It’s STILL Scary!

Posted in Kids, Pop Culture on December 13th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I was growing up, my parents pretty much operated as a pair, and my dad worked outside the home.  Therefore, I only remember two times when he was left in charge – the time I went missing and the time I watched the movie Poltergiest.

Both incidents occurred when I was 4 or 5.  My dad was having a meeting with someone I didn’t know (think it was an insurance guy), so I didn’t want to come in the house from playing and walk past the scary insurance guy because I was a really shy kid.  So I waited for him to leave, and I waited, and I got sleepy, and next thing I know I’m waking up in our little red wagon in the dark garage and my sister is there saying, “I found her!”  My parents had the neighbors all out canvassing the neighborhood calling my name, and so my babysitter came over afterward and I remember showing her how I had just learned to tie my shoes.  My parents probably don’t remember the incident in quite the same light…

As for the other time, somehow my sister and I were allowed to watch the classic 80’s horror movie Poltergeist even though we were both under the age of 10.  If you haven’t seen the movie, then you wouldn’t know about the terrifying clown scene that takes place in a kid’s bedroom.  My favorite stuffed toy at that time just happened to be a Ronald McDonald doll, which was no longer the case after I saw that movie.  The Ronald McDonald doll went into the basement, and a few years later, I decided I was over it and went to look for my old friend.  But he was gone, and when I asked my mom about it, she said that she had put him out for Amvets since I had decided I was done with him.  But I had trouble explaining that I wasn’t done with him; he was just on probation!  So I felt badly, but it was probably nothing compared to how my dad felt when mom found out we watched Poltergeist…

So anyway, I was thinking about my Ronald McDonald doll after seeing Mr. McDonald in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, so I decided to look it up on the internet.  If you ask me, you can’t really  blame a kid for being scared and banishing this thing to the basement:

delete mcdonald doll

New TV!

Posted in Everyday Life, Movies on October 8th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last night, my husband and I decided to visit an old friend we haven’t seen  in some time – The Redbox.  You all know the Redbox – the dvd rental machine that sits like a swollen ATM at many Walmarts, Meijers, Walgreens and the like.  Dvd rental at the Redbox is $1 per night, and one of the perks of the Redbox is lack of selection.  Yes, I said lack of selection.  In this day and age of rushing from here to there, who has time to actually make an extra stop to go into a video store and browse hundreds of selections?  We really enjoyed our Redbox summer, renting a movie almost every night and exhausting pretty much the entire Redbox collection.  Now the kids have been in school for a few months already, and time has gone by without us having time to think about our long-lost Redbox bud.  So anyway, last night, with the cold wind howling outside, we thought it to be the perfect night to stay up a little too late with a random Redbox horror movie.  It was Seventh Moon, and it seemed to actually be pretty scary, except that it is a ‘dark and shaky’ type horror movie – the camera moves around a lot, and the entire movie takes place  in the dark.  We turned off our lights in the house, but we still couldn’t really see.  Remembering what a repairman had told him once, my husband suggested we take the front panel off the tv and dust a little mirror inside – supposedly we would get a brighter picture.  Thinking it sounded easy (?), I agreed and we began to unscrew our tv.  We get the panel loosened and discover that there isn’t any dust on the screen!  And, you’d be surprised at how much empty space there is in a big tv!  But anyway, we started to put it back  together when CRACK!  Uh, oh.  Here’s a hint –  if you ever decide to tackle a home improvement project on the suggestion of someone else, no matter how small the project, always remember who told you to do what so that person can be held accountable!

