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Padre Steve’s Favorite Halloween Horror

love-at-first-bite

“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

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I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

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The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

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I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch.

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Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Night and The Lost Boys.

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There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

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Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

William Friedkin_The Exorcist_1973

Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

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Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg.

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In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.”

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When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

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Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

Ghostbusters

In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Seventies Movies Tonight: Foul Play, Airplane and Smokey and the Bandit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elHoRhGrTiE

Well after a couple of weeks of nothing but seriousness I decided to give myself a break from the real world and retreat to the 1970s. Well, I didn’t drag out a Leisure Suit or start playing the Bee Gees or anything like that but I decided to drag out some 1970s comedies. First up was Foul Play starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase; next the slapstick classic  Airplane starring Robert Hedges, Julie Hagerty and a cast of all-stars including Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves and even Kareem Abdul Jabbar and finally Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason.

Sometimes I need these kind of nights. I wrote yesterday about things that trouble me and yes they still do, but to maintain some sense of sanity I need to break away and clear the brain housing unit.  Baseball does this a lot for me but alas it is not yet the regular season and not much is on although I could tune in to the MLB channel and maybe catch a Spring Training game or speculation and analysis of the coming season.

But tonight I needed to laugh and laughing is good for us and that is in the Bible, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is a “time to laugh” of course there are other verses in the Bible that make laughter to be a bad thing and I don’t think that the Apostle Paul would approve of my taste in comedy. However after Paul’s shipwreck he might have gotten a kick out of Airplane, but then maybe not. But Karl Barth the great Swiss Theologian once said that “laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God” and I think that he was right and that if we can find things that allow us to laugh, even at ourselves that it is good for us.

I love comedy and lover to laugh and movies like these never get old to me and watching Airplane was even more enjoyable after having spent some time on a flight simulator for the MV-22 Osprey on Thursday afternoon.  I was able to take off and land without crashing. I want to go to flight school.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzRJWy-3_Dc

I love Foul Play and I think a lot is because that it was filmed in San Francisco.  Airplane though is special because of all the one liners, puns and parodies of things that I grew up with in the 1970s that make it so funny to me.

After I watched the movie once I went back and watched it with the commentary by Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker.  Watching the movie with their comments made it even funnier because as many times as I have seen it I noticed more things that I had missed in previous viewings.  Likewise I found out things that I never knew. I guess that the most interesting was that the part of Roger Murdock played by Kareem Abdul Jabbar was originally written for Pete Rose but Rose had to turn it down because it was filmed in the summer.

So I guess that means that I watched Airplane twice tonight and because of that I am not going to watch Smokey and the Bandit. Oh well it was fun and I am still laughing.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Horrific Humor: Young Frankenstein

Horror and comedy, like peanut butter cups they are two great tastes that go great together. I think that the funniest of this genre are those based on the classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula. There are other films that fit this category such as Love at First Bite a Dracula film set in the late 1970s staring George Hamilton, Jill St. John and Arte Johnson.  Other twists on the Dracula story is Mel Brooks Dracula Dead and Loving It which starred Leslie Nielsen, Peter McNichol, Harvey Korman and Amy Yasbeck and Once Bitten starring Lauren Hutton.  I also like some that are new creations in their own right such as Ghostbusters.  However, for me the film that is the real classic among all of them is Young Frankenstein. So in the spirit of Halloween I submit to you Padre Steve’s favorite all-time Horror Comedy Young Frankenstein.

Of course the first on my list is Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein which came out in 1974, the same year as Brooks’ other classic of Western filmography Brazing Saddles. Young Frankenstein is the classic humorous take on the Mary Beth Shelley Frankenstein novel and subsequent films.  It starred Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Terry Garr, Cloris Leachman and the late Peter Boyle as the Monster Brooks. Brooks used the original set from the original Frankenstein and brought the Frankenstein saga a hilarious twist. It is hard to forget some of the great scenes such as when Dr. Frankenstein discovers that he has implanted an abnormal brain in the monster, and the subsequent game of charades as Inga and Igor try to guess what the Doctor wants as he struggles in the grasp of the Monster “give him a sedagive.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP5Gcuwp2Sg Of course after a “sedative” has been administered the conversation between the Dr. Frankenstein and Igor is classic.  The Doctor sits down and questions Igor about the brain about the brain and Igor tells the Doctor that the brain belonged to “Abby someone, Abby Normal.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ_pKqiB5Rg

