Tag Archives: movies

Don’t Go “Into the Woods”

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If the dead are cognizant of what occurs in the land of the living, then somewhere in the Great Beyond, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm are weeping bitter tears along with Monsieur Charles Perrault. The reason for their sorrow is the travesty of a movie which purports to be based on several of their folk and fairy tales. I am speaking of the train-wreck that is Into the Woods.

The TL;DR version of this movie review is, “that’s two and a half hours of my life and $22 I’ll never get back.”

To go a little more in depth, the movie was oddly reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard. If a warden in some American prison happened to force the inmates under his control to view this film, he would be brought up on 8th Amendment violations before the ending credits rolled. If any of the nine SCOTUS judges have seen the movie, the plaintiffs wouldn’t need to go through any appeals process because the offended judge would likely issue an immediate writ of certiorari and declare original jurisdiction over the case. It really is that bad.

First of all, it commits the mortal sin of being a musical on screen. Musicals, with only a handful of exceptions, belong on a stage, not on a screen. Furthermore, if the movie is going to test the snake infested musical movie waters, it should at least have memorable songs eg “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria,” “Memories,” or “Cell Block Tango.” None of the ditties making up the score of Into the Woods is the least bit likely to become an earworm. Of course, what the movie lacks in memorable songs it makes up for in interminably LONG songs — think “Freebird” or better yet “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” For instance, the first number lasted at least twenty minutes. Exposition has no business being sung.

Secondly, the movie itself is entirely too long. I counted at least three good points where they could have rolled the credits and ended the audience’s misery. The film clocks in at 124 minutes running not counting coming attractions and believe me, after the previews, it was all downhill. The last third of the production is an unending series of ham-handed attempts at an M. Night Shymalan style twist ending and I’m talking Lady in the Water, not Sixth Sense.

To make matters worse, I simply could not feel anything for the characters. Whenever I started to develop a tiny bit of genuine connection or sympathy for Cinderella, Jack, or Red Riding Hood, the character in question would burst into one of those godawful songs and whatever goodwill I’d managed to dredge up evaporated “like snow in the glance of the Lord.” Over and over again something would happen that was completely inexplicable. For instance, why would Meryl Streep’s witch burst into the bakery and tell the baker and his barren wife about the curse she placed on the house when the baker was a baby? What’s the point? Is it supposed to be like, “I’m a witch and now I’m going to be a bitch, too?”

Speaking of characters, Johnny Depp needs to fire his agent, get into rehab, or do something else to stem the tide of truly hideous movies he has “starred” in lately. Depp is a fantastic actor when he’s playing a character worth playing such as Captain Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands, but recently, he has managed to sign on to some serious stinkers. I can only imagine he is in some sort of horrible debt and has large, sweaty men in cheap suits threatening to break his kneecaps so he has to take whatever drivel comes along. What else can explain Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, and now this groaner? Thankfully though, Depp has little to do in this film. If you remember Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Deep Blue Sea or Steven Segal in Executive Orders, you know what I mean.

Finally, I’ve sat through some terrible movies. Maybe one day I’ll relate my experience with the artsy-fartsy film Prospero’s Books which remains the worst movie I’ve ever seen and I endured it in its entirety, In the case of Into the Woods, however, the only two things which kept me from walking out twenty minutes in and cutting my losses were the facts I was with my extended family whom I love dearly AND Budge had the car keys. Otherwise, I’d have bolted long before the giant showed up.

So, avoid this movie, keep your feet clean, and remember I love y’all!

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Go See Guardians of the Galaxy

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GotGBudge and I went with Deuce, Cameron, and the kids to see Guardians of the Galaxy tonight. Since Sunday is our 18th anniversary, we decided to make it our “anniversary date.” All told, it turned out great. Guardians may very well be one of my favorite movies ever. What made this movie so special is it grabbed me by the feels in the opening scene and for the next two hours and change, it did something only a tiny cluster of movies have ever done — it made me forget.

