Film Nerd 2.0: Universal monsters, Bud and Lou, and something really scary
We go from (Bud) Abbott to (Twilight) Zone to discuss what scares the boys
Allen asked every day for the next week to see the rest of "Twilight Zone," but if one of them isn't ready, the other isn't going to see it. Keeps things nice and even, and with sibling rivalry, that's a big deal. My wife put an official ban on all horror films or horror-related films in the house, which was a crushing upset for both of the kids. Even though Toshi knew he wasn't ready for a real horror movie, he remains fascinated by every creepy thing that comes into the house. I've caught him going through the three big binders of horror movies that I have, 300 discs in each one, looking at the discs and the artwork on them. When one of the Shout! Factory box-sets for "Mystery Science Theater 3000" showed up, Toshi was excited to see that one of the films was "Revenge Of The Creature."
It's interesting watching "MST3K" with them. We've got everything that Rhino and Shout! Factory have put out, almost one full shelf of discs, and the boys like watching movies with Tom Servo and Crow and Joel or Mike. They don't really laugh the same way I do, and certainly they don't get 99.9% of the cultural references, but they view it as an opportunity to watch a movie with their friends. Since Toshi and Allen have most of the Toho Godzilla movies and most of the Gamera movies in their original forms, they don't innately see those movies as bad when they watch them with the bots. Watching a "MST3K" episode with them is like having a movie party with a bunch of rowdy friends, and it's part of our moviewatching cycle to throw one in from time to time. They both immediately noticed that the Gill Man looked different in this film. Allen told me that he looked like he wanted to throw up:
They were confused about why anyone would try to put the Gill Man in an aquarium, and not remotely surprised when it went badly. It's a pretty funny episode, and I had to explain to the kids that the running thread in the host segments about Crow not knowing who Mike is was because they were changing puppeteers at the time. Because we've been watching the series out of order, they already know that the host segments are always changing. This was the introduction of Bobo, the first post-Forrester episode, and they were really entertained by seeing how that was handled. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, a good way to hang out with them, and there was more talking than watching, which is always a good time. And one of the things that most excited them was when I pointed out a guy who appeared in one big scene at the start of the movie... young guy... goes by the name Clint Eastwood. The boys only know his name right now from "Back To The Future Part III," so it entertains me mightily that their first exposure to the real thing comes from one of his very first film appearances in a bit part. Awesome.
I took them to see "Frankenweenie" before it came out, and they had a great time with it. There was nothing about it that scared them, not even the crazy bat-mutant creature that shows up towards the end. They were charmed by it, and they both loved Sparky and the Frankenstein jokes and the Bride of Frankenstein hair-streak and the look and the mood. And when the other classmates raise the other dead animals late in the film and they take monstrous shape, the turtle Shelly grows to giant size, and in the Disney theater on the lot, in a packed house surrounded by people, Allen loudly and proudly cried out --
"DAD! IT'S GAMERA!"
And it was like he was a teenage girl in Shea Stadium he was so excited. He was so pleased to have made the connection, and so happy to see Gamera on the big screen. I guarantee they'll make "Frankenweenie" a regular event once it arrives home on Blu-ray. Already they've asked me to play the original live-action version on the "Nightmare Before Christmas" Blu-ray a few times, and they're really intrigued by what's the same and what's different. They like the full-length film better, but they think the real-life Sparky is great. And the Universal Monsters thing that underscores both versions is, of course, an ongoing fetish for the boys.
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