Let That Catherine Morland Flag Fly Free

So Horrorfest started I couldn’t tell you exactly when. I’ve always been a fan of horror, thriller, suspense, mystery, film-noir, etc. I would watch them all the time, but every day in October.

When I went to college, I continued and my roommates were thrown into my 31 Days of Horror films celebration.

Who knows?!

So when I started blogging in 2012 I decided to include it and officially create “Horrorfest”-blogging about a film every day. That way it would save my friends/roommates from something they weren’t as interested in.

Yay!!!

Over the years I have established a set of rules and annual films categories. Every year I have enjoyed doing it although sometimes I have fallen behind because of life getting in the way. Usually I have the posts written, like this year I had all 31 done extremely early-the best I have ever been, it is just the editing that slowed me down. If you have someone willing to edit your work-give them a lot of love, because it takes a LOT of time to do.

So last year I received quite a few comments questioning Horrorfest as it has nothing to do with Jane Austen. They felt that there was no reason to do it and didn’t want me to continue.

Hmmm

Well, they are right it does have nothing to do with Jane Austen.

Even though Horrorfest doesn’t really have anything to do with Jane Austen, I have tried to input anything Jane Austen related-I’ve reviewed Death Comes to PemberleyDeath by Persuasion-or things with Austen actors in it like Ruby in the Smoke and Dead Again. I’ve even reviewed some films that while not Jane Austen-are films that Austen fans will love.

But even if I don’t review something Jane Austen, I think its okay to include Horrorfest as there is one character who would love this:

Yep the Regency spooky girl:

So if you aren’t interested, feel free to skip reading me this October and join us back in November. For the rest of you, next October I’ll be back with more horror, mystery, film-noir, suspense, thrillers, etc.

So for this year’s review: how I do Horrorfest VIII is that I watch whatever, and review it. I mean I usually plan the first and last film-and of course I planned The Planet of the Apes series review after someone donated the set to the library-yet it always amazes me how many match up themewise.

This year we had gothic films with the Horror of Dracula and Rebecca.

We also had a multicultural Horrorfest VIII as my Jane Austen profile pic was inspired from my Mexican culture, we had Horror of Dracula from England, High Seas AKA Alta Mar from Spain, Spirited Away from Japan, and Strong Woman Bong Soon from Korea.

We had dystopian futures with Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run, and The Running Man.

We had Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans with Alta Mar AKA High Seas,Death By Persuasion” from Midsomer Murders, Rebecca, and Strong Woman Bong Soon.

We had superheroes with Batman, Strong Woman Bong Soon, and Unbreakable. 

Ghosts with The Fog, R.I.P.D., Spirited Away, and 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.

And apes with the Planet of the Apes series and King Kong.

And of course our Annual films:

  • A movie or TV episode from every decade of 1930s-2010s
  • Doubledose of Alfred Hitchcock with Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Rebecca
  • Animated Film with Spirited Away, Disney with Spirited Away, 
  • Doubledose of Lifetime with Death of a Cheerleader and Psycho Mother-in-Law,
  • Stephen King with The Running Man
  • Tim Burton with Batman
  • Vincent Price with 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

The full list of films, TV episodes, and video game reviewed for Horrorfest VIII:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

King Kong (1933)

Rebecca (1940)

Lamb to the Slaughter” from Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for Planet of the Apes (1973)

Logan’s Run (1976)

The Fog (1980)

Dark Crystal (1982)

To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before” from 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

The Running Man (1987)

Batman (1989)

Dead Again (1991)

Leprechaun (1993)

Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

“The Puppet Show” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Unbreakable (2000)

Spirited Away (2001)

The Stepfather (2009)

The Last Christmas: Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

R.I.P.D. (2013)

Death By Persuasion” from Midsomer Murders (2017)

Strong Woman Bong Soon (2017)

Veil of Secrets (2018)

High Seas (2019)

Psycho Mother-in-Law (2019)

Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again: Rebecca (1940)

It is time for our annual Alfred Hitchcock film!

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly…

So one camping trip I was talking to my cousin who worked at Universal Studios about movies. She promised to send me shirt from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, as I had liked the other The Mummy movies (which she never did. Still upset about that). We then moved to my favorite director Alfred Hitchcock. She had seen his films too and asked about which was my favorite. At the time, it was The Birds, and she told me hers was Rebecca. I hadn’t seen Rebecca yet, so as soon as I could get my hands on a copy, I watched it.

It has Laurence Olivier in it who I just love, and of course is who I consider the original Mr. Darcy.

It also has Joan Fontaine in it who I had loved in The Women and did great in Suspicion. Not to mention one of the creepiest housekeepers (although she’s on par with Milly from Under Capricorn). And of course it has George Sanders, who has one of the best voices-he oozes sarcasm, sophistication, and meanness, I don’t know how else to put it. Most of you will recognize him from All About Eve and the original Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. 

So I have been struggling whether to review the movie or the book first, as both perfect for Catherine Morland. She would be all over this book and film. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to do the film as I saw it first.

I wanted this to be the first movie of Horrorfest VIII, but I couldn’t use it as this year I needed to start it off with a 1950s film. So if I can’t start it, then I will end it with this gothic film-an Alfred Hitchcock film that Catherine Morland would go ape over.

So this film has some interesting “drama” behind the scenes.

This is going to get good…

Laurence Olivier was married to Vivian Leigh at the time and really wanted her to be in the film. I’m sure most of you have heard of his high standards from My Week with MarilynHe did not like Joan Fotaine, which made her nervous and worried-something Alfred Hitchcock loved to capitalize on. Move aside Stanley Kubrick, this is the original.

The film is based on the book by Daphne du Maurier. Both producer David O. Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock were control freaks liked to be in control of their films-and when I say control I mean every aspect. So there was some serious issues between them. Selznick barred Hitchock from all writing while he banned Selznick from set.

Fight, fight, fight!

This was also the only film by Alfred Hitchcock that won an Oscar.

ONLY ONE? That’s sad!

So this film is rrreeeeeeeaaaaaallllllllyyyyyyyyy different from his other work as it starts off very slow, a romance, but then stuff gets real!

As it’s not like his other works, it’s not for everybody. All though we all know who’d be fangirling over it, that’s right-Catherine Morland.

So the film starts off bright (O’Selznick), then gets dark, gothic, foreboding woods (Hitchcock)

Oh, my favorite! Anything like that gets me excited, my Catherine Morland heart starts pumping.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly, Oh My Goodness-I love this opening with the language, it grabs you right away.

It is sucking me in!!!!!!!!

It grabs you right away-the secret, solemn, gothic, and foreboding Northanger Abbey Manderly.

So we go back in time to the south of France, a handsome man is about to jump off the cliff, but stopped by a woman. Who is this handsome man? Why he is played by Laurence Olivier.

Our heroine, who’s name is never given but played by Joan Fontaine, is a lady’s companion to an annoying woman, Edith Hopper.

The handsome man comes over and it is Maxim de Winter-Hopper treats our heroine like crap, but he is interested in her youthful beauty and kindness. Hopper tries to grill him, but he manages to move the conversation away from him.

Well-played!

Oh my goodness Mrs. Hopper, she’s AWFUL!!!!!!! Our poor heroine. Hopper dresses her down to remember her place, and to not speak to anyone above her.

It turns out that Mr. de Winter is a widower, gossip shared by Miss Hopper-he was madly in love with his wife and has been despondent ever since.