I am a worrier. My therapist says it’s difficult to help someone like me raised with worrying about everything as a family value, but it’s what I am — except during this movie. For the entire film, I forgot about bills I can’t pay, money I don’t have, sick family, the national debt, and impending asteroid crashes. Unless your entire waking life is spent in a miasma of varying strengths of fear, I can’t really describe what it feels like for the lights to come up and you realize you haven’t thought about anything for the last two hours. If the movie did nothing else for me, it gave me two hours of peace and tranquility and, folks, that doesn’t happen much.

I may get some disagreement on this one, but I liked the movie as much or more than Avengers. For one, the creative team managed to build a team with real chemistry and fairly complete backstories on the fly. In contrast, before we watched the splendor which was Avengers, we saw Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man I & II, and The Incredible Hulk. That’s around eleven hours, give or take, of character building. Guardians managed to accomplish the same thing in just over two hours.

Another reason I feel this film is superior to several other Marvel Studio films is it was cut from whole cloth. Everyone knows who Spiderman and The Hulk , a great number of people know Captain America and Iron Man, and Thor is pretty well known too, even if only as a lesson from Norse mythology. I would submit to you, however, that few outside the brotherhood of hardcore comic geeks had the foggiest idea who Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Dax, and — not to be forgotten — GROOT were. These are characters from the B and C list of the Marvel Universe, but after this fantastic film, I doubt they’ll be also-rans for long.

None of these characters is invincible or irreplaceable. You KNEW no matter what happened, Steve Rogers wasn’t going to die in his eponymous movie. It was the same with Tony Stark  and Peter Parker, but in Guardians of the Galaxy, you really didn’t know going in who was coming out the other side. As viewers, we could form real attachments to these unlikely heroes only to see them in real peril and realize our favorite person . . . or rodent . . . might actually die. It was almost as bad as watching an episode of Game of Thrones.

All hyperbole aside, this is a movie to drop the money on. It’s big, it doesn’t drag, exposition takes place as we move along. In short, the writers follow the oldest rule in writing for page or screen: “SHOW us; don’t just TELL us!” Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is full of songs I loved as a kid. I mean, come on, who can’t fall in love with a movie that features “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” in the midst of a crucial action scene? That’s solid gold stuff right there. Easily my favorite movie this year and depending on how The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies turns out, it may still be my favorite on New Year’s Eve.

Go watch it and see if it makes you forget, too! Love y’all, and keep those feet clean.

Stalking in Stereo Sound

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Budge loves Adele. If I try to talk to her when “Set Fire to the Rain” is playing, I get a look that’ll curdle milk and a shush that would make Nancy Pearl blush with pride. Since I don’t like getting snapped at by my beloved, I usually sit quietly and listen to the song. It was during one such session that I decided Adele is the latest artist to add music to the long and storied list of stalker songs.

Now, everybody knows what a stalker song is, right? You know, one of the songs your ex dedicates to you on the late night radio romance show that sends you scurrying in a mad dash down to the police station at the butt crack of dawn the next morning to file the restraining order? Stalker songs!

Some of the more popular stalker songs masquerade as being romantic ballads. Take U2’s “I Will Follow” as an example. On the surface, the jerk finally realizes he should have paid attention to the chick when she was sending him the “come get me” signals. Now though, she’s moved on. What does he do? He lets her know right up front, “If you walkaway, walkaway
I walkaway, walkaway…I will follow …” Not a healthy response to rejection.

Still, U2’s little ditty is mild compared to some of the masters of shade watching. I remember Def Leppard coming out with “Two Steps Behind” when I was in high school and thinking, “Wow! What a cool love song!” Once I realized though that the “shadow” he sings about — “you can run, but you can never hide / From the shadow that’s creepin’ up beside you,” — is actually HIM, the song took on a newer, more sinister slant.

