Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Terrifying Family Films. Conclusion.

So if I’ve learned anything by reflecting on my favorite childhood movies, it’s that I was a real wimpy kid. Here are some runner ups - see if you agree!

I watched this movie constantly as a little sweet-pea. I had a weird thing for Shelley Duvall - she also did Fairy Tale Theater around the same time. But I hated the part where she and Popeye get taken down by the giant octopus. I never liked going underwater in swim class (never made it passed the guppy stage) and I certainly never liked swimming with octopi.

This is not exactly a family film, I know. But I guess my parents thought, “Well he likes Star Wars, so why not? He won’t understand the racy jokes.” But I did! Anyway, remember Pizza the Hut? Funny right? Wrong. In his limo, the guy next to him starts eating him. And Pizza just laughs even though he’s being eaten.

Any movie with Jeffrey Jones
Jeffrey Jones appeared in several different 80's era movies. He’s a fine actor and all, but the characters he plays are awful. He’s best known for playing Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This movie really isn’t for kids either I guess. I watched it pretty often though, and to this day Jeffrey Jones still gives me the willies. The scene where he’s all disheveled, creeping around the Bueller house is classic but it really freaked me out. Jeffrey Jones is also terrifying in Howard the Duck. He gets possessed by an evil alien and does a lot of twitching and spitting. Talk about typecasting.

The Incredible Hulk on TV
I had a reoccurring nightmare as a kid. One of my aunts turns into the Incredible Hulk and eats my mom.

The Great Outdoors
Nope. I wasn't scared of the grizzly bear. My parents had taped this movie off HBO. After the dance montage at the end, which I thought was just so hilarious, the tape went to static and then to a scene from Nightmare on Elm St. 3 where Freddy Krueger is holding up a human head.

the end.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Terrifying Family Films. Part 4.

Superman 3
Superman 3 isn’t the worst Superman movie in the series, though it’s probably the second worst. At least it's better than Superman 4, you know, the one where the bad guy can’t move unless he’s in direct sunlight. There's a tough fight. Actually, one of the coolest moments in Superman history happens in part 3. In it, Clark Kent has to fight a dark version of Superman and that’s pretty sweet. Weird, illogical and impossible, but sweet!

"A little higher... riiight there..."

We’re also reintroduced to Clark’s high school girlfriend Lana. I never liked Lois Lane as a kid so Lana was a welcome change. I mean really, Superman has his pick of any woman on the planet and he chooses Lois Lane? The man-woman that works in his office? Don’t dip your pen in the company ink, Clark, especially ink that chain smokes and can’t spell! Lana is a much better choice even though she has a kid and an alcoholic boyfriend.
Also, without Superman 3, we wouldn't have the plot of Office Space. If you recall, the main character manages to steal billions of fractions of pennies from his company’s bank account. Gus Gorman, an amateur computer hacker played by Richard Pryor, manages to do this in Superman 3. Computers actually play a crucial role in part 3, and they aren’t looked at favorably. In fact, computers are downright evil here. Gorman steals money, he creates a kryptonite capable of turning Superman evil, and worst of all, he phishes your Myspace account and posts pictures of you on the toilet. He does all this using his state of the art Apple 2E. But the computer eventually fights back, and even turns an old lady into a robot. Yikes.
In the end, Superman must fight a super computer that Gus "creates". Before he can, one of the villains, a cranky old lady, gets sucked into it. If I were lame enough to have come up with this ridiculous plot sequence, I would have made the old lady fall into the big machine, disappear, and then emerge as a robot. This may have prevented a lot of nightmares. Instead, they show you her full transformation. The scene is actually quite disturbing and reminiscent of all those nasty torture scenes from Saw. First she tries to run, but gets sucked in by a laser beam. Then she screams and tries to wiggle free. Wires wrap around her face and pieces of metal attach to her body. It's noisy and violent and then suddenly she stops moving. Her eyes open and they're metal! Icky! Then the director gets a little confused - she walks out of the personal computing machine not like a robot, but like a zombie. And I think we can all agree that zombies are scary, especially for children.

Despite repeated warnings, Jeremy Piven continued eating fish.

Watch the whole scene here, and laugh at me for being scared by it. I swear man, it was scary in 1983!


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