It must be the colors of spring that makes me think about his films, but March always reminds me of Hitchcock. Especially in reflection of Women’s History Month, as while he is a brilliant filmmaker, he really was cruel to his female actors on set. So therefore, I’m going to instruct how one gets into Hitchcock, but with remembrance of how much of an asshole he was. It’s not uncommon to do that with many filmmakers throughout the years.
This post will also celebrate the performances in Hitchcock films, as they make the film what it is. When watching Hitchcock, you are looking for color theory, queer theory and femme fatales. The way that his films shifted throughout the years to become something more than he initially intended is why we still study Hitchcock with a ferocity and with a self-aware eye of who he was and what he did. Therefore, here is a quick guide to get into Hitchcock if you haven’t made the dive yet.
A note: Hitchcock films are predominantly thrillers. Psycho and The Birds, however, are horror films that directly affected the modern definition of horror however, so therefore, I consider him a horror filmmaker in this article. Without his craft of suspense, horror films and its scares would not hit as hard.
An Introduction: Psycho
If you clicked on this or follow my blog, you have to see this film. Other than Peeping Tom, which came out mere months before Psycho, this is the groundwork for the modern slasher film. It also is home to some of the greatest plot twists of all time–how long Janet Leigh is actually in the film and the reveal of the killer. These reveals were so great, that when it released in theaters, there was a record that played in the foyers that acted as an announcement to when the film was going to start, and they would refuse entry once the opening credits played. Now, I do realize that I mentioned Hitchcock and color in the introduction. However, due to the graphic nature of this film for the 1960s, it was filmed in black and white to keep costs and gore down.
While the color theory is out the window for this one, Psycho does have a queer subtext. Anthony Perkins is a legendary queer actor and his performance as Norman Bates can be interpreted as internal frustration and anger of a confused, homosexual man. That could explain his choice of alter-ego (which might have been a way to get around the Hayes Act) and the violence towards women–an act of jealousy of something he could never have. It also explains the rage and contempt that he has for his mother–the one who ‘made’ him this way–as well as the adoration he has for her–someone to cling to as an outsider in this mid-century, homophobic society. Something to think about on your first watch or your latest rewatch.
His Most Accessible: North by Northwest
Rather than focusing on a murder, North by Northwest plays out as a spy suspense-drama. In fact, its final act plays out as an action film really, showcasing that iconic scene of Cary Grant booking it away from the propellor plane. Now it’s controversial, I know, but I haven’t seen this film–not that it hasn’t interested me. I will watch it for sure and it is one that critics recommend to Hitchcock newbies constantly.
This film has the suspense of the Hitchcock but feels like it lacks the main things I derive out of Hitchcock films. Although, I am not against Cary Grant being the biggest badass ever. All because he is mistaken for a government agent. Therefore, if you are looking for the psychological horror element of Hitchcock, have this down the list a bit. If you want to jump into all things Hitchcock, give it a whirl.
Let’s Look at something a bit more relatable: Rear Window
Ah, spying on your neighbors. We’ve all done it at some point. Well, what if that partial voyeurism causes you to be witness to a murder? If Shia LaBeouf just popped in your head, let me point you to the source material of Disturbia. Rear Window is a masterpiece with a conflicting protagonist. It’s romantic, it’s funny, it’s suspenseful. Definitely not as gritty as its bastardized remake. It also features one of the most elaborate sets, with the entire apartment complex built on a soundstage. There were 31 fully functional apartments constructed on that set, which is wild.
This film features the wonderful Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter–extremely headstrong, empowered characters. Due to Jimmy Stewart’s Jeff confined to a wheelchair, it is Kelly’s Lisa crawling through windows and risking her life at the hands of the murderer. They are the voices of reason when it seems that Jeff seems to take it too far in his ‘investigation.’ Also, the muted colors of the wardrobe of the film convey both the climate of the setting as well as the understanding of what is going on. It transitions to black and white as the murder confirms itself. It is a must watch, even if you’re not into Hitchcock’s style of a slow burn.
Remembering Tippi Hedren: The Birds
This film is a little more uncomfortable to watch given the release of Tippi Hedren’s memoir. Everyone was well aware that Hitchcock was cruel towards Hedren on the set–to the extent that he had live birds thrown at her which resulted in her and the birds’ extreme distress and injuries towards Hedren. However, she revealed that Hitchcock basically pulled a Weinstein, and sexually assaulted and harassed her several times, and her refusal to sleep with him led to all of that cruelty. This is why I push those to admire Hitchcock’s films but with a large grain of salt.
The Birds is brilliantly shot and has one of the best scenes in a film ever–the jungle gym scene. However, when you watch this, please remember what Tippi Hedren had to go through, and watch it for her. It will make for a hard watch and reading her experience might taint Hitchcock for you forever. However, it is another case to separate the art from the artist. The Birds is more of a strict horror film rather than a psychological thriller too, so if you’re on this page for horror, this is the film for you.
Red, green and blue: Vertigo
We see Jimmy Stewart again in a pretty conflicting role as John Ferguson, an ex-cop who suffers from a bout of vertigo due to a traumatic incident while on the force. Then we have Kim Novak. She plays a double role in the film, and truly steals the scenes she is in. If you want to see tension–both the love and the hate kind–this is the film for you. I can’t say much more without giving anything away, however, I will talk briefly about the color theory and what you should look for when viewing my personal favorite.
Madeline is green, John is red. In an iconic scene (pictured above), we see Madeline in this gorgeous green gown against a red background–which is the first time John sees her. It speaks to the instant infatuation he has for her, and they go on to wear these colors and eventually wear each other’s. Novak’s other character, Judy, wears cool blue, and it plays a stark contrast to John’s hot red, which reflects his obsession and anger that he falls into due to events that occurred with Madeline. It is an important tool that reflects how the characters are feeling without using a spoken internal monologue.
The Unsung Gem: Rope
When I said Vertigo was my favorite Hitchcock, this one is basically tied with it. This film is a brilliant piece of cinema that is one of the easiest to see through queer theory. Two men who share an apartment kill someone and store them in a cassone, which they set up for a dinner party. For those that may not know, a cassone is a marriage chest, and the act of placing something dead inside can be read as the concept of marriage being dead to these two lovers. The glances they exchange throughout the film confirms this intimacy.
They filmed Rope in a single shot-single take, meaning they had to act like a play. They would always focus on a wall or something still to switch out the roll of film. For the year 1948, that is deeply impressive and only adds to the brilliance of this film. It is an intense thriller that I could not recommend more. It also is free use copyright at the moment, so you can catch it for free on YouTube–even more of a reason to check it out.
Who knew tennis could make you anxious?: Strangers on a Train
A casual flirtation with murder turns deadly serious in this film. Strangers on a Train is another film that is dripping with queer context. I’ll kill your wife if you kill my father is the deal with a one-sided agreement. The intense eye contact between Guy and Bruno while talking about such grandiose “solutions” to their issues further confirms the queer theory, so definitely keep an eye out for the intimacy between the two men–it’s subtle but it’s there.
There are two scenes in this film that shoots this film up to one of Hitchcock’s best. That is the carnival scene and the tennis match. Hitchcock already took the intensity of a tennis match and combined it with such dread and anticipation that you will be squirming in your seat.
Remaking his own film: The Man Who Knew TOo Much
Another film that I haven’t seen (don’t sue me), but it has a bit of a weird timeline. Hitchcock made this film in 1934, and then decided to one up himself and cast Jimmy Stewart–his muse–as well as Doris Day and remake his own film 22 years later. Hitchcock also loves to write about innocent people getting caught up in government affairs. This is also the film that introduced the lovely song “Que Sera Sera,” in quite an intense scene.
This is considered to be Hitchcock’s family film. It really puts a strain on the couple in question about where their values lie and how they rely on each other in a situation that they can’t bring to someone who could intervene easily. It’s not necessarily one to watch with the little ones, but more of a reflection for those of us sucked into day-to-day life and not realizing we should rely on one another to make progress. In this case, they do it to save the life of their son.
Here is a brief list, which don’t include many other amazing films. Rebecca, The 39 Steps, Dial M for Murder, Notorious… the list goes on. Hitchcock is a true mastermind. While he is–to put it politely–a piece of shit, the film community cannot forget his work. It is also notable to remember the women in Hitchcock films and try to keep in mind what they went through to create such art. While his queer subtext in most of his films infer a possible queerness in Hitchcock–which can foster violent self-inflicted homophobia–he had no right to take that out on others, especially the women who were not only brutalized in the fiction he was writing, but also in reality.
Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.
Hello everyone–I just watched the new Scream. It is a brilliant addition as well as homage to its predecessors. During its viewing, I took a trip down memory lane and it’s time to revisit Scream: my favorite quirks and moments in the Scream franchise. It truly is a unique and essential piece to the horror universe–one that many horror fans are proud of. For most horror fans, young and old, Scream just gets you. It knows how you tick, what excites you about horror movies and holds up a mirror and hands you a thank you card.
I cannot think of any fandom who doesn’t like their ego stroked–but we’re stepping away from the meta-ness. Each of these films in the franchise has a gleaming trait that always draws my attention and has me theorizing a lot of what-if scenarios. So, without further ado, I am going to go through some of my interpretations and observations of this brilliant series that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson has blessed upon us.
Billy and Stu: The Queer Subtext
I have seen the first Scream several times, and it is for three people: Stu, Billy and Randy. That is not a diss towards Sidney, Gale or Dewey, but we get significantly more time with them as the series goes on. Randy is obviously the shining star as well as the most relatable character–horror movie aficionado and a constant hard-on for Sidney Prescott (I mean, same, my dude). He’s not my focus point here; it’s the two murderous lovebirds.
There is a certain intimacy between Billy and Stu, and it mostly falls on Matthew Lillard’s performance and portrayal of Stu. Even Matthew Lillard has confirmed he meant to convey it this way, which you can read more about in this brilliant essay from FilmDaze: The Lifelike Misogyny of Scream’s Stu Macher. Kevin Williamson confirmed this. He himself is proudly out and confirmed that he based the characters on Leopold and Lobe.
Lillard conveys Stu’s ferocity and passion towards Billy with intense eye contact. It is also implied that it didn’t take much convincing on Billy’s part for Stu to team up with him in this killing spree. Considering the killing spree included offing Sidney and making Billy painfully available–that was a bargain that one so madly in love couldn’t resist. It’s hard to deny that this isn’t about passion. The more I watch it, the more it comes through to me. On top of that, everyone that I’ve mentioned this theory too can’t unsee it, so I suggest giving Scream another watch and try to lean into the queer point of view. You’ll only appreciate Matthew Lillard’s performance more and more.
Oh, Randy: The Biggest Mistake in the Franchise
Now back to Randy–and yes, I’ve mentioned this before. Randy’s death in Scream 2 is truly devastating. As the franchise goes on, it sinks in more and more that the death of Randy might have been the biggest mistake they made. The Scream franchise was never afraid of broad daylight kills, but the fact that the character with his head screwed on so tight gets yanked into a van, sliced and diced with Gale and Dewey within earshot–that’s just cruel.
It’s even more cruel due to Scream 2 showing Randy thriving in the college environment. Always being outcast by his peers in Woodsboro, he finds his niche and can discuss and evolve his knowledge and opinions all day long. This seemed like a step towards him growing with the rest of them and able to assess the surroundings and deliver appropriate ‘isms at perfect times. I understand that would’ve been the easy route.
I do respect the out-of-the-blue return of Randy in Scream 3 through VHS, but I feel as if the franchise is also realizing it was a bit of a mistake to kill Randy off so soon. His death would’ve been more firmly placed in Scream 3. Randy’s death in Scream 2 signaled no one was safe. However, there were no other major deaths of the legacy characters in Scream 3 and 4. Therefore, his death was a missed opportunity to take some more controversial steps and just kind of leaves a sad pit of what we could’ve seen from an older Randy.
Definition of Camp: Scream 3 isn’t a bad movie
Days before I watched the newest Scream, I rewatched Scream 3. I never am really excited to rewatch this one, however I saw it through fresh eyes for whatever reason lately. If Scream 3 sold strictly as a spoof and a comedy, I firmly believe critical panning would decrease. It is honestly the funniest installment in the series, and the absurdity of the plot and dialogue is what makes it.
I realized that the opening scene of Scream 3 does not set the tone for the majority of the movie, but rather the more serious final act. Therefore, to go from the sinister nature of Cotton Weary’s demise to cooky Gale-Dewey Hollywood banter feels kind of like whiplash. I can see how that radical tone shift left a bad taste in people’s mouths. However, separating that, the rest of Scream 3 is delightfully campy with a whole bundle of wacky characters who happen to play the characters from the series. It’s extremely meta, which is what the Scream franchise is all about.
The character that sells on the campiness and meta-ness is 100% Jennifer Jolie, played perfectly by Parker Posey. Scream 3 deals a hard bargain on the actors in it–they have to play their characters as well as caricatures of themselves. I think that Parker Posey nails this balance, and focusing on her, Gale and Dewey’s storyline in the middle of the movie definitely is what sells it as a viable end to the original trilogy. I definitely recommend anyone to rewatch Scream 3 and treat it like it’s a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie–you’ll see the comedic genius and expert portrayal in camp in it.
Questionable Characters: Scream 4’s Bloodbath
Eleven years have passed, the original cast is either dead or older. 2011’s Scream 4 was an attempt to pass the torch onto a popular, younger cast and ended in a bloodbath instead. Almost every new character introduced in Scream 4 died by the movie’s end and for that, I am sort of grateful.
With the exception of Kirby, played charismatically by Hayden Panettiere, the new characters weren’t very likeable. Now having watched the newest Scream, I am so grateful they didn’t go with this ragtag group. Most of the characters didn’t have much character development, with Jill being the only one that got a backstory and link to Sidney. On top of that, they feel like hollow shells of a person rather than actual humans. All of the complexity vanished.
I attribute part of this to the time jump and dealing with a different generation. A lot of characteristics from these new characters felt very tropey and out of place, with some of them seeming like they stepped out of coming-of-age rom-com. As I mentioned about Randy, this film definitely tried to make up for Randy being gone. While Kirby was extremely likeable amongst the trio of movie know-it-alls, the shoes of the Randy character were not filled. Despite my complaints, however, I really do like Scream 4 a lot. I feel that this newest Scream however took it down a few pegs in regard to likeable characters.
Scream Lives on through the newest installment
To wrap this up, I cannot stress how badly I want everyone to go and watch Scream. It is truly amazing, hilarious, and brutal. My overly emotional self even cried a bit. I adore the new cast so much and am already looking forward to a sequel, which they plan on doing. The directors behind this new one also did Ready or Not, so if you are looking for some more horror comedy with badass women, I suggest either watching or rewatching that one (I’ve seen it at least five times). I will never stop talking about Scream and singing its praises, so if you want to hear more from The Void of Celluloid, be sure to follow this blog and our social medias linked on the homepage. See you next time, spelunkers.