Now,  I realize guy stalkers are the ones who garner the most press, but they aren’t the only ones who put out stalker songs. The fairer sex has its share of scorned lovers who want to get even. I mean, look at how the girl in Carly Simon’s hit song takes catching the object of her affection with someone else: “You belong to me / Can it be, honey, that you’re not sure / You belong to me?” Guys, if a girlfriend says that song tells exactly how she feels about you, it MIGHT be time to pull the trigger on that move to Europe you’ve been contemplating. Of course, if your ex takes her cues from Blondie, moving overseas won’t matter because “One way or another [she’s] gonna find ya / [she’s] gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha!”

Dude, if she dedicated “Someone Like You” to you last night on Delilah’s show, you MIGHT want to leave the lid on that pot!

What trips me out the most though is seeing how long and flourishing the history of stereo stalkers has been. For example, if you get past the funky organ and funny name, “96 Tears”, which I always thought was an upbeat little tune, turns really dark. How would YOU interpret the stanza:

Since you left me you’re always laughin’ way down at me
But watch out now I’m gonna get there
We’ll be together for just a little while
And then I’m gonna put you way down here
And you’ll start cryin’ Ninety-six tears

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lead in for a Criminal Minds episode if ever one existed! I can see the voice over and pull-away shot of the girl struggling, chained to the wall of a dark basement right now.  Of course, one might expect stalkerish or otherwise odd behavior from a guy who legally changed his name to a piece of punctuation.

What concerns me most, however, are the people who don’t realize a stalker song when they hear it. NO SONG illustrates this more clearly than that wedding standard, that classic “ode to eternal love”, that promise of constancy. Yep, I’m talking about the one, the only “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. I have attended two weddings (against my wishes, mind you) where this was the song played at the altar for the lovely couple.

Did no one in the wedding planning stages ever think to LISTEN TO THE LYRICS? This isn’t a song about a happy relationship blossoming into ripe old age with grandchildren around the rocking chairs on the front porch! This is a ballad to insanity and obsession! I can’t believe it wasn’t the theme song to “Fatal Attraction.” Just look what the guy says in the first stanza:

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take
I’ll be watching you

He ends EVERY stanza with “I’ll be watching you!” Who is this guy? Santa Claus? If I go to a wedding and see “EBYT” on the program, I’m praying they include that part about speak now or forever hold your peace, because I’m standing up on the pew and screaming “Dude, you are marrying a Glenn Close clone! Fly you fool! Fly!” Notice I said, “Dude” because even though the song is about a guy watching a girl, no guy gets to pick out the music at his wedding so the bride has to be the mental case.

Gentlemen, we have found him, now we just have to bring him in.

So, after all that explanation, I’m back to Adele. I don’t know WHO screwed this girl over, but I can tell you she isn’t happy about it. I can’t say for certain because I haven’t listened to all of her music, but all the songs I have heard have, “stalker chick revenge” written all over them. I mean, if a girl was singing to me, “For me, it isn’t over . . . ” in a smooth calm voice after she has “turned up out of the blue uninvited” because she “couldn’t stay away [she] couldn’t fight it” I am on the first thing smoking to Tristan de Cunha and I’m not looking back.

First though, I’m gonna swing by the house and pick up my bunny rabbit. Know what i mean?

Love y’all and keep those feet clean!

100 Years Since “A Night to Remember”

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The last known picture of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic as she left harbour for her rendezvous with fate.

At 2:20 AM, 100 years ago this morning, the RMS Titanic‘s keel broke in two just before she dove 2.3 miles down to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean carrying nearly 1,000 people to the Stygian depths with her. Around 500 more unfortunate souls were swept from her swiftly tilting decks into the sub-freezing waters of the North Atlantic to drown or die of hypothermia or shock within minutes of entering the water.

The disastrous sinking of the Titanic is the subject of thousands of articles, hundreds of websites, a multitude of full length books, and at least eight full length feature films . . . and that’s just in English. The individual triumphs and tragedies of surrounding the voyage are the stuff of legends and people like the ebullient buoyant “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, the craven coward J. Bruce Ismay, or tragically shortsighted Captain Edward J. Smith live on in our memories to this day — one century later.

