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Monster Chiller Horror Theatre

Anyone who has ever watched the wonderful TV show “SCTV” will know the reference, and the brilliant and sometimes overlooked member of the best comedy ensemble ever, Joe Flaherty, as Count Floyd, but it is not necessary.

“Hi, kids, this is Count Floyd, for Monster Chiller Horror Theatre. Oh, tonight we’ve got a really scary film for you! Actually, two scary movies, one is about to come out, and the other has not been made yet! Isn’t that scary? All those budget overrides and bad reviews! Owooo!! Heh Heh Heh Heh Heh!! Owooo!”

A preview of some new movies coming out, includes this: “A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach on which they are relaxing for a few hours, is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. Release Date: July 23, 2021 (USA). Director: M. Night Shyamalan.”

Which motivated me to write this:

New Movie Preview “This Cannot Be Real, Oh, Yes, It Can!” This is the title of a new movie by M. Night Shyamalan which looks kinda exciting, and I might wanna see it, when I get paid my $5 for hyping it.

A family wants to rent a boat to go out on a big lake. They get in the boat, and are having a good time, when suddenly a man appears on a drifting raft. They let him on the boat, only to find that he is M. Night Shyamalan, who then tries to tell them about his latest script, that he would like to sell to them. They are not interested, at which point Shyamalan attacks then with his bulky script booklet.

They manage to push him off the boat, but he emerges from the water after a while, and climbs back on. He has another script this time, very similar to the last one. Every time they push him off, he climbs back on.

Then they see another boat, and they desperately wave to it so that they can get help. The boat pulls alongside, and to their horror, they see that M. Night Shyamalan is on that boat, too. They look around, and Shyamalan is also on their boat, waving his script around.

Suddenly, more boats appear, each with M. Night Shyamalans, and different scripts, all of which are essentially the same. They laugh maniacally, and say that their goal is to have a million Shyamalan scripts, so that every theatre can only show movies by him. The Shyamalans start climbing aboard the family’ boat, waving their arms in an impassioned fashion, and complaining about lack of funding. and being mistreated by critics.

Just when the family think that they are doomed, in more ways than one, they all wake up, and they realize that they fell asleep on the beach, and never went on the boat, and it is getting dark, and so they cannot take their boat out. They walk back to the car, fearing that like in a Shyamalan movie, he will be sitting in the front seat. But he is not.

Actually, he is in a room, watching a movie of them. They are not real, they are characters in another one of his inane scripts. Shyamalan rubs his hands together gleefully, thinking of the certain to be positive reviews of his new movie. Then the door opens, and the asylum attendant walks in. THE END.

Well, that amused me, at least. 🙂 Moving on from bad horror film writers, to actually talented ones. what are your favorite movies in the general “horror movie genre”? I like the genre, but I vastly prefer the non-violent kind. I never liked those Jason or Michael ones, though “Halloween” was certainly atmospheric. But a madman chasing people around, or jumping out of the darkness, while certainly scary, does not fit my idea of horror, which is haunting and psychological, sometimes ambiguous.

My favorite horror movie, though it is hard to pick one, is “The Innocents,” which came out in 1961, directed by Jack Clayton, from the highly regarded novella “The Turn of the Screw,” by Henry James. Deborah Kerr is superb as the highly strung governess who becomes convinced that the two young children she must take care of in their self-immersed father’s absence, are being tempted by the presence of an evil former servant who had died, and his former mistress. also dead. Whether they are, or whether she has imagined it, out of her own repressed sexuality, was deliberately left ambiguous by James, but may be a little more definitive in this adaptation. Pamela Franklin is wonderful in this as well.

I very much liked “The Others,” written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, and starring Nicole Kidman, who was brilliant. Really a perfectly made movie. I decided to see this one afternoon, and whatever site I got the time from, was wrong, and I arrived 15 minutes in, which made the movie even more mysterious :). What in the world was going on? Why was she horrified when there were no shades on the windows? After the end, I asked an employee if I could just stay for the first fifteen minutes and he wouldn’t let me, so I had to come back another day to see that part again and the whole movie, which is well worth it. I read that they may be doing a remake of this with Kidman? I don’t think that this is a good idea, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“The Uninvited” A great ghost story movie from 1944, with Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and Gail Russell. My mother liked this, with good reason. Virtually everything is implied, very haunting, and with an emotional power. The song “Stella By Starlight” debuted in this movie.