Notorious is a wonderful introduction to the genre of film-noir. It eases you in without being too dark, and gives you enough romance to make you care about what happens to the two leads; the two leads are Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, so that is not a difficult thing to do. Boy, Ingrid Bergman has gotten a beating over the last few weeks. Brilliantly directed by Alfred Hitchock, Notorious transports us back to the days just after World War 2, with enough spies, intrigue and innuendo to keep even the most passive viewer engaged. So without further ado, here is my analysis of 1946’s “Notorious” . PS: If you are looking for the 2009 biopic Notorious about the Notorious B.I.G., I am afraid this is a very different film. You can check out the last MOTV post here.
The film starts in a courtroom in Miami, where Alicia Huberman’s (Bergman) father has just been convicted of treason. The press is waiting for her, taking her picture and bombarding her with questions. It is quickly established that she is being followed, but by whom?
We now find ourselves at a party at Alicia’s house, where she is generously pouring drinks, as she is being asked questions by her guests about being followed by the police, which she ignores. We can see everyone’s face, except a shadowy figure with his back to us. Alicia acknowledges him, pours him a drink and begins talking to him, with no response from the mystery man. To be honest, she doesn’t really give him a chance to respond. This is her house and she is commanding the room, looking stunning while doing so. She suggests that the mystery man is a party crasher, but is corrected by the guest who invited him. Still not a word from the shadowy figure.
Alicia finally acknowledges the fact that she is being followed and expresses her annoyance at being a marked woman because of her father’s dealings. The elder gentleman she has been generously imbibing reminds her that they are setting sail tomorrow and the police will no longer be a problem. The party begins to break up, and as it does, Alicia pours the mystery man another drink, telling him she likes him, even though he hasn’t uttered a word.
Finally the camera pans around to show that our mystery man is Devlin (Grant). It is apparent that the two have continued to drink long after the other guests have either left, or passed out. Alicia is clearly intoxicated, but Devlin is cool as a cucumber. Alicia suggests that the two go outside for a picnic. She tells Devlin her car is outside, and asks if he wants to go for a ride. She tells him that she is driving, and all he protests to is that she doesn’t have her coat, to which she replies, “You’ll do.” When they exit the house, the wind is blowing, and Devlin proceeds to wrap a scarf around Alicia’s bare midriff, telling her he doesn’t want her to get cold.
Celeb crushes, anyone?
I have a confession to make here. If I was to build the perfect man it would be a combination of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. I think I spent half this movie swooning over Grant’s cool demeanor and suave good looks. Ok, let me wipe the drool off my chin and continue.
Having gotten her way, Alicia is erratically swerving all over the road. She asks Devilin if he is scared, and he shows no fear, as she increases her sleep to make him show her something. We can see Devlin’s hand is positioned to take control of the wheel if need be, but he is saved from having to do so by a motorcycle policeman’s approach. Alicia expresses her disdain for the police. She reluctantly pulls over after admitting that this would be her second drunk driving offense and that would cause her to go to jail, like the rest of her family.
The officer approaches the car and after a few snide remarks from Alicia, he asks Devlin if she is drunk. He doesn’t answer, he just reaches into his pocket and shows the officer his credentials. The officer apologizes for pulling them over and states his assurance in Devlin’s abilities as he walks away.
Alicia, confused and agitated, askes her passenger where the ticket she rightly deserves is. Finally Alicia asks for his name, and he introduces himself to her. She questions him about what he showed the officer to make him leave. She becomes aggressive as she identifies him as a cop and begins to hit him, while Devlin stays measured and cool. He tells her to move over so he can drive and take her home. She refuses, gripping the steering wheel until her knuckles are white. He tries to be as gentle as he can with her, while she continues to hit and fight. I am not sure what moves he does on her, but she finally either passes out or just gives up. He slides into the driver’s seat with a sigh.
The next morning, Alicia awakes with a hangover cure on her nightstand and Devlin leaning casually in her doorway. Hitchcock’s direction is wonderful here. He spins the camera to show how Alicia’s head is spinning from her crazy night.
The Plot Thickens
As Alicia slowly starts to get her wits about her, she questions Delvin about what he wants with her. He explains that he works for the government and they want her to help them catch some of the men who had worked with her father, and are now conducting business in Brazil. She insists she is not interested and even turning her back on him. He tells her that her apartment has been wired for three months, and he plays a recording between Alicia and her father. She tells her father that she loves America and hates what her father is doing. She is visibly upset by this, but tells Devlin that she wants to live her own life.
The captain from the night before arrives and tells her that it is almost time for the boat to depart. He leaves again as Devlin gives Alicia another chance to agree, which she does, sending him to tell the captain the bad news.
The couple is now on a plane to Brazil. Everyone used to get so dressed up on airplanes, not a pair of pajama pants or crocs to be found. Devlin points out their boss, a few rows back in the plane. Devlin tells Alicia that her father has died. He took a poison capsil. Alicia reflects on how nice she and her once were before she knew who her father really was. With his death, she no longer has to hate him or herself.
They are now at a street cafe in Rio, still awaiting news on what their job will be. Alicia asks Devlin to put his cop brain on the back burner and just take her hand and have fun. Alicia starts to drown her doubts in herself as she asks Devlin to believe in her.
They have gone for a drive and are admiring the view as Alicia tells Devlin that he can’t admit he has feelings for her because he is ashamed of loving a drunk, and is worried about what others will think. Well he finds a way to stop her from talking; a passionate kiss does the trick.
Alicia and Devlin
The agents are having a meeting about Alicia, and how much faith he has in her. The meeting adjourns with the men looking very proud of themselves. They basically just agreed that Alicia will have to find her way into the house of the German business man they are targeting, who had ties to her father.
Devlin and Alicia have arrived at her hotel room and make good use of the balcony, and I don’t mean they are admiring the view of the beach. The two make plans for dinner in between kisses. Devlin contacts his hotel to see if he has any messages. Alicia tells Devlin she knows he doesn’t love her, to which he responds, “When I don’t love you, I’ll let you know.” Ok…heart…calm yourself….swoon…
Devlin has a message from his boss, and he has to leave for a meeting. They kiss all the way to the door. At the meeting, his boss has obviously told him they expect Alicia to become intimate with their target. He is visibly upset and states that he is not sure that she will do it. His boss tells him that their target, Alex Sebastian ( Claude Rains) was once in love with Alicia, and this is the perfect opportunity to get someone on the inside to find out what has been going on.
It is determined that Devlin and Alicia will stage an unexpected meeting with Alex at a local riding club. Devlin now has the unfortunate task of going back to tell the woman he loves he is whoring her out for the good ole’ USA. Those are my words, not his, but if I was Alicia, that is what I would hear in my head.Devlin returns to Alicia’s hotel room as she is happily cooking for the two of them. She happily is going about, setting the table, and he is back to his mystery man stance. Alicia is so open with him, and he zings her, and gets back to business.
Devlin asks Alicia if she remembers their target and asks if he had feelings for her. She tells him that he did have feelings for her, but she did not return them. She asks him what the plan is and he tells her that they are meeting Alex tomorrow, but it is up to her to “land him”, which is better than saying nail him I guess. Alicia compares herself to Mata Hari, trying to lighten the mood, Devlin brings any levity crashing to the ground as he reiterates that she has to win the target over and get the intel. Alicia accuses him of knowing all along that this is what the job was and he tells her he just found out himself. Both are heart broken, but Devlin hides behind his law enforcement mask while Alicia’s expressions are an open book.
Alicia Joins the Case
Alica asks if he told the boss she was not the kind of woman for this job, and Devlin says he leaves it up to her to defend herself. She enquiries if he tried to adjust the assignment, if he tried to protect what they were starting. Devlin replies, this is the job they have to do. As her pain increases, Alicia’s mask is starting to be secured into place. She asks him if she should take the job, and he tells her it is up to her. She asks him to tell her that he loves her, but once again, the words do not come.
As she walks from the cozy balcony, her self esteem seems to blow way with the ocean breeze. My heart breaks for her. This man she is falling for is willing to give her up to another man because it is the job. His cold and matter of fact demeanor is doing nothing to help ease the pain of this blow he had dealt her. He did so much more damage with his words and lack thereof, than he ever did in the tussle over her car back in Miami. She takes a drink and when she speaks her mask is firmly in place.
The next day, the two are heading to the riding company. Devlin gives her his back story, and his folded arms show how unhappy he is about the situation. At the riding club, the two slowly ride past Alex, but Alicia’s hat obscures his view, even though he does have a spark of recognition. When Devlin says they should wait around and take this slowly, Alicia is not too keen on this idea, signaling her horse to run, which makes Alex follow, clearly recognizing a woman he was once very fond of. Alex catches up to her, taking her horse’s reins and stopping them both, as Devlin looks on, his mask cracking.
Having missed a meeting with Devlin, we find Alicia and Alex having dinner. Alex is openly flirting as Alicia is cool but affectionate. She sees Prescott, her boss, enter the restaurant. Alex asks if she knows that man and she says no. He explains to her that Prescott is intelligence, and Alicia shares her disdain for members of law enforcement, explaining they are the reason why she left Miami and was not there when her father died. Alex admits this answers a question he had about why she left Miami. Alex says he wants to help Alicia forget all the pain and trouble she and her father had gone through. She tells him she feels at home with him.
Tension between the lovebirds
Alex asks her if there is someone else in her life and specifically Devlin. Alicia tells him that Devlin has been nothing but a pest since she arrived in Rio. She assures him that Devlin means nothing to her. Alex invites her to a dinner party his mother is throwing at their house. So, he is a mama’s boy. Let’s see to what extent shall we….
Devlin is angry, Prescott curious about flowers Alex has sent Alicia. The two agents are waiting in Alicia’s room as she appears, stunning in white, ready for the dinner party. Prescott gives Alicia some rented jewels, and tells her to try and memorize the names of the people in attendance. He tells the two that they need to not see each other for a few days, in case anyone from the party checks up on her.
Alicia arrives at Alex’s house, a large mansion on the ocean. He is doing very well for himself. . She is escorted into a room to wait, and she sees Alex’s mother descend the stairs. The two women greet each other, but with guarded stances. Alex enters, and the Ice Queen, oh sorry, Alex’s mother suggests they meet the other guests.
As all the guests take their seats for dinner, a certain wine visibly upsets one of the guests. Alex quickly escorts him from the room as Alicia takes note. Alicia cannot see the label of the wine in questions.
After dinner the gentlemen retire to a room to have cigars and to discuss the poor man who had a melt down about the wine and is now waiting nervously in the hall. He enters the room and apologizes to the men. He tells Alex he wishes to leave on his own. One of the other guests insists on driving the man home. A concrete shoe fitting, anyone?
Mama’s boy and the Ice Queen are at the horse races, discussing where Alicia disappeared to. Devlin and Alicia meet, and she gives him her intel from the party. Alicia tells Devlin that Alex is one of her playmates. Devlin is angry and lashes out the best he can without losing their cover. He is cruel to her and as Alex approaches he gets one more jab in as Alicia tries to gain her composure. Alex tells Alicia he was watching the two of them and she must convince him that Devlin means nothing to her.
Alicia and Alex
Prescott and Devlin are meeting with other agents, discussing the intel Alicia gave them. She announces that she is there to see them, and when one of the other gentlemen in the room makes snide remarks about her character, Devlin stands up for her, putting the man in his place. Now if he could just do that when she is actually in the room, the love birds might make some progress.
Alicia enters and tells the gentlemen that Alex has asked her to marry him, and she had to give him an answer quickly. They tell her that if she is willing to go this far for them. Prescott asks for Devlin’s opinion and he agrees it is a good idea. Both the lovers are heartbroken, but masks in place. Devlin quickly takes his leave, as the men discuss their luck in this opportunity.
Now married Alex and Alicia return home after their honeymoon. The Ice Queen is not happy about the situation, and makes sure the couple comes home to a dark house. The next day, while Alicia is settling in, she discovers locked doors. The butler tells her that the Ice Queen has all the keys to the locked doors. Alicia interrupts Alex’s meeting and he goes to fetch them from mommy. The two argue behind clothes doors, and what do you know, Mama’s Boy won.
Alicia systematically goes through the house unlocking all the doors but the wine cellar, which only Alex has the key to. While meeting to share information, Devlin tells her to get the key. Alicia tells him easier said than done, and that she is having no fun. Devlin tells her it is too late for all that. He convinces her to throw a party. She can steal the key and slip it to him during the party.
The night of the party, as Alex gets ready in the other room, Alicia stealthily takes the key from his keychain. She does some quick maneuvering as her husband tries to explain his jealousy toward Devlin.
The newlyweds greet their guest, as Alicia holds tight to the key. When Devlin arrives, Alicia slips him the key as he kisses her hand. Alex quickly approaches and assures Devlin and the invitation to the party was from both of them, not just his wife. Our two sneaks begin to worry that the party will run out of champagne and Alex will realize that his key is missing during his absence. Another guest drags Devlin away, while Alicia enquiries with the butler about the champagne supply. Alicia goes to find Devlin, and as they sit and talk, Alex watches the pair from across the room. They plan where to meet and Devlin leaves as Alicia returns to her husband’s side, watching more and more glasses of champagne be poured.
The Wine Cellar
Alicia makes an excuse to leave and goes to meet Devlin. As he searches the wine cellar, Alicia keeps watch. While trying to examine some paperwork, Devlin breaks a bottle of wine that is full of “sand” Devlin gets a sample and the pair half heartedly clean up the mess. He tells her to find another bottle with the same label. She does, but only looks at the label, not the vintage. Alicia pours out the wine, and puts the “sand” back in the bottle and places on the shelf.
At the party the butler approaches Alex to inform him they are running low on champagne. Devlin and Alicia quickly finish cleaning up as Alex arrives in the cellar. Worried about being seen, Devlin quickly kisses Alicia. In the moment, she loses herself and drowns his love for her. He tells her to push him away as Alex approaches. She tells her husband that Devlin drunkenly made the advance. Devlin tells Alex, “I knew her before you, I loved her before you, but I am not as lucky as you.” From behind his mask, Devlin is able to speak his truth. He gives his apology to the couple, and Alex sends Alicia up to see to her guests.
Back to the task at hand, when Alex and the butler return to the wine cellar, he realizes that his key is missing. He tells the butler that the guests have had enough champagne and they can drink what is available upstairs.
Alicia apologizes to her husband after the guests have left. He tells her he was the one who acted like a school boy and then sends her to bed while he goes to conduct some business.
When he enters his bedroom, he sees Alicia sleeping in her bed. He takes his now lighter keyring and places it on the vanity, looking back to his wife. The next morning Alex awakens and looks nervously at a still sleeping Alicia. He goes to check his key ring and the missing key is back where it belongs. He goes down to the wine cellar. Nothing seems out of place, but then he notices something poured down the sink. He goes to examine the shelf where the broken bottle came from. One of the bottles is the wrong vintage and not sealed properly. He picks it up and sees it is full of the “sand”, but he realizes that someone has tampered with this bottle. He searches further and finds the broken bottle under the shelves.