Nothing I could write about the disaster hasn’t already been written and by much better writers than I. Still, this disaster is one which resonates with something deep inside my mind and fills me with dread and foreboding even here in my warm, dry, and safe office. In my mind’s eye, I can see, with little trouble, the chaotic terror washing over the decks of the doomed ship like the water which would carry her to her grave. Imagine what it had to be like in the lower decks where the Second Class and lower passengers were trapped and trampled in the mad rush toward the top of the ship. Think of the brave, doomed men of the boiler rooms who stayed at their posts shoveling coal into the boilers to keep the spark of the wireless dancing as long as possible.

Photo of the iceberg that sank Titanic taken by a crewman of RMS Carpathia as she collected survivors and bodies following the disaster.

Should this world stand long enough and the Almighty tarry in His return, we shall all die. That is a certainty which comforts some and terrorizes others, but it is a certainty nonetheless. Still it is one thing to be felled by a lightening strike, a car accident, or some dreadful disease, but how many of us are fated to watch helplessly — as the people aboard the doomed liner were — Death’s slow, inexorable approach? Could you stand to watch the water slowly, then not so slowly, rise up the deck as you held your child upon your shoulders in a vain effort to keep him from the water a second longer? Would you jump into the frigid, salty blackness and clutch Death to your bosom like a lover just to make an end?

The wreck of the Titanic is something which haunts my nightmares even though it occurred long before even my grandparents were born because nearly every race and social strata participated on the Titanic’s maiden voyage so it is a picture of the death of the world in miniature. The people aboard the liner were happy and looking ahead to a bright future one moment then marking the steady approach of Death the next. What if instead of an iceberg plowing into a ship it is an asteroid plowing into the Earth? Those on the ship had two hours to ponder . . . how long would we have?

It makes me think of the people trapped above the crash levels in the Twin Towers. That was another microcosm of total destruction. People who are going about their everyday lives all morning then without warning they are off to meet the One whom Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins bet their lives and souls is not there. Can you feel the bitter cold of the water? Can you feel the rush of the air sweeping by as you plunge from 110 stories up?

The bow of RMS Titanic as she sits at the bottom of the North Atlantic, slowly turning into powder like the dreams of those who perished aboard her.

The water isn’t the most terrifying aspect of that horrible night for me, however. The worst scenario my mind can imagine is to be one of those who likely made it alive 2.3 miles down. Of course people scoff at that idea. No one could have survived that descent could they? I remember when NASA went public with the revelation that the crew of the space shuttle Challenger actually survived the initial explosion and were alive for the seven minute plunge to the ocean where the force of impact killed them. What if someone or several someones were happily sealed inside one of the many watertight rooms aboard the ship? What if they made it to the bottom? How did they die in the inky blackness at the bottom of the ocean? Suffocation or starvation? It’s a horrible thought, but not impossible. The interior of the wreck has never been even halfway fully explored. When you are as claustrophobic and fearful of the dark as I am, such a possibility is too terrible to imagine, but not too awful to be ruled out.

In any event, the loss of 1,514 people in the black icy water of the North Atlantic 100 years ago is a tragedy almost too great to imagine, if for no other reason it was so completely avoidable at so many points, but none of that matters anymore. To this day, it is the 8th greatest loss of life in a non-military maritime disaster in recorded history. So when you think of the Titanic or, God forbid, go see the hideous 3-D adaptation of the already hideous 1997 James Cameron movie, remember the words to an old hymn and say a prayer for those await the day when the sea shall give up her dead.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

A rare postscript

I feel this particular picture did not fit with the tone of the rest of this post, but I must include it in any discussion where that abominable 1997 movie might come up . . .

This highlighted frame capture shows the piece of flotsam CLEARLY has enough room for Rose AND Jack if only the selfish cow had possessed the common decency to SIT UP or SKOOCH OVER!

John Carter is a Fun Flick

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Before a curious hacker took a red pill; before a xenomorph wiped out a bunch of Colonial Marines; before a farm boy, a crazy Corellian smuggler (who shot first), and a walking carpet saved a Rebellion; before NCC-1701’s five-year mission; before a deposed duke tamed his first sandworm; even before the 3 Laws of Robotics were graven into a Foundation; a disillusioned  and haunted Confederate war hero went looking for gold and ended up on Mars.

