Even though another Halloween has just pasted, I caught a few old horror flicks on TV this past week. Two of them starred Vincent Price – “The Haunted Palace” (1963) and “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1960). Other than summarizing and sharing opinions on each one, I thought I’d write about some things I’ve always loved about these classic scares.

One element is the creepy, old estates or castles, sometimes overlooking a cliffside and stormy seas. Other times, they’re just beyond an eerie forest surrounded in a lingering fog. I wished these settings were real locations and that I could visit them and explore foreboding structures. Throughout the horror tales onscreen, such detail in every room and exterior areas make for the perfect atmospheric mansion with a haunting past. Old-fashioned lighting, watchful portraits, ornate windows, gates of swirling iron, spiderwebs, climbing overgrowth and then some.

Another part of many horror gems of decades ago is the handsome, young man drawn into the story. He’s always so dashing in those poet shirts, jackets with coattails and riding boots. One such dark-haired, dark-eyed fellow is in “The Fall of the House of Usher” and another is Jack Nicholson in his early film years in “The Terror” and “The Raven,” both from 1963. As a fan of Nicholson from many other roles, I have those on DVD. His costumes had a different style, but he looked equally dashing in them. Aside from him, I usually don’t know who the actor is by name. These men are also usually the heroic figure, rescuing the young woman in danger. I imagine they’d be among my actor crushes if I’d been a teenager or around that age during the 60s.

Last but not least, there are the legendary actors of this genre – Price as well as Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. Each was perfect in their respective creepy roles. Their classic works were before my time, but I love to watch these every Halloween season or whenever I happen to catch them airing on TV throughout the year. I have an old VHS copy of a horror compilation titled “Creepy Classics,” hosted by Price and I wish I could find in on DVD. There are probably a few old flicks I forgot about since last watching the tape and not seeing them air on TV for a while.

While at my best friend’s house, the SyFy was airing a variety of horror movies, some of which were big screen, others usually on that channel. Most of the time, we talked over looking through old high school items I recently found. Her husband was tuned into the horrorfest, watching “Underworld: Evolution,” followed by another TV movie, one called “Trick or Treat.” When that ended, we joined him to watch “Jeepers Creepers III” (2017). I didn’t even know there was a third part and wasn’t necessarily up for it for two reasons – only saw a few minutes worth of both previous installments and of course, the gore factor. But I figured, why not? I doubted I’d ever catch up later with the first and second of these movies anyway. And we did have some laughs from watching it, because someone always does something that leads to the getting killed off. We were saying, “No, get away from that thing,” and “Oh, sure, bang on the window,” etc.

Despite that, this horror sequel had an unpredictable element in terms of what would happen to the four young guys who spot the creepy truck during their dirt bike adventure. I thought for sure it would be the cocky, dark-haired leader of the pack who would die first as he kept getting closer to it before his friends dared to do so. Then, one of them attempts to damage the seemingly abandoned vehicle out in the middle of nowhere. For that reason and figuring he was a less important character, I changed my mind, saying, “Oh, he’s gonna get it!” But no matter who it turned out to be, I never would’ve seen it coming how it happened. I only knew that I didn’t want to see it. Even that was unavoidable, as several gory scenes snuck up on me. I’d look away, look back, look away again and so on, always with bad timing.

Even those who ended up surviving had moments when I thought for sure they weren’t going to make it out alive. The creeper and his crazy arsenal seemed inescapable. Each time someone was trying to run for safety, with scenes cutting back and forth from that person to the creeper’s weapon, I’d call out, “Duck! Get down!” This winged creature was bent on bringing about death to the locals. In some cases, it seemed as though certain people were intended targets for revenge and I wasn’t sure what drove any vengeance by the creeper. Part of the story involved a dismembered hand belonging to the creeper. Flashbacks were also incorporated to connect to previous incidents, whether from the second installment of the franchise or a more implied scene between parts two and three. That’s one example that relayed the idea of certain people being the creeper’s targets, especially one family. Others victims were random, giving the sense of nobody’s safe in the world of this movie. Some horror movies don’t come across as though everyone is going to die. But in this case, it kept making my friends and I think the whole town is doomed with the creeper out there.

