by Anthony King
I am so excited to see Disney's Haunted Mansion (2023) today. My family and I will be hitting the 4pm showing followed by dinner at the pizza joint next door. In preparation I watched one Disney spookfest I'd yet to see and revisited the original tale of Gracey Manor. Last week Paul Farrell wrote a great essay on Tower of Terror (1997), D.J. MacHale's movie version of the attraction at several Disney park locations. The movie aired as part of The Wonderful World of Disney and stars Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst. It's cheesy and cheap and has Disney Channel Original written all over it, but it's also charming and endearing and tons of fun and will most likely end up on my yearly watchlist of spooky season treats. That night I introduced my family to Rob Minkoff's The Haunted Mansion (2003) starring Eddie Murphy. The movie rightly receives a lot of flack, and its 2.6 average rating on Letterboxd isn't necessarily wrong, but I love this movie. I watched it for the first time in 2020 and saw it for its bad CGI, at times brain damage-inducing dialogue, and dumb storyline. That said, I enjoyed it for what it was three years ago. This time around, though, I saw a completely different movie. The comedy is hysterical, the CGI is what it is given it's 2003, the ending is very sweet, and the spooky vibes are exceptional. This is a four-star movie for me, and will also now be included in the yearly Halloween movie rotation.Don't Breathe (2016), and a little Martyrs (2008). It's extremely violent and poses the question: Aren't tall women scary? I loved it. I followed that with a Shudder original Quicksand (2023) about a soon-to-be-divorced couple in Bogota, Columbia who go hiking and get stuck in... well, you can probably guess. As tired as I am about the trope of couples breaking up and some traumatic incident bringing them back together, Quicksand has a real ick factor that masks some of that melodrama. You get fire ants, giant snakes, and a crime aspect. It's definitely worth 86 of your minutes.
Many of us write because we want to. It doesn't matter if we get paid to do it or not, we just love to write. So the next day, back in the light, I woke up with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Each morning, before I get out of bed, I spend a few minutes in meditation and run through a gratitude list (it's a peaceful way to start the day). This site, Patrick, and the people in the FTM community flooded my thoughts. Patrick has worked his butt off to create a safe haven on the internet – a place notoriously filled with hate. Yet FTM is truly a community about (say it with me) MOVIE LOVE FOR MOVIE LOVERS. A couple times a week I get to write about movies (and whatever all this is) and give it to my friend to put on his website where people come to read it. Does it matter how many people? Not at all. I don't write for anyone but myself. Yet people do read the site, watch the Reserved Seating videos, and listen to the podcast, and we hear it brings people joy. It brings me joy to be able to do it. And what is it that brings us together? The movies.
There is a certain group of people I met on Twitter that have one connecting factor: F This Movie! Some of us are podcasters, some of us are writers, some of us are listeners and readers. But we were brought together because of this site and everything Patrick has done. It all comes down to his (our) love of movies. And I'm grateful for that. We should all be grateful for that. I spent last night talking to two of these people I met because of FTM. We talked about movies and life and '90s NBA and the Beatles. This summer my family got to spend an evening with the Bromley crew and Adam and Rosalie. We had such a great time and to be able to finally hug Patrick, Erika, Adam, and Rosalie was very meaningful to me. I see pictures of Rob and his son on the train and think, “God, what a great dad.” I listen to JB and think, “When are you going to write a book, J-Bones?” So I guess this is just a note of thanks to Patrick, the FTM crew, and all of you. My default mode seems to veer on the negative side, yet as soon as I thought about our little world over here I immediately sprang back to life. Thank you!