filmmaven's coffee chat

a morning discussion of film and popular culture over coffee


October 2015

Yes, its another blog about the GHOUL and monster movies …..GO GO GODZILLA

Saturday afternoon in Detroit …..the Old Redford Theatre …..a beautiful and comfortable AND reasonably priced venue to see films. I admit I was equally as excited to see “Son of Goldzilla” as I was to meet and greet with the GHOUL..


An affable and generous host, Ron Sweed, in his GHOUL persona took about 900 Detroit area ‘kids’ back to the 1970s.  The event was fresh, yet familiar, fun and entertaining for all ages. From the cost of the ticket, 7 dollars a person; to the treats, Sweet Potato Sensation chocolate cookies  $2.50 for a bag of 4 cookies, and popcorn for 2 bucks! TO: the comfy new seats (don’t let the new places fool you, these cushiony wonders are much more comfortable than any place I’ve been in years) it was a delightful event all around. I will gush just a bit more and declare that if you ever have the chance to see the GHOUL, jump for it, he hasn’t changed a bit.

Son of Godzilla (1967, Dir: Jun Fukuda) —  Truly, my favorite of all the Godzilla films …it has all the features; evil foes (Giant Spider, Giant Preying Mantis), super bad over acting (with screaming and thrashing about), decent acting (oh, those cute love birds), a secret and mysterious woman (is she a mermaid? mmm…watch and find out!)…….and of course, the baby Godzilla (how can a really super creepy costume can be so adorable ???)

This week we have a plethora of fun scary and creepy movies to watch but there are some smart channels that will do more than the usual Friday the 13th  and Halloween (all are good, not dissing anyone) typical fare: THIS TV is showing two Godzilla Features today AND tomorrow Dracula vs. Frankenstein …so don’t settle for the same old same old ..find something a little different….a little bit off the beaten path so to speak.

What do I recommend? oh..I’m glad you ask …..find these if you dare:

Having a date night? Candles, Thai food and …..

The Phantom of the Opera (1925, Dir: Rupert Julian) —  is it romantic? or is it stalkerish? …..or is it just a guy, tortured by life, who loves a girl he knows he can’t have …but wants to help her anyway? It often depends on how creepy vs. attractive the Phantom is ….Lon Chaney does an amazing job of being super incredibly wrong and creepy in this version. Cling to your lover while watching the tragedy unfold.

A group of friends want to laugh and have a fun movie marathon? 

 House on Haunted Hill (1959, dir: William Castle) — Scary, campy, fun and weird — for film mavens and students pay attention to the smoothness of Vincent Price and Elisha Cook, jr……for period fans, the clothes are so good (who was the costumer on this one?) ..but for those just having that fun movie marathon – the balance between spooky and campy will keep you entertained.

 Peeping Tom (1960, dir; William Powell) —  A movie you should only watch in a crowd — gets under your skin and stays with you you need a group of good friends who will laugh and silly you right out of the terror ……’m still not over it.

What Can I watch with my family that we haven’t seen a dozen or more times already? 

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966, dir: Alan Rafkin) — Cute and safe scary fun but it will make you want to build secret passage ways in your home ……

MUNSTER, GO HOME! (1966, dir: Earl Mellamy) — Cute and safe scary fun for the whole family…The Munster’s go to England…even if your kids are already familiar with the TV Show, this is an odd fun longer episode.


Happy Birthday Bela Lugosi ……You are not my favorite Dracula …..

Now, now …..don’t get all upset with me …I am here to honor and celebrate the (almost) first and foremost DRACULA ……Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasco, born October 20, 1882 in Hungary. Yet, I do feel its important to acknowledge that he (nor anyone else) can fit that perfect Dracula in my head….I think that’s why authors and filmmakers can’t leave the topic alone. Dracula is in the mind, a perfect combination of frightening, romantic, comical ….and so far….no one has gotten him just exactly perfectly right. Not even Bela.

The role of a lifetime, first on Broadway … the pinnacle of an actor’s career…..the right age, just the exact amount of experience with film, with staging ..and the voice…..

…truly with THE role of a lifetime…….Bela Lugosi enters American film……IMG_6501

Dracula (1931 Dir:Tod Browning) — Along with all the elements mentioned above, the final touch to make THE perfect horror – romance film …the director Tod Browning; which like building anything correctly must include a solid foundation and this director was the right base for this film. There is a stunted almost deliberate thinking that goes on in every scene, movement and line of dialogue….it penetrates off the film into the viewer ….a rigid sense that something is not right here, but I don’t want to be rude and point it out…..even when, of course, you know a murderer is among you ….that feeling of being swept away, of craving it to happen…..the tension is beautifully performed.

Island of Lost Souls (1932 dir: Erle C. Kenton) — A creepy creepy film so wonderfully performed by Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and of course Kathleen Burke…..this is one of those sort of silly, almost too cute but eeewwww films that you have to watch a few times ….you can’t just watch it and wonder, did that just happen? Haha!

White Zombie (1932 dir: Victor Halpern) — This is an odd one for me, I kept feeling like I was waiting for something to happen and then when the film was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Its fun and creepy but also sort of choppy …leaves you wondering what they didn’t say or show.

