Monday, October 8, 2018

Facebook Film Foolishness Part 1

My friend Jeff on Facebook nominated me for a 10-day movie challenge.

The rules were: Post an image, no explanation (which could have killed me), from 10 movies (and only ten which also could have killed me) that had an impact on me.

Because I love films far more than I hate chain letter type things, I actually did this one, but nominated anyone who wanted to do this and hadn’t been challenged yet instead of putting someone on the spot.

Because after a month of trying to reduce the list it remained in the high twenties, I had to invent my own extra rules.

Here, then, are ten films that had an impact on me…
And I can vividly remember the effect of the first time I saw them…
And I haven’t blogged about that experience already…
And I could miss the beginning on the first viewing but not the end…
And they went on to become “part of me.”

I tried to be honest. There were some films I wanted to reference just for the fun of the freak out factor.  As much as I wanted to  show pictures of the Brian Yuzna , Jeffrey Combs Lovecraft films, there are far more important stories to me than them.

Similarly, while I was offended that someone made a film called Frankenhooker whose scientist is named Jeffrey without calling to personally tell me, I can’t truthfully say it had as much “impact” as other movies did.

Yes some very weird movies are very dear to me.  Clearly, I have issues.

Since I haven’t explained these before, I'm going to explain them here.
This kills two birds with one stone:
A) It fills blog space.
B) It lets me talk about movies I love some more!

These are in straight chronological order. If I had to actually rank them, it would probably take several more months. (Or as Anabelle suggested, millennia.)

Oh, surprise surprise, I have to start with an extra one.

1973’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark scared the ever living crap out of me as a kid. It's the only film that gave me persistent nightmares for years to come. Simply describing it to my sister, I was able to (and still am able to) scare her by whispering, “Saaaaa-lyyyyyyy.”  However, it was a made for TV movie, not a theatrical film, therefore it can’t make the official list.

I can still explain it though. Hee Hee!

One of my earliest vivid memories is an enduring testament to how awesome my parents were, and how well they acknowledged the important things in life.  I came down the hall to use the bathroom after waking up past my childhood Nine PM bedtime one night.  Because my parents were, as mentioned, awesome, having a horror movie on was not a surprise.  I noticed something a little unusual about the “staircase can be treacherous” scene in 1974’s Young Frankenstein and lingered a bit.  (Embarrassingly, it took until a couple years ago to realize the "unusual" element was that the candles were unlit.) My folks heard me there, and said, “Come here. You can stay up tonight. You need to see this.”  For what I consider the perfect comedy movie, with not a single moment wasted, that set me on the path of life long Mel Brooks fandom, “need” was an accurate description.  Their understanding of this "need" is why I still keep my shiny new Mel Brooks Blu Ray collection in the VHS box my mom made me with a picture from the Sears Catalog and her typed up liner notes she made me for The Twelve Chairs before it was available for home purchase.
Young Frankenstein had the greatest impact, but The Twelve Chairs has always been like my own special secret Mel Brooks film.


On a day home sick from school in the Seventies, I watched what held the record for the strangest film I saw in my life for nearly two decades. And this is me we’re talking about here.  When I recovered I described Inframan as this crazy growing robotic human blend superhero that fought monsters and aliens that included a poop drill monster, a creature with chili peppers in its nose, a floppy asparagus guy, a crab man, a horned leotard clad mop, and some rock em sock em slinky bots.  My friends all told me I was wrong, as I was clearly describing cough medicine induced hallucinations fueled by episodes of Ultraman- the Japanese superhero invented by Eiji Tsuburaya (the effects wizard behind Godzilla) and inspiration for JetJaguar. (They didn't say all of that; I'm just a Godzilla geek.) Years passed, I grew up, got married, had a child, and never saw anything to change my mind that I’d either misread or made up this experience as a result of too much codeine in older medicines until in the mid two-thousands. Then something glorious occurred.  A satellite broadcaster went out of business and our cable company inherited some of their programming.  The top two channels on the “dial” showed twenty-four hour a day high definition monster and kung fu movies.  Frankly it's a miracle my Dad and I ever left the house during that period.  One afternoon flipping between them (since it fit both channels' criteria, I don’t remember where I saw it) I found 1974’s The Super Infra Man!  It was Hong Kong’s attempt to capitalize on the Ultraman craze, but with a lower budget, higher doses of insanity and inanimate objects exploding for no reason whatsoever. I excitedly checked the schedule to record the next showing…which happened the day after the channel tragically vanished. Luckily my wife is both awesome and patient, and bought me the DVD, allowing me to relive the lunacy and share it with friends and family.  At this stage I learned each character had three names. The original Chinese version (in subtitles) the English version (in dubbing) and the version my then pre-school aged daughter assigned (in my living room) All were equally viable. Look at the examples and try to guess which were chosen by professional Asian film makers, and which by a four year old in New Jersey?
Princes Dragon Mom= Princess Funny Hat = Demon Princess Elzebub
Eye Hand Girl= Witch Eye= She-Demon

I don’t know why my parents decided we were going to see Caveman in 1981. Maybe because they knew Rudy Deluca wrote with Mel Brooks, or the family fondness for the B movies that most previous prehistory films had been. Heck, maybe it was because we all liked Avery Schreiber.    I just know I’m grateful.  For the rest of the world, it introduced Ringo Star and Barbara Bach to each other, and garnered awful reviews.  I fell in love with it. After one viewing I memorized the entire film, and then told it – scene by scene- to all my friends. I remember one specific performance in my driveway and others on the playground.  The fact that they have a made up language turns off many viewers, some related to me.  However, the combination of something being that immersive, yet that ridiculous I found very appealing.

In 1985 I was spending part of Christmas break with Jesse at his Mom’s old schoolmate’s home in the woods near New Paltz New York. The adults rented some movies, one of which was 1978’s La Cage aux Folles. That film is not on this list, with it being in French with subtitles and me being a teenage boy from conservative Boogers, New Jersey.  I will say, as an adult, I’m a fan of Mike Nichols’s 1996 The Birdcage version of that story with Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Hank Azaria, Diane West and Gene Hackman.  It’s not on the list either, but at least I have grown.  No, the film in question was the other one they rented from earlier in the year, Real Genius. What we knew at the time it was a funny and weird story that supplied me with a giant selection of quotes I reference almost daily. What we didn't learn until two and a half years later when we started attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was that Real Genius is the greatest documentary about life in a technical college ever made.  I saw the “kid reaches maximum stress and runs out of the library study session screaming while everyone ignores him” happen in real life on several occasions.

Come Back Next Week to see what we watched when we did get to RPI.  Sorry for the split, but after obsessing over this for weeks, even I need some sleep.


Saucy Pizza said...

Nicely Done.

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx.

MUCH more to come.

I really need help.

longbow said...

It was probably not till my 10th viewing that I noticed the candles

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx, I feel a lot better about that now.