Honesty is the Best Policy: Let’s Talk About Scream

Scream (2022) - IMDb

As I stated in my article last Friday, I am really looking forward to some honest criticism about Scream. If I want to see it, I might as well contribute. I was part of the super hyped group that saw it opening day. While it met my expectations and exceeded some, there were a few fatal flaws that looking back on it–I wish there was a little more effort. Don’t get me wrong, the legacy cast killed it and I did appreciate and like the new cast of characters, but the story that revolved around them has quite a few plot holes and went weird directions.

Time has passed, so I think that it is now time to talk about it. If you haven’t seen it, stop here and go watch it, as this review will be chock full of spoilers. The twist worth the watch, as it is done pretty damn well. Nevertheless, let’s jump into 2022’s Scream.

The Opening Scene: what a bummer

Don’t get me wrong, the opening scene in Scream is intense. However, having it not be a kill really breaks tradition for all of the Scream films, as these openings are known for taking risks and killing off either very important characters or A-list actors. I guess the zinger was that she was still alive after all of that, but it just communicates that we might not have a as sinister and strong killer as we did in the past.

Scream (2022) - Plugged In

I think this movie would’ve benefitted from an event flip. A shocker to the audience would be the double kill that occurs about twenty minutes into the movie: Judy and her son Wes. It’s in the broad daylight–which had been done only once before in the franchise–plus a beloved character and the top theorized killer due to his namesake and the casting of Dylan Minnette. I don’t think this would’ve changed the events of the film, as after the opening credits, we can jump right into the scene with Tara, involving the new characters. It also involves the original characters a little earlier into the film and is the hard cutoff from the fourth film, as Judy was the only overlapping character that wasn’t one of the legacies.

Let’s Talk new Characters

Scream 5 Video Introduces The Franchise's New Characters

Of the ones that survived this new reign of terror, I do appreciate the sister power we have as our new “Sidneys.” They’re not meant to replace Sidney, obviously. However, I can definitely root for them for a few more films. However, I have a bone to pick with our lead, Sam. It’s not her fault, it is most definitely the writers reaching for straws, but we need to talk about the hallucinations.

I Love Skeet Ulrich, but…

Of all the past killers to bring back, they brought back Billy. Also, the timeline lines up for Sam, but also it is very narrow amount of time, with it only making sense that Billy slept with Sam’s mother the night of Stu’s party or somewhere within those days of the killing spree. Also, trying to turn him into a near anti-hero in the end and Sam mimicking his blade wipe–that did not leave a good taste in my mouth. Billy Loomis is bat shit crazy and took his need for vengeance a little too far. We don’t need to redeem him. However, I did enjoy Sam other than her daftness about going to Stu Macher’s house as if she did not grow up in that town immediately after the events took place. Most of all, I loved her as a team with her sister.

Siblings not done dirty
Scream (2022): This or That? : r/Scream

Finally, the Scream franchise is kind to siblings and doesn’t kill them off in brutal ways or make them wacko killers. We see Sam and Tara Carpenter as sisters who kick ass despite their shared trauma that separated them all of these years. Sure, the way they reintroduce each other in the hospital room was a little rushed and messy, but in that final showdown, we see the potential of what they can be, and when they put their brains together, they manage to make it out alive.

While Tara and Sam really delivered in a dynamic duo of final girls, it was Randy’s niece and nephew, Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin. There was finally some relief from the pain of Randy being gone, as there is no doubt that he is their uncle. It is almost as if he has visited them beyond the grave and bestowed his witty wisdom. I think their inclusion as well as their survival (I was really worried about Chad there for a second) really felt like the apology for killing Randy so early and abruptly. I am excited to see them in the sequel, but as their uncle said, the stakes are higher in a sequel.

Let’s Talk about the Killers

Alright, I saw Jack Quaid being the killer from a mile away. However, I thought he would be the one to provide the tie to the original killers. It would’ve been so easy, as Stu was quite more of a sex maniac than Billy it seems. It would mean Richie actually being Stu’s son instead of the hallucinations and the Billy stuff. They could’ve found another way to bring Skeet back, but we all really wanted Stu back. Even Matthew Lillard wanted Stu back. Maybe they’re saving it for a rainy day. The man could’ve survived a TV to the head, it’s a horror movie for god’s sake, it doesn’t have to make sense.

Scream 5: All The Clues To The Killer Identity Twist

Speaking of things not making sense, how did Amber manage to lift Dewey into the air above her head? I think that was Scream‘s way of tiptoeing towards an invincible, super strong killer like the rest of the franchises have adopted. I mean, it took a lot to kill both of them in the final act. Mikey Madison even relived some of her stunts that she pulled in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, except it was a stovetop, not a flamethrower. The thing that I liked about Scream’s killers was the human element. The crazy, unhinged human element. It sets them apart from previous killers, and not in a good way. However, they were on that same level of batshit crazy, so their actions around their oddly super strength demeanor sold them over all as Ghostfaces.

