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“TV Movie Inspired: Insidious” by Amanda Reyes

April 16th, 2011 · 1 Comment

UNK SEZ: We seldom have two reviews for the same movie going on around these parts but after hearing pal AMANDA REYES‘ personal take on INSIDIOUS that had to change. I pleaded and eventually bribed her to jot her thoughts down so that all you fine folks could check them out and the results are below. Enjoy and remember to visit AMANDA MADE FOR TV MAYHEMREYES at her home joint frequently HERE!

Being the retro film/television nut I am, I tend to be a little late to the game. Luckily, I was only off by days, as compared to years, when it came to catching Insidious. It was a fittingly rainy night and with plans for drinks afterwards, my evening was set. I wasn’t particularly surprised by how much I enjoyed Insidious, but I was definitely taken by what I felt were some nifty TV movie references.

I should say that there may be some spoilers here. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet… go now!

I won’t speak for either Leigh Whannel or James Wan, the superb crafters of a ghost story that employs the whole less-is-more strategy so well it can’t help but give you the willies, but I am pretty sure I felt a little small screen love in the theater. Perhaps the more obvious nod to the wonderful world of T.V. movies came attached to that creepy old woman. Appropriately named Old Woman (and played by Philip Friedman), she was eerily reminiscent of that spine-chilling gal from the 1989 British chiller The Woman in Black. Sure they added a veil and made her, like, more dead, but that detached feeling of inexplicable dread permeates both characters in much the same way. It’s pretty interesting then that both movies deal with children. Well, Insidious deals with the calamity of everyday parenting while the Woman in Black deals with the lack thereof (and eventually Insidious heads in that direction). Theories abound that the black-clad, T.V.-movie mistress and high child mortality rate are not coincidental (and it’s probably no mistake the lead character’s last name is Kidd).

While both stories are about saving a child and then paying the price for it in the end, the filmmakers behind Insidious give a deeper connection to the Old Woman and the family she terrorizes. There are small scenes featuring Josh (Patrick Wilson) plucking gray hairs and applying eye cream to those sexy fines lines of his. Josh’s repressed memories appear in the most innocuous moments in the film, adding a nice kick to my post film coffee talk discussion! It’s been years since I’ve seen the excellent Woman in Black, but it’s hard to deny the resemblance of those two characters. Black has recently been remade with Daniel Radcliffe and should hopefully be hitting our shores soon. I can’t wait!

The other hit-me-over-the-head reference I got regards the overall film. I believe James Wan and Leigh Whannel were inspired more by Fox’s 1991 tele-pic The Haunted than Poltergeist. In some ways they are noticeably similar, but I was most struck by the association with the baby monitor incident in Insidious and that creepy talking pillow in The Haunted. The 1991 film is based on the Smurls, a devout family who are haunted by some less devout manifestations. And perhaps it’s simply by the very nature of small screen horror that Insidious’ deftly intimate atmosphere can’t help but to harness good vibes from any audience member heavily reared on television terror, i.e. me!

Made for very little money, Insidious manages to creep inside and wring your guts. There are so many touches, such as the constant ticking sound beginning with the grandfather clock, moving to the metronome to the EKG machine and finally back to that dang metronome, that prove those fabulous men behind the curtain were meticulous with crafting what I think is the best damn horror film to come in far too long. The atmosphere alone makes it a fine companion with such small screen fare as The House That Would Not Die (1970), Something Evil (1972), The Possessed (1977) and Don’t Go to Sleep (1982). Wherever the inspiration arose from and whatever I am putting into it myself, I was pleased to finally come across a new horror movie that wanted my imagination to work as hard as the filmmakers’.


 

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Tags: Amanda By Night · Telenasties

Stream Warriors: Hosted By Amanda By Night!

