Movie Night! (Halloween Edition)

Work, school, pandemic life, pets, screen time, health challenges... I hate it when people say, "During these unprecedented times..." but, for real, during these unprecedented times, my family started feeling a little disjointed. Every weekend seemed to bring some new way for us not to spend any time together, even though all we've been doing since March is spending time together. My daughter's skin, to my great relief, hasn't turned a pallid shade of blue; I had just grown accustomed to seeing her face illuminated by the soft hue of her phone—Tik Tok videos reflecting off of her glasses like mini movie screens. Perhaps inspired by those glasses, we decided a weekly movie night would be a great way to reconnect. For two hours on Fridays, we put down our devices, eat as many pieces of candy and popcorn as will fit into our mouths, and watch a movie together as a family. A novel idea, I know. 

October, of course, has brought the scary movie picks. You may be thinking times are terrifying enough, do we really need a blog post about scary movies? Well, tomorrow is Halloween and although we've already been in masks for the past 7 months (making every day feel like a Halloween of sorts), I refuse to let this pandemic come between me and my beloved horror movies. Thankfully, my family feels the same way.

Rotating picks, I chose first and forced my 12 year old to humor my husband's and my Gen-X-ness with a screening of The Lost Boys. Movies from the '80s can be tricky: Will there be rampant misogyny? Will the clothes make it impossible to pay attention? Will The Coreys forever have my heart? (The answer to the last one is yes!) We watched in awe as Diane Wiest moved her family to The Murder Capital of the World, otherwise known as Santa Carla, California. The place, of course, is crawling with vampires and soon, Michael (Jason Patrick) becomes one... or, like, maybe halfway one? Something supernatural definitely happens after, in what can only be described as a horrible lapse in judgement, he drinks from a bottle full of blood, handed to him by everyone's favorite 80's villain, Kiefer Sutherland. This happens as they hang out in a weird cave where Chinese food turns to parasites before their very eyes. Maybe don't drink from the blood bottle, Michael! Oh, no. It's too late!

Anyone familiar with memes will recognize the famed Sax Man, his oiled-up body reflecting the trashcan fires of Santa Carla as Michael scans the crowd and spots a beautiful woman we later find out is named Star. Star (played by Jamie Gertz) is very tired and is literally carried around for half of the movie by various vampires and half vampires. We can only assume she partook from the same blood bottle as Michael although it is never said. It is 100% ridiculous and I love every single minute of it including the amazing soundtrack. And my Gen Z daughter thought it was hilarious and a little bit scary which is exactly what we were going for. 

Next up in the rounds was The Descent. My husband's choice, just to get it on record.  A group of women go on a weekend trip to do some cave exploring and end up being terrorized by a gaggle of demons who kind of look like Dobby from Harry Potter. There has been a tragic accident the year before that only spelunking will heal. Jovial banter in the beginning (making fun of  "terrible" pictures they've taken where they all look like models, along with jokes about pajamas at a sleepover) thankfully doesn't last long, and before we know it, the movie becomes pretty frightening pretty fast. Although I screamed during the entire last half with my mouth was full of Twizzlers, the jump scares can become a bit exhausting. When I told my friend Heather what movie we had watched, she asked, "Is that the one where all the women go down in the cave and they see that very pale thing that has never been in the light and it's kinda funny after a while?" Yes, that's the one. I'm not sure there's more to say because I think Heather's review is pretty much perfect.

My daughter's choice was none other than The Exorcist. It had been a long time since I'd watched this classic from 1973 and I had forgotten almost everything about it but the special effects. Soup flies, People Die! (A phrase I made up that was underappreciated by my family.) Ellen Burnstyn is incredible in this movie and plays the mother of poor, possessed Regan with a quiet force. And Linda Blair as Regan is beyond anything I would expect from a 12 year old actor. She was truly a sight to behold in more ways than one and she caused me great anxiety as I waited for what I knew was coming. But, as with most things I obsess about, I had warned my daughter about The Crucifix Scene to the point where she barely even noticed when it happened because she was waiting for something much worse. But, still, it was a tad awkward to watch with an (almost) teenager.

Tonight, after we carve our pumpkins, we will wrap up our October movie viewings with a night out at the drive-in. Theatre Lawrence is presenting Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space, a film I have never seen but am ridiculously excited to watch. Deemed the worst movie ever made (some will say The Room took its place in 2003), I fully expect to laugh all night instead of scream and I can promise my mouth will, once again, be full of Twizzlers. 

-Sarah Mathews is an Accounts Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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