Finally: THe Legacy Characters of the Scream franchise

Oh, Dewey. I bawled in the theater due to Dewey’s death, as it felt like they ripped out and stomped on the heart of the series. However, I knew that is what would have to happen for Sidney to even come back to Woodsboro, and the movie laid it out as so. It was so good to see all of them again, however. I also like how their lives ended up, as they are very human and very unpredictable. Sidney ending up with Kincaid was a good little easter egg and made me happy that she found happiness and trust in a partner again. The first two movies made us think that would never happen, and it would be justified.

Scream 2022 Ending Explained - FandomWire

Gale is in the best position that Gale could be in, and I was grateful that she wasn’t the bad guy that ended things between her and Dewey. This allowed for no bitterness between them in their final moments and nothing but mutual love without the will-they-won’t-they element. I think that drama that was present in the previous films would’ve taken away from how gut-wrenching it was to say goodbye to Dewey, for both the audience and Gale.

It wouldn’t go without saying that I wish that we could’ve seen more of them, and they had more driving forces in the story. However, if the Scream franchise is going to continue, we have to say goodbye as we can’t watch another one of them die. It is a salute to both Wes Craven and Sidney Prescott from the horror genre. Together they revolutionized the final girl and broke down all of the rules that they had to abide by.

In Conclusion: Scream is worth your time

If you are a horror fan and love Wes Craven as much as I do, please watch the newest Scream if you haven’t already. While there are some plot holes and it might not have the payoff that some of us were wishing for after all these years, it is still a wild ride that is worth the experience at least once–it definitely isn’t as rewatchable as the others are. It is heartfelt at times, nostalgic in others and reads as a love letter to its creator, gone seven years now. The horror family misses and loves you, Wes.

Do you agree with the critiques marked in this review? Let me know your thoughts either on Twitter @OfCelluloid, Instagram @TheVoidofCelluloid, or on Facebook under the page The Void of Celluloid. Make sure to follow and sign up on the mailing list if you would like to receive more content of the sort and I will catch you guys in the next void. See ya soon, Spelunkers.

March Horror: What’s New this Month

There are quite a few things going on in the horror community this March that are worth noting. While not much is releasing, there might be a few things that have flown under the radar as the movie theater scene grows slowly. Therefore, here are three things that you shouldn’t miss out on this March.

Scream: Now on Digital Rent/Buy

I’m sure if you didn’t see Scream in theaters, you were keeping your eyes peeled for a digital release. Well, now it is here. Scream came out early 2022 and was met with quite positive critical acclaim, with some saying it’s one of the strongest in the franchise next to the first one. I definitely enjoyed the film and recommend it, but I am partial to the Scream franchise. I would let Sidney Prescott wife me up in a second, no doubt.

March Horror

Now with its digital release, I am excited to see how it is received upon rewatching and getting a true critical scope that was muffled by the hype. I am among many to admit that this film did have its flaws and we know that Scream is usually one to learn from its fans what it wants. I mean, that’s what the basis of this new installment was all about, so they are just asking for feedback. Therefore, I’m looking forward to these discussions that will only lead to a better, already confirmed sequel.

Studio 666: Fear the Foo and Fight it

This film technically came out in February. However, I’m putting it in March since it wide released in theaters. Yes, Foo Fighters made a movie. Yes, I am extremely excited about it. I won’t be catching this one until next week, but I am excited to see what I’ve seen other describe as a Pick of Destiny meets Evil Dead II. It truly is a film that functions of camp, and I am living for it.

March Horror

I love that Dave Grohl and company have reached this point in their career that they do what truly makes them happy. I mean, the Bee Gees cover album from last year was truly a treat. It was the best promo they could have done for their new album. They said they always wanted to do a film together. In conjunction with their amazing music videos and Grohl’s involvement with Tenacious D (yes, that’s him under all that red makeup in Tribute), we can only expect something that is fun for the viewer as well as fun for them.

X: A new, Raunchy A24 Horror

A24 has kind of been killing it in the horror genre. Providing the platform for films such as Hereditary and Midsommar, it is the home for the arthouse horror. How does a slasher film taking place on a porno set sound? How about if that said horror film stars Kid Cudi? X comes out on March 18th, and with the trailer not giving away much, I am excited to see what we are dealing with here.

march horror

The film comes from Ti West as well, which makes me even more excited. I was quite a fan of The Innkeepers and at this point, if you haven’t seen The House of the Devil, you are truly missing out. It looks colorful, it probably will be gory, and I am expecting a bit of a slow burn as it is typically in Ti West’s fashion to take his time on his stories. They have paid off, however, and I’m excited to see if this one does the same.