One morning our heroine was going to eat lunch alone, but Mr. de Winter spots her and invites her to his table. She is so young in spirit-clumsy, awkward, unsure, childlike.

Joan Fontaine is so cute and she has a sad back story in this. Mother died when she was young and she lived with father who died last year. Having no money and no place to live, is now a companion to a horrible women. She is just so kind and sweet and adorable-you feel so bad for her.

Maxim de Winter is handsome, charming, and he is captivated by our heroine’s honesty and naiveté. Maxim is a man who carries weariness in his soul. He takes her out where she planned to sketch.

They talk and she shares how she once went to Cornwall and saw this beautiful house on it, called Manderly. That just happens to be Maxim’s house. He talks about it and you can feel the weight if sadness coming on him.

Joan is so cute just talking on and on, Maxim takes her aback.

Going back to her room the heroine overhears her sick client talking bout Maxim de Winter. She goes on and on about how he was crazy about his beautiful wife. She drowned sailing a few years ago.

As our heroine’s boss is still sick she has free time and goes to have a tennis lesson, but gets interrupted by Maxim who takes her out. Soon everyday they are out together. Her client, Edith Van Hopper, is after Mr. de Winter, and has no clue that her companion is falling in love with him. She tries to get our heroine to stay and keep her occupied while she is sick, but…

Our heroine is so adorable-dreaming, wishing, hopeful. Youth and innocence brimming!

But it is all over too soon. After today the nurse is going and she needs her companion by her side day and night. Our heroine is despondent over this as she doesn’t want her time with Maxim to end.

Maxim is handsome and charming, but something about him isn’t quite right. There is a deep wound to him, but what?

One day they are out and our heroine wants to know why he picked her over the other women, he could have anyone-someone older, sophisticated, classy, etc. He tells her he enjoys her company, but as he says it, he says it a little harsh and our heroine becomes upset, but then he kindly tells her to call him by his first name. And later sends her flowers.

Mrs. Van Hopper receives a letter about her daughter becoming engaged and they must leave for America ASAP. But no, what about Maxim!!! Our heroine tries to reach him, but no avail. This is it. Her fairytale is over. She rushes back to her room to reach him one last time, but doesn’t get a chance. Her boss comes and it is goodbye.

She tries one more time but he’s in the shower. NOOOOO!

But our heroine wont give up. She runs up to his room as a last ditch effort. Maxim is surprised, but our heroine tells him she needed to say goodbye.

Maxim “proposes”. He basically asks her “do you prefer New York or Manderly?” Gosh, these classic English dudes need to earn better proposals.

Maxim trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

She thinks he wants a secretary. That always cracks me up. He tells her, I’m asking you to marry me. Well, you can’t blame her-your proposal sucked! A girl wants romance!

Seriously

Our heroine is so in shock she falls into a chair. She doesn’t think they should marry as she is too far beneath him. He says I guess you don’t love me, and she spills her heart out. So young, so sweet.

He asks her to pour him coffee, and that he takes it with two lumps of sugar in coffee and tea. This scene reminds me of the film The Clock. These two strangers spend the day together, marry, and then he will be shipped out the next day-and at the end she has to ask him all the little details as they realize they know zero about each other.

I love how Maxim reveals how to Mrs. Van Hopper that they are going to be married. But Mrs. Hopper is such a toad and continues to boss our heroine around, trying to keep her on “her place.” She asks to speak to our heroine alone for a few minutes, and as soon as Maxim is gone she berates our heroine and acts like she is a floozy.

Ugh! Really!

She continues to berate her that she can’t be the mistress of Manderly and she’ll fail as she is no lady. She continues going on saying things like Maxim doesn’t love her, he went crazy after his wife died, and it still looks like he is. This lady!

The two marry in a small ceremony at the courthouse and Maxim is a much different person. Lighter, happy, in love-bright and shining just as our heroine.

So cute!!

They are so cute! But Hitchcock fans all know-it won’t last..

They have their honeymoon and go to Manderly, the place from the beginning. As they head in our heroine has a shiver. All seems bright, but that shiver and the rain-are major clues that unhappiness and coldness lie ahead.

Horrifying!

They arrive and our heroine meets the household and Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) the housekeeper from Hell. She is such a creep! Our heroine is so nervous and shy and no match for Mrs. Danvers who acts as if she is the wife and our heroine is a servant.

And one is Mrs. Danvers

Maxim had them moved to the East Wing, not the West where he used to live with Rebecca. Our heroine is so nice and tries to work things out with Mrs. Danvers, but she’s a cold stone hearted woman. Ugh.

This house is so beautiful, but so empty, cold and creepy. Our heroine goes to check out the West Wing where he lived with Rebecca but it is locked and forbidden.

Whenever I watch this film it reminds me of The Tomb of Ligeia, with the creepy dead wife, handsome husband who has been all alone in a creepy house. Thinking of that also makes me think of Jane Eyre. Geez-classic English literature is full of handsome rich men with creepy first wives.

The next day our heroine meets Crawley the manager of the estates. Maxim and Crawley leave her to go about their business and casually drops that his sister and husband are coming to visit. With that news our heroine is lost and nervous as what to do-like a child almost. Like DUDE!!!!!

This is how I always imagined Cinderella or other characters that marry someone super wealthy must feel like the next day when they are like this is not at all what I’m used to. I typically am serving others how do I get used to being served?

She’s lost and confused in the house and everyone is looking down on her as she knows nothing while the first Mrs. de Winter was such a lady.

Mrs. Danvers comes to get her approval on lunches, but even though she is asking, the power is all in Mrs. Danvers. She looms over her like she could squash her.

Our heroine is in the morning room to write letters, but she has no one to write to. She looks through Rebecca’s address book and finds addresses for a marquis, a viscount, etc. Another proof of her inadequacy.

She overhears Beatrice, Maxim’s sister, talking about her. Beatrice tells it straight. She lets her know that Mrs. Danvers adored Rebecca too and will probably treat her horrid at first. Ouch, all loved Rebecca.

YEEEEES!!!!!!

At dinner the brother-in-law asks lots of questions and is disappointed as our herione doesn’t ride, doesn’t dance, doesn’t sail and isn’t at all like Rebecca. Beatrice makes her feel even more insecure about her hair, her clothes, etc.

Not at all like Rebecca at all. Not sophisticated, not elegant, not fashionable

So everyone hints about what happened to Rebecca, but no one has said the whole thing! My curiosity is going crazy!!

They go out walking with the dog and he wants to go to the cove, but Maxim doesn’t want to. That’s where her boat was held. Maxim doesn’t like to go near her boat. But our heroine follows the dog and finds a cottage with a creepy sailor. The cottage is eerie too, it causes our heroine to go into shock seeing it.

She manages to tie up the dog and tries to look for Maxim who is waiting at the top. He’s upset and angry. But why? What is he upset about?

He doesn’t want her to go in the cottage or go near it. She needs to stay away as it too is forbidden! Maxim regrets coming back to Manderly and he is right, he should have stayed far away.

Our heroine starts to cry and Maxim’s storm passes. He apologizes but it was at this moment I started to think there was more to this story. He doesn’t act like a man who loved his wife and was despondent over her death-in fact he seems angry. But not like despondent over her angry at her death.

Hmmm…

Our heroine has so many questions, but Maxim doesn’t want to talk. She helps Crawley with getting some work done and starts probing for answers. Why is the cottage going to squat? Why are Rebecca’s things in there? What happened to her?