Alex does what any self respecting mama’s boy would do. He runs to his mommy and tells her that his wife is an American agent. The Ice Queen is practically giddy when she finds out there is a problem with her daughter in law. Alex reminds his mother that his business partners got rid of a man for freaking out over a bottle of wine. What will they do to him when they find out his wife is a spy. The two strike up a plan to slowly make Alicia ill, and then one day they will just get rid of her.
What’s in the Bottle?
So the slow poisoning of Alicia begins. When she goes to meet Prescott, he tells her that the “sand” is actually uranium ore. He tells her about Devlin’s transfer to Spain. He asked for the transfer. Alicia confirms that she is still to report to Devlin until the new contact arrives.
Alicia is suffering from dizzy spells, and when she finally goes to meet with Devlin, she is quite ill. She apologizes to him for being late. They both say nothing new is happening. He tells her she doesn’t look very well and asks her if she is sick and she tells him it is a hangover. He is not surprised about her return to her old ways. While they both try to hurt each other with their words, Alicia gives him back the scarf he tied around her waist in Miami. She goes to leave and he asks her to stay, and she tells him she doesn’t want to.
The scientist that is staying with Alex shows genuine concern for Alicia’s health. He starts to give away information about where the uranium is coming from. When the houseguest mistakenly picks up Alicia’s coffee and the Ice Queen and Mama’s Boy quickly stop him from drinking from her cup, the light bulb goes off in Alicia’s head. She knows they are poisoning her, and tries to leave and returns to her room. She collapses before she can get up the stairs to her room and make a phone call for help. Alex insists on removing the phone so she is not disturbed and locks her in there, cutting her off from all contact.
Devlin is in his usual meeting spot, but Alicia never shows up. He goes to see Prescott, and tells him that she hasn’t shown up for 5 days. Devlin tells Prescott that he realizes that Alicia was not drunk when he saw her last, just very sick. He tells him he is going to go to the house and check up on her, make a friendly house call. Prescott tells him to check in after.
Devlin pulls up in front of the stately manor and when the butler opens the door, she asks for Alex first. The butler tells him Alex said no interruptions. He then asks about Alicia and the butler confirms she is ill. Alex is told Devlin is there, and he has his butler tell him to wait. In the meeting, they discuss that people are following them.
Delvin decides he can no longer wait and quickly makes his way up to Alicia. She is barely responsive, but when she realizes it is him, their love for each other cannot hide. She tells him they are poisoning her. He tells her he is going to get her out of the house. Devlin tells her that he was leaving Rio because he loves her and couldn’t stand to see her with Alex. He starts to get Alicia ready to leave and she tells him they gave her sleeping pills. He tries to keep her talking to keep her awake. She asks him to tell her again that he loves her, it keeps her away. As they slowly make their way to the door, she tells him where the sand comes from.
They start to make their escape as Alex meets them at the top of the stairs. Devlin tells the Ice Queen and Mama’s boy that unless he lets them go, he will tell his business associate the truth about who Alicia is. Alex freezes, and mommy does his talking for him. As soon as his associates start to question what is going on, Alex actively helps get Alicia to the car. Once in the car. Alex is locked out of the car and left behind to deal with his associates. With the weight of this hanging in the air, the film ends.
After filming wrapped, Gary Cooper took the wine cellar key. After a few years, he gave the key to Ingrid Bergman, and at a tribute to Alfred Hitchock, she presented the key to him.
All the scenes with multiple kisses were because there was a time limit on long screen kisses due to the Hayes Code.
RKO paid David O Sleznick $800,000 and 50% of the profits for the use of the screen writer, HItchcock, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
Hitchcock stated that during the course of making the film, he was under surveillance by the FBI because his film contained references to uranium.
I am a huge Hitchcock fan, but this film had escaped my viewing all these years. The first fifteen minutes of the film is very funny. Drunk Ingrid Bergman is delightful. The rest of the film is suspenseful and full of angst and heartbreak. All of the performances are outstanding, but it is the film leads, holding on to those masks of their feeling with all their might is where the film shines.
Hitchcock skillfully uses light to show conflict. Characters in half shadow, stepping into the light, retreating into the dark, this often says more than any dialogue could.
World War II was still fresh in America’s mind when they made this film I am sure that it made the audience question how far they would go for their country. Could they give up their happiness, love, freedom and body if their country asked it of them? More importantly, should this be something that a country asks of its citizens?
“Notorious” is on a number of top film lists and for good reason. You can stream it for free on YouTube and other platforms.
I don’t know where the Void will send me next. Thriller, Horror, Noir…Wherever it is, I am looking forward to the journey, and I hope you will join me for what lies in store. Until next time.
The definition of gaslight is “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perceptions of reality or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
The name for the term Gaslighting came from the 1938 play “Gas Light” written by Patrick Hamilton. It was made into a film in 1940, and it is the second adaption, 1944, that is my film for the week. Having been a victim of this abuse in two major relationships in my life, I think the Void is trying to give me some inexpensive therapy, and I appreciate it. So here we go with Gaslight, directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. If you want to read my last one, check it out here.
The film open in London, as a young Paula Alquist is being led away from the scene of her aunt’s murder. A paper reveals that the murderer is still at large. There are many onlookers as a clearly distraught Paula watches the gaslights in her aunt’s house are extinguished. Her caretaker informs her that she is going to Italy to study singing with her aunt’s best friend. Paula is told this man will make her into a great singer, like her aunt.
We now see an older Paula, studying her singing, and she is chastised for not taking her singing seriously and also for not singing like her aunt. As Paula assures her teacher she will try harder, the accompanist asks to be excused, and is granted permission.
Paula discusses with her teacher that she knows she is not meant to be a singer. He tells her that she has been coming to her lessons happier than he has ever seen her, but as her happiness improves, it is having the opposite effect on her singing. He asks her if she is in love, and she affirms that she is. She tells him that she is happier than she has ever been, which is something she never thought would happen. Her instructor tells her that she should embrace this chance at happiness, she should free herself from the past. He asks to meet this man she loves, and instead of agreeing, she tells him goodbye.
Paula hears her name called as she leaves her lesson. Gregory, the accompanist, is waiting for her. He pulls her into a secluded area and kisses her. He then asks if she told her teacher, and she says she didn’t have to, he knew already. Gregory questions why Paula hesitates moving forward with him. She admits she knows nothing about him, and he still asks her to marry him. . He questions if she is afraid of him, and she says no of happiness. Paula asks Gregory to give her time, and he says, “You will have all the time you need”. Paula confirms that they have only known each other for two weeks. She tells Gregory that she wants to go away for two weeks, so she can think about this on her own. He is supportive of her going. They have a very sweet parting.
Paula is now on the train with Miss Thwaites, who if she was alive today, she would be the biggest true crime podcast fan ever! She is reading a mystery novel, and she is very animated about what she is reading. She and Paula strike up a conversation. Paula tells Miss Thwaites that she is going to Lake Cuomo, and the old woman is shocked that she is traveling by herself.
Miss Thwaites reveals that she is going to London and she lives in Thornton Square. This is the same area we saw Paula leaving at the beginning of the film. She tells the old woman that she knew people who lived there, and the amature sleuth begins to share the story of the unsolved murder that took place there years before. Paula becomes visibly upset, but the woman keeps talking. Much to Paula’s relief they reach her stop. As she exits the train, and Miss Thwaites continues to talk, a hand appears on her arm. It is Gregory, who has followed her. He says he hopes she is not angry, and she is genuinely relieved to see him.
Now my younger self would have seen this and thought, “How romantic.” My older self, who has been in dysfunctional relationships sees this and thinks, “She asks for space, and this is his way of making sure she doesn’t get a chance to analyze what is happening in a healthy way, and change her mind.” To all you kids out there, respect your partner’s wishes. Time apart will not kill you! And if someone does not respect your wishes for space, RUN!
We now see the beautiful balcony of the hotel where Gregory and Paula are spending their honeymoon, or at least I think it is their honeymoon. If not, this is really naughty for 1944. They are romantically talking about their future together. Gregory asks Paula where she would like to settle down. She suggests Paris, and he suggests London, which takes some of the joy from her face. All of a sudden, he has an idea.
He visited London when he was younger, and had always dreamed of having a home, “in one of the quiet little squares” asking her again if they could settle down in London. He then notices the expression on her face and asks what is wrong. She tells him she already owns a house in a square in London. Her Aunt left her the house. Paula confides that she knows nothing of her parents and lived with her Aunt until her death. She tells Gregory that she hasn’t been afraid since she has known him. Paula tells him that she can face the house with him by her side. She will give him his dream of a house in the square.
We now see Miss Thwaites saying hello to flowers and it is revealed that new tenants are moving into Number 9, where the murder happened. She recognizes Paula and reintroduces herself. The solicitor opens the door to the house and they slowly enter together. Gregory begins to make his way through the house, but he has an intuition about the layout of the house. They go upstairs to the drawing room. Paula says the room smells of death, as Gregory opens a window, saying it won’t for long. Paula shows him a cabinet that displayed her aunt’s treasures. The glass was broken the night of the murder, but nothing was missing.
She shows her husband a single glove her Aunt loved, and as a child she inquired as to the whereabouts of the other glove, but was told that her aunt gave it away to a great admirer and that was all she knew. Gregory tells Paula that he wished he could have seen her, and she reveals her painting. A strange expression comes across Gregory’s face when he looks at the painting. Paula reveals the place where she found her aunt’s body, and that she had been strangled. Gregory suggests that they remove all the items that remind Paula of the tragedy.
A Home of their own
Paula heartily agrees and excitedly talks of the parties they could have. Gregory looks displeased and tells her that parties would come later because he wants them to have time to themselves. Paula tells him there is an attic where all her things are, and Gregory suggests they could put all the old furniture up there. Once they were done, they could board it up, so she would never have to look at them again. Personally I was thinking ‘YARD SALE”, but that is just my American coming out I guess.
While Paula is showing Gregory her Aunt’s piano, she finds a letter and begins to read it outloud. When she says the letter was written by someone named Sergus Bower, Gregory becomes visibly upset and rips the letter out of her hands. He tells her that they need to get rid of all of these things because they are upsetting her. Hello pot, I’m kettle. He tells her that while she holds on to her Aunt, there can be no happiness for them.
Some time has now passed, and Miss Thwaites runs into Elizabeth, Paula and Gregory’s housekeeper. It is established that workers have just finished boarding up the attic and Gregory doesn’t allow visitors because he feels that Paula is too unwell to be around people.
When Elizabeth enters the house, Gregory is hiring another housekeeper (a very young and beautiful Angela Lansbury). He tells her she is never to bother Paula, and to always come to him. There is an obvious flirtation between the two. Paula comes downstairs and is introduced to Nancy, the new maid. Gregory gives Paula a cameo that he tells her that it belonged to his mother. He makes a point of pointing out to her that she has a tendency to lose things, and tells her he is putting it in her bag for safe keeping due to the clasp being broken. She tells him she won’t forget it is there, and they head out for a tour of the Tower of London. She is so excited that she actually gets to leave the house for the day. How nice of him to unlock her cage.
The Gas Is turned on
While on a tour of the Tower of London, Paula realizes that her cameo is no longer in her bag. This sends her into a panic, and she leaves the tour group to search for it. Gregory quickly follows her and they go for a walk in the sunshine. While on their walk a man with his niece and nephew tips his hat at them. Brian’s niece tells him he looks like he has seen a ghost and he says that the woman reminds him of someone who is dead. Gregory get instantly jealous and contronts Paula about who the man is. She tells him she has no idea and was just being polite.
Once again, to distract from his actions, Gregory tells Paula he is worried about her and the fact that she is so forgetful lately. Paula is confused about what he is talking about, and he tells her not to worry. Anytime she questions Gregory, he accuses her of being suspicious and makes her doubt her own mind. Paula wants to go home and Brian watches them leave.
When they return home, Paula inquires about seeing the room that Gregory rented to work out of. He tells her that is unnecessary, and sends her upstairs to rest. When she is half way up the first flight of stairs, Gregory asks for her cameo so he can have it repaired. She confesses to him that she can’t find it. He empties her purse and the cameo is missing. Gregory tells her he warned her he would lose it. When she apologizes he tells her it is not important, and when she asks him to confirm he put it in her purse, he questions her memory again.
While getting ready for bed, Paula notices the gas lights in her room dimmed, and questions Nancy about who would have turned on a light in another part of the house causing this one to dim. She then hears footsteps above her.
The Gas Lights
Miss Thwaites greets Brian outside Paula’s house. She tells him that Paula never leaves the house, and he looks over and corrects her when he sees Paula outside the door. She had forgotten her keys and had to have Nancy open the door so she could retrieve her umbrella. Nancy questions what she should tell Gregory is he asks where she has gone, and despite Paula’s answers, she continues to grill her, to the point where Paula gives up and goes back in the house. Miss Thwaites confides in Brian that the new maid, Nancy, has been fooling around with a policeman who walks around the house.
We now see Brian entering Scotland yard. He is asking them to reopen the case. He explains that he met Paula’s aunt when he was 12 years old, and he thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. The detective tells him that there is no reason to reopen the case, but then he mentions that some jewels were missing. This sparks Brian’s interest, as he states there is no mention of jewels in the case file. The detective tells him someone “highly placed” gave them to the woman. That is the theory behind why she was murdered, but the jewels were too famous to ever be sold. Instead of Brian dropping it, this has sparked his interest even more.
Brian meets up with an officer, asks him if he is married and offers him a new location in a more stylish neighborhood. Nancy does like a man in uniform, and this one will do.
We now find Gregory and Paula in the drawing room. Paula wants to put coal on the fire, but Gregory insists she call Nancy. When she enters Gregory openly flirts with her, even asking Nancy to give Paula makeup tips. Paula chastices Gregory for the way he treats her, and Gregory accuses her of imagining things.
Nancy enters the room and says Miss Thwaites has come for a visit with her nephew. Paula welcomes the visit, but Gregory tells Nancy to send them away. When Paula protests, Gregory begins to yell at her, telling her he doesn’t want people in the house. He tells Nancy to say Paula is not well enough for visitors. Paula tells Gregory she really wanted to see her, and his reply is well then you should have just said so. They dismiss Miss Thwaites and her “nephew” Brian.
In the sitting room, Gregory is happily playing the piano, with Paula worrying in the background. He tells her that they are going out for the evening, and Paula begins to question if she has forgotten him telling her. He assures her it is just a surprise for her–taking her to the theater. Paula is happily singing, when Gregory stops playing and questions her about the whereabouts of a little picture. He asks her to go and get it and she insists she didn’t take it. Paula begs him not to ring for the servants. He asks Elizabeth if she knows where the painting is, and she says that she has never touched the painting. Gregory asks her to kiss the bible to show she is telling the truth.
