by Anthony King
A SMM film diary!
Happy Scary Movie Month, everyone! Being a meticulous planner, I'd toiled for over a month about what to write during this joyous month. Ideas bandied about but nothing stuck. At the eleventh hour I settled on the idea of a film diary – a cop out maybe, but my goal in writing about movies is to get people excited about things they normally wouldn't watch. Thus, the dawn of “Notes on Film,” my version of Jonas Mekas's column from The Village Voice.
That evening, while my wife was away, my boys and I sat down for our annual viewing of the 1949 Disney version of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I don't need to sell this to anyone as I see many people kicking their season off with this classic narrated by Bing Crosby. After the boys went to bed and while I awaited my wife's arrival I snuck in a non-horror so as not to experience SMM burnout on the first day. All the Boys Are Called Patrick, a 1959 short from Jean-Luc Godard is a fun little rom-com about a pickup artist who goes after two women who are roommates. And finally, to wrap day one, Bobbie and I watched a couple shorts from the Criterion Channel's horror shorts collection: Sea Devil (2014), about a fisherman who is smuggling Cuban immigrants into the States and discovers a giant sea monster; and Geometria (1987), Guillermo del Toro's second short film about a teenager who summons a demon to get out of doing his homework. Both are incredibly fun and breezy, and I recommend going through the entire collection on Criterion.
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau), but I can't imagine it's better than Don Taylor's version. The highlight here is the scene where a man literally fights a tiger. It ranks alongside man v. shark in Zombie (1979). I wrapped up the weekend with another short, One of Two Evils (2015), a stop-motion allegory about a young boy whose parents are going through a divorce. CW: this is not for the weak-stomached, also featuring sexual assault. As opposed to claymation, this looks more like waxmation. The figures are gross, the monsters are hideous, and it's heartbreaking and beautiful.JB's latest, Rowen and I watched Bugs Bunny's Howl-O-Skreem Spooktacular (2022) on HBO Max. As a big time Loony Tunes aficionado, this was exactly what I wanted. You gotta mix in some of that lighthearted faire, kids or not, to keep your heart young. I ended the night with the first film from my favorite franchise: Phantasm. Again, like Fessenden, like Begos, like so many others, Don Coscarelli went out and made his movies however he could. Phantasm is a warm blanket for me. After dozens of viewings I finally realized that it's the love and familial aspect between Reg, Mike, and Jody that keeps me returning to this franchise. I also highly recommend Coscarelli's autobiography, True Indie, one of the best books I've ever read.Phantasm: Ravager (2016) was the cheapest out of the bunch. I was happy to see everyone come back, and I dug the dementia storyline, but woof. And finally, as I'm writing these words, I'm re-watching the Indicator Blu-ray of Stephen Weeks's I, Monster (1971), a take on Robert Louis Stevenson's “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.” While it's generally agreed upon that Rouben Mamouian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is the best version of this story, I prefer the Gerard Kikoine version starring Anthony Perkins called Edge of Sanity (1989). I, Monster, though, is an entertaining version from Amicus starring Christopher Lee as the doctor/killer and Peter Cushing as his friend investigating the murders.
Tentively scheduled for next week is a rewatch of RZ's The Munsters with the family, a Carpenter mini, Freddy, Jason, and Frankenstein. Stay scary and watch some short films!