So we are trying to put the tv back together, and we were thinking that at this point, we would just like to go back  to our movie, however dark it might be, we just want to be able to WATCH the movie on a working tv.  But then my husband sees the small mirror at the bottom that is FULL of dust!  I rigged a paper towel rod with a dust cloth, and reached in there and dusted off that little mirror.  We tried again to put the tv back together, encouraged and excited by the fact that we might have actually been able to fix it.  We put the tv back together, but we had cracked something, so it’s not really properly lined up and is now missing a few screws, oopsie.  BUT…  the picture is SO much brighter!  Not only were we able to see the rest of the movie (which was a nice ‘n suspenseful creature feature), but now we can actually watch tv during the day!  Oh, if only we had discovered our new tv during those bright summer days months ago when the Chicago Cubs were still invited to play baseball…

My Bloody Valentine 3D

Posted in Movies on January 18th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s almost embarrassing to admit that I saw a movie called, “My Bloody Valentine 3D“.  But the reason I’m writing a blog about it is because I actually liked it.  A true slasher film; the grisly violence was excessive.  But I actually didn’t find myself rolling my eyes at the constant gore fest, which is what I did during the last few movies in the Saw franchise.  In the poorer quality Saw movies, some of the violence doesn’t really even make sense.  It’s almost like they’re trying to see how far they can go, how shocking they can be, and what they can get away with, even if it’s not integral to the plot.  My Bloody Valentine 3D actually has a well-developed, interesting plot.  If you don’t pay attention to the newspaper headlines that come out of the screen in the beginning of the movie (very cool 3D effect – definitely more on those later), the plot might actually be hard to follow.  I know, a good plot is unheard of for a slasher flick, but I was even left to piece together some plot details after the movie was over.  Not that it was too hard to follow, just a lot of continuous action that makes it difficult for one to think about character relationships and how they relate to the plot while also watching the movie.  So for my best attempt at a plot synopsis, here we go…

Harmony is a small mining town where everyone knows everyone else, and the mine is the lifeblood of the town.  The filmakers very successfully give the audience a good feel for the sleepy little mining town.  Decades ago, there was an accident in the mine which was initially blamed on the owner of the mine, Hanniger.  When it was found that the victims of the mining accident were actually brutally murdered, it was blamed upon the sole survivor of the accident, Harry Warden, who is left in a coma.  A few decades later, he wakes up and slaughters 22 people, including a group of teenagers having a party at the mine.  Four of the revelers make it out alive, and flash forward 10 years to now.  Hanniger’s son (he was one of the 4 survivors) returns to the town as a new rash of murders unfold, and he finds himself accused of the brutal crimes.  There’s actually more to it than that, but this kind of gives you an idea about the movie.  The plot and direction of the movie allow the audience to never be sure who to suspect of the murders, and there are various twists and turns.  Very well done for a horror movie, especially one belonging to the slasher genre.  Now on to the 3D effects…

3D does not often work for me because my eyesight is very uneven – I have near perfect vision in my left eye, and terrible vision in my right eye.  But I was sure to bring my eyeglasses, which kind of levels the playing field for my eyes, and so when I wore the 3D glasses on top of my regular eyeglasses, the 3D worked very well.  I’ve been to various 3D shows at Disney World and Universal Studios, and I would say those are the best of the best – but even they don’t always work for me; sometimes I have to squint to be able to see the 3D.  But now it seems there have been some advancements in the technology, and it’s clear the movie industry wants to showcase these advancements given the rash of 3D movie previews I’ve seen in the theaters recently.  Among the 3D features that will be out in 2009 are: Monsters and Aliens, Up, Disney’s a Christmas Carol 3D, Ice Age 3, and Toy Story in 3D.  But anyway, My Bloody Valentine 3D was very cool – the entire movie was actually in 3D for me, and all I had to do was sit there – no fiddling with glasses, no squinting…  and that was a first for me.  The murderer’s weapon of choice is a miner’s ax, and there were many times it would actually appear to come out of the screen (along with disgusting bits of gore, of course)!  Besides that effect, other things about the movie were cool because of the 3D as well; even scenes that consisted exclusively of dialogue.