Keep an eye out for these

Overall, it sounds like it’s a fun month for horror fans. These three on top of hearing that The Batman contains horror elements as well, it sounds like we’re getting delightfully spooky this March. It’s also Women’s History Month, so let’s celebrate by watching some female horror creators and celebrating our scream queens. Two women that come to mind are Debra Hill and Jamie Lee Curtis, which you can read a little bit more on their legendary impact on Halloween here. Let’s just say, it would not have blazed the trail as epically as it did without their contribution.

Thanks for spelunking the March Horror Void with me. If this is your first time here on The Void of Celluloid, welcome! I am happy to have you here, and if you want to know more about horror or just a film appreciator, go ahead and follow me on Twitter @OfCelluloid, Facebook on the page The Void of Celluloid and Instagram @thevoidofcelluloid. Until next time…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022): It isn’t Worth Your Time

The horror community will always get a little giddy when there is a new installment in the legendary franchises. It’s inevitable, even if we know that the sequels, reboots and requels won’t satisfy as much as the original. We watch them anyways. That’s how everyone felt with the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, once it was announced that Netflix was the studio and the trailer dropped, the hype died almost immediately.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) - IMDb

It was for good reason. I sacrificed one of my Saturday nights watching this film to see if it was as bad as everyone says. The only reason I say that it was terrible is because there were some fun spots in the flicker of the flames of this dumpster fire. Texas Chainsaw Massacre plays as a comedy and spoof sometimes, and it is undercut by the times that the film tries to be serious. The last half of it? It plays like a Halloween (2018) rip off.

The New Group: Might be more annoying than franklin

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre | release date, cast, plot for Netflix film |  Radio Times

The film starts out fairly similarly. A group of twenty somethings traveling to the middle-of-nowhere Texas for some kind of sanctuary. This film takes sanctuary a little too far. They’re practically turning a ghost town into a commune. It gives me a little bit of the creepy cult vibe, but honestly, revamping a ghost town into something thriving sounds pretty neat. However, I would not want to be neighbors with any of these pretentious hipsters. I say that as a Portland local, so you have to know I mean that.

They make several stupid decisions and are really not supportive of one another. An example of a stupid decision being not having any papers on you when claiming the town, causing in the death that starts the whole thing off. Another example was sending the main guy’s girlfriend with the ambulance. The ambulance got there within plenty of time, I feel as if they should’ve just hoped for the best and called. Of course, that wouldn’t be the catalyst of events anymore, but the film honestly takes no time to get things rolling. Especially since it is paying homage to the original, which is a bit of a slow burn in the beginning.

The indestructible, traumatized sisters

Never have I ever seen someone get a sledgehammer to the gut from the top of the stairs that drives them through the floor, only to have them crawling for their lives three seconds later. The older sister, Melody is borderline indestructible. She takes so many hits and slashes, but still makes it through to the final act and beyond. I get that horror can go beyond reality, but this was borderline ridiculous. In turn to making Leatherface invincible, maybe making another character seemingly invincible will lead to a lot of fluff to the film. Just maybe.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 Cast and Character Guide

On top of that, we have poor Lila. She is severely traumatized by a school shooting, which puts some pretty heavy commentary into the film and never really goes into it afterwards. The film then proceeds to force this traumatized girl to defend herself with multiple guns and hear multiple gunshots, just to add to the horror and terror of it all. I understand final girls have to go through it, but part of it is getting the upper hand creatively. That happens eventually, but after the heavy use of guns, it seems as if her using a gun was the true cure to her trauma. That’s not really a sympathetic approach to survivors of school shootings.

Pro Gun Control or Anti Gun control? Does it really matter?

The Most Shocking Moments in Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Netflix Tudum

To follow up on the Lila’s storyline, the film really makes fun of the younger characters being against having guns. I get we’re in Texas and the writers might consider this detail ironic, but it ultimately didn’t deliver. I think it was supposed to be somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek reference to the current political climate and the gun control debate. However, it doesn’t establish what side it leans on to be actually funny. It just came up as confusing and abrasive to insert it within the story without a smooth transition.

Honestly, I am really for social commentary in horror. There usually always is some kind of metaphor and moral hidden between the brutality. However, I really saw this as an unnecessary situation to bring up. Especially since it turned into something so insensitive to the school shooting victim in the film and a ‘gotcha’ moment when the people were not a fan of guns had to use the guns. Of course, they did; they are up against a seemingly supernaturally invincible murderer with a chainsaw. Distance works in your favor for that situation. With the already poorly written dialogue, this kind of serious topic was never going to be a subtle, witty insert.

