Monday, November 29, 2010

William Castle + Joan Crawford = Insanity. Literally.

My weekend of holiday happiness and Christmas decorating was punctuated with possibly the most disturbing Joan Crawford movie I've ever seen. I think the poster says it all.

In Straight-Jacket, Joan Crawford plays Lucy, a wife and mother who brutally axes her cheating husband and his girlfriend to death. The problem his, her young daughter sees it all. Lucy is quickly whisked away to the loony bin.

Fast forward 20 years and Lucy's getting out of the asylum on good behavior, and she's sent to live with her daughter, Carol, now in her twenties and engaged to a nice young man.

Carol and Lucy attempt to repair their relationship by getting Lucy a makeover, but pretty soon Lucy starts going crazy again, hearing voices and having disturbing hallucinations. Then, of course, people start getting mysteriously axed to death.

I won't spoil the rest of the movie for you. But rest assured, it's disturbing and surprisingly graphic, and everything you'd want from a William Castle film starring Joan Crawford in her 60's "I'll do anything" period.

Highlights of the film include:

Joan Crawford looking crazy

Joan lighting her match on a spinning record in a moment of drunken insanity:

Needless to say, Straight-Jacket has further cemented my love for all Joan Crawford movies.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have some confessions to make. Old movie related ones:

1. I don't really like Breakfast at Tiffany's. Everyone talks about how great this movie is, but I can't say I've ever enjoyed it that much. I especially hate the end with the cat and the rain. It upsets me.

2. I fast forward over musical numbers in non-musical movies. This mostly applies to every Doris Day movie in which she sings a pre-sex song. Also, every song in The Parent Trap.

3. The Wizard of Oz - not my favorite. I'm not saying I don't like it, it's just not my favorite Judy movie. Or my favorite in any category, really. But I have to act like I'm a big fan since I'm a big Judy fan and usually nobody's heard of any other Judy movies. Plus it's fun to collect the memorabilia.

4. I haven't seen any of Judy Garland's movies from the 60's. I'm pretty sure I've seen all of her films except these ones. They just seem weird and sad.

5. I don't get TCM. I'm not made of money, people! Meanwhile, Netflix more than makes up for it.

6. I don't really like watching new movies. And by "new" I mean old movies that I haven't seen before. I'd much rather just watch the same movies that I know I love over and over again. But I know the new ones are usually worth watching, so I make myself do it.

7. I don't think the Marx Brothers are that funny. I don't hate their movies and certainly I've had some good times while watching them, I just wouldn't do it on a regular basis.

8. I like the new Sabrina better than the old Sabrina. This one's easy because I just wrote about it.

9. It's possible that I've never watched the entire Climb Every Mountain scene in The Sound of Music. I hate the song and avoid it at all costs.

10. I've never seen Citizen Kane. And I don't have plans to. I'm pretty sure I won't like it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Fly and The Scream

Warning: This post will contain spoilers, because they're the interesting parts.

Great Halloween at my house last night. Old Movie Night featured two ... interesting Vincent Price films, The Fly and The Last Man on Earth.

The Last Man on Earth is about just that. After a terrible disease plagues the entire earth, Vincent Price is the last man standing, having gained immunity to the terrible disease through a bat bite years earlier. So for three years he lives alone, fending off the zombie-vampires that the disease has created. This film wasn't particularly scary (and I'm a jumpy one), but if you enjoy watching Vincent Price talk to himself, it's definitely the movie for you!

That brings us to The Fly. Basically the perfect 50's horror film, The Fly offers up screaming women, sexist children, scientist men, big machines that make futuristic noises, and insects.

Half the film is presented in flashback form as Helene Delambre tries to explain to her brother-in-law (Vincent Price, who's conveniently in love with her) and the inspector why she killed her husband. He turned into a fly, that's why. He got a little over-zealous with his "matter transporting" equipment and some of his "matter" gets a little mixed up. Now he's got a fly head and hand and somewhere out there buzzing around is a white-headed fly-man.

The second half of the film involves Vincent Price searching high and low for the white-headed fly that will prove Helene's insane story and get her off the hook for her husband's murder. His search finally leads him and the inspector to a spider web where a tiny little fly-man, yelling "help me!" a million times in a little fly voice, is about to get eaten by a spider.

This is the point in the movie at which the entire group at my house screamed. For an excessively long time. I can't really explain this scream and why it went on for so long. After all, this is a not-so-scary 50's horror movie. But seeing a fly-man get eaten by a spider is slightly disturbing. Plus, the special effects were basically horrific. So the scream went on for some time, laughing, screaming, confusion, general noise. It was exciting and an old movie night first. I'm not sure what to make of it.

But after all the screaming stopped and we calmed down, emotions were mixed. The premise was disturbing. But there were some sweet, touching moments like when the man-fly wrote "love you" to his wife on the chalkboard before getting squashed to death like any fly should. And who couldn't be happy when Vincent finally ends up with Helene whom he loved all along now that his sexy, smart fly-brother is squashed? And how can you not be appalled at their dumb little sexist son, spouting zingers like, "you know how women are"? This movie has it all. We laughed, we cried, we cringed, and we screamed.