As one reviewer on imdb.com mentioned, My Bloody Valentine 3D does not take itself too seriously – and that’s a good thing.  In fact, a few months ago when we first saw the movie’s preview and tagline “Nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3D ride to Hell!”, we thought it was a joke…  you know, one of those “previews” that actually ends up being a commercial.  But it was for a real movie, and so we couldn’t resist venturing to the big city to utilize a  free voucher we had gotten on a previous visit to see the otherwise expensive 3D ride to Hell.  If you are a fan of horror movies, My Bloody Valentine 3D is a must-see.  I’m not sure how this movie would translate to a regular screen.  It might still be a good horror movie, but given the 3D effects, it was nothing short of awesome!  I would almost classify it as a sort of haunted house experience, except you’re sitting in a seat and not walking around.  If you look at it that way, the $13.50 price tag ($11 matinee) would be a bargain for the over 90 minute experience compared to admission at most haunted houses.  Of course, haunted houses don’t have the extra-long, very gratuitous nude scene, which I could have definitely done without, but since that’s my only complaint about the movie, overall I would definitely consider it an afternoon well-spent with hubby (no we did not take the kids to this feature!)  After all, nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3D ride to Hell!  Apparently so!

Cute And Cuddly? I Think Not.

Posted in animals on January 11th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did you hear the one about the Chinese man who found himself in a dilemma?  His son’s toy fell into the panda enclosure at the zoo, so he jumped in after it.  The panda attacked him, and because the creatures are so coveted in China, he didn’t fend off the animal because he feared he would injure him.  He survived the attack, as did the other 2 victims of this particular panda.  But as the below article notes, in China, there is no “3 strikes, you’re out” policy for pandas because they are so highly regarded.  Particularly amusing is the tale of the drunken tourist who was also a victim of this malicious panda.  Read about Gu Gu the not-so-nice panda here:

(CNN) — Gu Gu is not your typical soft and cuddly giant panda.
Zhang Jiao was attacked by Gu Gu the panda when he fell into the pen at the Beijing Zoo on Wednesday.

Zhang Jiao was attacked by Gu Gu the panda when he fell into the pen at the Beijing Zoo on Wednesday.

For the third time, he’s tasted the flesh of an unwitting intruder in his pen at the Beijing Zoo.

His most recent victim was 28-year-old Zhang Jiao, who told CNN he fell into the panda pen Wednesday while trying to catch a small toy thrown by his young son.

“My son and I were playing with a panda doll, throwing it to each other, when I dropped with the toy” into the pen, Zhang said.

The barrier around the pen is about 5 feet tall, but on the other side is a drop of 9 to 10 feet, and Zhang says he could not climb out.

That’s when Gu Gu went on the attack.

The 240-pound giant panda sunk his teeth into Zhang’s left leg before moving on to the right leg.

“The panda is a national treasure, and I love and respect [him], so I didn’t fight back,” Zhang said. “The panda didn’t let go until it chewed up my leg and its mouth was dripping with my blood.”

Zookeepers needed to use tools to pry open Gu Gu’s jaws.

Zhang said he never imagined a panda could be so vicious.

“I always thought they were cute and just ate bamboo,” Zhang said.

According to Dr. Wang Tianbing, who treated Zhang, his wounds were severe, especially the damage done to the muscle and ligaments in his left leg.

“Normally, we think the panda is very tender animal, but actually it’s a bear, not a cat. If the animal thinks it will be hurt by human beings, it is very dangerous.”

Wang should know. In 2007, he treated another one of Gu Gu’s victims, a 15-year-old boy who climbed into the pen to get a closer look. A year earlier, state media reported that a drunken tourist tried to hug the panda, who bit him. In an odd twist, the tourist reportedly bit back.

But being an endangered species and much-loved national icon means there’s no “three strikes and you’re out” for Gu Gu.

In fact, there’s a possibility Zhang may face charges for entering the panda pen.

Zoo officials did not respond to CNN’s request for an interview but are reportedly considering new measures to keep tourists out of Gu Gu’s pen.

A panda’s mouth dripping with blood?  That sounds like a horror movie!