Gregory tells her to bring in Nancy, whom Paula is fearful of. He questions Nancy, and she denies taking the picture. They dismiss Nancy and Paula swears on and kisses the bible, saying that she did not take the picture. Sternly Gregory tells her to go look for the picture. On the way up the stairs, she finds the picture and he accuses her of knowing where it was all along. He sends her to her room and tells her that she is too ill for her to go to the theater.
Paula begs Gregory to be gentle with her if she is truly ill. He takes her to her room, and tells her that he is leaving to work. She begs him not to leave and tells him she is hearing noises and she begs him to hold her and make her feel safe. He leaves and tells her he hopes she is better in the morning. Gregory and Nancy flirt yet again as Gregory leaves to go work. Nancy is a wee bit of a ho bag.
Gregory exits the house into the foggy London night. He quickly steps into the shadows. What are you up to?
Approaching Paula’s Breaking Point
Paula is laying on her bed, crying when once again the gas lights dim and there are noises overhead.
There is a concert, and Brian as well as Paula and Gregory are invited. Brian asks the host if she will seat him next to Paula. Just then the hostess gets word that Gregory has RSVP’d that Paula is ill and they won’t be attending.
Paula descends the stairs in a lovely white gown, ready to go to the concert. Gregory is in the sitting room in his smoking jacket. Paula proclaims that despite Gregory’s response to the invitation, she is going, alone if she has to. Gregory plays it off that he didn’t realize that the party was so important, and goes to change so he can go with her. Paula gains some confidence after an icey exchange with Nancy.
They arrive at the concert, which has already started, and draw Brian’s attention as they take their seats. Once seated, another musician starts to play. Brian watches the couple, drawing Gregory’s attention. During the performance, Gregory reaches for his watch, which is missing. He questions Paula about the whereabouts of it, and she becomes very upset. He begins to examine her purse and pulls his watch from it. When she protests that she didn’t take his watch, she begins to sob uncontrollably and Gregory tells the hostess that she is too sick after all. Brian leaves his seat during the commotion and follows the couple back to their house.
In Paula’s bedroom, Gregory is pacing, ranting that he has tried to keep her “illness” quiet, but her insistence on going to the concert has brought everything out in the open. Paula tries to recall when things started to slip from her. She traces it back to the letter she found, and Gregory insists that there never was a letter at all, and he was just playing along with her. Poor Paula.
Gregory tells her that Paula’s mother was insane and died in an asylum. He tells her that Paula’s symptoms are the same as hers. He then accuses her of knowing that Brian would be at the concert. Paula tells him that she has no idea who he is. Gregory becomes angry and accuses her of lying to him. He tells her what she is doing is worse than lying. She is forgetting. He then threatens her that he will bring in two doctors to have her legally committed.
Gregory leaves the house again, and as he walks away, he hears footsteps behind him. Ahead of him is the officer that Brian had assigned to the street. Once again, Gregory disappears into the shadows, as Brian and the officer meet and try to figure out where he went.
The Dimming of the Gas light
Once again, the dimming of the gas light and footsteps above her head plagues Paula. She screams for Elizabeth, who is coming upstairs. She asks Elizabeth if she turned on the gas downstairs. Elizabeth tells her no, and that she is the only one in the house. Noises appear overhead again. Elizabeth is mostly deaf, so when Paula asks her if she hears the noises, she says she doesn’t and tells her it is just her imagination.
Brian has spent his breakfast making a diagram to figure out how Gregory disappeared. The officer comes to his house and tells him he saw Gregory coming out of the shadows, dirty and disheveled. He then tells Brian that he has had breakfast with Nancy. She told him that Gregory informed her that Paula might be going away for a very long time, and he asked her to stay on and look after him. (I bet she did….slut!). Brian sees this news as a reason to speed up their investigation. Brian tells the officer to get Nancy out of the house in the evening and he will stop by and see Paula after Gregory leaves for the night.
Paula is trying to read, but Gregory’s words are causing her brain to spin. Brian sees Gregory leave, and then goes to ring to bell on the house. Elizabeth tells Brian she won’t see anyone. He pushes his way past Elizabeth. Paula comes down the stairs, and begs him to leave. Brian shows her a glove that Paula’s Aunt had given him; the match to the glove she had in the cabinet. Brian asks if she is planning on going away. She says no, unless Gregory sends her away. Brian tells her that she is not crazy and he is there to prove it. He asks if there is anyone else there, and she says no. He tells her that the gas went down, which relieves Paula that he saw it as well. She tells him that every night, the light goes down and she hears things.
Brian begins to put the pieces together as they hear noises. Brian helps to convince her that she is not crazy and it is actually her husband who is upstairs, making the noises. We then see Gregory, going through everything, looking for the jewels that he could not find when he murdered Paula’s aunt.
Brian Assists Paula
Brian asks if there are any weapons, and Brian breaks into Gregory’s desk to see if his revolver is there. While Brian is looking, she finds the letter that Gregory said didn’t exist. Brian shows her handwriting samples to show Paula that Gregory and the man who wrote the letter to her Aunt are the same person. He tells Paula that Gregory is trying to drive her crazy so he could get control of her property and search for the jewels with no obstacles. Brian tells her that Gregory married a woman in Prague. As they are talking, the gas goes back up. Gregory leaves through the sky light when light catches the jewels, sewn into one of the costumes in an open trunk.
Brian leaves and asks Elizabeth to take care of Paula. Brian waits for Gregory to come home, but he enters through the boarded up door to the attic. He quickly rushes to his room to examine the jewels, and he finds someone broke into his desk. Enraged, he goes to Paula’s room. Paula is one very angry woman. Hell hath no fury, asshole.
Frightened, but she knows what is going on now. He is so cruel to her. She tells him it wasn’t her, he continues to question her. She lets it slip that “he” opened it. He asks Elizabeth who the man was, but she says no one was here. Paula is reeling, but Elizabeth is protecting her. As Paula spirals, Gregory continues to spin her. Just then Brian shows up at the door. He confronts Gregory. He asks Paula to leave to keep her safe. Gregory escorts her from the room. Brian confronts him about finding the jewels. They struggle over the gun and they go upstairs. Elizabeth calls for the officer, and he joins the fray.
Our resident true crime sleuth, Miss Thwaites, enters the house to see what is going on. Brian and the officer have tied Gregory to a chair. Paula asks to see him alone. She begins to play his own game with him. She wants to torture him the way he tortured her. But the best torture is to let the police take him away.
The film ends with a suggested future romance between Paula and Brian, and a possibility of happily ever after.
This is one heck of a psychological thriller, and if you have ever had a relationship that involved gaslighting, this could be a trigger. Having lived through two such relationships, to see it played out in such an early film makes me know that there were many who came before me. We recognize this abuse more and more now, but still the abuse happens.
This is a very important film, which is helpful, especially by younger people who could use it as examples of red flags in their own relationships. That is the social side of it. As a film, the acting is wonderful and the use of light, shadow and fog are superb. Now that spooky season is over, time to get yourself mentally prepared for all those holiday gatherings with the family.
It’s that time of year again. The last weekend of Halloween, where the falls are ten different shades of orange, it’s finally sweater weather, and it’s time to pull out the big guns for horror movies. Every Halloween, I always run a back to back screening of Trick ‘r’ Treat followed by the one and only Halloween. Sure, it would seem like sacrilege to not watch Halloween just on its namesake alone. However, every time I view this film, I still get the goosebumps I always do. Just in one watch, you can trace all the horror movies that came after like it’s a family lineage. Let’s look into Halloween: what makes it a masterpiece?
This film kickstarted the slasher genre, started the sequel mania of the 80s and still holds relevance today with two more sequels out and one on the way, all three with the ambitious task of washing away whatever happened to the Halloween timelines of years’ past. Let’s talk about Michael Myers and the epic crater John Carpenter left on the face of moviemaking forever this Halloweekend.
Oh boy, look at that hair. The man clad in the brilliant bellbottoms is John Carpenter himself. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past fifty years, you should know his name and his unapologetic nature when it comes to filmmaking. He actually has an Oscar that he received for a short film he did when he was a student at USC. He had a couple full-length features under his belt before tackling Halloween, including the cult film Assault on Precinct 13, in which garnered him a lot of praise for making such a surreal movie on such a low budget. It was at the Milan Film Festival screening of that film that Carpenter was approached by Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad to take on a film concept of a psycho killer stalking and killing babysitters. Carpenter took on the originally titled The Babysitter Murders and got to work.
Akkad made the suggestion to set the night of horrors around Halloween night, which is seemingly the most obvious night for horrors. However, there was no horror film before this that had taken on that setting, so it was both a genius idea and a risky one. Carpenter wasn’t a stranger to holiday themed films, however. He was actually in contact with Bob Clark for a potential sequel for Black Christmas, and when the Halloween gig came up, he asked him permission to use an anonymous-killer tactic like the former film. Clark said yes and the outline for Michael Myers was set.
John Carpenter wrote Halloween’s screenplay in ten days. Ten. Days. He wrote it with the collaboration of his girlfriend at the time Debra Hill. She used her experience as a babysitter and her perspective to write the female dialogue, specifically Laurie Strode’s. Haddonfield, New Jersey turned into Haddonfield, Illinois and Carpenter adopted the small town field by naming the streets after streets in his own home town.
Those aren’t the only homages however, as two characters–Tommy Doyle and Dr. Loomis–are in reference to characters in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Psycho. There is another huge connection to Hitchcock, but we’ll get to that later.
The story surrounding Michael Myers as a child is an addition Carpenter made to the story he laid out previously for this hopeful sequel to Black Christmas, making Michael his own character rather than a copycat slasher. While the original financiers wanted a more playful Halloween setting, Carpenter went full-Samhain. Michael soared above a criminally insane human to an evil entity.
Debra Hill: A Horror Legend
I’m going to pause the momentum of the story to talk about Debra Hill. She is the reason that Halloween, Laurie Strode and Michael Myers are the way that they are. She took her female perspective and avid feminism and injected it into Laurie Strode, which is one of the reasons she is the ultimate final girl. Laurie does everything she can to stay alive, and she is a tough badass, but she is also showing her trauma and emotions at the same time. The shot displayed above is one of my favorite moments in the film, and while it is an impressive shot in general, Laurie has had to walk in on her dead friends, is responsible for two kids and is fighting tooth and nail to stay alive. Of course, she’s going to cry, who wouldn’t?
Hill’s writing, however, allows Laurie to cry without losing any of her power that she has continued to have in previous scenes. Another piece Hill added was Michael killing the innocent, sweet German Shepard in order to provoke emotions that most horror fans don’t feel when they’re watching other humans dying. She inserted that scene in just to get across how evil and merciless Michael is, further enhancing his image as the Boogeyman himself. It’s sad that her mastery wasn’t used in later films, but it is what makes the first film stand out in regards to character development. Remember her name and know that she should have as much credit as Carpenter does.
This film had a lower budget, therefore the salary was limited to the prospective cast. The first role to come into fruition was Dr. Sam Loomis due to a lot of rejects. First offered to Peter Cushing, and then Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence adorned the iconic role, and we can’t imagine anyone else. The other actors fell into place by relation of the crew or working on previous Carpenter projects, but the role of Laurie Strode was the last to click in. Jamie Lee Curtis was not Carpenter’s first choice, nor was his discovery.
Once again, credit goes to Debra Hill, who noticed her on her multiple guest star performances on various TV shows of the 70’s, including titles such as Quincy, M.E. and Buck Rogers. What really interested Hill was Curtis’ mother. Her mother was Janet Leigh, who just happened to be Marion Crane in a little film known as Psycho. Hill knew that the tie to Janet Leigh would be great advertisement for the film, so they asked her if she wanted part. She was hesitant as she related more to Laurie’s socialite friends, but she took on the role anyways. We’re so glad she did, as Laurie Strode is iconic, and Sidney Prescott is the only one that could even give her a run for her money as the best final girl, and Laurie would still reign the supreme.
Halloween was shot in twenty days. A few facts about this filming process:
It was one of the first films to feature the Steadicam, which gives it those sweeping and following shots in the movie.
Jamie Lee Curtis’ reactions were not necessarily a reaction to what was happening. She and Carpenter developed a ‘scare scale’ from 1 to 10, and Carpenter would let her know what level she should be at in each shot. She had different facial expressions, emotions and screams for each level.
“The Shape” or Michael Myers’ actor Nick Castle received no direction from Carpenter other than the head tilt post-Bob pinning. Carpenter told him to “‘Examine him like a butterfly display.'”
There is a lack of pumpkins present compared to a usual Halloween, and that was because they filmed it in the spring. They had one shot available for the scene with Tommy Doyle as they had a little over three pumpkins on set and most were needed for later scenes.
The most iconic fact that most know: the Michael Myers mask is a modified William Shatner mask. They bought the mask for $1.98, stretched out its eyes a bit and painted it a blueish white to make it the mask.
Overall, it was a successful shoot, given the pressure on Carpenter to deliver in such a short time frame. The only thing left that will sell the scares is the music. That meant hiring a composer, right? Well, what if your director and writer is also a musician? Yes, Carpenter is a multitalented badass.
THe Music: One of the most iconic parts of the film
John Carpenter is the one behind the iconic main and chase theme of the film. All produced by him and his synthesizer, he was paid $10,000 dollars total for the direction, writing, producing and composing of Halloween. It only took him three days and had assistance from Dan Wyman–a music professor–to write the score into sheet music, given that Carpenter only played by ear and memorization and could not read or write sheet music. The main theme is an iconic pop culture reference the first few notes distinguishes it instantly. Not to mention, it’s a bop.
Other songs used were “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes and “Don’t Fear (The Reaper)” by Blue Oyster Cult, which fit the feel of the movie perfectly. They make references to it in the awfully cheesy sequel Halloween: H20, when “Mr. Sandman” comes on the radio and Laurie promptly shuts it off. A very meta moment and a nod to the original that makes me giggle ever time.
The Reception: revolutionary for indie and horror alike
The film got a wide release and raked in $70 million dollars worldwide. This was and still remains one of the highest grossing independent films of all time, given that box office and movie theaters were still in the evolution process post-Jaws. If people didn’t know Carpenter, they sure did now. Not only was it met with financial success, it had massive critical acclaim, including a overly positive review from Roger Ebert. This kicked the door down for more independent horror to get wider releases, and the craze of home video was on the horizon which propelled horror into a more popular genre of the 1980s.
Laurie Strode became the face for the final girl, with multiple horror female protagonists made in the image of her. However, as I mentioned in my previous article on final girls, they focused a bit too much on one aspect: her virginity. Knowing more on Debra Hill, I assume she frowns upon this perception and would much rather the praise centers on Laurie’s actions, not her purity. Nonetheless, the deeply inspired Friday the 13th came out two years later and solidified the “you have sex, you die” rule.