The three of us were joking about whether or not there would be more of this horror movie franchise and its unstoppable monster. Well, its ending sure had a cliff-hanger tone with one survivor challenging the creeper upon a return appearance.

“Jeepers Creepers III” starred a cast mostly of actors and actresses I hadn’t seen in anything else. However, I recognized one man whose character seemed to know a history about the relentless monster. Stan Shaw played that particular role, Sheriff Dan Tashtego. Another familiar face was that of Meg Foster, who was the grandmother of a young girl taken by the creeper.

Overall, it’s not a horror movie that I’ll watch again. My best friend’s husband commented that there didn’t seems to be much of a background story given in the plot. I’m just not familiar with the franchise enough. I’d have to see the rest of it to find any particular connecting points. Since “Jeepers Creepers III” isn’t my usual type of cinematic scare, it doesn’t draw my curiosity to watch the first and second parts start to finish. Tuning in was simply part of getting into the Halloween spirit with friends.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this romantic comedy of a lovestruck high school girl who learns that she is a witch. Two weekends ago, I was visiting my best friend for the day and we’re always having girl talk and watching a movie or two. “Teen Witch” is one of those movies both of us can relate to from the high school crush aspect. So, I was hoping to find a copy of it on DVD on one store or another. Yet it was coming up out of stock at all locations in my area. I stopped by the f.y.e. at a local mall and ordered it, since they also didn’t have it available at the time. The DVD arrived yesterday evening for me to pick up. Now, I’m just holding off watching it until visiting my best friend again. I can’t wait to watch it with her, for some lighthearted movie-watching among upcoming horror marathons for Halloween. She hadn’t seen it in a long time either, but I know we’ll have some of the same favorite parts throughout the story. We’ll surely find ways in which it reminds us of our high school moments and I can recall a few parts of this movie that are like that for me.

Louise (Robyn Lively), is basically a wallflower with her shy and introverted personality. Yet she’s head over heels in love with gorgeous and popular top athlete Brad (Dan Gauthier). It’s one of element I enjoyed about the story. Well, I felt for Louise, since I was on the shy side around my crush; he could be described in the same way as the movie heartthrob. There’s also a moment in which she is embarrassed by a teacher, although I only remember her reaction. Whatever happened, many can easily connect with that feeling from similar incidents, when a teacher says or does something that humiliates a student. In my high school days, we’d sneak passing notes and one day, my best friend was close to being caught passing one to me about my crush. I don’t know if that guy knew or at least sensed my feelings. But if my best friend had been caught and the teacher did the feared note-reading to the whole class…no words! While that didn’t happen, another teacher almost revealed my feelings in front of my crush. So, in that sense, I can relate to such moments when Louise is totally embarrassed in class or when lead girls in other teen romance comedies feel the same in their particular situations.

The length to which Louise will go to catch Brad’s eye shows how she’s at such a loss for making him notice her. Because of the spell involved, she has insecurity about what’s real. Is he only driven by some unseen power? Or has he truly fallen for her in return? It’s another aspect of this movie that anyone with a crush could understand. I remember a lot of moments that made me question why my crush did this or that, especially since guys I liked as friends (and vice versa) didn’t do what that special guy did back then. I’d wonder if he knew my feelings and was playing off of that…or if he didn’t know and his actions were genuine. In either case, he always had a way of melting my heart.

In attempting to change her life, Louise makes use of a special necklace. Until I see “Teen Witch” again, I can’t remember if she owned it beforehand or if it was a gift from her sorceress / mentor (Zelda Rubinstein). Because of how that piece of jewelry represents her powers and is connected to her love interest, she carries sentimental feelings for it. I love that part of the story as well, because one necklaces I own holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It wasn’t due to being a gift from someone special; a memory involving that necklace gave it so much meaning to me.

The outcome for Louise and Brad is one more reason why I’m looking forward to watching this movie again, especially with my best friend. But I’ll write a follow-up blog post about it afterward.

I love catching reruns of older TV shows, sometimes even those that were before my time as a teenager. Within a few days of each other, I saw episodes from two different shows, in which one girl has a crush on someone. That was at least part of the their overall stories. Both have a similar way of handling their feelings and to me, it’s all the more relatable.