There is the scene where the Monster escapes and comes to a small house where a blind monk played by Gene Hackman awaits.  The monk offers the Monster hospitality which turns into a horror story with the Monster as the victim.  The Monster has hot soup spilled on his lap, his mug of wine shattered and finger set afire by the well meaning monk and runs out in terror.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw2IIU0a9qw&feature=related

Of course there all of the one-liners and gags interspersed through the film at a cyclic rate which leave the audience laughing.  I remember seeing the film for the first time when it came out in 1974 in Stockton California.  The opening scene where someone opens the crypt of the elder Dr. Frankenstein to retrieve his diary and has to fight the skeleton is just the beginning of the fun.  The fun continues with the young Dr. Frankenstein, a neurosurgeon saying that his name was pronounced “Fronkensteen” rather than Frankenstein when questioned by a medical student about his grandfather’s experiments.  One can’t forget the scene in the graveyard when the Doctor and Igor are digging up the body of the monster.  When the Doctor complains Igor utters the immortal line “it could be worse it could be raining” which of course was followed by a thunderclap and downpour.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHb7DJDCptA&feature=related

Of course we cannot leave out Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher and every time that her name was said that the horses would “whiney.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wTbNIsopg&feature=related

Then there is the sequence after Doctor Frankenstein’s arrival in Transylvania and rides to his castle with Igor and Inga.  The Doctor hears a wolf howling in the distance and asks “Werewolf” and Igor answers “there wolf.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQQtgx4iG8E&feature=related This sequence of course includes the part where Inga asks Doctor Frankenstein about having a “roll in the hay” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqClWdOcWog&feature=related and their arrival at the castle.  Dr. Frankenstein sees a large set of door knockers as he is lifting Inga off the wagon saying “what knockers” and Inga answering “well thank you Doctor.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9K9wiH2Lko

Likewise there is the segment where Madeline Kahn playing Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancé Elizabeth is abducted by the Monster. The Monster has fallen in love with her as he takes her she discovers something that leaves her singing “oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9K9wiH2Lko

Of course this is followed at the end of the film when the newlywed Doctor and Inga are in their bedroom and she asks him what he received from the Monster and then begins to sing “oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you” when she discovers exactly what her husband received from the Monster.

This has to be one of the greatest horror-comedies of all time if not the very best.  Everything from the sets to the gags and great interactions among the characters makes this one of the greatest if not the greatest film of its genre ever made. The film is so stocked with great lines and scenes that there are too many to mention here, so if you never have seen this comedy classic go get it.

So Happy Halloween my friends and in the midst of all the blood and gore films, have a good laugh with Young Frankenstein.

Peace.

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Fun “Good Times” Songs

I love music and there is something about the less serious of songs that make them really fun to listen to.  Since I have written about my favorite songs of the 1970s and 1980s as well as my favorite love songs I started thinking about my favorite funny songs.  Some are connected to movies but other were songs that somehow or someway that found their way into my life.  So here they are in all their humorous glory.

The first on the list is Herman’s Hermits – I’m into Something Good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxDh2sYQRpo which came out in 1965 and the video from the movie  The Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrhzt51UYZA

Manfred Mann Band

Another feel good song was Manfred Mann’s – Do Wah Diddy which came out in 1965 and when it was used in the movie Stripes became a song that in some places was actually used as a marching “Jodie” in some Army units  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9fofFGXKc The Stripes version is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZPIU0wGVkQ It is hard to believe now but this came out about the time I enlisted in the Army and the uniforms take me back to my ROTC pre-commissioning “advanced camp” at Fort Lewis Washington.

Since I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s the drug culture was a part of life. I never was part of that scene being a ROTC nerd but had many friends who dabbled in various types of drugs in that era. Ringo Starr’s No No Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVGerWFYotQ was a classic of the era.

Not to be outdone by a Brit the American band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – produced a number of songs that dealt with all sorts of experimental behavior, many of which were written by children’s author Shel Silverstein.  At the Freaker’s Ball http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs5MAWinxqQ which came out in 1974 was one of the more outlandish of the mostly outlandish songs that they came out with in the early 1970’s.

One of the classic “feel good” songs ever produced was Three Dog Night’s – Joy to the World which came out in 1970 http://video.nate.com/209973994 I remember this one from back in 5th grade when I lived in Long Beach and it was on the AM radio.