The Sequels, reboots and Remakes: Twisty Timelines
This also opened a can of worms that would eventually harm the horror genre. This is the birth of the bloated sequel, in which constant iterations of the same thing taints the original project. This happened to Halloween, with wild backstories including Laurie Strode is actually Michael’s sister, which doesn’t add up in the logical timeline. Then there is the third one, which is actually a return to John Carpenter’s idea of making the Halloween series an anthology. No Michael Myers however meant a cut budget and negative reviews due to the villain’s absence.
Then came 4,5 and 6 starring which contains a half baked story, the worst mask known to man, and a young Paul Rudd. These forgettable sequels brought us up to the mid-90s. 1998, however, the studio wanted to scrap the three most recent sequels so they rebooted and made a direct sequel to Halloween II known as Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. Jamie Lee Curtis returns and we get a cheese-fest with good kills and LL Cool J. It stepped off strong and followed up with the worst of the sequels, Halloween: Resurrection.
It is all scrapped next time with Rob Zombie’s remake, which spawned a sequel. Instead of Michael Myers being simply evil, Zombie pack a bunch of backstory on Michael’s childhood and adds semantics to his nature. While some people really like these movies, I don’t care for them, as I just don’t care for Rob Zombie’s filmmaking that much. However, these movies received lukewarm reviews from critics and lean more on the brutal side versus the original.
The True Sequels: They do have carpenter’s blessing
This brings us to 2018. Who had it on their life bingo card that the true sequels to Halloween would be co-written by Danny McBride? Well, it’s here and we’re now two films into a finishing sequel for the series. In conjunction with David Gordon Green This is all with Carpenter’s blessing. Boy, is it a hard reboot too, and we’re thankful for it.
They’ve scrapped the entire sequel lineage, which included cutting off Halloween II. Therefore, the whole “she’s-his-sister” bit is out of the picture and cleans the timeline up. We also get a semantic-less Michael again, bringing him back to his evil throne once again with no motives. The special effects are up, the budget is up and Jamie Lee Curtis is back. I personally like where these sequels are going, and am excited for the next installment. It feels like the right fit and the fitting end. You can check out the most recent installment Halloween Kills on Peacock or in theaters today.
It was fun deep diving into this little wormhole and have this be the wrapping up of spooky season. Thanks for joining me in this abbreviated timeline of the making of this brilliant film and staple in the horror genre. Next week, the Mother of the Void takes on Gaslight and I will be deep diving into some psychological thriller picks for the transitional time between spooky season and the holiday season. The scares aren’t stopping, however. So stay tuned and follow The Void of Celluloid here on WordPress, or Facebook/Instagram/Twitter to stay up to date with the spookies. Happy Halloween, lovelies.
It was my pleasure this week to watch “The Old Dark House” from 1932. This film was the first starring credited role for Boris Karloff, his work in Frankenstein only had him mentioned in the credits, as well as being the first film for movie greats Charles Laughton and Raymond Massey. Also, for those of you who are fans of James Cameron’s Titanic, it stars Gloria Stuart, aged Rose, in all her breathtaking youthful beauty. Now before I get into my probably long winded analysis, let me just say, this caused me to laugh harder than I have in a while. It is definitely a comedy horror, not the other way around. So join me, won’t you, as we spend an evening in “The Old Dark House”. You can check out my last review here.
Setting the scene
The film opens with the credits playing against a backdrop of a storm. Married couple Philip (Raymond Massey) and Margaret Waverton (Gloria Stuart) are precariously making their way through a storm in their very open automobile. It is not indicated at first that they are married, but the bickering between the two gives it away. This is something that translates no matter what decade a film is from. It is revealed that Penderel (Melvyn Douglas) is attempting to sleep in the backseat, and is actively ignoring the embattled couple in front of him. The witty banter between the three brought a smile to my face.
Penderel’s sarcasm and singing tries to lighten the mood in the situation, but after getting trapped by a landslide, the only way is forward, as Margaret notices lights in the distance. The three soaked travelers anxiously wait as they pound on the door of the old dark house, and when they finally are acknowledged, it is by an incoherent Morgan (Boris Karloff). He closes the door in their faces, and they hear a bell ring, before he returns to gesture them inside. Once inside, they are joined by Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger), a very thin and effeminate man. As I mention this, let me address something about this film for a moment.
Boris Karloff and James Whale
There are a number of stereotypes, and gender role reversals in this film. For 1932, it had to be mildly shocking to see a number of the men, take on “feminane personality traits”, and to see women take charge and have control. There are also insinuations, in the conclusion of the film of affection, although not without its problems, between two of the male characters. If you have seen the film “Gods and Monsters”, there is some exploration of the relationship between Boris Karloff and James Whale, the director.
It was the making of “The Old Dark House” that brought an end to their “personal partnership” as it was referred to. I can see a direct line of homosexual stereotypes in film that can be traced back to this film. They are played for laughs, and if you can see how brave it was for these filmmakers to even allude to an alternative lifestyle in 1932, I believe you can appreciate the performances, and understand how other filmmakers would look to it as an example of how to be represented, without being shunned, through humor. As a straight woman, this is just my opinion. I hope that it does not offend. Ok….back to the film.
Back to the story…
The three travelers ask if Morgan has explained their situation, and Horace reveals that Morgan is mute, not the word he uses, but we will leave it at that. Rebecca Femm (Eva Moore), Horace’s sister, then appears, demanding to know what these strangers want. The three try to talk to her and explain, but Horace says his sister is deaf for the most part and he moves closer to her, loudly explaining that they need a place to stay because of the storm. Rebecca, angrily tells her brother that of course they cannot stay. The three begin to plead their case, with Pendrel again using humor to prove their point, causing Horace to panic that they are now trapped in the house.
Rebecca mocks her brother’s fear and his lack of religious belief, but she assures her brother that they are safe in the house. She asks Morgan if remembers a previous flood and he indicates he does through some hand gestures and a very suggestive finger placement. Horace tells the travelers that they will have to stay and it is their own misfortune that they do. The siblings both tell them they have no beds for them, but they can stay by the fire.
Philip and Penderel follow Morgan outside to move their car to shelter and bring in their bags, despite Rebecca’s protests. Horace brings out a bottle of gin, and he and Penderel discuss tramas of war, to which Penderel shows his wit yet again. Horace expresses fear again of being trapped in the house and shares that Morgan can be “an uncivilized brute”, who tends to drink on nights like this.
Fleshly Love… gross
Margaret asks Rebecca if she can go and change her wet clothes, and she takes the woman to a bedroom. After lighting candles Rebecca explains that this room was her sister’s who died. She shows disdain for her sister, who led a fast and loose lifestyle. Her words visibly frighten Margaret, and she asks for privacy so she can change.
However, Rebecca continues to carry on how her whole family was godless and she was the only one who would pray. She discloses that her father is still alive, and wicked. Rebecca accused Margaret of being wicked as well, “wriggling in the jollies of fleshly love”. Margaret continues to change, despite the old woman’s presence. Rebecca finally leaves, and Margaret has changed into a revealing silk dress. For some unknown reason, she opens the window, causing things to blow all over the room, then makes a half-hearted attempt to close it again, before crossing to a mirror and being barraged in her head by Rebecca’s unapproving words. She tries again to close the window before apparently forgetting how to open the door.
When she finally makes her way back to the group, she is greeted by Rebecca’s scream of “DINNER”. The group goes to the table as Morgan brings out a roast. Rebecca chastises Horace for not saying Grace, which he refers to as a “tribal tradition”. They begin to dish up and Horace becomes quite insistent on everyone having a potato. Rebecca is quickly eating her meal while the others pick at theirs. We get the first signs of an infatuation Morgan may have with Margaret, as he stares at her while filling her water glass.
A Knock at the door
Just then, there is a knock at the door. At first Rebecca does not want to let anyone else in, but is convinced that the newcomers should not have to wait in the storm. She and Morgan go to the door and greet the loud pair, Sir William Porterhouse and Gladys. They are not a married couple, and Penderel begins to flirt with Gladys and she readily returns the gesture. They all return to the table,and Horace continues his potato pushing.
When the meal is finished, we catch up with the crew around the fire. Penderel continues to flirt with Gladys, while cutting Sir William down at the same time. William tells his history to the group, and he explains that Gladys is actually a chorus girl..
Rebecca enters, and tells Horace that Morgan is drunk, and there is hesitation from Horace when he tells William that Morgan is the butler.
Penderel and Gladys take the opportunity to go to the stables to retrieve the whiskey that is in the car. The two have very good chemistry, and they pop open the bottle and stay in the stable.
What’s at the top of the stairs?
Back in the house, the lights have gone out, and when William asks if they have a lamp, Horace is too frightened to go and get the lamp that is on the top landing. Rebecca accuses him of being too afraid to go up on his own. She sends Philip with him and with much hesitation, Horace leads the way.
When they reach Horace’s room, he begins to make excuses so they don’t have to go get the lamp. They suddenly hear what sounds like a high pitched laugh coming from up the stairs. Horace sends Philip up the stairs by himself, as he hides in his room. Philip comes to a door, which he listens at briefly before continuing up the stairs. When he gets to the landing, he sees the lamp, but also sees a padlock on the door ahead of him, and a tray with half eaten food on the table.
Downstairs, Rebecca comes rushing in, yelling at Margaret to come and shut the window she opened, and William volunteers to do so, following Rebecca down the hall and leaving her alone in the main room. Margaret begins playing her shadow on the wall and her imagination gets the best of her. She screams and goes to the door, opening it, calling for the lovebirds in the stables. As she waits for a reply, we see a hand over her head, closing the door in front of her. A very drunk Morgan begins to make advances on her. He chases her around the room, turning over the table, and chases her up the stairs. Philip and Margaret meet on the stairs, and she tells him what has happened. He and Morgan fight and he hits him with the lamp, knocking Morgan down the stairs.
Philip explains that he heard a strange voice upstairs and asks Margaret to come and check it out with him. On the way up the stairs, Margaret is overcome with what has just happened and she and Philip take a rest for a bit. Understandable. This also gives us a chance to check up on the lovebirds.
In the stable, Penderel and Gladys are getting to know each other while sitting in the back of the car. They are having one of those chats. You know those chats, when you learn everything you need to know about a person in a matter of minutes; one of you is a war veteran, the other is a woman who hangs out with a guy because he gives her money. Gladys explains she is only with William to give him company; he doesn’t expect anything from her. Of course, this conversation has made them fall in love and after this short amount of time. They are ready to move in together, at her suggestion and Penderel has to hint that he is ready to propose.
Gladys wants to stay in the car, but Penderel convinces her to go back inside. He very awkwardly carries her back to the house. He pounds on the door to wake a sleeping and annoyed William. Gladys breaks the news to him that she has fallen in love and will no longer be with him. He gives his reluctant blessing, and Penderel tells him he is planning on proposing. The three of them clean up the mess Morgan made downstairs.
Back to the house
The Wavertons have recovered and head up to the bedroom containing Rebecca and Horance’s father, Rodrick. Even though the role was credited to a man, it was played by a woman, Elspeth Dudgeon. This continues the effeminate traits of the males in this family. Rodrick explains that the locked door contains his other son, Saul, who is insane and wants to burn down the house. They have kept Morgan on as the butler because he is the only one who can handle Saul.
Philip goes down to check on Morgan, who is no longer on the stairs. Horace emerges from his room to tell Phillip that Morgan has gone upstairs to let Saul out of his room. Margaret and Philip lock Rodrick’s room to keep him safe. Then, they go downstairs to inform the others what is going on.
Rebecca has joined the others to be informed that Saul is out of his room. Morgan descends the stairs as she begs him to take Saul back to his room. Morgan makes a beeline for Margaret as the men fight to take him into the kitchen to lock him up. The three younger men struggle with him as a high pitched laugh is heard. Penderel returns to the main room and convinces Gladys and Margaret to hide in an adjoining room.
Pretty, pretty Penderel
Penderel waits at the bottom of the stair, as Saul, a very slight man comes down. He tells him that he has been locked up because he knows that Rebecca and Horace killed their sister and that Morgan beats him. Penderel tries to open the front door, but it is locked. Saul’s madness begins to show. He finds a knife on the floor and Penderel tries to stall, concealing the women in the closet.
Saul reveals he knows all about flames and fire. While he is speaking, Penderel tries to escape to get a weapon. Saul stops him and Saul tells Penderel that he wants to kill him. He tells Saul that he likes him and asks if Saul likes him as well. Saul says he loves him. Boy, Penderel is a popular fella! It is then that he starts to quote the bible and explaining why he has to kill Penderel. Penderel distracts Saul and tries to escape and he is knocked unconscious.
Saul takes the opportunity to set the upstairs curtains on fire, as he gleefully laughs. When Penderel comes to, he goes upstairs, and fights with him, ending with both men falling from the second floor. In the meantime, Philip and William are trying to break down the door to the main room, which Rebecca locked, and the women are anxiously waiting for the coast to be clear.
Morgan breaks out of his makeshift prison and opens the door for Gladys and Margaret. They both scream as they see Morgan in the door. Gladys tries to get around Morgan to go to Penderel. He twists her shoulder while glaring at Margaret, causing Gladys to pass out. Margaret pleads with Morgan to let her help both men, including Saul. It is with the mention of Saul’s name that Morgan rushes to the man.
He throws off Penderel, who has landed on top of Saul and lifts him up, cradling him in his arms as Morgan’s lips briefly rest on Saul’s forehead. Morgan begins to cry as he realizes that Saul is dead. He looks lost as he gently carries Saul back up the stairs. Philip and William enter the room to comfort the women. Gladys goes over to Penderel, and cradles him in almost the same way as Morgan had Saul. With tears of joy she announces that Penderel is alive. This is the last we see of Morgan.
Morning has arrived and Horace comes down stairs telling them that they can go now and get an ambulance. Margaret and Philip leave to get help and the movie ends with Penderel proposing to Gladys as William snores in the background.
Ahead of its time
Considering this film was made in 1932, it was very progressive with its views on religion, morality and homosexualtiy. I knew nothing about this film prior to watching it, and it really took me by surprise. I had seen the film I mentioned earlier, “Gods and Monsters”, but forgot about the relationship between Boris Karloff and James Whale. In my defense it has been many, many years since I had watched it. While some of the subject matter is dark, it is never ok to chase a woman around a table, it was a rather light hearted film. I loved the bickering between the married couple in the beginning, and Penderel was probably my favorite character, even if he did move rather quickly in his personal life.
Karloff did as well as could be expected, only having his facial expressions, body language and a few grunts to work with. It is worth an hour of your time to check out this classic. If nothing else, it will confirm your suspicion that in Titanic, young Rose looked nothing like her portrait.
