1. You know who Boris Badenov is? Ya know, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ya know. That guy in the Jay Ward cartoons. Yeah, that guy. Okay, so the guy who did the voice of Boris was this cat named Paul Frees, and most of the voices you love from your childhood came from Paul Frees. He says you're welcome. The voice of Santa Clause in your head is realy the voice of Paul Frees due to him performing Santa in all those Rankin Bass holiday specials. Can you dig it? So I popped this movie in the other day and loe and behold there is this incredible opening narration that is indescribably cool that perfectly sets up the movie. I swear, you will be throwing up all over yourself with excitement after you hear it. No exageration. And the voice you hear will seem so familiar, like that of Santa Clause, but this time a melodramaitc Pagen spell casting Santa. So that's the first 2 mimutes of the movie and already you have been better served then the last ten movies you saw at the theater. Paul Frees is long dead but he just keeps on giving, man, from beyond the grave!
Here's some Paul Free's awesomeness.
2. Aren't old creepy cemetaries with tilted tombstones in these old black and white movies great? They are. Something fun about all that. Now you add some manic British actor running around and franticly performing a pagen ritual in a crypt filled with fake spider webs. Movie party has begun.
3. This movie has some great meat to sink your teeth into. Relationships, marrage, sexual politics, suburban conformity, living with a crazy person. It all becomes a big vortex of ideas, but isn't showy about it. I think movies used to think they had to have a theme, and now if a movie has a theme it has to be BEATEN INTO YOUR FOREHEAD. I think the theme of this movie is... men are stupid.
4. There is this really great scene with a tape recording during a rain storm that you will immediatly think Evil Dead. It is the best scene in the movie. All creepy wind and a banging on the front door. And the wife pretending she doesn't think it's the devil, and the husband trying to be calm and rational, though he's freaking out because he thinks his wife has lost her mind. And I was right there with him. Maybe she has lost her mind. Or maybe it is the devil. This scene is the heart of the movie. It works as a supernatural thriller and a domestic drama, all wrapped up in a creepy British chalupa.
5. And ya know, it's no wonder the thing works so well. Look at who wrote the thing. Two heavy hitters. Richard "when in doubt rip me off" Matheson and Charles "I killed Telly Savalas" Beaumont. I'll ramble on about Matheson later. He's a freaking genius will have to due for now. But Charles Beaumont was also a Twilight Zone writer who created the great Living Doll episode, with the creepy little doll vs a terrifying Telly Savalas. But my main exposure to Charles was from a little Roger Corman produced film from 1990, long before the Crocasaurus Vs Dinoturtle fad gobbled up every b movie studio and there was still a shot at seeing something weird at an actual movie theater, well... Brain Dead is amazing, and just a total mindbinder of a movie. It came out almost 25 years after Charles death. The author died at the age of 3freak'n8. WHAT! Drugs and alcohol you ask? NO! He had some terrible desease that made you age prematurly. He looked like a man in his 70s when he died! WTF! You watch Brain Dead and you can feel all sorts of mad genius vibes imminating off it. Charles was a gun for hire for Roger Corman, also penning "The Masque of Red Death" and the only movie Corman ever made that lost money, "The Intruder", where Captian Kirk beams down to the 1950's south and ignites all sorts of racial shennanigans. Corman said it was his favorite of the 57,000 movies he made. Didn't make a dime. See, Charles must have been one of those crazy, tough to be around people that are necessary if society is to progress. An artist should be one of "the others" that are not beloved and actively participating in society. I have no idea if CB was that guy. I'm just typing stuff.
6. Every suit and shirt our rational husband wears is some terrible shiny synthetic material. Looks like he's going to a party. Distracting.
7. Speaking of shiney. The British actor who plays the lead, Peter Wyngarde, is great and is also shiney in another movie that I love. He's Shiney Goldhead in 1980s Flash Gordon.
You know, the guy who says EEEUURTH, when saying Earth. He's incredible in that. And in Burn Witch Burn, it's the same cool voice. I kept wanting him to say Earth. EEUURTH. so good. Oh here, thanks internet.
8. So I run around wondering if this is all in my head, and what is really going on in the movie, but eventually the movie has to put the cards on the table and say here is the external antagonist, though really the villian is conformity to outdated gender roles (whatever, I'm illiterate), but when the witch is revealed, man it is a great performance. Creepy and unsettling and a gas to watch. Can I tell you how much this movie has grown on me since just starting to write on it.
9. I loved that this movie was this unseen witches duel set in the stuffy tweed jacket world of acedemia. Doesn't that sound cool. Is there anything more cool then a witches duel? What makes this one so cool is how it is unseen, again all being a possible result of the wife's troubled state of mind. But hey, though it's not two witches, don't you love this...
and while speaking of that, how about this...
has nothing to do with the movie, but my blog, I like to ramble.
10. I was not expecting the movie to go all Kaiju on me in the end and it is a total mind flip and really well done. Some great minature and forced perspective work going on. Cool to see how the Brits pull off giant monsters. The movie loosens up and isn't afraid to have a good time for the climax.
SHOWSTOPPER - Our Mr. Rational is attacked by a brooding student with a gun and performs a most excellent karate chop on him, putting the little punk in his place and reducing him to a quivering, weeping pool of jelly. You will laugh. You will cheer.
PAIRS WELL WITH - The Craft (1996) - if you can bear it