Starting with the earlier series, “The Facts of Life,” Natalie (Mindy Cohn) admires a guy in secret, yet it all ends up out in the open in one episode. When it came to having a crush on someone, I always wanted to keep my feelings hush-hush. In high school, I could never tell if the guy I fell so hard for knew…whether through someone else or on his own. Curious interactions with him kept me guessing. There was playful teasing coming from him and never knowing what to make of it, as well as being so shy, all I could do was giggle at his wild antics. My best friend and I remember when he’d call out my name in class, sounding so tempting. I’d glance back at him to see his devilish grin flashing my way, his eyes twinkling with mischief. That expression always made my heart melt and I’d turn away quickly, fearing he could sense my feelings if we made eye contact long enough. Or, would my best friend giving me a teasing glance at my reaction to him reveal everything? Before going on to the next series, there’s one more thing about this show. I’ll have to write more about it sometime in another post. It’s so striking to watch “The Facts of Life” now, what with how different teen-focused TV is these days.

Next, I caught an episode of “Roseanne,” in which Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has a guy over at the Conner house for a date. She’s awkward in trying to follow some flirting advice. Watching the scene, I doubted even with my shyness that I’d be that awkward and after all, it’s a TV show and the situation could be exaggerated for comedy. For me, it would’ve come through in not knowing what to say to my crush…or if I should respond in a flirty way at all, afraid of reading his actions wrong. The guy I had such a huge crush on in high school was the first time someone so gorgeous had been as attentive to me as he’d been. He offered to defend me against some creepy guy (so sweet!), was helpful in other ways. A few close moments happened that didn’t seem as though he was outright hitting on me, at least not in my mind. Dealing with such encounters for the first time, I just wasn’t sure what it meant. Not only that, but never thinking I was his type, I tended not to assume he was showing interest in those close moments. So, of course, my own reaction would be shyness and awkwardness.

Along with how well myself and many others could relate to such TV show scenes of teenage love, it’s the nostalgia and memories. They take me back to those similar moments when I was a teen girl with a heart beating for a certain someone. I’ll never forget any of those times.

Every so often, I visit my best friend and bring over a few DVDs to watch between laughter-filled girl talk. Some of our favorite picks in past movie nights have included a mix of ‘80s / ‘90s flicks (“Cry-Baby,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club”) and new ones, such as “Bad Moms.” This past weekend I brought over “Why Him,” which we missed during its recent run in theaters. We could relate to the comedy’s dad character, Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), disapproving of his daughter Stephanie’s (Zoey Deutch) love interest. Both of us have either had crushes on or dated someone our dads absolutely did not like one bit.

Right away, Laird Mayhew (James Franco) had us in hysterics over his wild and free-spirited personality. How would this clash between two opposites play out and what would happen along the way? Ned is the odd man out as the mom, Barb (Megan Mullaly) and brother, Scotty (Griffin Gluck) see more of Laird’s cool side. The party scene hinted at the dad having a not-so-rigid past in his own younger days. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too far into the movie before skip…skip…skip went the disc in my best friend’s portable DVD player. Stopping the movie and ejecting it, I noticed a two-inch scratch on the disc. Having never played this particular DVD before, as well as handling it properly, we were disappointed to miss the rest of the comedy for the time being. Cedric the Entertainer, Keegan-Michael Key and the voice of Kaley Cuoco add more laughs to this father-vs-boyfriend tale. By the next time I’m visiting my best friend, I’ll have a new DVD of “Why Him” for us to watch.

I had a few of our favorites to choose from in continuing our movie night and it came down to “Cry-Baby” or “The Breakfast Club.” We can’t resist the bad-boy characters to swoon over in either one. John Hughes’ detention-bound teens from drastically different backgrounds won out in the end. Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall made for the most memorable teen characters who clashed yet found common ground.

Watching Bender and his antics, it’s like being back in high school and trying to hide my good-girl giggling at my bad-boy crush. The guy who I couldn’t keep my eyes off of didn’t have that “criminal” label and he wasn’t known for having any illegal items on hand. He simply got on the nerves of several teachers, doing things that I couldn’t refrain from laughing at in class. To top it off, he was so gorgeous and had such a devilish expression playing on his face. Hey, didn’t many girls see that in Bender? Just as in the movie, when mean Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) lectures the other four students about thinking the “criminal” is humorous, I had a similar experience. After laughing at my crush and his antics, one teacher called me out on how it was obvious that I had a huge crush and warned me that I’d get hurt. This happened right in front of him! Another teacher had me move to another seat, away from where I sat next to my crush as something else he did set off more lovestruck-induced giggles. In a new seat, he wasn’t even in my line of vision to further distract me. I didn’t have a Bender-and-Claire ending with my bad-boy crush, being too shy to get that close. Yet his wild demeanor and intense good looks drew me in and set my heart racing. That’s what I saw in Claire when it came to Bender in certain scenes.