Watching Disney’s John Carter in a cool, dark theater is a good, exciting, and not terribly educational (not that that’s a bad thing) way to spend a cloudy afternoon with someone you love. That is precisely how my beloved Budge and I spent yesterday afternoon. In the end, she liked the movie more than I did, although I did like it a great deal. It is pure escapism at its finest and the cinematography isn’t too shabby either.

I must admit when I saw the first posters announcing John Carter’s pending arrival back at the end of summer last year, I had absolutely no idea who the character was, who created him, or what the whole mess was all about. None of that proved the slightest impediment to my enjoyment of the film.

For those who have not checked out Wikipedia for themselves, John Carter is the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs — yes, THAT Edgar Rice Burroughs — the guy whose OTHER major character made Johnny Weismueller famous. Carter is the central character of Burroughs’ Barsoom novels, which give the history not only of John Carter, but also of Mars — known to the natives of the books as “Barsoom.” Their publication in 1912, first in serial form and later as pulp novels stands as a seminal moment in the entire genre of science fiction. Fittingly, the movie came out on the same date as the first book.

Before I go any farther, let me caution anyone sucked in by the “Disney” nameplate. The movie is PG and with good reason. Limbs are hacked off, creatures are branded with hot iron, and copious amounts of blood — blue though it may be — splashes across the screen. In fact I was nearly certain the adorable little six-legged dog/lizard creature  was going to get killed and I was fully prepared to storm out of the theater as soon as that happened. Thankfully, to ease the minds of the other animal lovers in the house, the little  fellow survives the entire movie and plays the hero on one or two occasions.

The movie plays true to most of the source material, from what I can gather anyway. However, even if you know nothing about the background works — I certainly didn’t — the movie is still fun to watch. Much like Dorothy steps from black and white into Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz, we get cued in that John isn’t in Kansas anymore when the picture goes starkly desaturated. Most of the blue tint comes out and what is left is a light, slightly yellowish haze that captures fairly accurately the look of the Martian landscape sent back to us by  the Mars Viking probe and its 21st century descendents.

One knock some people have made against the film is its abuse of scientific knowledge. First of all, it IS a science FICTION film so a little suspension of disbelief is necessary — just as it requires a huge dose of disbelief in traction to think that every alien race in the cosmos is not only bipedal and at least passingly humanoid, but also that every one of those aliens speaks the Queen’s English better than my former students did. However, if one realizes that the science of the film FITS FAIRLY WELL with the science of the times of the novels, it becomes much easier to give the directors a pass.

The movie is worth seeing and it does have all the elements required of a great action flick. The damsel is in distress and fleeing an arranged marriage, the evil general turns out to be merely the puppet of an even viler overlord, and the little (if 12′ tall can be considered little) green men end up saving the day. There’s even a slight twist at the end that those with more knowledge of the source material than me might have seen coming.

Taken as a whole, John Carter wasn’t the very best sci-fi movie I’ve seen, but it is far superior to many of the worse ones I’ve endured. It is worth seeing and I give it three and a half of five stars.

Tron Legacy is Eye Candy!

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I love what Budge said as we left our viewing of Tron: Legacy in IMAX-3D, “Jeff Bridges does a great job of capturing a guy lost in the late ’80s.” Since she was in elementary school in the “late 80s”, I’m not sure how she knows this . . . but she’s right. HA!

My favorite line of the movie — Flynn, Sr to Flynn, Jr: “You’re really messing with my Zen thing, man!”

I was in elementary school when the original Tron showed at the now-paved-over-with-a-parking-lot Oaks Theater in Laurens, and it was one of the movies (along with Star Wars IV, V, and VI) that made me into a sci-fi / fantasy geek. You always worry when someone remakes one of your childhood landmark events, but the guys behind this sequel did a great job filling in the intervening twenty years and bringing us up to speed with some plausible (for a sci-fi flick) reasons for Flynn’s captivity in the machine. Of course, some other areas, like how “digital” food keeps carbon based life forms alive for all those years are a bit lacking, but at least it’s not Jar-Jar Binks!