Hmm…

Crawley answers that she went sailing and the boat capsized and she drowned. They found her body when it surfaced. Crawley is extremely upset, was he in love with her?

Our heroine apologizes but she needs to know. She needs to know what happened and who she is being constantly compared to.

Crawley tries to reassure her, but no dice. She already was a shy, insecure girl and this has made it much, much worse.

Our heroine tries to be more like Rebecca by buying a black elegant dress and putting her hair up, but Maxim laughs. Seriously! Dude!

They watch their honeymoon film and they were so cute. So happy! But they are interrupted when the Butler addresses Maxim about a household issue. A servant is accused of stealing a china figure that our heroine broke and hid. Maxim is such a man and does not read what the subtext is, and who is the real mistress of the house. He makes her tell Mrs. Danvers. She is so scared of everyone looking down on her. He thinks she should just be mistress if the house, he clearly does not get it.

One of the best scenes is when they are watching the honeymoon film in the dark and the shadows make him see almost crazed and scary-we can only see half of his face.

It reminds me of that whole thing when you only see half a face-one looks evil one looks nice.

But the lights flick on and whatever we saw on his face in the dark is gone. It is just the handsome Maxim. He starts to wonder if they should be together, if he isn’t ruining her life bringing her to Manderly and all its gothic air and soul crushing.

Our poor heroine, she thinks she is at fault, but she doesn’t know where the real trouble lies. There is a dark cloud in Maxim-dark and depressed perfectly contrasted with the bright happy self on the film.

The next day Maxim leaves for London. No you fool don’t leave her alone with Mrs Danvers the maid from hell who hates her!!!!!!!!!

She’s lonely without Maxim, but as she looks out the window she sees a light on the West Wing! But no one uses it…ghost????

Ahhh!

She starts to head over there but is interrupted when she hears Mrs. Danvers speaking to a gentleman with a amazing voice- it’s Shere Khan, I mean Mr. Jack Favell (George Sands). Mrs. Danvers is sneaking him in, why?

Hmmm

He is smarmy and sarcastic, making our heroine nervous and skittish.  Why is he here? Not for anything good.

He leaves and asks our heroine to not mention him to Maxim. As he leaves he leaves a parting shot that he was Rebecca’s favorite cousin. Why did he come? What are he and Mrs. Danvers planning?

What’s going on?

I just love these camera angles of this giant house dwarfing our heroine. She looks so small and insignificant.

So like Catherine Morland and Belle from Beauty and the Beast she can no longer resist the forbidden wing! She must go in and look at “the room.” It is still in perfect tiptop shape. No dust, nothing out of place as if she stepped away and will be back any moment to take her rightful place. Very Psycho!

 

Mrs. Danvers interrupts our heroine and is downright cold and cruel showing off how great Rebecca was, her fancy fashionable clothes, her stylish and elegant ways, Lording over our heroine making her feel like crap, like a bug to be squashed. Trying to show how Maxim will never love our heroine.

OUCH, ouch ouch. Some women physically fight, most women fight this way with words and emotions. Every time I see this the scene it is just dreadful to watch, so painful, so hurtful. It’s not like other films-but horrible how each item, each moment in the room cuts our heroine stabbing her psychologically and emotionally. Every word a poisonous arrow full of toxins. Rebecca’s ghost her-soul lives in that house tormenting our heroine.

Mrs. Danvers starts talking about the sea air and I’m totally convinced she’s trying to hypnotize our heroine to kill herself. No doubt.

Our poor heroine is having like a complete breakdown, Rs everywhere, everything Rebecca.

Going mad!

But our heroine has a little but of gumption in her. She orders Mrs. Danvers to get rid of all these things. When Mrs. Danvers questions her, she staunchly tells her I Am Mrs. de Winter–I love it! You go our heroine.

Maxim comes home and she throws herself at him so happy he is home. She wants to throw the annual costume ball to prove to everyone that she can be Mrs. de Winter.

She wants to have a stunning costume to out-Rebecca Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers suggests that she look at her family portraits. Ugh I hate this!!! Why would you trust her???? Mrs. Danvers points out a woman’s portrait and our heroine runs with it. To be honest, I always skip this part as I can’t handle her humiliation. It’s too painful.

I can’t look.

Well things go as expected, it turns out it was a portrait of Rebecca that she copied for her costume.

The night is cut short when a ship runs aground the sand. Everyone wants to help, our heroine getting changed and running out after Maxim

She searches for Maxim and finds Crawley who gives shocking news. A diver going after the ship found another one-Rebecca’s boat! Oh no, any shred of happiness will be lost with the grief that is to come. Or is there to be grief? I’m not convinced.

Hmmm?

Our heroine feels drawn to the cottage and finds Maxim hiding there. She thinks Maxim will hate her, but he’s not even thinking about the ball-it feels like years ago since the discovery of the boat.

Our heroine thinks it’s her, that any happiness of marriage is over. He tells her it is too late for them. They have lost their chance of happiness now! The thing he dreaded has happened!

What thing? Rebecca has won? What, what do you mean!!! What are you saying??!!!

Tell ME!!!!!

Maxim then reveals that he knew the boat was down there. Not only that, but knew that her body was in the boat.

The woman buried in the family crypt was not Rebecca. He identified it but knew it wasn’t Rebecca.

What??? How do you know??

Because he put her there- OMGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD

First time I watched this I was in shock. I suspected not everything was happy, sunshine rainbows between them?!! But he killed her?

Is it wrong that I still like him?

Our heroine tells her that she loves him and it doesn’t matter.  She tells him how insecure she was and how she felt every time he compared her to Rebecca and she was always wanting.

But then he drops the biggest bomb ever!!!!

He NEVER LOVEd REBECCA!!!!!!???

I’m sorry, but what????

HE HATED HER! She was beautiful and enchanting. They married-she seemed perfect and accomplished. She had breeding, brains, and beauty. But then after the wedding he discovered she neither loved him, cared about him, wasn’t moral or faithful, etc. On their honeymoon he discovered the beast he married. I know what that is like…that described my own marriage.

She played the part so well, he would look the fool to divorce her-I know how that feels too. Thank goodness I got over that. Poor guy-he should have gotten an annulment.

Rebecca got involved with many people and hurt many, bring them to her flat in London and cottage by the sea. She spent a ton of time with Favell. Those two are “just” cousins?

One night he was done and went to talk to Rebecca. She looked ill, and told him basically that she was pregnant but it wasn’t his child. They were never together and he would never have a child. Her kid with another man would inherit his home and money and grow and continue the de Winter line. She continued to pick at him and he struck her. She smiled, tripped, and fell knocking herself out. She died.

He didn’t kill her but was afraid no one would believe him and then decided to sink the boat with her body.

Soooooooo even though he shares all that I believe him and feel for him. Especially as I know exactly what that is like.

Horrifying!

Maxim is out of it-but our heroine has grown up, She takes control of the situation and supports him and encourages him.

Like I know what he did was bad but I really like him and our heroine and I want them to be together. Is that bad? He’s not really a hero.

Events go into motion and they make Maxim ID the body and question about the other one. No one is upset over it, it happens all the time where the grieving mistake especially a body that has been in the water. Unfortunately there will be another inquest-ugh.

No one thinks any foul play really happened, it is just routine.

