Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

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Paul MacLean
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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#46 Post by Paul MacLean » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:49 am

Monterey Jack wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:14 pm
The sterile, antiseptic hospital corridors make for an ideal stage for some ingenious cat & mouse suspense games, and it’s all enhanced greatly by a terrific Jerry Goldsmith score, which evokes the scraping and clanging of medical instruments with its cold, echoing dissonances.
As far as the score, I don't think Coma gets enough credit for having one of the most interesting spotting decisions I've ever come across. There is absolutely no scoring in the first half of the film -- not even a main title. But the second half of the movie is densely scored. An usual, offbeat choice, but enormously effective.

Monterey Jack wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:04 pm
The lavish 1979 production (from director John Badham) boasts an equally magnetic turn from Frank Langella as Dracula (bringing his popular stint on the stage to the big screen), and features a more romantic/sexy take of the Count’s nighttime predations.
I like this movie, but in many ways I feel it was a missed opportunity. I think it was a huge mistake to omit the Transylvania sequence, which is arguably the most creepy, atmospheric part of Stoker's narrative -- and also sets the tone for the ensuing story (and what I'd give to have heard John Williams score those scenes). As a result, the film is rather limited in scope, and the story not as clear without setup in Dracula's castle. Had the Transylvania sequence been included in the film, I think this would have been twice as good a picture. I also felt Kate Nelligan was a bit old for the role of Mina (oops, I mean Lucy!).

Whatever its shortcomings, this film is still better than Francis Coppola's effort, or Werner Herzog's atmospheric but spare Nosferatu. Agreed, Langella is superb, and for my money still the best on-screen Dracula ever. Olivier is equally impressive, as is Plesance. The film is visually sumptuous, from Ken Adams' sets to the striking use of locations in southwest England (even if the film itself is set in northeast England!) John Williams' score is outstanding, and one of his most atmospheric -- you can tell he relished the chance to score a macabre, Gothic love story.

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Monterey Jack
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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#47 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:27 pm

Paul MacLean wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:49 am
As far as the score, I don't think Coma gets enough credit for having one of the most interesting spotting decisions I've ever come across. There is absolutely no scoring in the first half of the film -- not even a main title. But the second half of the movie is densely scored. An usual, offbeat choice, but enormously effective.
Oh, to hear a modern-day movie spotted with the same clinical economy of Goldsmith in the 60's and 70's. :( If Coma were remade today, the music would be slathered over every scene with faux-dread the second the film started.

Also remarkable to remember that Coma was one of six movies Goldsmith did in 1978 alone, and yet all of them have a distinct flavor and feel that differentiate the lot. Compare to today, when Hans Zimmer will score or "supervise" six movies within the period of a few months, and all of it bleeds together into the same flavorless pile of mush.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#48 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:22 pm

It’s the 80’s / so do a lotta Coke / and vote for Ron-ald Rea-gan! 8)

-Of Unknown Origin (1983): 2.5/10

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A pre-Robocop Peter Weller is driven to obsessive madness dealing with an unruly rat in his New York tenement building, which ends up crippling his work performance and reducing his domicile to a rubble-strewn battlefield. Basically a Tom & Jerry cartoon played completely straight, this dull would-be shocker (directed by a pre-Rambo George P. Cosmatos) has little suspense, mediocre acting and poor special effects…in fact, the theatrical trailer on the DVD humorously tries to conceal the fact that the interloper invading Weller’s apartment is a rat, and basically implies that it’s a supernatural haunting! If you want a superior rat thriller, stick with the underrated 2003 remake of Willard with Crispin Glover (I honestly have not seen the original, to my chagrin).

-The Wraith (1986): 5/10

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An Arizona teenager is murdered by a gang of street-racing toughs, only to come back as an avenging spirit -- clad head-to-toe in foreboding black leather and a feature-concealing motorcycle helmet and driving a radical Turbo Interceptor -- and proceeds to do away with the gang members who originally killed him. Lame crossbreeding of Fast & The Furious and Ghost Rider has a decent cast (Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid, Sherilyn Fenn) and some reasonably solid crunched-metal vehicular smashups, but it’s also deadeningly repetitive and unimaginative in the ways of offing the various punk villains. If I want to see an 80’s movie with a supernatural car killing off one-dimensional bullies, I’ll stick with John Carpenter’s Christine.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#49 Post by AndyDursin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:58 pm

THE OLD DARK HOUSE
8/10

Despite growing up as a fan of Universal’s ‘30s and ‘40s monster mashes, James Whale’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE (72 mins., 1932; Cohen Media Group) was a title I was completely unfamiliar with. This adaptation of the novel “Benighted” by J.B. Priestly became a casualty of Universal’s cost-cutting directives when the author sold off the property decades later (leading to a tepid remake from gimmick-meister William Castle in the early ‘60s). Thinking the film had no additional monetary value, the studio ordered all prints of the film destroyed, resulting in the movie vanishing from the public eye for many years.