Sally Hardesty isn’t laurie strode

The last thing about Texas Chainsaw Massacre was its final act and the writing of Sally Hardesty. After the bus scene, that I dare say was the best part of the film. It’s ridiculously brutal, bloody and violent–which actually made me laugh at the insanity of it. After that bloodbath and wiping out the entirety of the extra people in the town, the final act kicks in, with its weakest part not being the new characters but rather the original final girl. I don’t think the writers realized that Sally Hardesty will never make the same impact as Laurie Strode. Therefore, they shouldn’t have used her character like this without beefing up her character.

Sally is a hardened, traumatized woman who decided to go build an arsenal to showdown Michael Myers once they met again–sorry, I mean Leatherface. It’s literally the same format they went with in 2018’s Halloween. However, despite Sally being a trailblazer for the final girl, she simply doesn’t hold a candle to Laurie. Also, she makes some really stupid decisions that result in way more harm to herself and others than Leatherface. The woman doesn’t even make a dent in him and utters the worst line ever: “Don’t run, or he’ll haunt you forever.” Okay, whatever you say.

I think the icing on the cake was her asking Leatherface to say her and her group’s name while holding up a polaroid to him. Did she not listen in the first film? Leatherface is very much implied to be nonverbal due to disability. Also, he didn’t wait to learn their names, he just murdered them immediately upon arrival to that house. I feel like they were trying to show that they were putting a lot of thought and effort to tie it to the 1974 film. However, those of us who know the film are disappointed that seemingly ignored the events of the first film.

Final thoughts on Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I went into this film knowing it was going to be bad. I was ultimately hoping for a situation in which it was so bad, it was funny. Instead, I watched a half-baked horror film that had some really solid sequences that were just covered with poorly written, non-loyal to the original filler. Also, the Tesla autopilot ending was terrible. Hilariously terrible. Therefore, I don’t really think it’s worth the watch. What did you think of it? Were you a fan of this one or do you agree that Netflix should probably lay their efforts to rest? Let me know in the comments.

I’m not anti-Sally Hardesty either. You can read more on the evolution of the final girl and the role she plays in forming the trope here.

If this is your first time reading The Void of Celluloid, welcome. I am happy to have you here and encourage you to follow me on Twitter @OfCelluloid, Facebook under the page The Void of Celluloid or Instagram @TheVoidofCelluloid to stay updated on what’s next. Thanks for jumping into this void with me, you lovely spelunker you.

The Week of SCREAMS: Revisiting the Scream Franchise

Scream 5 Review: Ghostface Feels As Sharp As Ever

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.

Scream's Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard: Billy and Stu Fell 'in Love'

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.

Scream Creator Kevin Williamson Explains Why He Killed Off Jamie Kennedy's  Randy | Cinemablend

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.

Parker Posey talks Scream 3, her character's legacy

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.

Hayden Panettiere's New Haircut Has Scream Fans Freaking Out | Cinemablend

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.

Revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream revisit scream

The Week of SCREAMS: Planning Your Scream Marathon

Hello everybody, welcome back (to you and myself) to The Void. It’s a big week for horror fans as we begin the countdown for another release from an iconic franchise: Scream. I am here to aide the wait by recapping the fourth former films and discussing the wild theories that lurk on the internet. In a franchise recap, it can only mean one thing: movie marathon.

For those who have been here a while, I like to make an experience out of a movie night, and whether this is your first time or you’re exposing a poor soul so you can drag them to the theater, there is always an opportunity to make it special. Therefore, I’m going to take each movie and pair it with a savory snack, a sweet treat and two drinks: one non-alcoholic and another with the booze. It’s a mix and match system, or the most elaborate horror marathon of all time, you decide. There are the rules, and they won’t change like they do in this wacky but brilliant series. Without further ado, let’s set up the Scream marathon.

Scream (1996)

Scream' 20th Anniversary: Then and Now - Variety

The one that started it all. Scream rocked the horror scene in 1996 and delivered in the character department. It also delivered a helluva opening scene, so why not start out the movie with some Jiffy Pop? Here’s a homemade stovetop popcorn recipe to get things going. To make it bloody, pair it with this Cherry Bomb mocktail. If you’re already on edge and want to start partying like a high schooler, treat yourself to a Beer Margarita to class up the red solo kegger party. Once you reach Jamie-Kennedy-on-the-couch status, celebrate this film’s blood-soaked finale with a red velvet brownie.