Now that we have had this ordeal, our heroine has grown-the youth and innocence is gone- and we have a powerful character who looks to have aged in the last scene, and is in command of herself, powerful, not taking gruff or slight from any servant or person.

Our heroine goes to Maxim to try and get him to control his temper and not fly off the handle at the inquest. She knows they can overcome anything together. Aw, they are so cute together!!! Melodramatic, brooding, adoring, etc. I really like Maxim, and this couple.

They kiss in front of the fire, the flame of their love growing stronger.

So cute!!

Everything is going well at the inquest until the first thing to cause trouble is when the boatyard man inspected the boat and discovered the holes that caused the flooding were made from the inside of the boat. The death was no accident! It was suicide…or Murder!

Mr. de Winter is then to be questioned. He answers sarcastically ad angry-not making friends with the court. He gets badgered and starts losing it, when our heroine faints and stops the proceedings. She’s getting to be cunning! I like her more and more.

Wow!

They head to the car to have lunch. Aw, I love how Maxim cares for her. Ugh lunch is interrupted by Jack Favell. He and Maxim can’t stand each other and the tension is thick. He steals some of their food and tries to blackmail them.

Bad luck is never ending!

I can’t stand him (although I love his voice and how he pronounces words) Favell reveals that he received a note from Rebecca that will tip the balance from suicide to murder. He tells them he will destroy the letter and drop it all for payment.

Maxim leaves to the nearby inn, getting a private room, so they can talk business. He calls Colonel Julian, in charge of the inquest, and asks him to join them as well. He reveals the blackmailing scheme to the Colonel. They read the letter to Favell, that he and Rebecca were to meet, but the note doesn’t really tip it either way.

She mentions going to the doctor and she had an important thing to tell him. That could be bad or good news. Favell insults our heroine and Maxim gives him a great big wallop. YES!!!

The Colonel questions what is the motive for murder? If Maxim killed her? Favell calls Mrs. Danvers to reveal the motive.

She refuses as she wants to protect Rebecca’s reputation, but when she hears that Maxim might have killed her she reveals the doctor’s name. Favell insists that Rebecca was going to have his child, and that Maxim killed her over it.

What?

Favell leaves, not caring what destruction, embarrassment, hurt, or pain he causes in his path. Our heroine returns home, while maxim stays to hear the end. They go to find the Dr, Dr. Baker and question him. So was she pregnant?!!!

There was no Mrs de Winter he met with. It turns out she used an assumed name. Mr. Baker reveals that the problem for Mrs. de Winter was that she had cancer. Nothing could be done for her but death.

She LIED! No pregnancy! She did that on purpose!!!! She wanted to upset Mr. de Winter! She wanted him to kill her. She was a truly horrible person and I’m glad she is dead.

What a horrible, horrid person.

Favell calls Danvers and tells her what happened.

That’s not good.

Crawly and Maxim drive home, with Maxim speeding like a maniac. Something doesn’t feel right! Something is wrong! But what?!!!

Back at the house our heroine is waiting up for Maxim, but eventually succumbs to sleep. Mrs. Danvers skulks around like the demon she is.

That’s not good.

As they drive up they notice the sky is lit! But it is too early-OMG a FIRE!!!!! Manderly is on fire!!!!!!!

 

But our heroine?!!! What about her? She’s okay.

No need to guess who did it-Mrs. Danvers the housekeeper from Hell.

Worst housekeepers ever: Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca, Milly from Under Capricornand Nancy Oliver from Gaslight.

Anyone else I should add?

We then fade out to the embroidered pillow R burning too. Finally the demon is gone. Rebecca has been destroyed, our characters can find happiness. If you really think about it, that’s some Winchester stuff right there.

So that end another Horrorfest!!! I hope you all enjoyed it!

I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Halloween!

I’m Not Into Politics. I’m Into Survival: The Running Man (1987)

It is time for our annual Stephen King film:

I’m not into politics. I’m into survival.

So I promised back in January that I would review this film as it takes place in 2019 and inspired this year’s Dystopian theme. Plus I love this movie.

I know lots of people don’t care for Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I love his films. I just can’t enough of the puns and the comebacks and of course action.

So when Rob Cohen purchased the rights to the Richard Bachman novella “The Running Man”, he had no idea that Bachman was actually a pseudonym for Stephen King. I didn’t know it was a Stephen King film either, until a few years back I was trying to pick a Stephen King film and it came up when I googled him.

Huh?

I know I was in shock too, it didn’t seem like the other stuff he made. So without further ado, it’s time to start… RUNNING!

So it is the film starts off in 2018-the economy of the world has collapsed due to a lack of resources and they are all ruled by a totalitarian government that controls everyone through TV.

The people are kept in line with anyone who steps out gets sent to prison, or worse to be on the TV show, The Running Man. “Runners”, the prisoners, have to compete in gladiator-type battles against “Stalkers” who all have a theme character and weapons-kind of like wrestlers.

Does this remind you of anything? Like:

Or maybe:

Yes, it is very similar but lots of Dystopian films/books share similar things. The nice thing is that while all of these are similar-there are enough differences that you aren’t feeling like you are watching/reading something that was regurgitated.

So our story begins with Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a captain of the militarized police force and is sent into Bakersfield to stop a revolt. When he does get there, he finds no dangerous revolutionaries, but just hungry people-women and children.

Dispatcher: Proceed with plan alpha. Eliminate anything moving.

Ben Richards: I said the crowd is unarmed. There are a lot of women and children down there. All they want is food for God’s sake!

Dispatcher: As you were, Richards. Proceed with plan alpha. All rioters must be eliminated.

Ben Richards: The hell with you. I will not fire on helpless people. Abort mission. We return back to base.

But the others open fire and kill all, and who do they blame? Ben of course-naming him “The Butcher of Bakersfield”. This scene always made me think of Fahrenheit 451 when they have to find a scapegoat.

He is dubbed “The Butcher of Bakersfield” and sent to prison where he serves 18 months.

He and few other prisoners work on a plan and manage to break out and get free from the electric collars. Ben heads to L.A. to find his brother. Instead he finds Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), TV show jingle writer, residing in his brother’s apartment as he has been taken away for “reeducation”.

This is so 1984, they have to “reeducate” the troublemakers-really torture ad brainwash them.

Ben ties Amber up and investigates her apartment, taking money, her flight pass, and booking a flight to Hawaii. He wants Amber to come with as they will be looking for a single man, but she refuses. He won’t take no for an answer and convinces her by picking up the machine he strapped her to and threatening her.

This reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps when Richard Hannay gets framed for murder and team’s up with Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), an unwilling accomplice. She hates him and fights with him, but discovers he is telling the truth and falls in love with him.

They get caught in the airport, and Ben is sent back to prison. There he is offered to be on the show The Running Man by the owner, Damon Killian, instead of rotting in prison. He is amazed by Ben’s survival skills and knows he will be a GIANT HIT.

Unfortunately, Killian doesn’t know what we do-it’s a bad idea to go after Ben. Ben refuses until they threaten to send his compatriots from the prison escape to the show. He agrees, but then finds out that Killian lied and they are all going on the show.

Gosh, I love how cooly he delivers that.

Meanwhile, Amber is like Pamela (from The 39 Steps), and starting to wonder if maybe Ben told her the truth. She goes into the files of ICS (The Running Man station and government) to see what the original recordings were. She discovers Ben is telling the truth but is caught.