February 27th, 2011 · 5 Comments

UNK SEZ: While I was cleaning up the aftermath of the weekend-long CHRISTOPHER GEORGE celebration that took place at Kindertrauma Castle, I discovered our dear pal AMANDA BY NIGHT under a glass coffee table as if reenacting a scene from SIXTEEN CANDLES! Besides the fact that she had somewhere along the lines lost the blonde wig of her LYNDA DAY GEORGE as Mary Riggs from PIECES costume (which was basically a tennis outfit with the word “Bastard!” embroidered on the front), she looked none the worse for wear. As I still have an escaped grizzly bear to catch, I asked Amanda if she would mind hosting today’s episode of Stream Warriors and she was only too happy to oblige. Thanks for your help Amanda! Now all I need to do is find a jar of honey and a net…

COCAINE: ONE MAN’S SEDUCTION

Dennis Weaver, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways… besides starring in one of the best (and arguably most famous) made for TV movies DUEL, Dennis also lent his extraordinary (and sometimes un-excusably over the top) presence to such films as DON’T GO TO SLEEP and this crazy tale about a middle aged man’s struggle with the blow, which originally aired on February 27th, 1983 on NBC. I adore this movie, and I also think it typifies why the little world of ’70s and ’80s TV movies was so awesome. I wrote a paper once (mostly for fun, ‘cuz I am a nerd) about how for those of us who were either too young or just unable to experience the grindhouse circuit, the tele-film was a good look at the world of sordid B-movies… even if it was a sanitized version of those films. Many folks got their first taste of horror and sleaze through rose colored glasses, but it created a passion. And even if that all seems like hooey-bluey to you, you simply have to see this movie for Weaver’s intense and hilarious freak-outs. Also it’s pretty awesome when he gets high with Pamela Bellwood and is all, “The earth is round, man.” OK, he doesn’t say that, but I swear he wanted to. You can watch Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction on Netflix.

TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE (BRIDGE ACROSS TIME)

While not as wild as the goofy premise would lead one to believe, this movie is still a ton of fun. David Hasselhoff plays a big-city-police-officer-gone-small-town-cop who downsizes to idyllic (but friggin’ hot) Lake Havasu where, as a twist of fate would have it, the infamous London Bridge resides. True story – some entrepreneurial type had the British bridge moved to Arizona to create a tourist attraction. Not true story – in the movie Jack the Ripper falls off the bridge to his supposed death, but is able to resurrect himself in Arizona, where he continues his killing spree. Wow! I told you it was wild. The whole affair is completely straight faced, and a fairly successful little horror film. Adrienne Barbeau is great as the hot to trot librarian with enormous shoulder pads (yay 80s!) and Clu Gulager and Randolph Mantooth put in some time as Hoff’s fellow cops. Stepfanie Kramer (and yes, that’s how you spell her name) is Hasselfhoff’s potential love interest and both leads are really good. Say what you will about the Hoff, but he’s got charisma for days. He’s really good in this movie which originally aired on November 22nd, 1985 on NBC, and I think the cast and the dramatic approach make Bridge one interesting movie, if not completely Hoff-tastic! You can read my whole review at RETRO SLASHERS and you can watch the whole movie at HULU.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: MARRIED PART 1 & 2

I don’t mean to quote Magnum P.I., but I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking this is simply the INCREDIBLE HULK episodes that we all remember from childhood. While most of you probably recall David Banner’s tragic love affair with the ill-fated Dr. Caroline Fields (Mariette Hartley), there is one scene in particular that created one of my most intense kindertraumas. Towards the beginning of the second part, Dr. Fields ends up at the house of some swinging studly dudes. They get a little aggressive and somehow lovelorn David gets in the way… and gets really mad. He Hulk-ifies himself and then he pushes one of the guys across the room. It’s a comedic moment because the hurled stud in question flies to the other side of the room sans toupee. Well, when I was a wee Amanda By Night I thought the Hulk basically scalped this poor guy and it took everything in me not to run out of the room screaming. Watching the stud loses his machismo made me think the Hulk was the meanest man-thing on the planet and it was the very last episode of the series I watched until about 2 years ago. Even then, I was ready to pull the sheets up over my eyes, because that Hulk guy scares me! Luckily, I now find that scene amusing. And yes, this episode, which originally aired as a two hour epic to open the second season in 1978, captures the extremely tragic nature of Bruce’s character. This guy just could not catch a break. Oh, and for the record, I’ve seen Lou Ferrigno in person. He’s kind of hot and not scary at all. Just thought you should know… You can start with PART ONE on HULU. And here’s PART TWO.

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Tags: Amanda By Night · Kindertrauma Hair Club · Special Guest Stars · Stream Warriors