Son of Frankenstein (1939 dir: Rowland V. Lee) — I can’t stress enough how important I feel it is to watch all of Bela Lugosi’s films ..not only for the fun of the films but the history and technique of carrying a career in film; for the incredible directors he worked with, the variety of other actors from the intensity of Basil Rathbone to the comic genius of Abbott & Costello …Bela took his job seriously but never himself….he was an actor who acted. Some might think of the ‘other’ Frankenstein films as throwaways, but each of the three first films is important in its own right. This one is definately a must watch for film mavens and students.

Spooky, weird and creepy — Movies that Hollywood borrowed and did almost as well…..

Let the Right one in (2008, Swedish, Dir: Tomas Alfredson) — I start with this interesting movie because its one that I adore —  – I saw the American version first and then was so blown away by this …..As with most incredible films, it doesn’t do much- there is so much mood, tension and design set up just through the place ( a frozen tundra with minimal daylight) that adding the actors and dialogue is like extra chocolate drizzle and two cherries on top of your incredible desert. Everything here works, the pacing, the editing, the sound, the actors, blending together to create a realistic spooky film that at the same time creates so much anticipation and is so mildly relaxing. Yet, its a complex human story about love, acceptance and fear. There are no answers just a beautiful story. So when comparing it to the American version, I’m tempted to say don’t bother ….but ……

Let me in (2010, USA, Dir: Matt Reeves) — What can I scared…be very very scared. This film does what many can’t, replicates its original by using place (a hot, fun filled New Mexico) to juxtapose the idea of dark hidden feelings and lives led away from the sun. Doing almost the same thing as the Swedish version of using the allowance of space / place to lead the story. The casting is what changes this from a simple, oh yea, I saw this ..into a OH NO! What the h…..? Even when you already know what to expect, you spend the film sitting on the edge of your seat. Will it, won’t it, is it, can they…..I won’t tell you. Just watch both films and then go….Wow….so good.

Nosferatu (1921 Germany dir: F.W.Murnau) — While not really Dracula (they could not obtain the rights and changed names etc..the film was ordered destroyed after the law suit, but a few prints remained -what we see is probably not the entire director cut of the film) – and difficult to compare – this film is the essential vampyre picture and the birth of horror monster films as a genre. I think you will THINK, no its black and white AND foreign so ….but seriously….this is an absolute must watch movie, if you are a film geek or a monster kid or just like scary movies.

Dracula (1931, USA, dir: Tod Browning, Karl Freund) — someone recently ranted about using over the top sexuality in Vampire culture today- stating that as monster movie fans as kids we were never subjected to the idea. I laugh in your general direction. Every monster kid I know was in love with the Bride, and was there ever a better ill fated lust story than Dracula and Lucy? As a feminist writer I could certainly make a strong correlation between the idea of awakening sexuality in the last 1800’s and the death of female characters in monster movies.  But ….I won’t..I will simply say that the German film Nosferatu took the story from Bram Stoker and visualized it in a way that every filmmaker since has not read the book for themselves but simply borrowed from the 1922 version. And that is not a bad thing. Bela is both gentlemanly and awkwardly seductive in this 1931 film – he knows what he needs and appears as most geeks would, surprised and yet determined to get the girl.

BAN THOSE BOOKS and make me a movie ………

Source: BAN THOSE BOOKS and make me a movie ………

BAN THOSE BOOKS and make me a movie ………

This past week celebrated BANNED BOOKS, one of my favorite library traditions ..I’m one of those people whom upon being told not to read something must then read it and sometimes twice just to make sure I found all the naughty bits.

A Look At Banned Books By Printerinks

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (pub; 1939) — (Dir:John Ford, 1940) — This is one of those rare books to movies that are equally as good. The book is captivating and well developed, plays easily through your head as a film would….beautifully descriptive filled with landscape and human emotion. The film does well to keep up with the book through visual and mood development. One of Henry Fonda’s most memorable performances. You might have to blame this for the thread of anti-hero sentiment that weaves through American film.

The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton (pub; 1967) — (dir; 1983  Francis Ford Coppola) — I think this is one of those generational stories meaning so much in print to teenagers in the late 60s and just as much to the teens of the 1980s on film. Not a well written novel, but heart felt and full of teen angst. I can say the same for the film; not only does it have every possible teen heart throb and future A to B grade actor but it fills a need of pushing and explosion of emotion that happens to many teenagers.  Along side all those cute 1980’s teen romps with Molly Ringwald this book and film offers a  tight anxiety felt as an undercurrent in the 1980s as many left their home towns to head south looking for work. The movie is actually better than the book, I don’t often say that …the book is fresh and filled with over the top emotion..but the film is paced well and does a better job of showing rather than telling the story.

The Color Purple by Alice walker (Pub: 1982) — (Dir: Steven Spielberg 1985) — As much as I admire the incredible performances and direction of Spielberg – it has to be said that the book is so much better than the film. This is a quiet, privately told story – while reading it you feel like Miss Celie is telling it to you, as a friend. The film takes on a life of its own as a FILM. Its good, its so so important to watch — beautifully and horribly told story that keeps you riveted …..but …..the book in your hand, the moments you can pause for yourself…has its own life. The movie- is grand, sweeping and generous – Spielberg captures things that other filmmakers would miss but I insist that even if you aren’t a big reader you must (must) read Ms. Walker’s books.

I want to take a moment to thank other wordpress Bloggers for some really interesting takes on Banned Book week ! Please check them out! (pun, intended)

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