Thanks to the efforts of Whale aficionado (and cult film director) Curtis Harrington, a surviving print of “The Old Dark House” was eventually located and rescued, and numerous restoration efforts over the decades since have resulted now in a sparking 4K-mastered presentation of this essential Whale work from the Cohen Film Collection.

If you’re a fan of “The Bride of Frankenstein,” you’ll likely find “The Old Dark House” to be great fun along similar lines: a witty and deliciously played drama of three travelers – bickering couple Raymond Massey and Gloria Stuart, along with cynical traveling companion Melvyn Douglas – who find themselves stranded in the Welsh mountains during a driving rainstorm. They come across a mansion hoping to find safe harbor for the night, only to encounter the Femm family: a group of eccentrics led by a brother (“Bride”’s resident mad doctor, Ernest Thesiger) and sister (Eva Moore) who could be possibly psychotic…but also, perhaps, saner than another member of their clan (Brember Wills) they keep under lock and key. Add in a scary butler (Boris Karloff) and the addition of two other travelers who stumble upon their home (Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond) and you have a recipe for mayhem and a heaping dose of black comedy.

With its crisp dialogue and colorful performances, “The Old Dark House” is entertaining pre-Code entertainment that ranks as one of Universal’s strongest genre-related efforts from a decade when it specialized heavily in the macabre. Whale devotees will recognize the director’s camera set-ups and editorial technique, which effectively adds to some of its characters’ memorable monologues. The mix of personalities makes for a film that will likely enhance its appeal on repeat viewing, even if Karloff’s unsurprising turn as the butler is ultimately one of its least compelling components.

After extensive work by a number of restoration teams, “The Old Dark House” makes its way to Blu-Ray from Cohen in a 4K restoration. The source materials show a pleasing amount of detail and look quite healthy for the most part, and the PCM mono sound is likewise sufficiently clean so viewers won’t miss any of Benn Levy’s dialogue. Extras include a new interview with Sara Karloff and extras carried over from the out of print Kino DVD, including two commentaries (one from Gloria Stuart, another from Whale biographer James Curtis), a brief interview with Curtis Harrington, and the 2017 re-release trailer.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#50 Post by Monterey Jack » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:06 pm

Eat one now / save one for later…

-Twins Of Evil (1971): 7.5/10

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-Let Me In (2010): 9/10

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Late-period Hammer vampire chills from their waning days in the early 70’s paired with a resurrection of the studio name from the past decade made for today’s double-bill. Twins Of Evil features the titular pair (Mary and Madeleine Collinson) as the nieces of a puritan (Peter Cushing, of course) who’s obsessed with burning comely young maidens at the stake in order to rescue their souls from Satan’s claws. But he’s looking in the wrong place, as the local Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas) truly is a Satanist, who quickly becomes a vampire and turns one of the girls into his willing servant who terrorizes the nearby countryside. directed by John Hough (The Legend Of Hell House), Twins offers up the usual early-70’s Hammer blend of atmospherically fog-shrouded sets, gratuitous – and occasionally unclothed -- cleavage (and how!), and a particularly gory climax as the enraged locals storm the Count’s castle for a rousing finale. 2010’s Let Me In is an American remake of the excellent 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In, and – in many respects – is a worthy and, indeed, superior take on the material. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Abby, an eternally 12-year-old vampire who befriends a picked-upon boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee from ParaNorman) in his small town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the snowy winter of 1983. Extremely well-directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, the last two Planet Of The Apes films), Let Me In is a more visceral, jarring piece of filmmaking than the more staid, slow-burn original (there’s a startling car crash scene shot entirely from inside said vehicle as it plows into oncoming traffic and rolls down a steep embankment in what appears to be an unbroken take), and yet it still features the same elegantly mournful sense of dread and loneliness. Moretz and McPhee both deliver terrific performances, and the film is elevated further by Greig Fraser’s excellent cinematography and Michael Giacchino’s eloquent score. As great as the original is, I’d rank the remake as being just as good in its own way, and better in some respects.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#51 Post by Monterey Jack » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:54 pm

Things that are stranger than Stranger Things on tonight’s twofer (with special guest viewer the Nephew!).