Scream 2 (1997)

REVIEW - 'Scream 2' (1997) | The Movie Buff

Oh boy, this is one of those sequels that are just as good as the original. This one arguably has more scares in it, especially the opening scene and the cop car. Since the first one took the popcorn, we have to take on the next most popular movie theater snack: nachos. I am not one to tell you what goes on your nachos, but I can at least give you a cheese sauce recipe. You’re going to need a cool drink after Neve Campbell’s radiance in the play rehearsal, so either class it up with a Roy Rogers or dress it down with some college-party jungle juice. After the curtain falls on Scream 2, sweeten up the pot and end with a refreshing lemon bar as you brace yourself for the weakest (and campiest) link of the Scream franchise.

Scream 3 (2000)

Is It Just Me Or Is Scream 3 A Decent Sequel? - Wicked Horror

This is definitely the red-headed stepchild of the franchise, but it does have its quirks here and there. We’re going to Hollywood, baby–therefore, we gotta live the life of luxury. Instead of the munchies we had prior, make yourself an easy canape: this lovely caprese kabobs should do the trick. We’re slashing among the stars now, so we might as well drink like one. Cool your tastebuds with either this Cucumber Ginger mocktail or this Hollywood Martini. After the laughs and cringy dialogue, be thankful (maybe with your non-psycho sibling) that it’s finally over by some no-bake tiramisu parfaits–that should kick it up a notch to continue into the final of the quartet. Try to delete the mental image of Courtney Cox’s bangs while you’re at it.

Scream 4 (2011)

Is it just me, or is Scream 4 the franchise's best? | GamesRadar+

Before I go into this one: JUSTICE FOR KIRBY. Alright, now, we’ve jumped 11 years and things have drastically changed for our favorite slasher survivors as well as a few new people. Anyways, this is quite a bit of an upgrade compared to its predecessor, so we have to treat it as such. I’m talking spinach artichoke dip in a bread bowl! Go crazy like it’s 2011 again! Maybe even live stream the process and start your own web show. Trivia’s a big topic in this one too, and I usually associate trivia with some drinks. I’m going to give it to 2 Geeks Who Eat again with their Woodsboro Snapple cocktail. For the virgins out there (who aren’t guaranteed survival anymore), we’re going with a virgin Sangria that is as red as blood. With such a lofty sequel, they had to get creative–so it’s your turn. We all scream for ice cream, so here’s a recipe for some easy, no-churn ice cream. May I suggest throwing chunks of those red velvet brownies from the first film? And dying it red? We need to get bloody up in this joint.

Conclusion: May the Week of Screams begin

There are the aides for this Craven trek. Scream is truly a brilliant franchise and I am excited to see what the minds behind Ready or Not are going to do with it. As you can see by the title, this is a week of SCREAMS, meaning the Void will have a new post (almost) every day up to the Scream release. The Mother of the Void will be returning on Wednesday, but the rest will be just you and me, my dear spelunkers. Catch the article tomorrow as we recap Scream and discuss some of my favorite parts from the first movie.

Horror Musicals: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Screaming

It’s me, The Void. I’m stealing the Mother’s place this fine day to give you my ranking of the beautiful blending of my favorite genres: horror and musical. Yes, we’re talking horror musicals. This came to me when I heard of Stephen Sondheim’s passing, which shattered my heart into a million little pieces. May his memory be a blessing.

In this ranking, I am focusing on the stage and having movie adaptations weigh in as needed. A lot of these have no movie adaptations. I am excluding strictly movie musicals, therefore musicals like Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Carnival are not on this list (though I respect and admire Terrance Zdunich’s writing quite a bit). I felt it wasn’t fair against these beasts of musicals, as most of these have made it to the Broadway caliber. Nonetheless, let’s slash our ways through this, shall we?

Number 9: Jekyll ANd Hyde

Before you ask, yes, that IS David Hasselhoff. Jekyll and Hyde is the stage musical adaptation of the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and while it is blaring with the rock and has the iconic “Confrontation” which has the lead singing from two perspectives at once, the cheesiness level cuts the epic down to quite a low level. It’s easy to find the taped version of this musical if you’re in desperate need to see Hasselhoff deliver some epic bars, but overall, it’s not exactly my personal favorites

My favorite song is “Confrontation,” as it generated a hilarious TikTok meme and it is as epic as it sounds.

Number 8: Carrie the Musical

Poor, poor Carrie. This poor musical is cursed for failure for whatever reason, and it all lies in how its produced. The original debut was way too much and the revival was way too little, leading to it flopping on both occasions. However, the tunes are actually really well written and it is a faithful adaptation. There is a fairly impressive LA production that did do it right, but used a gymnasium instead of a traditional stage, so I believe if Carrie the Musical will never be successful on Broadway–and that is okay.

