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viewers in peril!!


on the weekend we put ourselves in grave danger by visiting a haunted castle and venturing into the waters of amity island.

first we time-travelled to 1806 where we found ourselves on a mysterious island which housed a castle belonging to the baron von leppe. but the baron wasn’t a jolly man, he was being haunted by his dead ex-wife, who also happened to be flirting with a handsome french soldier.

“the terror” wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. it was your usual b-grade fare with only the odd sight of jack nicholson separating it from others. i don’t know if nicholson elevates the film or hampers it. it certainly is very weird to see him, and much of the time i was watching him and thinking how young he looked and also how incongruous the image seemed – because the film looked so old. but, of course, with the film being made in colour (just about) and released in 1963, the film isn’t old at all, it was just made very cheaply – it looked like the celluloid had been left in the sun or something.

this is a misleadingly good still of the film. at times the colours of the film seemed to have a life of their own and would sometimes leak or subtly morph and ooze into other colours.  

the story was actually very interesting in the end, although it took a long time to get going. it wasn’t particularly scary either and i can’t for the life of me think why it was called “the terror”. i mean, obviously it refers to the terror that the baron (karloff) is experiencing, but as we all know, in film you can’t use that for a title if the film itself isn’t scary too.

even though it wasn’t scary, it was still deliciously gothic, which is why we watched it. and the funny thing was that in the end the film left us both feeling rather depressed – so it certainly affected us 🙂 the shots of the castle were very cool and i loved seeing them trapsing about inside the castle and all those shots of lightning flashing and thunder rumbling.

karloff and an impossibly young nicholson (surely he was born looking thirty?!).

reading up about the film, though, its a miracle it was coherent at all! roger corman is credited with directing it, but francis ford coppola, jack hill, monte hellman and jack nicholson all had a turn in handling the camera. the bits that corman shot were just of blokes wandering about in the castle, of which he thought he’d make sense of later! the film was shot in 4 days and was apparantly largely improvised by the actors.

then we watched “jaws” to cheer us up.

i’m serious.

charlotte and i were feeling a little gloomy after the film and so i asked her, “what do you want to do now?”. for a moment she was pensive and then a shy little smile creeped into the corners of her mouth and she said “jaws”. i said, “do you want to watch jaws?” to which she broke out with a wide grin and exclaimed “yes!” – she was inches away from clapping her hands and stepping into a russian novel.

but it really is cute. charlotte loves her staple horrors – they always cheer her up. she never tires of watching them. every year or two we have a freddie-fest, which starts with her shouting with joy “freddie!”. you’d think she was macabre, but it isn’t that – she speaks of them as a little girl might of her pony. that probably captures it best, because for some reason horror films make her feel very safe and content, as they take her back to her childhood years of enjoying horrors. what also needs to be said is that charlotte suffers from horrendous nightmares (trust me) and few horror films can ever come close to them. so she doesn’t really scare easily.

i’m so scared of that damn shark that i can’t even post the movie poster…! 

“jaws” was, of course, great to watch – well except the bits with that bloody shark (with its mouth gaping wide and those dead stary eyes…)! like many, “jaws” paralysed me with fear when i first saw it and seriously curtailed my inclinations towards swimming – in any body of water! as a film, though, it is a joy to watch (now, not when i was 7, of course) and it never ceases to surprise that after each repeated viewing the film is still brilliant. old steve’s use of the wide-angle lense is just fantastic and he paces the story superbly.

after the film we turned off the tv, switched off the lights and with both of us suitably cheered up, we went to bed and fell asleep with little smiles on our faces…

Categories: film
  1. September 12, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    I’m not sure if I’ve seen The Terror, but I will certainly check it out. You think Jack looks young there? You should see him in the old Vincent Price/Peter Lorre movie The Raven. He is extremely young there. I’m not sure, but it might have been his first role. If not, it was certainly one of the first. The Raven is a comedic horror mishmash of several stories but it is a fun film.

  2. September 13, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Who knew? Even Jack Nicholson was young once.

    You know, it’s fun that you guys have these little horror film nights. Most of my friends are chickens (cowards, not the fowl ones) — horror marathons would be impossible. I is envious. 😦

    I was smiling when you described Charlotte: “she was inches away from clapping her hands and stepping into a russian novel.” Now, that sounds like someone I would like to meet. 🙂

  3. jean pierre
    September 13, 2007 at 5:49 pm


    its funny you should mention “the raven”, because “the terror” was apparently shot during a weekend left over from the shooting of “the raven”. they even say that they used the same sets…!

    “the raven” sounds cool!


    i love our horror nights! i wasn’t that much into horror before, but charlotte loves them so much that she’s made me like them too now. 🙂

  4. September 16, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Horror movies are the best!! It doesn’t matter the mood I’m in, I can just pop one on and be happy!! Now, Jaws…that one scares me!! I’m not a big water person anyway. I love the ocean…but as a sit on the beach and WATCH it kind of person. I don’t like sharks (or snakes for that matter!)

  5. September 28, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I love those old classic horror movies. Karloff is one of my favourites

  6. jean pierre
    September 30, 2007 at 10:47 am

    they’re brilliant, aren’t they?! 🙂

    thanks for stopping by.

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