-Beetlejuice (1988): 8.5/10

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Tim Burton’s second feature is still one of his funniest pure comedies, a hellzapoppin’ gothic funhouse about a recently deceased young couple, Adam & Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who find the home they spent so much loving time and energy building together invaded by a new family, including a pair of ghastly, unfeeling parents (Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara) and their sullen Goth Girl teenage daughter Lydia (Stranger Things’ future crazy mom Winona Ryder, who was one of my biggest adolescent crushes thanks in large part to this role). Incensed by all of the tacky décor they introduce into their former domicile, Adam & Barbara try to scare they away, with mediocre results, but then find themselves tempted by the offer of a self-proclaimed “bio-exorcist”, Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton, in a terrific turn), to do the job for them. But the couple find themselves striking up a friendship with Lydia (the only human who can see them, thanks for her being “strange and unusual”), which throws their frightful plans into question. Showing a lot of Burton’s past as an animator, Beetlejuice is a delightfully morbid live-action cartoon of a movie, brimming with lightly-scary imagery, terrific makeup effects (which copped an Oscar), a soundtrack which butts the obligatory whirligig Danny Elfman tunes against plenty of classic Harry Belafonte songs, and plenty of laughs.

-Poltergeist (1982): 10/10

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Still one of the greatest haunted house movies of all time, this classic Steven Spielberg production offers up a perfect mixture of scares, laughs and genuine emotion, and you can totally see where Stranger Things copped it’s concept of “The Upside-Down” from in its frightful tale of a sweet young girl named Carol Ann Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) ferried away into another plane of existence by “The TV People”, and how her distraught parents (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) invite a group of paranormal investigators (including Beatrice Straight and the diminutive Zelda Rubenstein) into their suburban home in a bid to find little Carol Ann and bring her home before she’s lost forever. In itself inspired by the classic Twilight Zone episode “Little Girl Lost”, Poltergeist has that classic 80’s Spielberg style, with a loving family unit torn apart and mending itself through a tough supernatural or extraterrestrial intrusion (this is, indeed, the dark mirror image of the same summer’s other, sunnier Spielberg production, E.T.), and it earns every scare, laugh and tear it generates. Boasting superb visual effects and a splendid Jerry Goldsmith score (which walks the tightrope between moments of eerie terror and sheer beauty and wonderment), Poltergeist is a must for anyone cramming for the second season of Stranger Things to note how many ideas that Netflix series lovingly cribbed. They’re heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#52 Post by Monterey Jack » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:22 pm

A pair of Zombie love triangles formed today’s twofer…

-Burying The Ex (2015): 6.5/10

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A young man named Max (the late Anton Yelchin) – who works at a horror-theme memorabilia shop -- loses his snobby girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene) in an auto accident, and, after a period of mourning, begins to start anew with a comely new potential mate named Olivia (the outrageously gorgeous Alexandra Daddario) who works at the local hipster ice cream place, but then is astounded when Evelyn shows up at the door, looking rather ripe and yet still insisting that their relationship isn’t over until she says it is. Minor entry in the zomcom genre is a fairly modest effort from director Joe Dante, one where the obviously miniscule budget keeps the storyline from really attaining the anarchic fizz of his more lavish Amblin productions from the 80’s (Gremlins, Innerspace). It’s all fairly amusing, cute, and has glimmers of wit, but the mediocre makeup and digital effects constrain ideas that should have been wilder, grosser and more inventive. Plus, some of the geek details just don’t ring true…one of the Final Straw moments in Max and Evelyn’s relationship is when she takes down his vintage movie posters and “ruins” them by folding them to fit into a drawer…and yet, who displays valuable collector’s items like this by just hanging them directly on a wall without putting them in frames first? Still, the movie is light fun for Dante fans, and it’s always nice to see that an ancient Dick Miller is still kicking.