My favorite moment is “The Destruction,” as the song is a beautiful depiction of Carrie’s inner monologue and her seemingly instantaneous snap. My favorite interpretation is Keaton Whittaker’s version. Meanwhile, if you wanna see some killer stage effects, you can check out the LA version here.

Number 7: Evil Dead the Musical

Yes, there is an off-broadway adaptation of Evil Dead II. It is all kinds of cheesy and hilarious, which is the only thing you should expect given its source material. There is disco, there is showtunes and Ash takes the stage with grace. This is in the same league as the Starkid musicals and could be improv if we didn’t know any better. It’s a fun one that graces local theaters often, so definitely check this one out if you are in the mood for a good laugh.

The best song is probably “It’s Time” in which there is disco dancing and Ash sings about balls. Who could ask for anything more? Check out a rendition from 2017 here.

Number 6: Heathers

Yes, I do admit I’m stretching a bit with this one. JD is technically a serial killer and Westerberg High does seem like a living hell, so I let it pass. The 1989 film Heathers is one of my favorites, so it is natural that I fell in love with the musical adaptation. While there are some misses on the soundtrack, especially the West End version, there are some GEMS that make me laugh out loud and want to dance to a musical full of depravity. It’s a pretty loyal adaptation as well, with a few changes to character dynamics to tie it together for group numbers.

“Lifeboat,” “Dead Girl Walking,” and “My Dead Gay Son” are the shining stars in this musical, but I honestly love all the songs and only skip “Big Fun” as it can be a bit annoying halfway through. However, my favorite moment in this musical is not a song but rather this iconic moment from the original off-broadway production.

Number 5: Beetlejuice

Now onto the Broadway baddies. Beetlejuice is a recent musical adaptation which trended on TikTok as well, specifically “Say My Name.” It’s a faithful adaptation that does not leave out the original movie’s musical moments. Ont top of it, the Original Broadway Cast Recording is amazing and not one to miss if you love soundtracks. It contains wildly good performances and was met with great critical reviews and is a fan favorite–so much so it was saved from getting booted and will stay on Broadway for an additional season.

My favorite song on this is actually a rather emotional one and that is “Dead Mom.” You can see the original Broadway Lydia perform that one here, but have some tissues.

Number 4: Phantom of the Opera

Remember when I said that we might be ignoring some movie adaptations? All respects to Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson, but maybe stick with a filmed Broadway version to spare your ears. Phantom of the Opera may not seem to some as a horror musical, however, its source material is strictly horror. This is a classic and some regard it the best of all time. My personal preferences disagree heavily, however I do respect this musical, hence it holding the number four spot. If you do decide to suffere through the movie adaptation, brace yourself for Gerald Butler, who should’ve never sang opera ever for the public.

While I don’t like the musical as a whole and do think the title track is a cheesy rock-opera mess, I have to give credit to “Think of Me” and most definitely to “All I Ask of You,” which is easily the most romantic song ever written. I will actually link the movie version of that one, because it is gorgeous.

Number 3: Little Shop of Horrors

I love, love, LOVE this musical. It has laughs, it’s dark and has BOPS for a soundtrack. The music is in fact written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who wrote most of the music during the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s. “Somewhere That’s Green” is the same melody as “Part of Your World,” so there is proof it’s all good to plagiarize yourself. The movie adaptation is one of the best cult films out there, so you can do no wrong checking it out in any medium. I do recommend checking out the director’s cut as it is chock full of crazy good special effects and matches the play’s ending.

My favorite song from this is “Now (It’s Just the Gas),” which never made its film debut. You can, however, check out a version with Jake Gyllenhaal and Taran Killam here, which is simply brilliant.

Number 2: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of fleet street

horror musicals

Now this–this is my favorite Broadway musical. However, the movie adaptation doesn’t do it justice therefore it does not earn the coveted crown. Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece through and through with Sondheim behind the pen. Many consider this Sondheim’s greatest musical (myself included) and it will be known as one of the best musicals of all time. It plays out like an opera, with gorgeous, terrifying and hilarious moments flowing through. It’s a hoot, and I cannot recommend it more. I don’t hate the movie adaptation either, but some songs are missing/edited and it just doesn’t feel the same.

“Pretty Women,” “Epiphany” and “A Little Priest” is a phenomenal stretch of songs that closes out the first act and lives in my head rent free. However, Angela Lansbury is my favorite part so here is her “Worst Pies in London” in its full glory.

Honorable Mention

horror musicals

Cats. I mean this image says a thousand words.