4 Christmases

Posted in Movies on December 6th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I shouldn’t have liked it.  It’s an 82 minute comedy farce co-starring Reese Witherspoon – what’s to like?  But I actually enjoyed the movie 4 Christmases more than I thought.

So why did I see if I thought I’d hate it?  For one, it was the only thing playing at the matinee price and for two, I had a sort of curiosity about the acting abilities of two country music super-stars:  Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw.  Actually, having seen Dwight Yoakam in Sling Blade, I’m well aware of his acting skills.  It was such a great performance in Sling Blade that I thought it was Oscar-worthy.  He’s not given much to work with in this movie however, and his role as one of those Leap of Faith-type preachers is not very well developed.  I don’t think it’s any fault of Yoakam, though, but more a testament to the lazy script.

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon star as a freewheeling couple who don’t see the need to marry since they’re already happy, and they don’t want kids.  The first scenes of the movie really emphasize how perfect this couple’s lives are, and it’s almost sickeningly sweet how well they get along.  Enter their extended families, and they become miserable people.  It begins when their flight to Fiji is cancelled on Christmas and they are featured on the news.  The couple (their names were not memorable) is now busted in their annual lie about travelling to some exotic location for charity work.  They fib about this every year to their families so they can avoid seeing all 4 families (each set of parents is divorcd) for Christmas.  So now that they can’t go to Fiji, they have to visit 4 sets of crazy relatives on one day and yada, yada, anticipated baby jokes and predictable chaos ensues, you get the picture.

For some reason, a lot of Hollywood stars agreed to be in this movie.  And just as I expected, Vince Vaughn was the same in this movie as the characters he always plays.  He can be funny, but he’s not very versatile.  I was surprised that Reese Witherspoon did not get under my skin because for some reason, she annoys the heck out of me, and it’s distracting when watching her in movies.  As far as the country music super-stars are concerned, I consider this movie a waste of Dwight Yoakam’s acting talent, and Tim McGraw was barely in the movie at all.  I read somewhere that he beefed up for the role, and he was hard to recognize, although I don’t really know why he bothered gaining all the weight for a part that hardly has him on camera and with barely any lines.  Other big name actors making cameos were Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, and Sissy Spacek – maybe it’s just me, but even though she’s almost 60, I still look at her and see Carrie the fire-starting teen from the famous Stephen King horror movie of the ’70’s.

Overall, there was only one scene where I couldn’t even watch because of its ludicrousness, so instead I turned to my husband and whispered, “This is unbelievably dumb”.  Other than that, I was entertained, and mostly because it was a holiday movie, it was fun to sit, watch, and eat popcorn.  I wonder how Christmas With The Kranks will compare.  I’ve heard that one is just awful, yet I want to see it since I read the John Grisham novel upon which it was based.

The Scary Clown Sucessfully Sold Burgers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On another tangents.org blog, justj has been talking about cheeseburgers, namely White Castles and Burger Buddies (aka Burger Bundles), an ’80’s Burger King product.  I found an old Burger Bundles commercial on youtube and posted the link on his blog in the comments section of the cheeseburger post.  While I was looking around on youtube, I found this old vintage McDonald’s commercial where Ronald looks like something out of a horror movie.  Regardless of what his early incarnation looked like, the clown worked for them in helping to create one of the most successful companies of all time.

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The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Posted in Movies on November 5th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Even though our car is out of commission, we were still able to get out to vote yesterday with our rental car, courtesy of our car warranty.  I have to say that after years of driving a loaded mini-van, I kind of enjoy zipping around in the little Malibu they gave us.  My husband pointed out that it’s probably because all the kids won’t even fit in it, so for the first time in a long time, I find myself alone in the car, which means blaring country music of my choosing rather than listening to kids fighting, KidsSongs, or Veggie Tales.  He’s probably right; although I do enjoy the quick pick-up and the fact that I can easily back out from any parking spot I find myself wedged into.  So anyway, the movie theater in the neighboring town was offering free popcorn to those who voted in the election yesterday.  They had a movie called, “The Haunting of Molly Hartley“, which I hadn’t heard about.  But the title sounded promising, as did the fact that the movie came out on Halloween.  But then I looked it up on imdb.com, and it had a 3.8 rating.  Ouch – that’s a pretty stinky rating!  Not only that, but examples of users’ comments on the movie include:  “What’s the point of this movie?”  “Don’t worry about getting up for a snack, you won’t miss anything.”  “A fright fest without the scares.”  “Reminds me a of a Nickleodeon movie.” – you get the idea.