-Corpse Bride (2005): 9/10

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Another tale of a man accidentally wedded to a corpse while trying to connect with a living rival, Tim Burton’s delightful stop-motion animated feature is one of his most entertaining movies, with an impeccable voice cast (Helena Bonham Carter as the titular, perversely-attractive Emily, Emily Watson as Victoria, and Johnny Depp as Victor, caught between two potential loves), beautiful, maddeningly-designed animation, a lively Danny Elfman score and one of the most touching conclusions in any of his films.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#53 Post by Monterey Jack » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:52 am

-The Babysitter (2017): 5/10

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Fitfully amusing horror/comedy about a meek 12-year-old named Cole (Judah Lewis), whose crazy-hot babysitter, Bee (Hugo Weaving’s niece, Samantha Weaving, who shares her uncle’s penetrating gaze and impressive eyebrows), is also legitimately crazy, and who needs his blood to finish off a Satanic ritual along with her gaggle of fellow cultists during an overnight sleepover. Directed by Charlie’s Angels “auteur” McG, The Babysitter (a Netflix original) has a smattering of decent gore gags and some stray laughs, but it’s also strained, overstylized and never as outrageous as it aspires to be, feeling padded even at a scant 85 minutes. There are far better choices you could make for a horror/comedy hybrid this Halloween season.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#54 Post by AndyDursin » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:02 pm

I was meaning to check that out but...ehhhh....doesn't sound so hot.

What service has the Will Smith orc cop movie?? Lol

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#55 Post by Monterey Jack » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:49 pm

-The House Of The Devil (2009): 9/10

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Terrific, pitch-perfect throwback to early-80’s horror cinema about a young college student named Samantha (Jocelyn Donohue, an eerie ringer for a young Margot Kidder), who – driven by dire financial need to make her first month’s rent in her swank new apartment – accepts a babysitting gig at an ominously secluded house at the behest of an odd, hulking man (Tom Noonan), who admits that what he wants from her is not to watch a small child, but to act as caretaker for his infirm (and unseen) mother-in-law, asleep upstairs. Samantha is initially hesitant, but the money is very good, and she grudgingly accepts, only to find out her seemingly easy gig is going to go slowly awry, her wandering boredom gradually getting enveloped in a groundless yet undeniable sense of unease. Director, writer and editor Ti West never met a pause he couldn’t impregnate, and the first two thirds of his film is a slow-burn suspense piece that may turn out to be too slow for horror viewers looking for more visceral frights. But for those willing to let the film’s initially glacial pacing sink in, the film generates genuine suspense as it rolls along, and the film absolutely NAILS the precise look and feel of an early-80’s movie. Cinematographer Eliot Rocket shot the movie on vintage, gorgeously-grainy Fuji film stock, and West knows just how to fill the film with the kind of elegantly creeping, slow zooms and dolly moves that positively drip of the genre cinema of the early Reagan years (not to mention one bitchin’ dance scene set to a classic early-80’s pop hit). Not a film for those who require a certain quota of grue per minute, but The House Of The Devil is nevertheless a terrific thriller.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#56 Post by Monterey Jack » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:10 pm

Anyone for cake…?

-Happy Death Day (2017): 7.5/10

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-Happy Birthday To Me (1981): 7.5/10

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A pair of birthday treats. In Happy Death Day, a college student named Teresa (Jessica Rothe) is stalked through her campus by a killer disguised behind a cherubic plastic mask that evokes Baby Herman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but when the final knife thrust comes, instead of simply being the opening kill to set up a rash of murders to follow, Teresa wakes up to discover the same day rewinding itself to the beginning. Waking up in the same bed in the room of a classmate (Israel Broussard) after the previous night’s drunken bender, the same two students getting soaked by the sprinkler system going off, the same rolling blackout at precisely 9:00 PM…it’s all part of an endless loop, and as Samantha learns the particulars of the purgatory she’s in, she uses what information she gleans from the day to avoid the same grisly fate…but whatever she does, she always ends up dying in some other way by the time midnight rolls around, catapulting her back into the same bed, woken up by the same annoying cell phone ringtone. Yes, it’s yet another variation on Groundhog Day, but it’s also slick, clever and frequently funny, taking genre clichés and upending them in amusing ways. While I do with the film had more creative and bloodier kills (doing a slasher movie sendup with a PG-13 rating is like watching a network TV version of Game Of Thrones), it’s certainly good fun for horror fans left wanting after last month’s It…what else is there to see in theaters this Halloween season? Boo! A Madea Halloween 2? Another entry in the reprehensible Saw franchise?

