Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Girl With the White Halloween Meme 2012

Despite our apparent differences, one of the sites LERNER INTERNATIONAL visits routinely is the wonderful The Girl With the White Parasol (and if you don’t recognize that movie reference, shame on you!).

Usually concentrating on more civilized films than us, Rachel’s The Girl With the White Parasol has posted its “Halloween Meme” quiz, and who are we to fight the inevitable?

Like ghosts drawn to the psychic, LERNER INTERNATIONAL is compelled!
Answers (and possible spoilers) below…

Movie quizzes are always fun for me; I enjoy how they tweak the thought processes. The ganglia; they twitch!
One of these days I need to come up with a quiz of my own…

1. Who is your favorite movie witch?
The witch I still have a HUGE crush on is Fairuza Balk in the underrated and most excellent The Craft (1996; Andrew Fleming), a flick that, if it doesn’t have one already, seriously deserves a cult.
Not only were these sexy, naughty teen witches (love Ms. Balk’s vinyl pants) with a cool punk rock/techno soundtrack, the witchcraft had actually been genuinely researched to some degree, with a heavy emphasis on the “As Above/So Below” school of the occult.

The Sexy Witch that the princess turns into (all too briefly) in the delightful and jam-packed-with-stop-motion-animation fantasy Jack, the Giant Killer is also a favorite.

Classically, love the Weird Sister trio from Orson Welles’ Macbeth, but I am also a big fan of the battling academic sorceresses of Burn Witch Burn, and the enticing but capricious pale ghoul-witch from the Russian tale of the supernatural, Viy (1967; Konstantin Yershov & Georgi Korpachyov), a story that starts slow, as a stupid farmer is tricked into spending the night at a haunted palace, but quickly leaps into overdrive when the hobgoblins and spooks show up. The design is great: very Russian, thus unfamiliar to my Yankee-running-dog eyes—and the makeup on the undead is also untraditional, making it so much weirder.

The yokai films of Japan always have a couple of sexy, long-necked witchy ghosts around (but those are usually overshadowed by the other phantoms’ extreme weirdness: cyclopean umbrellas, cucumber-obsessed water-lizard-spirits, and so on),
but honestly, isn’t the best witch ever the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz?
“What a world, what a world…All my beautiful wickedness destroyed by a little girl…”

2. What is the first movie you can remember being scared by?
As a child, seeing 1958’s The Blob on TV for the first time scared the everlovin’ absolute HECK out of me!
Read all about it HERE.

3. Name a classic horror film that would be substantially improved by better special effects.
I’m very much against filmmakers’ continuous tinkering with their previous works. George Lucas started it, and unfortunately both Francis Coppola and William Friedkin have jumped on that bandwagon to very contentious results.

Making an old flick’s special effects “better” only helps in reducing the global capacity for suspension of disbelief.
Imagination is a dwindling resource in our savage modern times, and this sort of thing shouldn’t be encouraged.

That said, one of my all time favorites is Roger Corman’s 1957 Attack of the Crab Monsters, and yes, since I first discovered the flick in my childhood, I have imagined plenty of times how it would look with better special effects.
The paper mache crab almost overloads an individual’s capacity for forgiveness (those heavy eyelids!), and I’ve wondered how it would look if it had been properly animated (like Harryhausen’s crab in Mysterious Island, or the crab that shows up in the Will Farrell Land of the Lost) or as a kaiju “man in a suit” (see Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster for a giant crustacean in that mode).

Crabs are creepy critters (that taste delicious!) and they haven’t been used in monster/horror movies properly enough.

4. Name your favorite Val Lewton film.
I’m so ashamed: I’ve only seen Lewton’s I Walked With a Zombie and The Cat People, and that was so long ago, I hardly remember the films.
I do like how the behind-the-scenes story of Cat People was swiped for Vincent Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), however.

Lewton-esque films I’ve really enjoyed include Burn Witch Burn [See Question #1] and The Curse of the Demon, both of which really don’t “show” that much (even with their respective giant eagle and nightmare-monster).