So we’ve made it everybody. 31 Days of Horror: The final Ten Days of October are upon us and we are getting spookier by the minute. Let’s finish this spooky season with a bang! If you want to spend a night in the theater, Halloween Kills is out and I personally thought it was quite good. Or later this week, Edgar Wright is taking a slash at the thriller/horror genre with his new flick Last Night in Soho which has already gotten rave reviews, so be sure to check that one out as well. As before, the calendar is down below:
This is the final installment of this series, which has been a fun and exciting journey. I cannot wait for next year’s lineup, but right now, let’s live in the moment. Did you miss the last installments and see a film you’d rather have these final ten days? You can find Week One, Week Two and Week Three by clicking on their respective titles.
October 22nd: An American WereWolf in London
Coming it at number 10 is a classic, An American Werewolf in London. A dark, dark comedy about American tourists, the Moors and beware-ing them (yes, both of them). The film has everything from porno theaters to brilliant special effects, so much so that I’ve been alarmed by the amount of people showing their younger teenagers this movie. I started young in horror films, but my mom didn’t let me watch this one until I was sixteen. I’m grateful for that, however, because I feel like I was prepared for what a weird romp this one is. There isn’t really a short, concise synopsis that won’t give away some major plot points, so if you haven’t seen this masterpiece already, make sure to check it out!
For this film, I have chosen another werewolf flick Werewolves Within. It’s a fun horror comedy with as many twists and turns as this one, therefore I think it keeps the tone-ball rolling. In conjunction with this furball of a night, I suggest pairing the night with the Werewolves of London cocktail (or a sparkling apple cider in a pint glass to give the impression of chilling at the Slaughtered Lamb). Obviously this has to be paired with some traditional English pub food, so these Miniature Shepherd’s Pies are the right choice for some yummy finger food. No Moors nearby (unless you’re in the UK), so you should be able to relax. Just don’t wander foggy fields alone.
October 23rd: You’re Next
Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this typical home invasion movie is not what it seems. You’re Next is in the same ballpark as The Strangers that were showcased earlier this month, but I truly believe it delivers a more impactful punch. Not to mention those animal masks are absolutely terrifying. Who knew a family dinner could go so wrong? The director, Adam Wingard, went on to film shorts for the V/H/S franchise as well as direct the lofty film Godzilla vs. Kong, so why not check out the film that put him on the map?
I’m actually going to start out with a mocktail, since drinking too much around the in-laws is always not the greatest idea. Let’s start off with a blushed Watermelon Mint Cooler that is as red as those poor tablecloths might be (here’s a alcoholic version). As for the food, estranged family dinners scream “easy elegance,” so pull up to the party with these Easy Pesto Tortellini Skewers. As for double features, TVOC’s pick has to be V/H/S, as it matches the tone and features the same director as well as plenty others. Both films are going to be considered classics in the next few years, so might as well get ahead of the pack.
OCtober 24th: The Exorcist
It has finally made its appearance. Many claim this film is the scariest film out there, and I could easily agree with them, though I think scary factor changes from movie to movie. Poor little Reagan messes around with a Ouija board one night and gets targeted by a demon. What proceeds is one of the gnarliest possessions ever on screen. This film also has a reputation for being one of the most cursed/haunted sets, with a lot of misfortune occuring left and right during filming. These stories added on to its notoriety and got the film banned in the UK for eleven years. Yikes.
Of course, I had to pair this with an appropriately named Satan’s Whiskers cocktail balanced out with a Holy Mocktail: Negroni, which you can find more classic cocktails-turned-mocktails in this series Roberts and June did when they gave up alcohol for Lent. Keep it on the holy side with these Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce, which is nice and traditional in contrast with the brutality on screen. Then make a devilish sandwich with two choices of a double feature. A modern take would be Hereditary, but you can keep it classic with The Omen.
October 25th: Tales from the Hood
I featured this film in my anthology list and I have been recommending it every second I get. It’s a fun Creepshow-style film with a lot of social commentary and plenty of camp. Produced by Spike Lee himself, it is definitely a staple in 90s horror that gets forgotten and also drips with modern day relevance. It’s a fun ride perfect for this Monday night and I promise you won’t regret making this one of your choices for your Halloween lineup.
To match the crazy mad-scientist vibe the storyteller has, I decided to go with some wacky concoctions. There is the beautiful, glowing Halloween Hpnotist and the zero proof Blue Shoe. As for snacks, I wanted something short and sweet like an anthology so here is extremely simple 2-Ingredient Nutella Brownies. Now, for double features, I did go the stereotypical route with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. However, I don’t think you can get enough commentary and diversity in your film digest, and I know there is still a bunch of people that haven’t seen Get Out and I know there is a ton of people that have missed Tales From the Hood, so it’s never too late to add these to your film watching portfolio.
October 26th: Poltergeist
This film has so much heart, it’s almost silly to call it a horror film. This was the first horror film that I watched and I definitely think that this is probably the greatest starter horror for younger folks. A suburbia nightmare–little Carol Anne makes contact with the beyond only to get sucked into another dimension. Her parents take dire measures in order to get her back, not absent of random bumps along the way. What could cause such a powerful poltergeist in the first place?
I actually found a cocktail called The Poltergeist and thought that was fitting, of course. However, I think there isa sort of softness that comes from this film due to its adorable protagonist. Therefore I’ve chosen this pastel green shake that matches the softness: a Green Grasshopper Shake. The food pairing is a disturbing one given its context in the film, but at least it will be tasty up until that point and make great leftovers: Honey Garlic Chicken Legs. I’m a big fan of cold left over chicken legs, given my face doesn’t fall off afterwards. A good double feature for this one is the classic film When a Stranger Calls, which is another starter horror that leans more on the edgier side.
October 27th: Evil Dead II
Ah, one of my favorite movies of all time. And before you protest and say that you have to watch the first one before this, you’re incorrect. This film is pure horror-comedy genius from Sam Rami and features Bruce Campbell as the iconic Ash, fighting the Deadites one groovy step at a time. It’s corny, it’s gory and it’s hilarious. It’s also a remake of the first one and a sequel at the same time, making the Evil Dead trilogy one of the most unique ones to date. Hail to the king, baby.
Which brings me to the OBVIOUS follow-up Army of Darkness. The way the film ends, it’s impossible to not throw on the next one to see how Ash holds up in medieval times. As far as pairings go, this Maple Mocktail will make you feel all cozied up in a non-cursed cabin. However, if you want to jump head first and start reciting the Necronomicon for fun times, pair it with the shooter and the cocktail The Cabin and the Deadite and snack on some Necronominoms.
October 28th: [Rec]
I’m a fan of Spanish horror, if you can’t tell. This goes down for me as the best found footage horror out there, and if you don’t agree, you can at least agree it’s one of the scariest. A television reporter and cameraman follow medical personnel into a dark apartment building and are locked in with something sinister. The US remade this film under the name Quarantine, so if it sounds familiar, that’s why. But sit through subtitles one last time to get a good scare from across the pond.
I went Spanish again with the drinks and snacks, so we have a delicious, refreshing Rebujito for the cocktail of choice. As for the zero proof crowd, a Virgin White Peach Sangria will give that refreshing feeling much like the Rebujito. Since we are creating a creepy atmosphere, pair it with some comfort with this Spanish potato salad: Ensaladilla Rusa. Sticking with the twisted zombie vibe, I am pairing Pontypool, a fun Canadian horror film, with this film.
October 29th: The Final Girls
This film is such a fun meta-horror film that it usually soars to the top of my list when I need a quick recommendation. It works for both die-hard horror fans and newbies, as it describes the tropes much like Scream lays out the rules. With a bunch of familiar faces as well as all of them well versed in comedy acting, it’s an easy, feel-good movie meets a gory slasher flick. Oh, it also tiptoes on fantasy with the whole being-in-the-actual-movie plot. What are you waiting for? Call your friends and let’s get the ball rolling for a Friday night romp.
Since Billy’s choice of weapon is the large, heavy blade, I found a cocktail called the Liquid Machete. It seemed fitting for this hilarious bloodbath. But if you are more of the Kumbaya type, dig into this delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate. For food, I leaned into the camping vibe and found this delicious Hawaiian BBQ Pork Walking Taco that allow for easy cleanup post movie night. As far as double features go, I remembered this little flick that is a great romp and a fun, quick follow up is the indie film You Might Be the Killer. A unique film format meets an even more unique film form–a perfect start to the Halloweekend.
October 30th: Trick ‘r’ Treat
This. This film is the ideal Halloween movie and I stand by that. An anthology horror tale meets a comic book tone laced with camp and comedy. All the tales intertwine with each other and blossoms into this fun twist on Halloween traditions. Not to mention, it introduces one of the most adorable horror villains, Sam. All you gotta do is follow the rules to avoid his bloody wrath. Simple enough, but a colorful cast of characters seem to make things a little difficult for Sam to catch up. I could watch this film over and over during October, so therefore it is an annual tradition of mine.
As far as snacks and drinks go, we have to let the Halloween flag fly. I found a spooky cocktails complete with theatrics known as The Witch’s Heart. Purple, spooky and bubbling with delight. If we are craving the more sweet style of life, I also found this lovely Pumpkin Milkshake. Since this film is a grab-bag of spooky delight, snack on this Sweet and Salty Halloween Snack Mix. As far as fun films suited for spooky season go, my double feature for this film is a guilty pleasure for many, and that is the 2001 film Thirteen Ghosts. The ending of this film is very bleh, but Matthew Lillard is a yes in my book.
October 31st: Halloween
You had to see this coming, whether or not you paid attention to the calendar. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a tried and true masterpiece that has served influence for hundreds of horror films, so it is always a good call to re-watch it come Halloween time. What’s not a better time than actual Halloween night? It’s the tale of Michael Myers that feels even fresher than before with its new sequel that came out only a week ago, so the time is better than ever to revisit the original!
The obvious double feature is a triple feature with the 2018 Halloween and Halloween Kills following up the classic. This is a night to go all out, but sometimes you want a quieter night in, so let’s pair this up with some Michael Myers Jell-O Shots to add to some booze to your snacks. A mocktail for the night is the Cereal Killer (minus the Cognac) or plus the Cognac if we want another cocktail for the night. To up the comfort and the tasty treats, snack on some adorable Ghost Pizza Bagels. Be sure to toast to Michael all dressed up in his ghost costume.
So there it is! All 31 days laid out and prepped. This list is formatted for October but feel free to use it year round when in a good mood for a scary movie night. Thank you all for tuning in each week and jumping down these delectable voids full of blood, booze and bread. Coming up next week The Mother of the Void makes her noble return after a tiff with a rogue charging cable and I am going to take a look at Halloween and what makes it such a masterpiece. Until next time, you lovely spelunkers…
Welcome back everybody to The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. The whole concept of this series is to go through each week of October and pair snacks, drinks and double features to The Void’s picks. This is the first year of this series, so the standard calendar is a lot of staples and not a lot of sleeper hits. However, it is not a bad thing to revisit some of the classics. We are hitting the halfway point of October, so we have to celebrate spooky season every second we got! Here is the calendar:
I’m really excited to revisit the picks of this week, as we have some killer classics here. You can find the kick off of this series here and the bloody sequel here. Alright, let’s set up this trilogy of good spooky fun, shall we?
A Micro-rant from The Void
For those that are going to stay away from some of these films because of tiny little words you have to read, please try and push yourself to do so. There will be another subtitled movie this week as well as next week, and if you aren’t open to subtitles, you’re going to miss out on a lot of good horror. As Bong Joon Ho says “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Alright, micro rant over, let’s get to the goodies.
OCtober 15th: THe Orphanage
If you somehow missed this movie during its long Netflix reign during the early 2010s, you missed out. That’s why it’s here. El Orfanato or The Orphanage is a compelling ghost tale that will have you rethinking every time someone knocks on a wall. Laura moves her family back into her childhood home, which was once an orphanage specifically for handicapped children. Not long after, her young son combats transition by having an imaginary friend. However, it turns out this friend might not be so imaginary. You might wanna have some tissues with you if you’re a hair-trigger weeper like I am when anything is remotely sad.
The double feature for this one has to be Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. He actually produced The Orphanage and both this film and Pan’s Labyrinth became the top grossing Spanish films of all time. Since both films take place in Spain, we have to indulge ourselves with some Spanish food and drinks. One of the most popular cocktails in Spain is the Agua de Valencia, a delicious drink reminiscent of a mimosa. For our zero-proof crowd, there is a delicious dessert drink known as Leche Merengada which is a creamy, spiced milkshake style drink (for those lactose intolerant and savvy in Google Translate/fluent in Spanish, you can find a dairy free version here). As far as snacks go, almost everyone loves potatoes, so pair all of this with a simple, spicy Patatas Bravas.
OCtober 16th: Psycho
As we know, Halloween Kills is out and while it is general trivia knowledge for most horror fans, a lot of people do not know that Jamie Lee Curtis is Janet Leigh’s daughter. Psycho is a must see and showcases stellar performances from all of its cast, especially Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Despite Peeping Tom being the first slasher film by technicality, it never reached as great of heights and praise as Psycho did. Marion Crane decides to make a run for it with her employer’s precious deposit, but due to a storm has to take refuge in the Bates Motel. I think we all know where it goes next… Nevertheless, Psycho still packs a punch despite its second biggest twist being spoiled for most film lovers and therefore, it makes it onto the calendar.
Psycho just screams classic to me, so therefore I pair this one with a nice Negroni. Believe it or not, I actually found a non-alcoholic Negroni which I thought was impossible, but it has great ratings, so check it out. What pairs nice with the sophisticated Negroni? A bunch of snooty (but tasty) things, but for some reason, these rich Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites from Entertaining with Beth will do too. Double feature wise, you could go with the previously mentioned pioneer Peeping Tom or you could go with another Hitchcock horror The Birds. It’s the simple decision of not trusting men or not trusting birds, you decide.
OCtober 17th: THe Conjuring
Ah, there’s nothing like family and building a home together, right? Gathering together and playing Hide-and-Clap sounds like a very wholesome thing to do? Well, when there is a possible witch/demon terrorizing your family each night, it’s not as picture-perfect as you would imagine. This is the first installment of the now expansive Conjuring Universe, but nothing quite beats the first one, which delivers the suspense upon every single viewing. Too bad that it spawned another wave of copycats and cheap spinoffs, but I don’t think any of its expansions can take away from this gem.
The film takes place in the 70s, complete with Patrick Wilson sporting some epic sideburns. Therefore, I’m going vintage with these pairings. If you’ve never had a cheeseball before, you have to try this classic cheeseball recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch. In the mood for something sweet and more with the season? Check out this this pumpkin cheesecake ball. If we’re keeping it classic 70’s, we should go for a nice bright Harvey Wallbanger (here’s a virgin one) to lighten up the mood for this dark, grim film. The double feature for this one is surprisingly not from the Conjuring-Verse, but rather a Mike Flanagan film Ouija: Origin of Evil. It matches The Conjuring‘stone and because of its predecessor, some horror fans missed out on this one.