As for Happy Birthday To Me, it’s one of the better entries in the early-80’s heyday of the slasher genre, with fun, gory kills, adequate performances (even the bad ones are amusingly bad), and surprisingly stylish direction by a legitimate filmmaker, veteran J. Lee Thompson (The Guns Of Navarone, Cape Fear), who – while clearly slumming – nevertheless treats the pulpy material with a slick, deft hand. It’s the film’s bonkers ending, however, that really makes it…it’s a “Zoinks!” away from a Scooby-Doo reveal, and while deeply stupid, nevertheless is irresistible fun.

-Burnt Offerings (1976): 8/10

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Eerie supernatural outing about a couple (Oliver Reed, Karen Black) and their young son (Lee H. Montgomery) who agree to look over an atmospherically rotting mansion out in the boonies at the behest of an eccentric pair of siblings (Eileen Heckhart and Burgess Meredith), who only ask a pittance of a fee, provided they keep an eye on their elderly, never-seen mother in the top floor. Once the family settles in, however, things start getting spooky, as the very house itself seems to eat way into their minds and feelings and actions, like corrosive acid. Directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, Burnt Offerings is my kind of haunted house movie, more concerned with dread-soaked mood and atmosphere than with the more obvious shocks a lesser film would contain. Good one!

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#57 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:10 am

-Frankenweenie (2012): 9/10

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Charming stop-motion expansion of Tim Burton's 1984 short is beautifully-animated, cleverly designed and filled with new twists on the material, including numerous other resurrected house pets (a bag of sea monkeys turns into a pack of nattering, Gremlin-esque pranksters, a turtle swells to Gamera-sized proportions and rampages through the suburban enclave of "New Holland"). Sweet, funny and thoroughly winning.

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AndyDursin
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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#58 Post by AndyDursin » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:16 am

BURNT OFFERINGS.....ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww......have had a phobia with that one since I was a kid!

I'm going through the DRACULA's like Eric Paddon goes through versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL every December. Will report my findings soon -- part of the reason I don't contribute more to your thread is that October is a slamming month for home video, it's probably the biggest one of the year in terms of the amount of releases that come out. Subsequently I end up covering discs for the column and with Theo around, I can't just throw out a horror movie (of any variety) even as background noise in the daytime. Not to mention whatever I watch "for fun" is limited to 30-60 minutes late night before I inevitably conk out!

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#59 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:22 pm

AndyDursin wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:16 am
BURNT OFFERINGS.....ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww......have had a phobia with that one since I was a kid!
It's a really effective, creepy movie, and one I'm glad I blind-bought in a recent Kino BOGO sale. Great cast, eerie setting, and good score. I'll definitely return to it again next year.
I'm going through the DRACULA's like Eric Paddon goes through versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL every December. Will report my findings soon -- part of the reason I don't contribute more to your thread is that October is a slamming month for home video, it's probably the biggest one of the year in terms of the amount of releases that come out. Subsequently I end up covering discs for the column and with Theo around, I can't just throw out a horror movie (of any variety) even as background noise in the daytime. Not to mention whatever I watch "for fun" is limited to 30-60 minutes late night before I inevitably conk out!
I totally understand...not having kids (or any kind of social life) means I can indulge in this sort of thing whenever I want. I respect the maturity and responsibility of anyone who takes on parenthood. 8) Still, when Theo is old enough, you'll have the pleasure of introducing him to all of the film classics, much like I've been doing with my nephew over the last year (hopefully another twofer is on-tap for this upcoming weekend).

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#60 Post by AndyDursin » Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:43 pm

Thanks MJ, I certainly am looking forward to it! Right now though, he's sensitive enough that even the skeleton finale from the GARFIELD HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is a bit too intense for his liking. :lol: We have shown him the GREAT PUMPKIN CHARLIE BROWN and even MAD MONSTER PARTY which he liked -- and he does love both of the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA films, which are likely to get rewatched this coming week. 8)

One thing that bothers me more than even putting on a G-rated old horror movie are the TV commercials that run today. I might have on the news or a football game and the ads that run are often disgusting or disturbing to a little kid. I try and put the mute button on when watching a commercial during the daytime/evening, if the TV is on.

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