So how the game works is that they are in a abandoned area of Los Angeles and have to go through multiple levels and fight different “stalkers”. If they defeat a stalker, they progress to the next level-although many don’t ever do that. Only a few even make it to the very end and win.

The first one Ben has to fight is Sub-Zero:

I love Arnold’s quips and his delivery of them. LOL.

Now that I have sen Logan’s Run, like Ben and Amber are just a more hardcore version of Logan and Jessica.

They move to the next level and are joined by Amber, who has been found and thrown into the ring. One of Ben’s friends, the hacker, knows he can get into the system if he just gets a chance. He gives the uplink code to Amber to memorize.

Then then have to face Buzzsaw:

Ouch!

They then fight Dynamo:

But Richards doesn’t kill him. It is interesting why he chooses to spare his life and not the others? Maybe because he isn’t defending himself, but it would be “murder” in his eyes. Maybe because he realizes they are all stuck in this life, all prisoners running in the hamster wheel of life created by the government?

They then head to the final level, Fireball. There they discover that the winning Runners didn’t win after all. They were killed! Just like in Logan’s Run!

They defeat Fireball and then Ben threatens Killian-I love this:

Killian is at a loss, Ben cannot win. He is inciting people to rebellion. There is only one thing left to do-bring Captain Freedom out of retirement.

Captain Freedom doesn’t want to fight and lose and Killian needs him to win so they decide to lie. They bring in stunt doubles of Ben and Amber to fight and lose-just like on Fahrenheit 451

” They know they can hold their audience only so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick!” –Fahrenheit 451

Meanwhile the resistance has made it to the games and busted Ben and Amber out. Ben’s friends have been killed in the game, but luckily the hacker shared the uplink code with Amber. They come up with a plan to hack the system, reveal the truth, and destroy Killian and the others.

I don’t do requests, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

In the end Killian is killed, the truth is revealed, Ben is a hero, and all ends well.

I really enjoy this film, but I think they could have focused more on deeper themes, but the director they had was let go a week before production and new one brought in. Knowing that, I’m surprised it was good as it was.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Stephen King, go to Ever Heard of the Tommyknockers?: The Tommyknockers (1993)

For more Arnold Schwarzenegger, go to Someone Has Erased His Memory: Total Recall (1990)

For more dystopian future films, go to Tonight Has Been the Birth of the Planet of the Apes: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

In the Spa House of the Spirits: Spirited Away (2001)

It is Time for Our Annual Disney and Animated Film

So this film isn’t considered a “Halloween” movie by some, but I always think of it as one because when they rerelease the Studio Ghibli films in theaters every month, they always do this one in October. Not to mention it has spirits in it.

I think I have seen it maybe three times in theaters? I forget. Anyways, I love this movie.

I first heard of Studio Gibli because my friend was really into the films. We watched Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. Then when I was in college my best friend and roommate had a bunch of his films and we watched Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke.

I absolutely loved Howl’s Moving Castle and bought it- making my nieces watch it, (they love it now too), and Spirited Away.  And as I still needed a Disney film and an animated film (yearly Horrorfest tradition) I thought it was perfect!

So the film is Japanese, and then voice dubbed in English for the states. There are a few differences in phrases and terms, mostly because there are things you won’t understand if you don’t know Japanese culture.

So the film starts out with little Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) and her parents are driving to their new home. Chihiro is very upset to have to leave her friends and family.

Her father decides to go down a shortcut, which leads him through an old abandoned amusement park and the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore.

Her parents see the food left out for the spirits and eat it. Oh no-you aren’t supposed to do that. Being of Mexican descent, I know you never, ever eat the food for the dead/spirits. Remember that Lizzie McGuire episode?

So of course her parents have something bad happen to them, they turn into pigs and run off!

Poor 10-year old Chihiro, what is she going to do now?

Luckily, she is saved by a young boy, Haku (Jason Marsden [he played Goofy’s son Max], who takes her to the bathhouse. He gives her some food to eat so she can remain in the spirit world.

Haku: Don’t be afraid, I just wanna help you.

Chihiro: No… no… no… no… no…

Haku: Open your mouth and eat this. If you don’t eat food from this world, you’ll disappear.

He tells her to see the boiler man Kamaji, and ask for a job. He will have to give her one if she asks and then she can stay in the world, and look for her parents. He refuses, but does claim her as his granddaughter.

Kamaji sends her to the owner of the spahouse, the witch Yubaba. Yubaba tries to scare her off, but as Chihiro prevails, she gets hired on and signs a contract. Yubaba takes her name and changes it to Sen. Haku finds her later and gives her the card from her friend with her real name. He warns her, don’t forget you name or else you can never leave.

I liked that, as in fairy tales that is a common theme with witches and warlocks, Rumplestilskin-your name is powerful.

No one likes Sen as she is still human. She gets paired with Lin (Susan Egan, who you’ll recognize the voice as the same actress who was Meg in Hercules). Lin is unhappy as no one wants to help her as well, now that she is paired with Sen. Yubaba makes things difficult by giving them the hardest tasks as she wants to break little Sen.

One night, Sen notices something outside when she goes to close the doors. She spots No-Face, which is not supposed to come into the spa (but she doesn’t know that). She leaves the door open as she gets called away by Lin to take care of the stink spirit. After she leaves, No-Face comes in.

That’s not good.

They need serious help to clean up this one, but the guy who gives the special spa bath salts won’t give her anything. However, No Face grabs her a bunch of them. As they clean the stink spirit, Sen realizes that he needs more than just a bath.

Lin: Sen! Sen, where are you?

Chihiro: [from beside the Stink Spirit] Over here!

Lin: Don’t worry… stay right where you are, I’m coming to get you! You’re gonna be fine, I won’t let him hurt you.

Chihiro: I think he needs help! It feels like there’s a thorn in his side!

She frees him and the creature is horrifying looking to me, creeps me out, but he’s the nice spirit of a polluted river and gives Sen a magic emetic dumpling and gold to everyone else.

All are happy, but Sen feels a little distressed. She misses her family and can’t find Haku anywhere.

Lin warns her to stay away frpm Haku, that he is evil and works for the witch Yubaba-don’t trust him. But Sen is convinced that Haku is good.

Meanwhile No-Face has made fake gold and has been treated like a king in the spa. He demands food and tips well, eatign workers when they keep him from reaching Sen.

Meanwhile, Haku has returned from his mission (in the shape of a dragon), and is attacked by paper Shikigami. Haku and Sen try to fight them off, but one morphs into Yubaba’s twin sister, Zeniba, and reveals he stole a seal from her.

That’s not good.

Yubaba’s giant crazy baby Boh captures Sen and doesn’t want her to leave. He wants her to stay and play with her, threatening to break her arm and force her to stay-this baby always scared me.

On second thought-with this baby in it, it is a horror movie.

Zeniba’s image does not like how the baby speaks to her and turns him into a mouse and makes a hologram baby. Haku then attacks her shikigami and that destroys the Zeniba hologram. He’s badly injured and falls down to the boiler room with Sen and Boh.

Kamaji diagnoses him as having eaten some pretty powerful magic. Sen gets the great idea to give him some of  the dumpling she got earlier. He coughs up the seal and a worm, which Sen destroys. Boh and Kamaji’s soot creatures reenact it.

She has to travel to Zeniba and take the seal. Kamaji gives her his roll of tickets to take the spirit train and she is about to head out-but is stopped by the antics of No-Face. No-Face has been going crazy trying to find Sen and eating everything!