October 18th: The Shining
In October, you try to shuffle in some new finds, but sometimes nothing beats the tried and true classics. That is why The Shining is on here. I watch it at least once a year, mainly to play detective to see if I get anything new from it. I feel like I don’t really need to explain the plot of this one other than it deters heavily from the book. Why I bring this up is mostly due to my double feature, but also a push for people to read the book, as it has a lot of sentiment that the Kubrick film is obviously lacking in.
There is now an obvious double feature for The Shining which is its sequel Doctor Sleep. Yes, Mike Flanagan again. Here he does the impossible task of marrying the two versions of The Shining, and he pulls it off beautifully. You can read more about it on The Void of Celluloid here: We Love You, Mike Flanagan. For this film, I went more with a themed cocktail meets generic yummy carbs, since alcohol is such an important plot point in the story. Yes, suggesting a cocktail is opposite of the point which is why I will lead with this mocktail recipe that sounds utterly amazing: Cranberry Apple Cider Mocktail. Which is red. I think you can see where this is going, just don’t spell this REDRUM cocktail backwards. The delicious side I chose to pair with this deep red punch is the viral Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread.
October 19th: Scream
This film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year so it’s time to rewatch it if you haven’t caught it in theaters yet. This film is Wes Craven’s comeback as well as the father of meta-horror that a lot of modern horror comedies use today. Also, I think it is impossible to not fall in love with Sidney Prescott’s badassery. Oh, and Matthew Lilliard’s acting. There’s a lot I love about this film.
Its double feature has to go to its sequel Scream 2, as I think there is a lot that they did better in regards to it being a horror movie. There is scarier moments in the second one at least, so if you want to go more pedal-to-the-metal with your scares, don’t skip this one. These two films drip with teenage/college student energy, so I decided to go for a dive bar meets high school party aesthetic with the pairings. We got a lovely light beer cocktail known as a Chelada, which is like a Corona with lime on steroids. Since we already did Shirley Temples last week, we’re going to go with another non-boozy classic: the Roy Rodgers. Pair this off with some adorable, salty Bacon Cheeseburger Bites and you got yourself a spooky rager.
OCtober 20th: Housebound
If you couldn’t tell, I am quite a fan of Kiwi humor. Housebound is another title that lurked around Netflix for a while, and I remember watching it without any prior knowledge. I was confused, but once you realize it is a comedy through and through, it gets absolutely hilarious. Therefore, I want to use this platform to clarify and shine some more light on this lost gem. Kylie is forced to return to her childhood home under house arrest, trapping her inside with the supposed evil entity that lives among her and her family.
This is a fun movie and should be paired with equally fun things. Therefore I’m pairing it with one of my favorite movies The Lost Boys. Because who could say no to some glam punk 80s vampires? This is a mixed bag of a night, so why not mix it up some more with this Halloween Sangria or a prom-style punch? In my mad search for recipes, I came across these jalapeno popper pigs in a blanket that I could not help but share. Say hello to a wild Wednesday night!
OCtober 21st: Ringu
I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of the American The Ring. I feel like it’s a cheap knockoff of the rich story that is Ringu. If you have only seen the American version, I urge you to watch Ringu this week. It is genuinely one of the creepiest films out there. It still centers around the cursed tape that is well known but its use of practical effects as well as the absence of that blue filter that was so popular in early 00s horror (and promptly killed by Twilight) make this film soar above the American remake.
The obvious double feature is another story done so dirty by American film studios: Ju-On: The Grudge. A “slower” burn than the first film, but a truly rich and amazing ghost story through and through. Since we are enjoying two classic Japanese horror films, I decided to pair it with onigiri, which is impossible to hate given its endless combinations and simpler assembly. Of course, I involved sake, so please enjoy the highly rated Sake Southside from Tasting Table (a Japanese Cream Soda for the non alcohol drinkers).
Conclusion and what’s Next
I’m so happy to see people enjoying this series and I enjoy making it (even though it makes me hungry). There is a lot coming up with The Void of Celluloid in the next few months from a podcast to a Patreon startup to oh so much more and I am excited to share this journey with all of you. Please be sure to follow and share this with your friends and loved ones and I will see you next week as we celebrate the final ten days of TVOC’s 31 Days of Horror.
Oh wait… Not the “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol. The Void has assigned me the 1960 French film Les yeux sans visage, or Eyes Without a Face. I did not know much about this film before pressing play. Sometimes that is a good thing. You can find my last piece here.
Merry Go Round of a Beginning
The film opens with passing scenery at night, lit by a car’s headlights. The music …the music feels like we have stepped foot onto a merry go round. As the film progresses, we realize he have. It is that whole thing about the definition of insanity, repeating the same action over and over hoping for a different result.
As the opening credits roll, the music and the bare trees with skeleton like branches reaching towards you give you very conflicting thoughts.
We now see Louise (Alida Valli) driving and sitting so close to the steering wheel, her knees have to be pushing against her chest. Her eyes give the appearance that she is running on auto pilot. Despite there being rain on her windshield she doesn’t turn on the very visible wipers, but opts instead to use her hand to wipe at the inside of the windshield; she is going to regret that the next time she is driving into the sun. If it is the windows fogging up on the inside, she might want to consider moving her seat back. I mean I am short, but this is ridiculous.
Louise continues to drive with urgency on this rural road with no lights. She uses her rearview mirror to check in on the slumped figure in her back seat, face obscured by a hat and scarf. Suddenly bright lights appear behind her, and starts flashing. Louise pulls over to the side of the road, letting the impatient prick pass her before heading on her way. The camera focuses on the figure in the back, and as the car begins to drive again, the figure slumps to the side.
Damn….oh wait I mean dam. Louise pulls her car in a grassy area beside the rapidly running water. Her shiny black vinyl rain coat is amazing, and quickly paints her as a would-be villain. She looks around before quickly opening the back door and wrestling the dead passenger from her back seat, dragging her down a hill and throwing her into the water. Personally, where she is parked, and the angle of the river bank, I would have just pulled her out of the car turned her so she was parallel with the river and given her a good push. But then again, I am American, not French, and we do have the tendency to go with the quickest path possible.
Doctor Genessier: You Can Tell How Someone Is By Their Parking
We are now at a conference when a phone call arrives for Doctor Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) who is giving a lecture about tissue rejuvenation to an audience of mostly middle aged and elderly white women, a few men and one young man of color. Way to be progressive, France….I guess…
The Doctor goes on to explain for the current procedure to work, you have to use so much radiation, the it will evaporate the patient’s blood. The Doctor leaves the stage and is informed he got a call that he needs to go to the morgue immediately. Some of the rich elderly women interrupt the Doctor as he is leaving, to sing his praises. He quickly shuts them down as he exits the room. The women comment how much he has changed since his daughter has gone missing.
We are now at the morgue where a Detective Parot and the coroner are discussing how Genessier’s daughter had open facial wounds when she went missing from the clinic where she was being treated after a car accident. The woman that they pulled from the river had similar wounds to her face. But the detective also points out that the body could be that of another woman who is missing that fits the same description, and that he has also called this woman’s father down to see if he could identify the body they have recovered.
The men discuss how the body recovered was naked, except for a man’s coat. The coroner also remarks that the wound on the victim’s face had no jagged edges, almost like it had been cut with a scalpel. Just then, Genessier pulls up and does the most awkward parking job ever. This has to be done to prove what a dick this guy turns out to be.
Genessier meets with the coroner and the detective. They explain that a body was found in the river and they match his daughter’s description due to the massive injuries to the face, “Only the eyes were intact.” Genessier identifies the body as his doctor Christiane. They are informed the other father is there, and the coroner asks that he be told the body is not that of his daughter.
As Genessier is leaving the morgue he is approached by this distraught father. He asks if Genessier is absolutely sure that it is Christiane that they found, and explains that his daughter has been missing for ten days. Genessier looks completely annoyed and as he walks way from the man he says, “How odd I should have to comfort you.” I get that you have had something horrible happen. You are both fathers, and you are a doctor. Show some compassion! He gets into his asshat of a park job car and leaves the man, crying alone on the sidewalk.
We hear the merry go round music again, and Louise is following two young women. The women meet a man on the sidewalk, as one woman leaves with the man, and Louise continues to follow the other woman, Edna.
We find ourselves at a Cemetery, at the funeral of Christiane. Two observers remark how Genessier is not the same since the death of his wife 4 years prior and Christiane’s accident. The mourners are in a line, paying their respects outside the family crypt. The two observers remark who is standing next to Genessier. There is Christiane’s Fiance, Jacques, who also works with Genessier, and LOUISE! The man says she is Genessier’s secretary.
Louise and Genessier
Everyone leaves, except Genessier and Louise. Genessier starts to take the floral arrangements into the crypt, and Louise starts to break down, stating she “can’t take this anymore.” He grabs her by the arms before shaking and then slapping her. He tells Louise to “shut up”, and Louise quickly exits the crypt. She has gotten some good distance from Genessier when she slows down, allowing him to catch up, gently squeeze her arm and then take his place in front of her as they walk to the car. If this doesn’t say something about their dynamic, I don’t know what would.
The two of them drive past the hospital, following signs to Genessier’s home. He lets Louise out at the front door, and then pulls up to the garage. As he gets out to open the garage doors, all you can hear are birds chirping. He opens the doors, and the noise causes multiple dogs to begin barking from somewhere in the garage. When Genessier exits the car, he looks annoyed and exhausted as he walks into the house. He slowly walks up the stairs and then enters a door and starts up a hidden staircase. As he goes up the stairs he stops as he hears music coming from behind a closed door.
Christiane and the Mask
Genessier enters a room with a young woman laying face down on her bed. He walks over to the bed and turns off the radio then picks up a paper: Christiane’s death notice. He asks the woman where she got the paper and chastises her for going through his things, but then tries to acknowledge how confusing it must be to see her name on the notice, and since the woman died after the surgery, they had to get rid of the body, but needed to cover their tracks by pretending the body was that of Christiane. The woman on the bed is Christiane and the lying asshole made that grieving father suffer even longer. This proves people who park like assholes are in fact ASSHOLES!
Christiane tells Genessier that she is losing hope and this is a major blow to his ego. He leaves as Louise enters with Christiane’s mask. Louise tells her to have faith and trust her father. Christiane says that is hard to do, since he is the one who caused the car accident and he should have just let her die.
I want to talk about this mask for a minute. I first thought this was not a mask, but make- up to make it look like a mask, but later, when Christiane talks, you can tell this is a very thin mask. It is extremely realistic, if a little creepy. This is something she could have used to have somewhat of a normal life, instead of her father taking innocent lives to ‘cure’ her.
Christiane makes her way to other rooms in the house, and eventually calls Jacques. She does not answer him when he asks who it is, and when he hangs up, her eyes tell you all you need to know.
The Dastardly Duo Strikes Again
Well here comes the merry go round music again. We see Edna in line for a movie, and Louise walks past her, stops and returns to talk to her. She tell Edna her friend did not show up and she was wondering if she would like the extra ticket. After some coaxing, Edna agrees and follows her into the theater. We then see the two meeting for coffee. Louise tells Edna she has found her a place to stay and would like to show it to her. While they are driving in Louise’s car, Edna remarks that this place seems pretty far away, and Louise assures her that she took the long way, to avoid traffic and it is only a 20 minute train ride to Paris.
They arrive at Genessier’s house and the air is full of the sounds of barking dogs. Edna asks how many there are and Louise tells her they are only here to protect them. They go inside and Louise introduces her to Genessier who offers her some wine. She declines and tells them she can’t stay long. He tells her that she has time and he will show her the room after they have wine. When Edna turns to talk to Louise we see Genessier putting something on a rag. As he walks towards the two women, as Edna tells Louise she doesn’t think this is going to work and she is meeting a friend tomorrow to look at other places. Genessier starts to pour some wine and then, when Edna turns her attention back to Louise, Genessier put the rag over Edna’s face, knocking her out.
The Dastardly Duo picks up Edna and carries her out of the room, as Christiane watches from the stairs. They carry the body into the garage and then through a secret door. Christiane sneaks into the garage and hides behind the car, as the duo come back into the garage and Genessier tells Louise he will do the procedure after dinner and tells her wants to remove the face in one piece. The two of them return to the main house.
Christiane goes into the operating room, where Edna has been stripped and is on the operating table. Christiane looks at her, but is distracted by the barking dogs. She goes through another door, and there are multiple cages of dogs, lined up in two rows. Christiane goes to each cage, showing them all affection, before going back into the operating room. She looks at herself in the only mirror that is not covered in the house. She takes off her mask and walks back Edna, just as she is starting to wake, when we see Christiane’s real face for the first time.
We now see Genessier starting the procedure of removing Edna’s face for Christiane, who is prepped and waiting on a table next to them. When Genessier starts to cut, he is nervous and sweating like a pig. As he runs the scalpel along the line he drew, the blackest blood ever begins to ooze. I know this is a black and white film, but this is some black blood. The special effects are very impressive as Genessier slowly separates the skin of Edna’s face from the muscles underneath.
Now we see a dog catcher bringing a German Shepard to Genessier, and him being abusive to the dogs as he puts this new victim in its cage. He treats some of the other dogs with the same abuse. Boy, this guy keep racking up points in the biggest dickhead category.
Louise meets Genessier in the operating room and tells him that Christiane is healing wonderfully. She is eating, happy and has hope. He tells her that he is worried, but if this procedure succeeds it would be priceless. Indicating that this is not for his daughter at all, but for his own notoriety. Louise asks what she should do about Edna and he tells her to give Edna some food and he will figure it out later.
Edna is laying in a cell, bandages covering her face. She pretends to sleep as Louise enters the room. When Louise turns her back, Edna hits her over the head with a bottle, knocking her out. Edna escapes to the garage, but before she can go out the garage doors, she sees lights approaching. She enters the main house as Genessier enters the garage and meets Louise who tells him of the escape. They quickly follow into the house and up the stairs. Edna has found the back staircase, and with Genessier hot on her heels, she enters a room. We hear her scream and as Genessier enters, he sees a window open and Edna dead on the sidewalk below.
We now see Louise and Genessier back at the cemetery, with him carrying Edna over his shoulder. He lays her down, picks up a pick axe and enters the crypt. I am confused about this part…we see him hitting the floor with the pickaxe, but then we see him opening a door in the floor. Was it sealed? Anyway, we see Genessier throw the body into the hole and return home.
We are now at the police station where Detective Parot is speaking with Edna’s friend we saw her with earlier. She is reporting her missing. He asks her if she can give any information about this woman Edna said she was meeting. She tells him that the woman always wears a pearl choker. She leaves and a young detective who is interviewing another woman, walks over to Parot’s desk. He shows this young detective Edna’s picture and tells him that another blue-eyed girl has gone missing. The young detective asks what he should do with the blue-eyed girl he has at his desk, who has been brought in for shoplifting. Parot tells him to let her off with a warning, but to make sure to get her address.