Number 1: Rocky Horror Picture Show

horror musicals

Now here is the real number one, both tremendous in stage and screen: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We are talking iconic images, characters, songs, dances, and species–this is the horror musical of all horror musicals. Richard O’Brien has a brilliant mind that brought this groundbreaking musicals to stages and eventually formed it into the cult film to end all cult films. On top of all of it, Tim Curry stands proud in his six inch heels, serving as an icon for many and sexy beast to all. It’s iconic, that’s all I have to say. The horror musical of all horror musicals.

“Hot Patootie” can be played on the radio while “Sweet Transvestite” has us shivering with antici…pation. However, for me, “Planet Schmanet Janet” tops my list. You can see Frank-N-Furter harass Janet here if you’re looking for something to get used to, if ya know what I mean.

The final act

So there is it is, the ranking of the horror musicals. Did you agree with some of these picks and have you heard of most of them? Who knew showtunes could be horrific? Anyways, the Mother will be back next week as well as I will be back this Saturday with Christmas horror movies out the wazoo. Thanks for spelunking with us, this is the Void detaching and signing off.

If you wanted to see a bit more on horror musicals, you can blast to the past with my September Spooky Season picks here.

horror musicals

Krampus: The Horror Equivalent to St. Nick

Hello everyone! The Void of Celluloid is back better and scarier than ever. It’s also now the time to celebrate Christmas and all the joy that surrounds it. That does not mean that we still can’t get our scare on, and in the folklore of the culture that made Christmas extravagant lies quite a weird, scary traditional creature. I had the pleasure to live in Austria a couple years ago, so I got to experience my first encounters with these beasts. However, I want to spread the word on this fantastically chaotic tradition and share how you can get involved.

Krampus and Perchten : Advent in Salzburg : salzburg.info
A Krampus spotted in Salzburg, where I lived

As you guessed, the creature’s name is Krampus. Krampus however is a bit more complex than just being the antithesis to Santa Claus, so therefore, we’re going to go into the Germanic tradition and explore the lore, the celebration and the modern day interpretations that have crossed over into the U.S.. Let’s just say, we could do with some Krampus in our lives.

The Folklore of Krampus

CHRISTMAS KRAMPUS DEVIL CHILDREN POSTCARD COPY | eBay

Krampus’ origin is located in Central Europe, specifically Germany, the homeland of all Christmas traditions. We got the Christmas tree, the Christmas markets and the foundation for gingerbread (known as Lebkuechen). Krampus comes from the German word “Krampen” which means ‘claw’ in German. It is believed that Krampus is half-goat and half-demon. His roots are in pagan traditions that surround the winter solstice, and he slowly leaked his way into Christian traditions as the partner of St. Nicholas.

That’s right, he’s not the opposite of St. Nick, he is his business partner. The story goes as we all know it: get on the good list, you get presents; get on the bad list, however, does not lead to a lump of coal for central European children. Instead, Krampus will come for you and beat you with sticks for being naughty. American children, consider yourself lucky.

In a way of demonizing Krampus further, it was the Catholic Church that spread that Krampus will drag children to hell in an attempt to ban Krampus from his holiday portrayal. Ban attempts not only included the Catholic Church, but also the Nazis during World War II and the Austrian government. However, every year he managed to come back due to popular demand. Parents would dress as Krampus to scare their children into behaving, he popped up on postcards much like the one pictured above and Krampus solidified his status as a Christmas classic.

The Traditions

Forced resettlement after World War II affected the culture, as many families were broken apart by the division of Germany. East Germany had to deal with the secularization of Christmas, as religion was frowned upon in USSR occupied areas, which led to a different kind of Christmas. This reflected on other parts of the central-east of Europe and the culture and traditions were left semi scattered. However, despite the attempt to smother out the Krampus tradition in the mid-twentieth century, the Bavarian region brought the tradition back with a bang: Krampusnacht.

What on #Earth?Do you know about Krampuslauf? In early December young men  in Austria and Germany parade the streets dressed l… | Perchten, Masken  kunst, Wilder mann

Krampusnacht started in the late twentieth century and translates to ‘Krampus Night’. It contains the Krampuslauf or ‘Krampus Run.’ This is where a group of people adorn detailed, terrifying costumes of Krampus, wrap up either smaller sticks or horsehair. They run through the streets, terrorizing anyone in sight. You get whipped, chased, soot smeared on your face, scared and you’re laughing all the way through it. It’s a night of chaos and fun. It also represents a resurgence in culture that can be shared across multiple cities on December 6th.

Krampus also appears in grocery stores as the counterpart to a chocolate St. Nick. Many handmade goods reflect the Krampus tradition in the Christkindmarkt (Christmas markets) and Krampuses kick off the celebration of St. Nicholas, with him usually trailing along at the end of the Krampuslauf.

