Monday, May 27, 2002

Movies on Memorial Day Eve

So Sunday evening was auspicious since the TV didn't conk off, allowing us to watch The Tingler and Sleepless in Seattle.

The Tingler lives up to every expectation I had from a William Castle film. Be it the noirish edge where everyone seems to be destined for ruin or the fairly serious face Vincent Price keeps on camera as he handles the Tingler (I recall legend that he could barely contain himself while handling the fly with David Hedison's head! He plays a scientist (again!) who discovers the hidden organism that creates fear in all of us, of course violating the ethics of scientists in the process. The reflexive moments when the Tingler actually enters the theatre are priceless. As with every Castle film, this one used a couple of theater gimmicks: Whenever blood-curdling screams occurred in the movie, hidden buzzers vibrated the seats. (This feature was called "Percepto.") Shills planted in the audience let out their own screams. The film is also supposed to be the earliest to feature an LSD trip (if you notice the title of the book that Vincent Price is reading it includes the words "lysergic acid"). The tape we had was the reissue, which meant that we could relish the brief colour sequence originally included in the film. It's grainy (being 8mm versus the fine 35mm in the rest of the film), but it includes that splendid shot of the hand reaching out of a bloody bathtub. Camp homage to Edvard Munch before the opening credits unfold. The opening notes of the score (which also form the musical motif in the film) recall Herrmann's score for Vertigo. Maybe not. This is the quintessential William Castle film. {more William Castle}

Sleepless in Seattle is everyone's favourite chick flick (it would seem!). What's a chick flick? A movie about and/or for women. Although that doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy the film. Lots of great references in this one. Rob Reiner (who made the classic modern chick flick When Harry Met Sally (WHMS), also number 23 on AFI's top 100 comedies) stars in this film. Nora Ephron who directed (and wrote the screenplay for) this film also wrote WHMS. Want more? Countless similarities between this one and Frasier. Great lines, good laughs and competent performances. Enjoyable, unless you think people will call you a sissy for watching movies like this (in which case, you could go watch The Dirty Dozen).

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