Okay I was an adult when I saw this but he is so crazy and creepy looking, he has ALWAYS terrified me. He’s like the creepy blob thing in Phantoms.

She gives him the rest of the dumpling and he spits everything up. Sen leaves and No Face goes with them. Sen, No Face, Boh, and Yubaba’s crow all travel on the train to see Zeniba.

When they reach Zeniba they are surprised to discover that she is so kind and nice. She puts them to work, No Face weaves and the others help out.

They then have a tea party,

And Zeniba reveals she can’t do anything to help her, her parents, or Haku. Chihiro must do it.

Zeniba: I’d like to help you, dear, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s one of our rules here. You’ve got to take care of your parents and that dragon boyfriend of yours, on your own.

Chihiro: But, um, can’t you even give me a hint? I feel like Haku and I met, a long time ago.

Zeniba: In that case, it’s easy. Nothing that happens is ever forgotten, even if you can’t remember it.

Haku wakes up and goes after them. No-Face stays behind while Chihiro, Boh, and the little crow decide to return to the spa house. Sen frees him when she gives him his name back.

Chihiro: Haku, listen. I just remembered something from a long time ago, I think it may help you. Once, when I was little, I dropped my shoe into a river. When I tried to get it back I fell in. I thought I’d drown but the water carried me to shore. It finally came back to me. The river’s name was the Kohaku river. I think that was you, and your real name is Kohaku River.

Haku: You did it, Chihiro! I remember! I was the spirit of the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: A river spirit?

Haku: My name is the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: They filled in that river, it’s all apartments now.

Haku: That must be why I can’t find my way home, Chihiro, I remember you falling into the river, and I remember your little pink shoe.

Chihiro: So, you’re the one who carried me back to shallow water, you saved me… I knew you were good!

But not all is taken care of. Chihiro must now past the test to pick her parents from the pigs or be stuck there forever.

Hmmm…

She and her parents are free and leave. Her parents are groggy as if they have just woken from a dream, and they find their car covered in vines and such as if it has been sitting out there for a long time. I wonder how long they were in the spirt world? Does her father still have a job?

Hmmm

They head to their home and Chihiro’s father asks is she is nervous about going to a new school. After all Chihiro has been through school will not be a problem.

This is an absolutely adorable film, although it does have some creepy moments in it. No-Face,

Spooky…

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more animated films, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

For more Disney films, go to One Who Was Both Hero and Villain: Maleficent (2014)

For more ghosts, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

Super Power Girl, Blackmail, Gangsters, and a Serial Kidnapper: Strong Woman Bong Soon (2017)

Strong Woman Bong Soon is a Korean drama, Him-Ssen Yeo-ja Do Bong-Soon, that I just love and am thoroughly depressed that it is only one season and over.

The best thing about this film is that it is fun, dramatic, deals with the ideas of superheroes in a realistic way along with being entertaining and fun. I’m so tired of American TV being so serious, broody, and depressing. I wish we had more mixed shows-like Psych was a cop drama, but also a comedy. Or how Boy Meets World was silly and light-hearted but dealt with serious issues.

So Bong Soon (Bo-Young Park) is a 27-year old twin sister, (her brother Bong Ki is studying to be a doctor) living in Korea, and trying to find a job.

She wants to be a video game designer and create a game based on her but is having a hard time getting and keeping a job.

Why does she want a game designed after her? Well she’s special, she has super strength.

It all started back with her great-great-great grandma. She had super strength, but when she used it to hurt innocent people, she lost her ability and gained leprosy. The super strength was passed through all the women in her family, but if they use it to hurt innocent people they would lose it and reap the consequences.

Bong Soon’s mother, Hwang Jin-yi, used her power to compete in the olympics for Korea, which was okay. But when she used it to shake down people and to make money, she lost her ability as well.

Bong Soon has inherited the power and has been afraid to do anything with it as she doesn’t want to abuse it or lose it. She lives her life trying to hide her abilities and be fragile as she doesn’t want to hurt an innocent, lose it, or be seen as a freak, and because her crush says he likes delicate girls.

Pretending all the time…

Yes, Bong Soon has been in love with her brother Bong Ki’s best friend has Guk Du (a police detective) since she was a child. He has a girlfriend though.

So there are three story lines in this show:

1)Gangsters

Don’t mess with me!

The area Bong Soon lives in has gangsters trying to take over and redevelop the area. They have been harassing people and Bong-Soon’s mom wants to get involved with them as she wants to make money even though innocent people are getting hurt.

2) Blackmail

Mr. Ahn (Hyung-shik Park), creator of the video game company Ainsoft, spends most of his days alone. He is haunted by a memory of a girl, who he believes to be a guardian spirit, that saved him years back. He goes into work twice a week and spends the rest of him time alone, playing video games and designing new ones. He is currently being blackmailed to give up all intentions of inheriting his father’s company or else he will lose Ainsoft.

3)Serial Kidnapper

Meanwhile, there is a creepy guy obsessed with the fairytale Bluebeard and His Seven Wives lurking in the Dubong area. He is intent on abducting seven women to be his “brides” and has built a secret prison under his garage where he keeps his victims. Guk Doo is one of the police working on the case.

Ready for any case

All these stories intersect when one day Bong Soon is bicycling when she encounters some gangsters assaulting an old man who is driving a group of daycare kids. She is harassed when Mr. Ahn comes upon them. He calls the police, but before they get there Bong Soon takes them out.

They all go to the police station, where the gangsters are pressing charges against Bong Soon, but Mr. Ahn rescues her by going on how ludicrous the idea is of 5’2 petite Bong Soon beating up all these gangsters.

Bong Soon isn’t interested and dresses down Mr. Ahn. Then she rides off on her bike. Mr. Ahn is extremely interested and tracks her down, offering to hire her as his bodyguard. She thinks it is a crazy idea, but agrees when she hears how much he is offering to pay her.

Mr. Ahn and Bong Soon team up to stop the blackmailer-using his brain and tech, and her strength and compassion. Mr. Ahn even starts training her to help her control her power and be ready for anything.

As Mr. Ahn spends so much time with her, he starts to really enjoy spending that time with her, falling head over heels. But he has to convince Bong-Soon he is serious and that the rumors of him being gay are false.

Meanwhile, the gangsters are extremely embarrassed over her having bested them and they try to go after her, but each time they just end up in the hospital. It turns out that these same gangsters are involved in the blackmail as well.

Hmmm…

Bong Soon becomes involved with the kidnapping case when she goes to the hospital to visit Mr. Gong (who’s tailbone she accidentally fractured) and witnesses the kidnapper disguised as a doctor kidnapping one of his victims. She runs into him a few more times and Guk-Doo tries to place her in his care and watch for her, having her stay with Mr. Ahn (which he likes, but Guk-Doo doesn’t).

YEEEEES!!!!!!

One night she and her best friend (who is visiting) are making stew, her friend going out to get some tofu. One her way back she is attacked by the kidnapper. Bong-Soon, worried that her friend is taking a too long, comes upon them and saves her.

After her friend thanks her for saving her, Bong-Soon starts thinking about all the other people out there that might need help, and decides to go after the kidnapper.

This kidnapper becomes her supervillain as he is intent on taking her down. He is the perfect foil for Bong Soon-Bong Soon is perky and sweet, he is dark and demented. Bong-Soon is short and petite, he is tall and built. He hates women and enjoys torturing them, she is strong, powerful and is going to find and stop him.

