…and that means atmosphere posts! Our first for today is the original music video for The Phantom of the Opera because 80’s mullets will always be the stuff of nightmares.
Let’s pause a moment to be grateful that Michael Crawford was ultimately cast instead of Steve Harley.
Moving on, today we also provide “A Catholic Field Guide to the Undead”. This article is about 3 years old, yet somehow it seems timeless, and it also provides you with an ideal way to analyze the day’s ubiquitous monsters in light of the Faith. Just think, you could read this and then go to a Halloween party and start philosophical discussions with the guests about their costumes! Granted, I don’t know how many people feel like having philosophical discussions about their Halloween costumes at a party, but it’s worth a try.
Finally we have the musical number “Masquerade” from the 25th anniversary performance of Phantom. Their masquerade was held on New Year’s Eve, true, but the fact that they’re all costumed and having a party seems to fit for today’s mood. Besides, that Red Death costume is epic.
Two final notes before I leave: tomorrow is All Saints’ Day, a Holy Day of Obligation for those in the Latin Rite Churches, so get to Mass. Tomorrow is also the start of National Blog Post Writing Month, so you’ll be seeing new entries from me every day during November.
This week will see the end of October and the beginning of November, and November heralds the start of National Blog Post Writing Month. After having so much fun with it last year, I decided to do it again; what this means for you is that there will be a new post right here on My Turn to Talk every single day in November. Just figured I’d give you fair warning.
Today in the old Church calendar is the Feast of Christ the King, so it seemed appropriate to bring this back out into the open:
Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!
After months of waiting, the Doctor Who 50th anniversary trailer is finally here! Granted, there’s no actual footage of the special itself, but it managed to cram 50 years of history into 1 minute.
November 23 is shaping up to be the most epic day of the year.
Just the other day I published a post about some of my favorite movies to watch around Halloween, but today I wanted to delve a little deeper in exactly why I prefer the old black-and-white horror movies over the uninspired slush Hollywood churns out these days. There’s a lot to admire, to be sure–the lighting, the plots (when they were good, they were really good), and the acting (see plot note), but the one thing that stands out the most to me is the portrayal of evil. Unlike so many of today’s movies, evil is not glorified. There are times when it seems enticing, but there is always an undercurrent of menace to make your hair prickle. And at the end, the evil is exposed for what it truly is; all pretenses and disguises are stripped away to expose the horror underneath. Darkness is dispelled, and the light shines through once more. In many ways they are stories of hope, hope that the creatures of the night will be defeated and man will be free to live his life without fear.
Costume and candy commercials are dancing across our TV screens once again, so that must mean Halloween isn’t too far behind. Now one of the fun parts about Halloween (apart from being another excuse to eat chocolate–like Valentine’s Day but less nauseating) is the old monster movies that the local TV stations drag out. There are a lot out there, so how do you know which ones you absolutely must watch? That is where I come in.
- The Phantom of the Opera (either 1925 or 1943): Yes, I will always mention these two versions because they are my favorite adaptions of one of my favorite books. Granted, I would rank the 1925 version a little higher because it’s closer to the book, but I understand that modern audiences might find it a little tiresome to sit through a silent movie–and might find the overdramatic gestures laughable (but, hey, they didn’t have sound; they had to convey everything through gestures!). But the black and white did a lot for the atmosphere. That’s not to say that the technicolor 1943 version is bad, oh, no. In contrast, the color brought the story to life in an exciting new way.
- Dracula (1931): Considered by many to be the definitive adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, this is also on the list of must-see Halloween movies. It practically screams Halloween. One of the things I’ve noticed about it, something I think really adds to the atmosphere, is that a lot of the cinematography feels as though it belongs in a silent film. The way the lights and darks play against each other add an element of eeriness that were originally used in silent films. Simply put, everything about this film is just amazing, and it also possesses what I think is one of the greatest lines in cinematic history: “They’re all crazy except you an’ me, and sometimes I have me doubts about you.” Not to mention that although it doesn’t follow the book exactly, the script writing is so outstanding that I can’t find it in me to complain about the divergences–and that is quite an achievement, let me tell you!
- Frankenstein (1931): This was another of Universal’s triumphs and offers some great insights into the moral dilemmas involving life and death, dilemmas that are especially timely today with the issues involving cloning. However, one of the things I didn’t like about this version was stunted mental and speech capacities of Frankenstein’s monster; in the book he was quite intelligent and gave sound, logical arguments. He was a reasoning being, which always drives me bonkers whenever I read the book because I’m spending most of my time trying to figure out the nature of his soul. But I digress–this movie is quite enjoyable, so I definitely recommend it. You might also be interested in its sequel Bride of Frankenstein, which extends and further develops the themes introduced in the first movie. Oh, and the monster gains speech in that one, too.
- The Mummy (1932): I don’t rank this one as highly as the others because of all the inaccuracies about the beliefs of ancient Egyptians (they were my favorite culture to study in high school, so I absorbed a lot of information about them), but I include it for one simple reason: the Jacuzzi of Death. It’s perhaps the strangest plot device in the history of movies, but it also provides a legitimate reason to laugh in a movie that is otherwise quietly ominous.
- La Belle et la Bete (1946): We cross over into foreign language territory with this French film inspired by the fairy tale of the same name. But don’t let the need for subtitles deter you from watching this classic–the entire movie feels like a fairy tale; there’s a certain magic that permeates the atmosphere and makes the story something extraordinary. And this is another instance where the black-and-white film captures the spirit of the story so perfectly that you can’t imagine the effect being any better in color.
- The Trouble with Harry (1955): Known for his sinister stories, Alfred Hitchcock presents us with a more comic tale about several people in a small town who each believe themselves to have had some role in a visitor’s death, and they go to great lengths to ensure no one finds the body. For a potentially morbid storyline, it’s absolutely hilarious and will definitely provide a lighter tone to your Halloween movie lineup.
I was going to write this last night, but the news about the recovered Doctor Who episodes took precedence. Long story short–I wasn’t impressed. It had an interesting premise, and I might have enjoyed watching it if they hadn’t the brilliant idea to include elements from Aladdin. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is actually a crossover between Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin. That just made the whole thing a little ludicrous for my tastes. It’s one thing in the original Once Upon a Time when different characters from different stories show up; that’s part of the show’s premise, but when a show has “Wonderland” in the title, you naturally assume it will be about the characters native to Wonderland! You do not expect Jafar to show up and be a pitiful imitation of Rumpelstiltskin!
I also found the writing to be less compelling than the pilot for Once Upon a Time. Now that pilot had me hooked from the very beginning, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. This one left me feeling “meh”. I almost wonder if they decided to spend their budget money on the CGI instead of a decent plot. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the love story that makes me want to gag.
“When you really love someone, you don’t need proof. You just know.” Gag. All I really want is a satisfactory resolution to the Rumpelstiltskin/Belle storyline; I really couldn’t care less about Alice and Cyrus. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’ll be watching next week…or ever again unless Rumpelstiltskin shows up to show Jafar how Evil Magical Overlord is really done.