5. What movie villain or monster has the most frightening "stare-into-the-camera" moment?
Richard Widmark’s Tommy Udo in The Kiss of Death.
Timothy Carey throughout The World’s Greatest Sinner.
Walter Huston—as Scratch, the Devil, at the conclusion of the classic The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941; William Dieterle); in fact, Huston is looking right into the camera—and through it to the audience, damning them all to hell! Mr. Satan’s gonna get you! Hee-hee!

6. What is the most irritating horror film cliche?
People acting stupid for no reason except to put themselves in a position to get slaughtered.

7. Are there any movies you refuse to watch alone?
No; actually, I kind of prefer to see movies alone, whether at home or in the theater.
But I have been so freaked out by excessive consumption of horror movies that I have been compelled to go through the apartment and turn on every light and check every room and closet.
But that hasn’t happened in a while.

8. Picture an old childhood nightmare of yours. Now try to adapt it to film. Can it be done?
The only childhood nightmare I can remember was one inspired by Stephen King’s story “The Boogeyman,” which I read in the collection Night Shift around 1978.
In it, a hideous ghoul hides in the closet, waiting to kill children.
After I read that, I never again left the closet door in my room open!
It took me years to get over that—yeeeesh!

As for my adult nightmares, especially the blood-drenched zombie dreams I used to wake up screaming from—well, you can easily guess where that imagery comes from, with my subconscious juxtaposing the undead onto my stressful anxiety dreams: fun all around!

9. Who's your favorite "scream queen?"
Martine Beswick, Barbara Steele, Fairuza Balk [See Question #1], Mary Woronov, PJ Soles, and Sarah Polley—I’d rather hang with a Scream Queen than a Prom Queen!

10. What is the most disappointing horror remake?
Since I haven’t seen all of them—nor would want to, a lot of them seem like poorly conceived attempts at quick cash—I am loathe to offhandedly toss out a whole subgenre, because there might be a diamond in the rough.
I mean, the remakes of The Blob or The Hills Have Eyes weren’t that bad…

One recent remake that didn’t seem like it was “just” a rip-off was the recent The Wolf Man (2010; Joe Johnston), with Benicio Del Toro.
However, an overly convoluted script, with many characters’ motivations to be completely inexplicable, absolutely ruined this film.
Hugely disappointing.

Remakes I genuinely enjoy include Cronenberg’s classic The Fly—an obvious choice; as well as Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, both of which seemed to treat their topics with a measure of respect, borrowing enough, but not too much, and changing enough to make them unique on their own.
Truthfully, both of these Romero remakes could have been released under different titles (for example, “Fortress of the Damned” and “Bad Water,” respectively) and while more sharp-eyed fans would’ve noticed something, most would have considered them original—if very derivative—horror flicks. The same for Cronenberg’s movie.
As good a measure of the quality of a remake as anything, I guess.

11. We've all seen our share of vampires, zombies, and werewolves on film, but are there any mythical creatures or monsters out there that you think deserve more movies (i.e. golems, changelings, the Minotaur, etc.)?
YES! For one thing, more of Lovecraft’s imagery needs to be up on screen. Hideous, shape-shifting nightmares are perfect for CGI: The more tentacles, the better!
Additionally, the gods and monsters of the Mayans, Aztecs and other pagan idolaters need to show up in more North-of-the-border horror flicks (why should Santo and Blue Demon have all the fun?).

On the flipside, more films need to use Biblical and Christian religious symbology, especially the descriptions of demonic angels and other violent and potentially dangerous heavenly host.
Quite often The X-Files or Millennium did this, to good effect, and while The Last Exorcism comes close, the best example is Bill Paxton’s 2001 film, Frailty.
The audience isn’t privy to much in the way of “visions,” but the God of The Old Testament is planning Armageddon, and needs Dad Meiks to do some demon killin’. That these demons look like normal people is no worry, because the Angels have given Dad the power to see the demons when he touches them.
Claiming also to see the demons, Dad’s youngest son is completely on-board, but the pre-teen son is disturbed, and thinks Dad is crazy.