“The Breakfast Club” came along before my time in high school. It doesn’t matter, though, what generation a viewer of this classic belongs to in life. Of course, that’s due to the overall struggles and drama of teen years. The ideas of acceptance, acting the way your friends act, family-initiated pressure and much more keep Hughes’ work relevant. For my best friend and I, we definitely love the bad-boy element and a totally opposite type of girl falling for him. We both also love Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles,” especially in the way that Samantha (Ringwald) can’t bring herself to talk to her heartthrob, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). If only we could all have the ending which those two shared. Another relatable element in that teen flick was how the geeky kid, known as Farmer Ted (Hall) would pester Samantha, while her heart was set on someone else. There were one or two guys at my high school who just didn’t seem able to take a girl’s hint of not being interested.

Even though we didn’t get around to watching “Cry-Baby” this time, my best friend and I relate to it with our crushes and how we felt. This is especially in the way that good-girl Allison gazes dreamily over at rebellious Cry-Baby. She longs to be closer to him and to rid herself of the contrasting square image in which she was raised.

All of these movies, at one point or another, bring about more girl talk of memorable high school days. We loved those times, even though neither of us dated our crushes. Of course, it’s just as Samantha’s dad in “Sixteen Candles” says to her about those feelings.

Now that this year’s top awards for the big screen are just around the corner, my favorites in most categories have been decided. A few of these seem difficult to pick every year, not always
hearing about nominees until last minute. Documentary, foreign language and the short films
don’t often play in theaters near where I live. So, it’s just a matter of which one tends to be
leading the pack. Technical category favorites aren’t usually the easiest to choose, either. Anyway, here are the nominees I’ve picked out so far to win.

  • Best Picture: “La La Land”
  • Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea” or Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”
  • Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone – “La La Land”
  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
  • Actress in a Supporting Role: Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Directing: Damien Chazelle – “La La Land”
  • Adapted Screenplay: “Fences” or “Hidden Figures”
  • Original Screenplay: “La La Land”
  • Animated Feature: “Zootopia”
  • Documentary Feature: ?
  • Foreign Language Film: ?
  • Cinematography: “La La Land”
  • Costume Design: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Jackie” or “Florence Foster Jenkins”
  • Documentary Short: ?
  • Film Editing: “La La Land”
  • Makeup and Hair: “Suicide Squad”
  • Music for a Motion Picture (Original Score): “La La Land” or “Passengers”
  • Music for Motion Picture (Original Song): “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls” or “City of Stars” – “La La Land”
  • Production Design: “Arrival,” “La La Land” or “Passengers”
  • Animated Short: ?
  • Live Action Short: “Sing”
  • Sound Editing: “Sully”
  • Sound Mixing: ?
  • Visual Effects: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Which nominees do you hope will take home the big award?

Just ahead of these awards, I’ll be away for the weekend and not tuning in; just following highlights via social media. But here are my favorites, a few of which I added recently.

Movies

  • Male Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea” or Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”
  • Female Actor in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman – “Jackie” or Emma Stone – “La La Land”
  • Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
  • Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Cast in a Motion Picture: “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: “Captain America: Civil War”

TV

  • Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Bryan Cranston – “All the Way”
  • Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Bryce Dallas Howard – “Black Mirror”
  • Male Actor in a Drama Series: Rami Malek – “Mr. Robot”
  • Female Actor in a Drama Series: Thandie Newton – “Westworld”
  • Male Actor in a Comedy Series: William H. Macy – “Shameless”
  • Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
  • Ensemble in a Drama Series: “Downton Abbey” or “Game of Thrones”
  • Ensemble in a Comedy Series: “The Big Bang Theory”
  • Action by a Stunt Ensemble: “Game of Thrones”

Which nominees do you think will win?