But we decided to see it anyway, and I’m glad we did.  It really wasn’t that bad – it even has replay value; I’d watch it again.  The plot centers around a young girl named Molly who, days before her 18th birthday, begins to have episodes characterized by nosebleeds, anxiety attacks, and hearing voices.  She is really worried that she is “going crazy”, especially given her mother’s mental instability.  The audience doesn’t really know if everything is just in this girl’s head because of past trauma or if there is really more to it.  I would describe the movie as Rosemary’s Baby meets Proof (I’ve only seen the stage play, not the movie though).  In Rosemary’s Baby, a woman is having a baby and is paranoid that her neighbors are demons who will harm the baby.  The movie is done in such a way that the audience is left guessing the entire time if she’s just being paranoid or if her concerns are legit.  And Proof is the story of a woman who is following in the footsteps of her mathmatical genius father, only to worry if she is also inheriting his mental illness.

And I disagree with some of the comments made about the Haunting of Molly Hartley – there were plenty of scares.  The movie had a creepy mood to it, and there were plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat startles.  They were quite predictable, but I’ve seen lots of scary movies, so the predictability of the scares probably had lots to do with my experience of knowing when to expect them.  Overall, I’d definitely recommend this movie to people who like horror movies.  I liked it much better than Saw V, and they’re really two different types of movie since unlike the entire Saw franchise, this one had no gore and was rated PG-13.  Apparently it was too tame and lame for teenagers, which scares me to think about what it must take to shock teenagers these days.  But for grown-up thrill movie fans, it’s worth a view!

The Orphanage

Posted in Movies on August 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Wow.  What a good movie.  The Orphanage is an eerily spooky ghost story, and I don’t really know what else to say about it because I want to make sure not to spoil anything.  They must have felt the same way when they wrote the summary on the back of the dvd’s box because it was very general and even incorrect in some aspects.  The movie is in Spanish, and I’ll admit that scared us away from watching it for awhile.  We got to go out to see a movie together while we were in Florida last January, and we went to buy tickets for The Orphanage, but the worker told us it had subtitles.  So we saw One Missed Call instead, and that wasn’t nearly as good, not even the same kind of movie.  Our movie rental place has a satisfaction guarrantee, so when we told them how unhappy we were with The Fun Park, we got a free rental.  My husband was trying to be quick again – that’s what got us into trouble with The Fun Park in the first place though – so he just grabbed The Orphanage, remembering that we had wanted to see it after reading the glowing reviews from critics.  Pretty soon, it was Sunday already and we hadn’t watched the movie and it was due by 11 pm that evening, so we quickly watched it while the kids were all napping from our big weekend.  It didn’t take long to forget we were reading subtitles rather than watching people talk in the movie; it was that good.  The critics were actually right for once.  Like I said, I really don’t want to give any of the plot because it’d be difficult to explain anything without giving away spoilers.  So I’ll just say, if you like spooky movies, this one is a must-see.  It’s not even really a horror movie; it’s supernaturally suspenseful.  The story draws you in and doesn’t let go…  you may not speak the same language as the characters, but you idenify with them, feel their pain, and genuinely care about what happens to them as the story unfolds.  SEE IT!  It’s a totally different movie experience between the subtitles and just the kind of movie it is – I HIGHLY recommend it! 