Will Bong-Soon win over Guk-Doo? Or realize that Mr. Ahn is the best guy there is. Will they stop the blackmailer or will Mr. Ahn be destroyed? Will they defeat the gangsters? Or will they take down Bong-Soon? Will Bong-Soon stop the kidnapper? Or will he outsmart her and force her to loose her powers?

Trust me, watch this and you’ll love it. It is so cute and pay attention-they repeat certain things. And oh that ending-so adorable!

So now on to the other reason why I wanted to review this show:

Yes, it reminds me a lot of Jane Austen.

First we have Bong-Soon. She is sweet and innocent like Catherine Morland, passionate like Marianne Dashwood, witty like Elizabeth Bennet, romantic like Anne Elliot, and logical like Elinor Dashwood. She’s got a bit of everyone in her and it is great.

Or Mr. Ahn

That leads us to Mr. Ahn. When we first meet him he is closed off and rude, Bong-Soon and him not having a great relationship to start with. She is upset over her pride being hurt, and he wants nothing to do with anyone. We then discover he has a truly painful and heartbreaking backstory.

Like Mr. Tilney, he is sarcastic, fun, and outright hilarious. He end up helping train Bong-Soon, guiding her like Mr. Knightley. He even gets a horrible video of Bong-Soon taken down, to help her-just like Mr. Darcy. He’s also rich like Mr. Darcy and makes me think of him in a few other ways:

Or like how once he gets feelings for her he tries to be cool, but can’t hold it in.

Their relationship is just adorable and I think all Jane Austen fans will love it and them.

So cute!!

We then have the most Jane Austen character of them all Bong-Soon’s mother. She seriously could give Mrs. Bennet a run for her money. She goes to the temple and prays for the marriage of her daughter, even going to see a fortune teller to get a special something to get Bong-Soon and Mr. Ahn hitched. She doesn’t even care about the rumors of him being gay, she wants her daughter to marry the handsome man and his money. One night Mr. Ahn asks Bong-Soon to stay with him after he was attacked earlier in the day. Guk-Doo comes in trying to get her to leave as he doesn’t want them staying together as he thinks Mr. Ahn is trying to take advantage of Bong-Soon (and he doesn’t know that Bong-Soon is his bodyguard or super strong). Guk-Doo calls her mom, and she eagerly thrusts her daughter at him-Just like when Mrs. Bennet tries to make Jane sick to stay with Mr. Bingley.

Like that is soo Mrs. Bennet.

Trust me, check this out as it is an AMAZING show!

I can’t stop watching!

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to We’re Stranded on a Ship in the Middle of the Ocean with a Killer!: High Seas (2019)

For more superheroes, go to Superhero Film or Stalker Thriller: Unbreakable (2000)

For more blackmail, go to The Misery That Walks Around On This Pretty, Quiet Night: Deadline at Dawn (1946)

For more kidnappings, go to What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006)

How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)

How Much Do You Really Know About Him?

In 2009, I was 17 years old. A senior applying to colleges, trying to figure out what to do next with my life-planning prom and other senior activities.

I remember when this film came out, it was a big deal at the time as Penn Badgley was super popular from Gossip Girl (it being in its third season) and this was to be his big film role (prior to this he was in John Tucker Must Die! as the little brother). I wasn’t super interested in it at the time- I was more angry about the Fame remake (which sucked as much as I had thought it would), that Where the Wild Things looked depressing instead of the fun book I remembered it being (it was both boring and depressing), and thought Dare, New Moon, and Avatar all sounded dumb. The only thing I was looking forward to was Robert Downey Jr. and Judd Law in Sherlock Holmes.

In fact I never probably would have even remembered anything about this movie, except my mom was so against it. But I was 17, I could watch whatever I wanted. I remember saying some smartmouth reply and getting in trouble for it.

I never did go see it in theaters as I didn’t really care about it.

Flashforward to the beginning of this year and I’m housesitting/catsitting for a friend who has cable-and not just cable, Lifetime!

I LOVE Lifetime and can’t help but watch the Lifetime movie channel. That day it was playing The Stepfather, so I decided what the hey? Why not check it out?

NO! NO! This was not good at all. I should have listened to my mom and passed this one by!

Yes, always listen to your mother!

So typically I do not review a movie without reviewing the original, but I didn’t get a chance to fit it in, so the review of the remake must go on.

So the film starts off with “the Stepfather” (Dylan Walsh) having killed his family and their dead bodies not even phasing him as he leaves and moves on to the next town to find his “new family”.

In the supermarket he meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward), with her two kids-Sean and Beth. He charms them quickly and he, now going by David Harris, and Susan begin a relationship.

If I’ve learned anything from movies and TV is the supermarket is nor the place for women to meet men. I mean the mom gets set up with a Vampire in Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire, Susan gets with a serial killer, and Fran with a liar-guy is a hot dog vendor pretending t be a stock broker in The Nanny. Just cross that place off the list.

Don’t go there to look for men!

So David and Susan become engaged-which is something that really bothers me. I mean it is called The Stepfather, but David is NOT the stepfather. He and Susan live together, but they don’t marry. So why call it that? Because it is better than The Man My Mom Lived With or My Mom’s Evil Fiance or My Mom’s Serial Killer Boyfriend or Don’t Let Mom Marry the Serial KillerActually that last one sounds pretty good. It could be super serious teen drama or ’90s kids comedy-someone write a script, make a ton of money and give me 10% for the title.

Finally! This is almost over!

So anyways, it is the summer and Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) has just returned from military school. He was acting up after his parents’ divorced and was sent away. Depending on his behavior he can stay or will be shipped back.

Choose wisely.

He meets David and feels weird about the whole thing-everything has seemed to move toooo fast and he’s worried his mom might end up with another bad relationship-another guy like his dad.

Now here is where the film first failed with me. This film could have been a lot better if they went in a different direction then what they chose. Now I have never seen the original film this is based on, but think how much more horrifying if David seemed so nice, developed a great relationship with the kids, maybe even Michael opening up and sharing what happened with his dad-what he saw between his parents that made him not be able to stand his father and react so destructively. Then to have him realize David is not who he seems-I think much more interesting.

But instead David tries to bond with him but it is all so fake and creepy-Michael doesn’t tust him, second guesses him, and the suspense/mystery/horror is missing. We know David is a psycho and Michael knows it too-there is no buildup.

I mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this much better on their Ted episode. Buffy wanted to like her mother’s boyfriend, she tried to like him-but then felt something off-and she felt bad about being so down on her mom-convincing herself it was her problem not anything wrong with Ted. But then Ted starts being extremely controlling, he threatens her. He continues to treat her cruelly but others nicely, causing no one to believe her or make her think she is imagining it. It is emotional and mental abuse-and makes you wonder what will happen next.

That would have been a better path to take, but they didn’t do that.

Ugh!

Michael isn’t the only one who is unsure about David as Susan’s sister, Jackie, points out that there is a ton about David she knows zero about, although Jackie’s wife/girlfriend (it doesn’t state their exact relationship) thinks Jackie is being overprotective-as David’s hot. So what if they don’t know his family, religion, history, friends where he grew up, etc, and he’s not working-David’s hot.

Yeah, Susan really? I mean you are a single mom, don’t you want someone more stable for your kids? Don’t you think you want someone with a real job?