CrossOver into the U.S.

We actually have a Krampuslauf here in the United States, and I honestly would like more cities to have one. Los Angeles has hosted one since 2013 and it models very similarly to a traditional Krampuslauf. I mean, a lump of coal is simply not enough punishment. However, due to its semi-violent nature, most people would not be okay with someone beating their children with a bundle of sticks. I’m not sure how that would fly and if any of them would stick around.

Krampuslauf - Los Angeles' Krampus Run is Monstrously Fun
L.A. Krampuslauf, 2018

Krampus is a part of a familiar word however, and that is Advent. We associate Advent with chocolate or tiny gifts, while it means simply the time before Christmas i.e. November 28th to December 24th. Instead of tiny gifts, most countries in Europe will have little events and traditions in this time. Therefore, a lot of outings all the way up to a quiet, intimate Christmas day.

However, our most relevant depiction of Krampus isn’t in these events leading up to Christmas, but rather the idea of crashing Christmas in the medium of horror. There has been multiple Christmas-themed horror movies that put him on a pedestal of terror. However, he one that holds a mirror up to how the United States treats the holidays versus other cultures is Michael Dougherty’s 2015 Krampus.

Krampus (2015) and Its Lesson

I know that a lot of people didn’t particularly like this movie a lot. However, with its depressing opening scene and a highlight on family dysfunction in the United States, Krampus offers very sentimental and harrowing commentary on the holidays. A lot of us face stress during this time. I know that prior to cutting off family, the stress I had to deal with before seeing family would sometimes be way too much to handle. That’s what makes this a painfully relatable horror tale.

The Blog of Delights: Krampus (2015)

Krampus is supposed to be fun with a few good scares in to make children behave and give adults nostalgia. This makes his depiction in this film even more terrifying, as it is this grisly terrifying thing that we don’t understand: Krampus turns from lore to a symbol for xenophobia. A poignant scene is the one illustrated above. The grandma that grew up and understood the tradition (as well as tragically ‘lost’ her parents to Krampus) stands and is unafraid to go with him.

This commentary adds onto an array of multiple topics the film deals with: gun control, capitalism, alcoholism, emotional abuse…the list goes on. This film is not really meant to be a fun Christmastime watch like Dougherty’s other film Trick ‘r’ Treat is to Halloween. It is most likely going to be the only interpretation the U.S. is going to see for a while. Therefore it is important to try and understand these traditions and not simply go for the overly-terrifying version of it. Even if he does have adorably homicidal gingerbread men.

Conclusion

Well, I think this is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season and welcome back The Void of Celluloid. I hope you all continue to learn more about Krampus. It really is a cool tradition that was a blast to be a part of. Stay tuned, as next week I’ll give a holiday horror line-up to squeeze in between your repeat viewings of A Christmas Story, Elf and National Lampoon‘s. If you want to see Krampus in action, click here to watch a Krampuslauf. We’ll see you next week here on The Void of Celluloid.

Mother of the Void Presents: Gaslight (1944)

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.”

Gaslight (1944 film) - Wikipedia

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 beginning

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’s Trip

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!

Newlyweds

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. 

Gaslight | CINEACTION

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.

What is gaslighting? The 1944 film Gaslight is the best explainer. - Vox

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. 

More Schemes

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. 

Conclusion

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.

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Halloween: What Makes it a Masterpiece

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.

The Beginning

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.

The Writing

John Carpenter and Debrah Hill | John carpenter, John carpenter halloween,  Michael myers halloween

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

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times

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.

The Casting

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.

Halloween 1978: How A Subtle Easter Egg Hints At Laurie Strode's Dark Side

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.

The Production

Halloween was shot in twenty days. A few facts about this filming process:

Mark Roberts Resurrects Michael Myers' Iconic 1978 Personal Effects | Dead  Entertainment
  • 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

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

Amazon.com: Halloween 1978 Movie Poster 27in x 40in (Movie Theatre Size)  Horror Film: Posters & Prints

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.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) - IMDb

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.

Jamie Lee Curtis on Saying Goodbye to Laurie Strode & Halloween Kills -  Variety

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.

Conclusion

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.

Mother of the Void Presents: The Old Dark House

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.

The Old Dark House (1932) - IMDb

Setting the scene

The Old Dark House - 1932 - Trailers From Hell

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 Old Dark House (1932) - ALL HORROR

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

Deep Focus: The Old Dark House

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. 

The lovebirds

The Old Dark House — Cineaste Magazine

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

Why there's more going on in The Old Dark House than you might think | BFI

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’s Escape

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.