good and bad (though we needed more cat), I feel like I’ve rarely seen a movie so respectful of its character’s motivations. What a beautiful examination of trauma, recovery and the value of self-forgiveness and friendship. In fact, I like this “Rose The Hat” much better than the Janis Joplin creep I pictured in my head when I read the book! And now THE SHINING music starts! I can hardly take it! It’s all so exquisite and then we get to the piece de resistance… the Overlook Hotel! This is it; this is what I’ve waited decades for… I’m with Dan, I am Dan at this point…
The wheels of the cart don’t fall off at the Overlook hotel but they sure did screech and wobble for me. I held on as long as I could, I clutched with all my might but something about the climax chaffed me the wrong way. Maybe it’s a weakness in me but it starts to feel like a cross between visual karaoke and a theme park maze. It’s like they’re strolling through a wax museum. At one point Rose The Hat looks down the hall, sees the elevator pouring blood and sort of does a knowing smile/wink that is so on the nose I thought she might start singing, “I think I’m going to like it here” from ANNIE. I dunno, in THE SHINING (both the King book and Kubrick flick) it felt like the spirits involved were infinite and unknowable, here they feel like a limited “Legion of Doom” rogues gallery. It’s me. It’s my fault. I’m a curmudgeon. I can’t think of any way Flanagan could have handled the material better (hmmm, maybe go all in and throw me the bear/dog man bone and lay off the bathroom lady a tad?). Don’t worry, I’m not going to throw out the old hag out with the bathwater. I’m sure I’ll watch this movie again and I’ll soften to seeing haunting horror iconography scrolled through like a family vacation slideshow. My niece texted me after the movie and asked me how it was. I texted back, “I have mixed feelings but it’s definitely worth seeing”. At the risk of sounding like the type of person who would call Picasso’s Guernica “busy”, that’s pretty much my review in a nutshell.
OK, I have two super obscure ones and I am hoping someone somewhere can find clips. I have a couple more in the chamber but I don’t want to bury you with these all at once.
1) I have a vague recollection of an animation on an early 70s Sesame Street that was a cut-out animation of the sun and moon coming up and going down on a black background and the music was a mellow jazz thing with a flute solo at the end. Not unlike Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins creepy tunes in the Manson documentary from 1973.
2) I have a recollection of a late 70s/early 80s Fire Prevention PSA with ultra grainy film of a woman placing a tray of wooden matches before two seemingly black-eyed children.
Any one else remember these creepy things?