The story was interesting, but no one came to an IMAX 3D theater for a STORY. This movie is a special effects dream. As incredible as it sounds, Tron: Legacy was my first IMAX movie and I’m completely spoiled now. The picture is beyond explanation, but the SOUND!!

I want to see Handel’s Messiah on-screen in an IMAX now.

But I digress in rapture at the medium rather than the media . . .

The movie is one of those shows you need to see at the movies. Some movies don’t lose much from the big screen to DVD, but this one will. I don’t care that you have an LCD the size of your living room wall and home theater surround sound . . . it ain’t IMAX and those lightcycles won’t look the same otherwise.

In short, if you, too, were an 80’s child and have an old TRS-80 or Commodore-64 in the attic, you won’t be disappointed in Tron: Legacy. It doesn’t run rough-shod over your childhood and it’s a ball of fun to watch.

Unstoppable is a fun ride!

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Budge had a great idea yesterday. She finished grading the week’s worth of fourth graders’ work much earlier than usual so she asked me out on a date. Since I’ve been out of work going on two years now, date nights are few and far between, so I figured we’d just pay a bill late and go have a little fun.

We’d both wanted to see Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and Chris “the new Captain Kirk” Pine ever since we caught a trailer on one of the trailer sites. Denzel is one of my favorite actors ever and I really enjoyed Chris Pine’s portrayal of Kirk in the Star Trek reboot, so we went to Hollywood 20 and took in the 3:10 matinee.

Apparently some movie about a bunch of teenage wizards fighting some evil dude was released the same day, so our theater was sparsely populated, which is great because I get wildly claustrophobic in crowds. I’ve only broken down four times in ten years and actually gone to the opening weekend of a blockbuster and that was once for each installment of Lord of the Rings and once for Star Trek. Otherwise, I let everyone get his fill and go once things have quieted down.

So, popcorn in hand, we took our seats.

The movie was great. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s no Oscar vehicle, but it’s not over the top ridiculous either. The good guys are easy to root for and the bad guys don’t get much air time . . . except for the runaway train, which is pretty much on screen tons. Both leading men turned in solid performances and several supporting members, including one or two you are certain at the beginning will grate on your nerves, actually become quite likable and you start rooting for them as much as Denzel and Chris.

Like I said, it’s not an Oscar winner at all, but if you want a fun, low key, high adrenaline way to pass an afternoon, this short (99 minutes) but action packed film is just perfect. It’s even got enough “romance” to sneak in as a possible date night movie for someone other than old married couples.

If you do go see it, though, I have one request. Please comment and tell me your theory on where in the world Ned had that nice, pressed three piece suit stashed for the entire film! If you see the movie, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Love y’all and have a good rest of the weekend!

Keep those feet clean.

Me and Freddy

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Tomorrow is the celebration of the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain. For the less pagan among us, it’s All Hallow’s Eve. Most of us folks around here just call it Halloween and it’s a time to dress up in a silly costume and eat way too much candy (if you’re a kid), dress up in a silly to slutty costume and drink way too much alcohol (if you’re a typical college student), or dress in the most comfortable things you own to walk / drive all over town so your little goblins and their friends can load up on carbohydrate laden loot (if you’re a parent).

One time-honored tradition for Halloweiners of all ages, though, is the Fright Fest Movie Marathon. That’s when normal, sane folks cut the lights out and cut the DVD player on to watch the craziest, goriest, and scariest movies available to modern man. What results is everyone trying to scare everyone else and lots of jumping and general mayhem. Most people think it’s a terrific way to spend an evening.