And David’s plan doesn’t make sense! He creates fake identities but has nothing to back him up? I mean he just plans to move from town to town with no social security number or anything and expect to work and live there? I mean they could have had him buy dead people’s identities and then have Michael do some research and stumble on to it! And then he presents it to his mom and she’s like, “oh that, it’s a common name that’s not him.” And then David doing something creepy like almost kill him, kind of like Joseph Cotton in Shadow of a Doubt when he starts sabotaging things around his niece because she knows too much, and everyone thinks she is just imagining things.

Anyways, one day Sean isn’t listening to Susan, so David decides to “discipline” and chokes him. When Sean and Beth visit their dad, he tells him and when Jay returns the kids he gets in a fistfight with David. Now this is my other issue with the movie-Jay confronts David about choking Sean and is freaking out and DAVID ADMITS IT and what does the mom do? Get angry at her EX-HUSBAND THE MAN PROTECTING HIS CHILD AND NOT THE MAN WHO JUST ADMITTED TO CHOKING OUT HER BABY. And afterwards Sean is all it my fault, and everyone is mad at Jay for making a scene and overreacting, and Sean apologizes to David and everyone is its okay, we forgive you. And later when Sean is freaking out, Michael is all its okay Sean David won’t hurt you again.

Uh, no. NO, NO, NO, NO! Jay was totally in the right and I completely 100% agree with his decision to pummel the guy ABUSING HIS child. And Susan, really? What is wrong with you! This man admitted to abusing your child because “he forgot what it was like being a father and discipling and maybe went too far. But don’t worry, he’ll learn how to do better, Uh, no! Get out of my house and out of my life and I am calling the police on you.”

WHAT!!!??

But Susan loves him. After that I checked out-I just couldn’t get over that scene. Now if they had David not admit to it, and change it around so it sounds like Sean is lying as he is upset at the changes, or Jay made it up, or twisted it in any way-I’ll buy that. But he admits it, and Susan cannot see the warning signs? Now I’ve been in an abusive relationship I now how they can meld your mind and practically brainwash you with their emotional and mental abuse- but your kids Susan! Your kids!!!

So Michael investigates, David goes on an anti-climatic killing spree, Michael’s girlfriend walks around in tiny clothes and bikinis, and the movie is just boring.

There is no suspense or buildup, no twists, it is all bland and very oatmeal-you know what you are getting and it happens-just as expected.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more serial killers, go to It Should Have Been a Movie or a Miniseries: American Gothic (2016)

So with today’s topic and October being national domestic violence awareness month, I felt compelled to share this.

I Am a Survivor of Domestic Violence and I Know Help is Out There:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

Merry Christmas!!!

So most of you are going:

No, I’m not crazy. I know that this is October, Horrorfest VIII. But I couldn’t help it as this film takes place during Christmas.

So last December I watched a Christmas film every day up to the 25th. They were films I owned, or found on youtube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. This one I found on Amazon Prime and enjoyed it so much, I had to add it…and as this mystery takes place on Christmas Eve, I’m posting it on the 24th.

The Last Christmas

The La Foret family is lead by their Patriarch, the wealthy tycoon, Grandfather La Foret. Every year he brings his family together: his children Stuart, Margaret, and Jean; along with Stuart’s daughter Natasha, and Jean’s kids: Ian and Claire- to his island, Shadow Island, for the holidays, in which Grandfather would create these incredibly hard puzzles to be solved at midnight.

Mystery, you say?

But one Christmas, Jean refused to play, and when the family all met up at the end of the night, they found her dead. Drowned. After that there were no more family gatherings. The family further fractured with Claire leaving to Shadow Island, her grandfather’s resort, and writing mysteries; Natasha sleeping with her Aunt Margaret’s husband; Margaret divorcing and sinking even further into her alcoholism; Ian disappearing off the face of the earth; and Grandfather retreating to France.

It has been five years, and Grandfather has decided that he wants to have another Christmas get-together. He sends invites to all those that were at the last Christmas (point for title), and makes sure all are coming.

Claire (Jennifer Finnigan) is excited to have them all come, and starts setting up the house with her friend, and resort runner, Monica. The first to arrive is an extremely drunk Aunt Margaret-who tries to abscomb with the silverware and the silver candlestick. Claire stops Aunt Margaret as she likes the candlestick, and is sad there is only one. All I could think is

Foreshadowing!

I know that candlestick will become very important later, I can feel it.

Then Ian arrives, something Monica and Claire have been very excited for. Claire and her brother used to be very close, and she is puzzled why he has been silent for the last three years. Monica used to date him and is hoping to rekindle the flame.

Then we have Stuart and Natasha, which causes lots of fights as Margaret can’t stand to see the woman who cheated with her husband.

Then Grandfather arrives with his Italian doctor, Sergio Boniti. It turns out that this will be his last Christmas (2 points for title), as he is deathly sick and won’t be on the earth much longer. He has written a new will, and the winner of this year’s Christmas puzzle gets everything.

But this year’s puzzle is going to be extremely difficult and is called the Jean La Foret puzzle, in honor of her. You know what I’m thinking-she was murdered and it will be about solving the mystery of her death!!

Hmmm…

All they need is for the person to give the Italian doctor, the answer and they win all the money. If they do not solve it-then all his money goes to charity.

The game is afoot and as they are trying to solve the mystery…

But then Grandfather dies!

What?

Sergio calls the police and an ambulance, but encourages them to solve the puzzle-as until the police and EMTs arrive anyone can win. Once he is legally pronounced dead-no one gets the money.

Hurry!

The clues come out, accidents happen, someone takes a fall, and all are being watched…Then Claire discovers that Grandfather is not dead and Sergio is not a Doctor. Grandfather hired a private detective, Sergio, to look into the death of Jean. They believe her to be murdered and one of those on the Island being the murderer.

They have installed cameras throughout the resort, all the clues lead to the murder, and they are hoping one will confess as Grandfather needs the answer before he dies-he has to know. But which one is the murderer?

Hmm…

Stuart La Foret-Uncle Stuart is in investing and was in charge of Jean’s money. Jean discovered some funny business and was planning on pulling her funds out-and bringing to light his indiscretions. Did he murder her to protect himself and keep himself from being sent to jail?

Hmm…

Margaret La Foret- She and Jean have always fought about everything and everyone. That night they fought about Margaret’s husband, among other things. Could Margaret have killed her in a drunken rage?

Hmmm

Ian La Foret-Ian has always been a troublemaker and fought with his mom. These past few years he has been in jail for armed robbery. Did he kill her because she was bossing him around, or because he needed money and she wouldn’t give it to him?

Hmm…

Natasha La Foret-Natasha has never liked her aunt or her interference, and likes nice things and money. Could she have killed her aunt to protect her father’s business-and the money he gives her?

Hmm…

Then there is grandfather and Sergio-we know hardly anything about them…could there be more there?

Hmmm…

And what about Monica? She has crazy eyes and is obsessive about Ian. If his mother tried to break them up, could she have come on the island unbeknownst to anyone and taken care of her?

I really enjoyed it and I recommend it. It was a cute mystery and had a few twists and turns.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Christmas movies, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more Amazon Prime picks, go to I Have a Dubious Reputation: The Notorious Landlady (1962)

For more films that feature a Candlestick, go to One Blow to the Head and the Deed is Done: Candlestick (2014)