Tag Archives: Vincent Price

Avoiding Covid Nightmares

I have a friend who loves movies, but was forbidden horror flicks as a child by parental decree. As an adult, he has always been a busy, busy guy; works hard (and a lot) and plays just as hard (and yes, a lot).

At least he did.

Ol’ Mr. Covid has him workin’ from home these days and nights, hidin’ his face, and checkin’ the TV guide.

Now, his age having earned him his Most-At-Risk achievement badge, and having burned through most of Netflix, he was thinking of finally dipping his toe into the horror movie pool (provided he be assured of getting his toe back).

He knew of my fascination with awful films (content and competence) and asked if I might suggest a sampler of gruesome cinema.

Oh…I might…I very well might……and I did.

I suggested a double feature with a lagniappe.

I would start by queuing up Manos, Hand of Fate (1966) and setting a timer for two minutes. That’s all you need. It’s kinda like most of the songs in “Phantom of the Opera” – the same six words rolled around forever in various permutations. Don’t get me wrong, Manos is a truly, deeply, greatly, lousy film and well deserving of every ugly thing that’s been said about it. However, even loving it as I do, two minutes is plenty. It justifies all the parental decrees against horror films and validates the reverence you feel for your folks.

Then I suggested The House of Usher (1960). It’s a Roger Corman effort; safe, distant, costumed from another time, featuring moonlit seas and a castle, dark and looming. In short, a solid horror film vocabulary, but nothing too close to home to keep you up at night. However, the Richard Matheson script is scary. The performers? Well, Mark Damon is a total cypher, but Vincent Price’s hair is to die for, and someone may.

My main feature for the evening would be a Hammer Dracula flick; The Scars of Dracula (1970). It’s not my favorite Hammer Drac but it contains all the basic food groups; bright crimson blood, buxom babe, blood, strange dental work, blood, foolish old man, blood, Michael Ripper, blood, Chris Lee, blood, and blood. Yum-m-m-m-m! Even if you hate it, you’ll be able to go through life saying you’ve seen a Hammer Dracula. And again, nothing too close to home to disturb your sheltering-at-home slumber.

Now, that’s an awful night.

Thanks fer askin’.

It’s The Angry Red Planet for me tonight. It’ll be a great escape from the angry blue planet I’m currently on.

Creepy Times

We’re living in creepy times.

There’s the in-yer-face daily creepiness covered by breathless reporters on CNN/FOX/MSNBC/OAN/EEYI-EEYI-OH and promulgated with ghoulish delight by Mr. Trump and his how-many-fingers-am-I-holding-up swarm.

  • Life-stealing creepiness like 120,000 US citizens dead from a worldwide plague while we fret over bits of cloth — flags and masks.
  • We fret about whether professional baseball should play 60 games this year or 75, while black parents and spouses worry about whether their loved ones can even make it home alive this evening. I think that qualifies as pretty creepy.
  • We are titillated by the daily televised travails masters of hard-eyed greed like Manafort, Stone, Cohen, and Flynn, while nuclear-equipped hard-eyes like Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Erdogan, and Xi chat with our president regularly and off-the-record about who knows what. How creepy of us and them.

But enough of all that mundane, casual life-sucking, je ne sais yuck.

Let’s talk real creepy.

Like…

…how Facebook and Amazon and Google seem to know what we’re thinking, almost before we do.

I wrote a blog about my battle with beetles on our roses and the next day an organic bug spray was offered to me by Amazon. The beetles were creepy enough, thank you very much.

I watched a Roger Corman/Vincent Price flick; The House of Usher. It was my disc, copied from a VCR tape of a local late-night TV showing (commercials intact) from the 80’s. Facebook flashed a sponsored ad for a Lego Castle-Building set. I adore Lego, but my skin crawled.

Last week, Janie and I were working in the yard (our lilies are spectacular this year BTW) and we commented that the bushes had exceeded our capacity to keep up and several trees had pruning needs that were above our pay grade. That evening, a gypsy landscaper dragging his tools behind him knocked on our door. What are the odds? Two hours later, our urban farming needs were met…and at a reasonable tariff. I’m convinced that Google was somehow eerily involved.

And now, just when I was thinking there’d be no vacation for the Leasors this year and how much I might be missing an ocean (I have long believed that my beloved Lexington was pretty much heaven on Earth but for the lack of an ocean and a major league baseball team) when Turner Classic Movies read my mind.

Presto!

The next thing I know I’m watching Annette and Frankie in a yellow jalopy convertible toolin’ down a Pacific-bound highway singin’ “Beach Party Tonight” in several unrelated keys, three chords, lotsa breath, and devoid of harmony. Annette’s hair helmet and Frankie’s skinny arms are impervious to the breeze of the convertible and the demands of the curvaceous road. Soon I’m thrilled by Frankie and Deadhead and the boys challenging the fearsome one-and-a-half-foot waves on their surfboards, Annette and the girls bouncing from beach blanket to beach blanket in their hair helmets and Mouseketeer-approved one-piece swim suits (which have clearly never known dampness), and the wearisome wonder of Candy Johnson gyrating in her fringed swim suit (which has clearly never known…) to the sterile rockin’ sounds of Dick Dale and his Del-Tones.

I, of course, have all his albums.

There it is! There’s the missing ocean vacation, courtesy of TCM.

It’s an all-night bikini binge of beach movies from 50 years ago.

I can lose myself for a night to Deborah Walley, Tommy Kirk, surfboards, Annette, Harvey Lembeck, skateboards, Connie Stevens, Troy Donahue, ersatz mermaids, Frankie, Morey Amsterdam, chimpanzees, Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, feeble motorcycle gangs, Annette, Yvette Vickers, and Sharon Tate.

How. Did. TCM. Know?

Creepy.

But it was great…

…just what I needed…

…for about fifteen minutes.

Then, insidiously, a notion crept into my head.

What if Mr. Trump had been around this frolicsome group?

  • Surfing?
  • Dancing in the sand? To Dick Dale and his Del-Tones?? With Candy???
  • Leading a motorcycle gang?
  • Getting his hair wet?

Grim…and yes, creepy.

Suddenly, the bloom was off that rose.

I drifted off to sleep, pondering what a beach flick made by Ingmar Bergman might have been like; Summer With Santa Monika, Smiles of a Summer Surf…The Virgin Summer……