I am most emphatically NOT one of those people. When it comes to cinematic terror, I am the most lily-liver coward in the room. You could launch aircraft from the yellow streak down my back. I simply don’t go to or watch horror / thriller / scary / suspenseful movies unless I am tricked or forced (and by forced, I mean you’d better bring the BIG boys) into watching them. My reason is simple — I have bad nerves, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and an overactive imagination.

In other words, I’m jumpier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs at the BEST of times. I don’t need any more terror in my life. This seems quite strange, I know, coming from someone who grew up with Michael, Jason, and Freddy. In some ways, my tween and teen years were the golden age of slasher flicks. All my friends ate them up.

Not me.

The focus of this particular fiasco is the time I got tricked into going to the first “Nightmare on Elm Street” at the old Oaks Twin Theater in Laurens when I was around 13 or so. Now the Oaks, like a lot of theaters back then, had heavy velvet-like floor to ceiling that hung about a foot or so from the cement block walls of the building’s outside. That space was just wide enough for the theater employees to slip into and go up and down the side aisles unnoticed.

This provided ample opportunity for mischief.

Well, most everyone knows about Freddy Kruger and that stupid bladed glove of his — NOW.

We didn’t THEN.

I’m sitting with three other guys two rows down from the mom who brought us and I’m hunkered down as much as my tubby little frame would let me, watching the movie through my fingers and it’s barely past the opening credits. Then, as if my nerves weren’t already shot, random screams started erupting from up and down both sides of the theater. We were down front, so all the screams were behind us. I had no idea what was going on and I was scared poop-less.

I was stuck next to the wall; this turned out to be unfortunate.

At a terrifying moment where Freddy jumps out from nowhere, the curtain next to me parts and a bladed glove come slashing down towards me, followed by an arm in a stripped sweater and a grotesque, hat topped face and head. I screamed like a little girl. Thankfully for my pride, so did my compatriots.

Now, I knew deep down in my psyche that this was a theatrical stunt because things like Freddy didn’t exist, but at the time, the part of the brain tasked with relaying that information to the rest of my mind was on lunch break or something so the message didn’t get out and the more “primitive” sections of the old gray matter took over.

Now folks, I learned early on in life that white boys can’t jump and fat kids can’t run. Whenever my “fight or flight” reflex kicked in, I knew it was root hog or die. Running just meant I’d still get the wedgie and I’d be tired and sweaty in the bargain.

So this arm is coming at me and I’m screaming and my buds are screaming and the folks in the rows in front and back of us are screaming and I’ve got no where to go and nothing to do and I’m terrified and trapped.  Just so you know, a terrified fat kid backed into the corner of a movie seat is a dangerous and unpredictable thing.

I wasn’t sure if the wetness on my pants was from a sudden loss of bladder control or sudden loss of 48 ounce Big Burper slushie control. (It was the slurpee I discovered later) All I was certain of was I was going to die and I determined not to go out like the chumps on the movie screen so when the blades brushed my cheek, I reached up, latched on with both hands, and proceeded to chomp down amidships of that sweater clad arm like a mule eating corn. I swear I felt my jaws lock and my teeth touch bone. I was like Ricki-Ticki-Tavi fighting Nag the Cobra; if I was going to die, at least let me be found with my teeth sunk into my adversary.

At that point, the arm started to shake violently and another whole set of shrieks got added to the surrounding cacophony which just caused me to bite down even harder. Suddenly, the grimace on the masked face was real, actual pain. That’s when my buds started banging me on the back and trying to get me to let go because they’d realized that it was all a stunt. I guess that’s when the message relaying part of my brain decided to return from the potty and I understood what was going on. The poor guy who’d been going up and down behind the curtains scaring people was holding his arm and cussing a blue streak. We didn’t see the rest of the movie.

Just so you know, if they cut the lights on in a movie theater and the show isn’t over, that’s not a “good thing.”

That’s just one of many incidents of my bad reactions to a horror movie. Later on, maybe I’ll tell you about why I was banned (much to my relief) from the campus haunted house in college or perhaps about the time I dislocated my then-girlfriend’s shoulder during Pet Semetary.

Til then, though, Trick or Treat; love y’all and keep those feet clean!