The film messes with your head because when all is said and done, the axe murderer was doing God’s Good Work—and there are demons afoot in the land! (Which means Armageddon is around the corner…)

Meanwhile, rather than demand that American flicks have more Asian hobgoblins; I should just try to catch more Asian (and Indian) films.
Although I’m not adverse to some Chinese hopping vampires invading Downtown Los Angeles…

12. Along the lines of "Scary Mary Poppins," can you think of any non-horror flicks that could easily be adapted to fit the genre?
With the proper minor re-editing, nearly all comedies—specifically anything slapstick, from Laurel & Hardy to Adam Sandler—could be turned into bloodless but horrific torture porn.

That said, with the right tweaking, the delightful Japanese animal adventure flick The Adventures of Milo & Otis (1986, released in the US in 1989; Masanori Hata—I will be referring to the US-release version, which is different from the film shown on the Home Islands) could be a shocking and terrifying “When Animals Run Amok” quasi-documentary, akin to Walon Green’s Oscar-winning faux-documentary-as-science-fiction-film The Hellstrom Chronicle.

As is, M&O is hardly “cutesy,” presenting animal life in an honest manner (the birth of puppies is gross; you can imagine a theater of kids chiming in unison, “Ewwwwwwwwwwh!”—not that that happened when I saw this film on its original release: I made sure to attend a showing at an empty theater [See Question # 7]), and there are scenes that neither PETA nor the ASPCA would in any way approve of: did they really just throw a live cat off of a cliff?!?

Properly re-edited M&O would be like a barnyard version of I Drink Your Blood or The Last House on the Left, as the adorable dog and mischievous cat go on a torture-kill spree, and when the Fuzz shows up (footage of the pigs and older dogs), the deadly duo has to take it on the lam, dying lonely and lost on the wasted plains outside of town.
After the dog collapses from exhaustion in the swamp, the cat makes one last stand against the air force (seagulls) before diving into the ocean in a final, doomed dash for freedom.

13. And now, just for fun, pick one movie monster or villain to be remade into a cuddly plush toy, just for you.
Hannibal Lecter plushies would SELL! (But what’s funny is that this question is almost outdated: How can you top the utter ridiculousness of plush Cthulhu?)

Thanks for letting me participate! Visit The Girl With the White Parasol, she rules!


  1. Always great to hear from you, Ivan! Whenever I see your name on a post, I know it's going to be thoughtful, funny, and unique and this was no exception. You took my humble meme to the next level :).

    Fairuza Balk is definitely a stunner (I must have been one of the few kids in America to watch the ever-so-creepy Return to Oz before I ever saw the Garland classic)--I love her eyes.

    I had some high hopes for The Wolf Man which really did look like a homage to old-school horror, but I was put off by the reviews. Maybe I'll catch up with it one of these days.

    All in all, this was a fantastic response. Thanks for dropping by.

    1. Thanks for having me; this was a lot of fun!
      Fairuza is so composed as a child actor! She's also great (and very naughty) in Milos Forman's underseen and underloved Valmont.
      One day, I swear, soon, I'll have my own quiz up, and I hope you'll participate!
      Happy Halloween!

  2. Much fun, Ivan. I did the quiz too on my blog. It was harder than I thought, but lots of fun. I think you'll like my answer to a non-horror film that could be made into one!

    1. Becky, thanks for visiting!
      My threatened quiz is in the works (questions, even a theme!), and I hope you'll join in when it's announced.

  3. Rachel & Classic Becky,
    I've done it--
    LERNER INTERNATIONAL has posted its first “Film Test,” the “Favorite That’s Not” Quiz—in other words, you’re favorite film that’s not ____.
    Only 21 questions, very genre-centric and lots of fun!
    Please participate! It’s only a hyperlink away!
    Thank You!