“The Awakening, ” a rather recent movie from 2011, directed and co-written by Nick Murphy, starring Rebecca Hall. This received somewhat mixed reviews, but I thought it was very atmospheric, and had a historical subtext, post World War I, and an England haunted by ghosts.

Those are a few. There are others which were scary, but perhaps too dark and unsettling. I think of “Skeleton Key” with Kate Hudson, and “The Ring,” with Naomi Watts. I thought that ‘Half Light,” with Demi Moore, was rather surprisingly good. “1408,” based on a Stephen King short story, starring John Cusack, was not too psychological, but was unquestionably visually unsettling .

I skipped mentioning the “horror classics,” which of course were well done, but which I never loved. And any modern horror which devolves into someone with a knife chasing people around, is not on my list. I also never wanted to see any devil-themed ones. My favorite horror films are actually where the protagonists are able to defeat the horror, to at least some extent, but they are not too common. I particularly do not like those where it looks like the good person has won, only to show the last shot where the evil entity has not been vanquished. To me, that is sort of a cheap and easy ending, though it is the staple of many horror films.

And no, I did not like “”The Sixth Sense,” though there was undoubtedly a jolting twist, which I had first seen done better, in an earlier short story with a different framing, “The Ghost Who Limped,” by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. That’s one thing about reading a lot of what they like to call Dark Fantasy stories, often in yearly “Best Of” collections which I would regularly buy. You realize that some of these scripts are derivative, though I concede that it is hard to be completely original in this field.

“Okay, kids, those two movie reviews just weren’t scary. Who booked those? Mrs. Prickley, huh? We’ll get a better one for you next time, or…I’ll eat a bat! And you know Count Floyd doesn’t want to do that! So until then, this is Count Floyd for Monster Chiller Horror Theatre. Don’t forget to send away for your Count Floyd Special 3D glasses! Only…$28.50. Plus three dollars for shipping. Owooo! Ow Ow Ow Owooo!”

Not a Royal watcher but, damn, Phillip was funny

Does anyone here watch The Crown? Yes, it’s fiction but it’s not tabloidy stuff. From all accounts, it gets the flavor of the individual royals about right.

My favorite characters have been Prince Phillip and Princess Anne. Each had a dry, snarky sense of humor. With Phillip especially, you get the sense of a restless admiral who doesn’t suffer fools lightly and is nonetheless frequently surrounded by them.

His early life was tragic in some ways. His parents were the king and queen of Greece who were deposed by a coup and in a nighttime getaway by boat, barely escaped with their lives. His father was a family bully. His mother, born a princess and descendent of Queen Victoria, was deaf, mentally unstable, incredibly intelligent, and ended up dedicating her life to the poor as a Greek Orthodox nun. His sisters married Nazis and his favorite sister died in a plane crash when she came to see him while he was in boarding school. He walked behind her funeral to be publicly humiliated by his father at the end of it.

He had the kind of early life that had the potential to make him not turn out well or have a substance abuse problem or be just a mad, bad and dangerous to know guy. But some of his British Royal relatives decided to foster him, paid for his education, and gave him a place to stay when his only alternative was to go back to his family in Nazi Germany.

Here you see Phillip grappling with a moment of decision as he walked behind his sister’s funeral cortège, to embrace the darkness or the light, to align with his English side, represented by his uncle, the lord Mountbatten who walked behind him during that 1937 event, or his father and sisters as they turned towards fascism:

Not all of us can see that decision with such clarity.

He turned out better than ok. When he married Elizabeth, he had distinguished himself in the Royal Navy in WWII, was a promising naval commander and expected his career to be of some long duration until his father in law King George died of lung cancer at a relatively young age. Then his restless, adventurous spirit got caged by his wife’s duty and responsibilities. His natural inclination for progress and modernity clashed with his wife’s more conventional, less intellectual nature. Both were incredibly hard working but he suffered with his reduced opportunities for command and action by becoming the master of gaffes.

I don’t think they were all unintentional. Like this one when he met with the dictator of a South American nation and said, “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.” In all of his gaffes, you get the sense of a very smart man surrounded by Lilliputians. Yes, he knew what he was saying and that it wasn’t always polite or politically correct. But many of them picked at a sort of ironic truth.

Anyway, he was 99 when he died yesterday. He’d seen quite a few revolutionary ideas in his life, not all of them good. Whatever his personal inclinations and abilities were, they were put in service to the nation and his Queen. He did it splendidly.

Here’s my favorite Phillip humor from The Crown that captures what he was up against with his conventional wife: