The following is part one of a three part series.
Admit it. No matter how much you may protest to the contrary, you know you’re guilty of watching the occasional late night, cheeseball flick. You just can’t help yourself. Hey, it’s 3a.m., your friends passed out long ago, and, you’re comin’ down hard offa half a bottle of Jack & Coke bender.
Of course you’re gonna switch on the TV and fast determine there ain’t shit on but some movie where the actors are all sporting fluffy, feathered haircuts and wearing horizontal striped shirts in lovely shades of diarrhea ochre and chlamydia green. Don’t look now, but you’ve just stumbled into the 70s horror cheese zone!
Submitted for your approval, I give you my take on some of my own, favorite campy offerings.
Spooky Ass House Category
Burnt Offerings (1976)
You (Oliver Reed), your elderly aunt (Bette Davis) your wife with the lazy eye (Karen Black) & your kid agree to rent a dusty, musty, Victorian era mansion for the summer from a brother (Burgess Meredith) & sister duo by the name of Allardyce. They tell you that you also must care for their hermit of a mother who lives in the attic. But she never speaks with anyone because she enjoys her privacy.
Helpful Hint #1: This can’t be good. The old bitch upstairs is either batshit crazy, a serial killer, or both. Leave now before lazy eye chimes in with her two cents.
Too late. You know you aren’t wild about this gig from the get go, but the wife practically creams her jeans right there in the foyer at the thought of moving in and so you accept the offer. Contract Law 101 moment >> Offer + Acceptance = Contract
Helpful Hint #2: If your old lady shows more enthusiasm for taking care of a house than she does for you,then there are probably deeper issues at hand. Like maybe she’s considering a lesbian relationship with the Allardyce’s mother because you are a dickless wonder.
Inside of the first week, you start hearing weird noises in the house during the dead of night.
The pool almost drowns your kid as you sit there unable to move and dumbfounded because a chauffeur driver spooked you the day before.
The nutjob in the attic never eats the meals prepared for her, and, your wife is becoming increasingly fixated on the house. In fact, you are starting to realize that she is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
You witness the death of your aunt during a particularly traumatic moment of drama overload involving a Ray Ban wearing, acne pitted faced chauffeur who somehow manages to single-handedly haul a thousand pound casket up a 90° angled staircase, AND hurls it at you and your aunt, but yet you still haven’t left the house. Evidently, you are unable to tear yourself away from your many stylish V-neck Izod Lacoste sweaters you’ve worn throughout the movie.
Helpful Hint #3: You could be a moron. Bend over, stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye because you haven’t got long for this world, sporty nuts.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)
Kim Darby (John Cusack’s dopey mother in Better Off Dead) & her attorney husband, Alex (Jim Hutton) have inherited her grandmother’s house. As Sally (Darby) is renovating, she finds a fireplace basement that has been bricked up. She asks the estate handyman about it and he tells her that after her grandfather’s death, her grandmother had him seal it and that things are better left the way they are.
Helpful Hint #1: Stop worrying about the fireplace you stupid bitch. Maybe if you had a few spare brain cells to rub to together, you wouldn’t think it was such a nifty idea to go sticking your nose into a cement sealed hearth.
Instead of heeding the handyman’s ominous tone, Sally decides to try to remove the bricks herself. Although she is not able to loosen them she does, however, manage to pry open a small side door the handyman said was used for removing ashes. Shortly thereafter, and in the absence of her workaholic husband, strange things begin occurring.
Helpful Hint #2: Sally, Sally, Sally. The chick in The Yellow Wallpaper ain’t got nothin’on you, honey. You are certifiably loony and now you’re spending your time in a bricked up fireplace no doubt getting gang banged by the strange, little, prune-headed creatures you let out when you pried loose the bolted door the handyman told you not to fuck with.
The Evil (1978)
Richard Crenna and his merry band of free laborers find an old mansion that they plan to purchase and use as a drug rehab clinic. The realtor tells Dr. Arnold (Crenna) & wife that they are the sole buyers interested in the property in decades due to its sordid history.
It seems the original owner, a recluse by the name of Emilio Vargas, built the place before the Civil War on Indian territory. The land was called Valley of the Devils because it was surrounded by natural mineral baths, sulphur pits and steam pools. Vargas thought it would enhance the home’s appeal so he built it directly on top of a large fumarole in the Earth’s crust. But the fumarole and other geothermal activity dried up almost immediately after the home was built. Meanwhile Dr. Arnold’s wife, Caroline (Joanna Pettet) figures out that there is a lot more going on in the mansion than nature’s work since she has been seeing a strange apparition moving around the place regularly.
Helpful Hint #1: Run now, you fools, while there is still time!
The Doc buys the property and enlists the help of his friends, but during the course of the renovations and some strange occurrences, they discover a locked trap door in the basement and open it. They find nothing behind Door #1, however something evil was evidently unleashed because it traps the party inside of the house and begins picking them off one by one in a series of terrifying deaths.
Helpful Hint #2: Gosh, do you think maybe all the strange shit that’s been happening all along and then opening up that trap door that was locked for no apparent reason had anything to do with these bizarre deaths?
The Legacy (1978)
So there you are, just you Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) and your constantly-on-the-rag boyfriend, Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) successful architects in Los Angeles when suddenly, you are called to England by a client who wants to hire you sight unseen. The client sends you a check in the amount of $50k so you call the bank to confirm that it’s legit. You don’t notice that peculiar account number when you read it back to the bank -129666-
Helpful Hint #1: Hmm. It is rather odd to see an account number ending in 666, but hey, it’s 50 large and legit and it’s all yours. May as well spend it.
You decide to head to England to check it out. Once there, your Triumph motorcycle (that your scowling/unapproving boyfriend bought with your $50k) collides on a narrow country road with a vintage era Rolls belonging to a multi-millionaire named Jason Mountolive (John Standing). The ebullient Englishman invites you back to his estate where he ostensibly tells you that he wants you to redecorate Ravenhurst.
Helpful Hint #2: Only in England will you get invited to tea by a lunatic in a fancy schmancy luxury automobile after he runs you into a ditch.
Once you get settled in, your favorite tampon boy notices other guests arriving outside via helicopter. These five others were summoned to Ravenhurst in the same manner you were and are indebted to Jason for helping them with their careers. In fact, Jason is upstairs on his death bed as you & Pete were having a roll between the sheets in your room.
Later on, after dinner, you and the others are told that you are a beneficiary to Jason’s largesse. You are then given a ring bearing the Mountolive family crest that immediately grafts itself to your finger. Shortly thereafter, the other guests begin to die off one by one under mysterious circumstances in various parts of the house.
You try to leave several times -first by boosting the unattended Rolls, and then taking off on some horses from the stable- but no dice. Eventually, you find newspaper clippings at the estate detailing the murders and crimes the others have committed but were never prosecuted for. And now they are being killed according to the crime they committed.
Helpful Hint #3: It is certainly noteworthy that the director of the film is using the ol’ eye-for-an-eye/Old Testament routine in a movie about witchcraft & Satan worshippers.
You also find out that your parents were a lady and lord and both families were into black magic and witchcraft. They were burned at the stake for heresy, but their son, Jason survived. (Hence the ever present felines hanging out all over the mansion. Witches & Satan worshippers love cats –DUH! Didn’t you see Rosemary’s Baby?)
You also determine that you are probably the reincarnation of Lady Margaret Walsingham (Jason’s mother) because you are the spitting image of her, and, you are the seal-bearer to the Mountolive empire. And those five other beneficiaries ran it for him but were all sacrificed. And now Jason is about to pass along his Satanic abilities to you. When the time comes, you will also have to choose 6 beneficiaries of your own. Surprise!
You willingly embrace your newly inherited fortune and super-awesome witch/demonic powers that so rightfully belong to you. Pete, on the other hand, is still not convinced.
Incidentally, and just as a bonus, Jason’s nurse has the ability to transform herself from human to white cat and back again. I suppose one can never know exactly which pussy will be required for the occasion, eh?
You decide that your first beneficiary will be your boyfriend, Pete. Throughout the movie he has been a pill about the whole trip wanting to leave every 5 minutes; Now he willingly obliges and takes the ring. But you have to ask yourself —is it love or just limerence that’s he’s feeling?
Why doesn’t this kind of shit ever happen to me? I wouldn’t have a problem with being obscenely monied beyond my wildest dreams or choosing six useful idiots to sacrifice to the Devil.
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