MiRRors

Posted in Movies on August 21st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hmm, I couldn’t figure out how to make one of the R’s in Mirrors backward like they do for the movie title, but anyway, we saw the movie Mirrors with Keifer Sutherland yesterday.  It was between Mirrors, Tropic Thunder, and The Rocker.  We eliminated The Rocker from the selection because it didn’t look or sound very good, and the only reason we were interested in seeing it is because it stars Rainn Wilson, none other than the hilarious character Dwight Shrute on our favorite show, The Office.  We ended up going with Mirrors over Tropic Thunder because we were at the nice theater, and we figured a horror movie would give us more bang for our buck so to speak – take advantage of the larger screen and the nicer sound.

Mirrors is kind of lengthy for a horror film; it runs about 2 hours.  It didn’t drag for me at all, well, maybe a little, but only because baby Christopher decided to poopie during the movie and he needed his diaper changed.  So I was like, when is this going to be over so I can change him because I don’t want to miss the movie.  It was a cool premise: Keifer Sutherland plays an NYPD cop who accidently shot and killed another cop, so he still has some psychological bruises and can no longer be a cop.  He gets a job as a security guard at an abandoned department store that had had a fire and burned – right up my alley; I really like abandoned buildings, defunct amusement parks, etc.  The department store was cool looking, and throughout the movie, there were lots of shots of the outside as well as the inside.  I kept wondering if it was an actual building they used for filming or rather a specially built facade…  But anyway, the department store is haunted and the haunting ghoul uses mirrors to do its haunting and murdering.  There is actually more to the plot, but I don’t want to risk spilling any spoilers because it was a decent horror movie and worth seeing.  We were alone in the theater, and when my husband left to go to the bathroom, I was pretty creeped out, so I’d say it was spookily successful.  Before we saw the movie, I had read that the director, Alexandre Aja, is one of a group of directors a horror movie magazine called, “The Splat Pack” for their affinity for blood and gore.  The movie was not without blood and gore, but it was not over-used; something that gets on my nerves with many modern horror films – see #’s 1,2, and 5 on my movie stinker list – (The Devil’s Rejects, Doomsday, and The Fun Park) – all terrible movies showcasing the over-usage of gore.

If you like horror movies, Mirrors is worth a try.  We liked it and were entertained, despite it having a few obvious plot holes…  but then again, what horror movie doesn’t have plot holes?

You Get What You Paid For At The Fun Park

Posted in Movies on August 14th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not so fun.  Every once in a while our local movie rental place calls us up and tells us we’ve won a free rental.  It happened just this week, so we made a stop there yesterday, and since we had all the kids with us, my husband just ran in and tried to be quick.  He came out with a direct-to-video horror movie called The Fun Park.  It actually sounded pretty intriguing since it’s about some teens who were murdered by the ghost of a clown at an abandoned amusement park.  We know of an abandoned amusement park that we’ve visited, so we thought the movie would be extra scary.  But we were wrong.  It was awful – the 3.5 rating it got on imdb.com was no lie.  Free movie = boring clown.  For the first, I don’t know, about 30 minutes of the movie, they’re not even in the fun park.  The movie wastes time setting up the characters’ back stories – and who cares about that?  So finally they get to the fun park, and it’s not even scary.  The movie has no suspense.  There aren’t any chase scenes, basically the movie is the clown cutting off people’s faces.  I think.  The movie was so slow, I was dozing constantly.  But I don’t think I missed anything…  It was awful.  I would put it on my movie stinker list, but maybe it’s not fair because I wasn’t fully awake…  never mind, who cares, it was that bad.  At least it was a free rental.  And as far as my worries about being scared of clowns the next time we go to that abandoned amusement park, no problem – that movie was not scary at all.  The only thing scary about it was the idea that all the people involved in making it thought it was a good idea!

So here’s my updated stinker list of the worst movies I’ve ever seen:

The Devil’s Rejects
Doomsday
The Night Listener
The Love Guru
The Fun Park