Christiane’s Tragedy Continues
Sitting around the dining room table, Louise and Genessier are talking of how happy they are with how Christiane is healing. Her father tells her she will need to take a long trip and pick a new name before they can reintroduce her to the world. She asks him about Jacques, and he says it could be a problem, but he is sure he will be happy. He tells her to smile, and when she does, he snaps, “Not too much!” which wipes any job off her face. The conversation is interrupted by a phone call. Genessier tells Louise he needs her to leave with him, and when he leans down to kiss Christiane goodbye, he notices that upon closer inspection, there are signs that she is rejecting her new face.
Next is a montage of Christiane’s deteriorating face. The last picture is on day 20. We now see Louise entering Christiane’s room, with her mask. Christiane is on the floor. She tries to comfort her and tells her not to give up hope. She says that her father fixed her. We learned earlier that the reason she wears the pearl choker is to cover a scar on her neck. We are now following Christine around the house.
Once again she makes her way to the phone and calls Jacques, but this time she says his name. Louise catches her and asks who she is speaking to. Christiane lies and says no one, leading to her breaking down and telling Louise she is so tired of feeling rubber where her face should be. She begs Louise to get one of the shots her father keeps for the dogs when his experiments go wrong, and kill her. She continues to beg until she passes out.
Here comes the merry go round again as we see Louise on the prowl.
Jacques has made his way to the police station and is talking to Detective Parot. He tells the inspector that he has suspicions that Christiane is not dead since Genessier is the only one who was able to see her body. The Detective tell him that he is chasing down a lot of missing person cases of blue-eyed girls missing, and the only lead he has is a pearl choker. Jacques looks at him and tells him that reminds him of someone.
Paulette as bait
The next thing we see is them bringing back in the shoplifter from earlier, Paulette. The young detective is now telling her she will have to go to trial for the charges, but Parot steps in and tells her he can get this dropped if she will help them out with something. She says as long as it is nothing too hard. He tells her they need her to lighten her hair, which she is not happy about, and check into Genessier’s hospital with the complaint of migraines. Parot calls Jacques and tells him that Paulette will be coming in and to watch out for her.
Paulette is all checked into the hospital, and Genessier and Jacques come to speak to her. Genessier orders some tests and Paulette shows concern that they will shave her head. Ganessier looks at her and says “That would be a shame.” Yuck!
Paulette is brought in to have her test, and Genessier joins her in the room and asks the nurse to bring in the results to him when she is done. He goes to his office and sits at his desk and starts to fall asleep. The nurse brings in the file and he says that Paulette shows no signs of anything and she can be released.
Paulette walks down the hallway to the nurse’s station where she asks to use the phone. She calls her mom and tells her that she will be home tonight. The nurse then gives her direction to the bus stop and she leaves the hospital. As she exits to the road, we hear the merry go round music, and guess who pulls up and offers her a ride?! I will give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.
The Final Act and Justice Served
Jacques calls the Detective and tells him that they discharged Paulette and Parot says he will make sure she makes it home. Well, of course she didn’t because we now see her on the operating table. Louise comes in and whispers to Genessier. He turns and looks to the other side of the room and then leaves. Christiane is sitting on the opposite side of the room.
Genessier returns to the hospital to find both detectives there, asking about Paulette’s whereabouts. The nurse says she remembers letting the girl make a phone call and giving her directions to the bus and then she left. Genessier tells the detectives she is not responsible for people once they walk out the front door. Jacques pokes his head in the door as the detectives are leaving and apologizes for wasting their time.
Back in the operating room, Paulette wakes up and starts to struggle. Christiane makes her way over to her and picks up a scalpel. Paulette starts to scream, but Christiane uses the scalpel to cut the strap holding Paulette in place. Just then Louise enters the room, and Christiane turns and stabs her in the neck, between the strands of pearls in her choker. Louise moves back to hit the wall, begins to cry as she slides down the wall, with tears running down her face until she slumps over.
Paulette escapes past Christiane as she enters the room with the dogs. She goes from cage to cage, releasing all the dogs. Walking home from the hospital, Genessier hears the dogs making a commotion, and he opens a side door. When he does, all the dogs come running out, attacking and killing him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
The last creatures that Christiane releases are the doves. With a dove perched on her hand, she walks past her father’s body, with no acknowledgement of him and walks into the dark forest ahead.
Trivia from the Film
The movie was panned by both US and French Critics.
The first release of the film in the US was heavily edited and called “The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus”. Who the hell is Dr. Faustus?
The director, Georges Franju didn’t consider this a horror film.
John Carpenter used the mask in the film as an inspiration for Michael Myers’ mask in Halloween.
I liked the film, but like the director, I do not consider the film a horror film. It is a drama about men with God Complexes… which I guess is horror when you think about it.
I have nothing but sympathy for Christiane. Her father is using her misfortune for his own scientific gains. On the other hand I have nothing but contempt for Genessier. He is a miserable man, who only sees women as tools to get him what he wants. And he is a really shitty parker. I know some of you think I need to let it go, but I now have a mental image I will use when I see a car where the owner obviously doesn’t know how to park. While I am not a big fan of Louise, I understand her feeling of her owing this man, and she will do whatever she can to repay him. I think because of this gratitude she feels, she thinks she loves him.
Again, I liked the movie, but not what I expected.
So let’s see what the Void has for me next. Until next time….
The Void’s Conclusion
Thank you so much for your amazing and funny summarization and commentary, I am glad you liked the movie! It’s defintely disturbing enough to be considered classic horror in my eyes, much like the tragedy of Phantom of the Opera. French horror is a whole other beast though, that this only scrapes the surface.
Next week, the Mother of the Void will provide commentary on the 1932’s The Old Dark House, another flick starring the fabulous Boris Karloff. Meanwhile, check out The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror, with Week Three’s installment coming out Friday.
The 31 Days of Horror continue with Week Two! I’m excited to pair up these next seven movies with some yummy food, tasty drinks and delectable double features. Below is the entire calendar if you want a sneak peak for the next few weeks of Spooky Season! If you missed week one, you can find it here.
Anyways, let’s kick off Week Two with one of the greatest films of all time, in my opinion.
October 8th: The Haunting
No, not the terrible remake with Owen Wilson. I’m talking the original from 1963. Based of the Shirley Jackson novel The Haunting of Hill House, Dr. John Markway assembles a team of people to confirm whether Hill House is haunted or not, due to its history of its inhabitants meeting strange, gruesome ends. It is a very spooky ghost masterpiece. It also includes amazing queer subtext between the two main women Eleanor (Nell) and Theodora. The Mike Flanagan limited series The Haunting of Hill House is also an amazing rendition. However, it is not so much an adaptation as this one is. This film’s legacy lives on and is an iconic staple to the whole horror timeline.
All the spooky haunts of this film wanted you all to have a literal taste. Therefore the cocktail for this movie is a Liquid Ghost. For the kiddos (as this film is on the tamer side) or those who choose not to drink, a white chocolate hot chocolate is an alternative, as this movie feels cold at times. Warm soup is a good pairing for this, however I am aiming for little bites, so these French Onion Bites will do. As for a double feature for this film, my suggestion is the film that The Mother of the Void just reviewed: Cat People, as it is another classic horror film dripping with subtext.
October 9th: The Strangers
The films (other than Hush) have been rather tame thus far. Therefore, let’s crank it up. This is a slasher film where the assailants truly have no motive. Therefore it is a malicious, terrifying film that has you on the edge of your seat through its entire run time. It’s bloody, it’s creepy, it’s a slasher through and through. That’s about all that I can say, as this film is purely action from the get-go.
Because of the violence in this film, I found a fun cocktail from Sugar and Soul called Blood and Guts, which is a variation of a Jell-O shot meets classic cocktail. If you’re not a fan of that texture, emulate that same red color with some classic Shirley Temples (according to 50+ 5-star ratings, this is the best Shirley Temple). As for a double feature, if you can stomach some more violence, skip the sub-par sequel. Go check out Maniac, a 1980’s exploitation-slasher that pushed the boundaries so movies like The Strangers could be released. If we’re looking for more “lighthearted” after all that brutality, Halloween: H20 is a good alternative. A classic slasher still, but a bit lighter than Maniac.
Food for this movie is something I imagine the couple stress-ate at the wedding/proposal gone wrong before these grisly events, and the first thing that popped into my head was Caprese Skewers. Delicious, but I have only really had them at special events, so let’s make this night a special event of slashing. Finish it off with some Jordan almonds if you’re really want the wedding vibes to overtake the horror.
October 10th: Southbound
If you’ve been following the blog thus far, you know that this film has come up a few times. I honestly have watched this film once. Yet, it has stuck in my head for the past five years. An anthology film by the same creators behind the V/H/S series and Ready or Not, Southbound deals with the unholiest of topics, being another film that pushes against my tolerance for depravity. Mind you, it’s not as depraved as torture porn films, however, if you are uncomfortable with Satanic symbolism, this one will get to you. I personally am not, I was more horrified by the car accident/hospital scene that is on the gorier side. Anyways, this anthology twists and turns into itself, with a lot of stories overlapping to create one big ol’ hellfest.
What is more devilish than Deviled Eggs and a Red Devil cocktail? Maybe the gas that comes post deviled-egg-consumption, but I digress. For the zero-proof fans, sub the alcohol in this recipe with some grapefruit juice, and it will taste just as citrisy and delicious. As for a double-feature for this one, I suggest the father of anthology horror Creepshow, which without it, we would not have this format. If you want to know more about anthology horror and read up on the other creations by these filmmakers, check out TVOC’s first article: Anthology Horror: Short Stories Unfolded.
October 11th: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Laying out day by day, I didn’t realize I laid out such a brutal weekend. Oh well, into the deep end we go. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre set the standard of what the modern slasher looks like back in 1974, and you can see a lot of ties back to its style, predominantly in gory horror heads Rob Zombie, Eli Roth and Darren Lynn Bousman. It’s a disgusting film, given its budget and its age, and most of it still holds up. Heed warning if you haven’t watched the original however, Franklin is probably one of the most annoying horror characters I have ever seen, and him alone almost made me give up on the movie the first time I watched it. Lots of tension, lots of screaming and lots of violence–just as every good slasher should be.
Over on my new favorite blog, Geeks Who Eat, they have put together an amazing pairing specifically for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that is exactly what I envision consuming during Texas Chainsaw. Therefore, I had to feature them. You can check out their pairing here: The Snack is Family: A Texas Chainsaw Massacre Inspired Pairing (2geekswhoeat.com). For an alternative to bloody mary-style drinks, I found another drink that is sure to get you as messed up in the head as The Family: The Bloody Chainsaw. For the zero-proof peeps, here’s a guide from Texas itself on How to Brew Sweet Tea. The double feature for this one that comes to mind is The Midnight Meat Train, because similar weapons are used in this Clive Barker adaptation–oh yeah, and more brutality. It’s quite a way to start your week.
October 12th: Night of the Living Dead
What is known as the first zombie flick is the choice for this cool, sleepy Tuesday night. Night of the Living Dead is both a cult classic as well as a revolutionary film, as it features the first black protagonist in a horror movie, played expertly by Duane Jones. The quote “They’re coming to get you Barbara!” comes from this film, but its incredibly controversial and powerful ending is probably the most memorable upon viewing.. A teaser for what’s coming next on The Void of Celluloid: this film will be the first featured on the podcast coming soon… Anyways, I feel as if this film has not been seen enough, despite it being the film that started one of the most dominating genres in horror films. Therefore, it demands a spot on the calendar.
Of course the cocktail I would choose is titled the Zombie, which can be easily made into a virgin Zombie minus all the liquor and increasing the pineapple and grapefruit juice to make it at least 12 ounces. And to really amp up the zombie vibes, take your movie snack ideas and turn it into breakfast with Bloody Gut Cinnamon Rolls. Since I can’t get enough of Duane Jones, the double feature will be Ganja and Hess, a experimental horror film that deals with cursed objects and vampires. It’s a fun film with a lot of metaphors. So much so in fact, experimental rap group Clipping. formulated a whole album around it called “There Existed an Addiction to Blood”. You can check that out on Spotify (and I encourage you do).
October 13th: Tucker and Dale VS. Evil
There is no way that this has flown off your radar if you already know about this bash of a film. Easily one if not my favorite horror comedy, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil take the evil-hillbilly trope and flip it on its head for some good, gory laughs. Not to mention the amazing acting coming from Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, Tucker and Dale will stick in your head as some of the most loveable characters of the horror universe.
You have to drink a PBR with this film. You just have to. If you’re not into PBR, Montucky Cold Snack is a good alternative for alcohol, and brew up a hot cocoa if you’re not into the whole beer thing at all. Make sure you toast to the two doofs every time you crack a new one open. As far as food, have some breakfast for dinner with these Pumpkin Pancakes. Make sure to serve them with a side of bacon or have scrambled eggs as an alternative just in case anyone is afraid of/doesn’t like pancakes. The double feature is very obviously Shaun of the Dead, as we like to keep the buddy vs. evil comedy trope going and I frequent these two together almost every year.
October 14th: Alien
Ah, the grandest of the sci-fi horror, Alien takes the cake of a slow burn horror film going batshit and having you squirming in your seat, even on repeat viewings. Follow a crew out in space as they going searching the terrain assigned to them by homebase. When a foreign creature attaches itself to a face of an unsuspecting John Hurt, paranoia, dread and doubt fill the crew as the alien thing takes on its rapidly evolving form. Honestly, the set and costume design alone would carry this film, but with brilliant performances, especially from Sigourney Weaver as the badass Ripley, this film is a staple and should be in yearly rotation if you appreciate good cinema.
When I think of Alien, I think of its cover art and that neon green color, so therefore the cocktail that came to mind was the Midori Sour. A fun zero proof alternative to a Midori Sour is melon flavored Ramune soda.. Because I can’t help but think of sweet lil’ Jonesy, add these Cat Pizzas to the menu for a little bit of fun in this fairly grim story. And of course, the double feature (while it isn’t remotely horror) is Aliens, as you can’t pass up a double feature of these two films when you get a chance to do so. Plus, Aliens features even bigger features of the Xenomorphs, which are scary just by themselves, so cut me some slack this one time. It’s an action packed ending to a week kind of full of brutality (sorry, not sorry?).
Conclusion and What’s Up Next Week
So there we have it, that wraps up my suggestions for week two of 31 Days of Horror. I hope you guys are enjoying the series thus far, as we have two more installments this month and I plan on doing broader installments of random collections throughout the year, as I enjoy making them. As I mentioned before, there is a podcast in the works. It will be called Dripping with Relevance and there will be more details out soon as the first season becomes more flushed out and production begins.
Meanwhile, next week, The Mother of the Void returns on Wednesday with the classic French horror film Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage), and I’m glad she’s having fun with it, even when two whole pages of her summary disappears into the laptop void. Next Friday will be the third installment of 31 Days of Horror, which will be the last one leading up to the Final Ten Days of Halloween. So stay strapped in and keep spelunking, as we have so much more in store.