Jim Croce’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVPASJmeMU was a fun song which I remember on the radio as well when I was in junior high school.

One song which came out in my sophomore year of college when I first started dating Judy was Rupert Holmes – “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrcQqCii4Rk This too was a fun song which in some ways epitomized the era.

When I was in high school there were a number of songs that were great to groove to including K.C and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight http://www.myvideo.de/watch/1959599/KC_And_The_Sunshine_Band_Get_Down_Tonigh, and the Commodore’s Brick House


Blondie’s- Island of Lost Souls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7gqErYW0K0 is a very quirky song which I fell in love with the first time that I heard it. It is one of those songs that once I get it in my head it is frequently hours or days that I find myself singing it or humming it walking down the halls at work or in my car.

The Johnny Cash- A Boy Named Sue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n–1wR4L7zg came out when I was in grade school. I think I remember it from at least 5th grade but I am not sure. I think of this song every time North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il hits the news, instead of a “Boy named Sue” I think of the “Boy named Kim.”

How can I not go without an Abba song? They had a number of quirky and fun songs to match many of their more serious ballads and love songs.  The song When I Kissed the Teacher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4LJjCBWE0 is one of those that I thought about anytime I had a really good looking and nice teacher in high school or college.  Somehow learning is easier when the teacher is a really hot lady with a nice personality. I don’t know why but it is.

Elton John’s – Crocodile Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Ta0qCG8No hearkened back to the 1950s and was always a favorite fun song for me.

Since I am in the Navy and grew up in a Navy family the Village People’s In the Navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw has always been a favorite.  The ship featured in the video is the USS Francis Hammond FF-1067 a Knox class frigate. The song still shows up on occasion in things dealing with the Navy.  I can’t remember a funny song about the Army when I was in although we did use Do Wah Diddy on occasion.

The Monster Mash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Dz5yui0Rc was always a favorite at Halloween.  This version was produced by the legendary Dr. Demento.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irp8CNj9qBI was a totally quirky song and was featured in the movie Wayne’s World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTheG–2NE0

The Go Go’s Vacation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo8S3iFdzUc was a great song of its era and is still fun to listen to even almost 30 years later.

Lindsey Buckingham’s – Holiday Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLiQBV6A7c was the into song to the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and that version is featured here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a6e0qhfzu0&feature=related

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yarYjuN-m8I was one of many fun songs from that cult classic.

The band Sha Na Na was a nostalgia type band which launched not long after the movie American Graffiti during the 1970’s nostalgia for the 1950s. The band was one of a number of acts including movies and the series Happy Days which helped introduce my generation to the music of the 1950s giving us something in common with our parents, imagine that? Their song Sha Na Na http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NyK3df0xaw is a classic of that genre.

The Bangles Manic Monday which came out in 1986 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s48kuKLf0mE was yet another of the quirky classic 80’s feel good songs by a girls band.

Weird Al Yankovic produced many parody songs including Eat It http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfcOriVKBM a parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat it.

My dad was transferred from Long Beach to the Bay Area in 1971.  We moved to Stockton the birthplace of the “drive by shooting” which is about 8 miles from a little town called Lodi.  John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival did this song about being stuck in Lodi California.  The Song Lodi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4PkmoRnMo is one of those songs that you really appreciate if you have ever been to Lodi.

Ray Parker Jr.’s song Ghostbusters became an iconic song from the 1980s when it was featured in the movie Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4uxIo4t7xM&a=fnwJqf_wcQA&playnext_from=ML

Of course when it comes to fun you can’t leave out the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU was just one of many feel good songs in this classic which introduced many of my generation to the great blues artists and the songs Shake Your Tail Feather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN5V-6yCbpg and Aretha Franklin’s Think were classics from that movie.

The Monkey’s Daydream Believer http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo9pi_the-monkees-daydream-believer_music is one of those catchy songs that once you hear it is hard to get out of your mind.

Katrina & the Waves Walking on Sunshine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eONhto0x_nI is a great feel good or happy song from the mid 1980s.

Of course no one can ever leave off Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI from any collection of fun songs although I think I like this version from the Blues Brothers better  http://www.myvideo.de/watch/3656690/The_Blues_Brothers_Jailhouse_Rock

So anyway, I do hope you enjoy these fun songs from the past.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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