31 Days of Horror: Beetlejuice, Twilight Zone, Friday the 13th Part 2

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I have so many memories from Tim Burton films as a kid. My mom would put Pee Wee’s Big Adventure on for us, a film that gave me nightmares of Large Marge and a craving for Mr. T’s cereal.

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I was about five or six when I was first exposed to Beetlejuice. At that point, I didn’t understand a lot of the humor. In fact, the first time I can ever recall using a bad word was when I repeated a quote from Beetlejuice, himself, to a friend who ratted me out for it. I had no idea what that word meant but I thought it was funny that his junk honked when he grabbed it.

I also believe the film is directly responsible for my interest in the macabre. Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) was an idol for me. I wanted to be her. As a child, I envisioned myself getting married in the same wedding dress Lydia had. Now, I probably wouldn’t wear so much tulle but the dress would still be red.

I wanted to read the Handbook for the Recently Deceased and was disappointed when I found out it wasn’t a real book. I ended up settling for books on witchcraft and serial killers instead.

If you have never seen the film, to put it in a nutshell, Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) die tragically in a car accident and return home to find that a new family has moved into their home. They call upon Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to help them remove the family but find that he is hard to control and has an agenda of his own.

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Until tonight, I don’t think I ever realized just how scary Beetlejuice is. In the past, when I have thought about the film, I’ve mostly considered it a comedy but it really is a scary movie.

The dinner party scene with the Harry Belafonte song and the shrimp cocktail hands gave me awful nightmares, but remains, to this day, my favorite scene in any film. The Beetlejuice snake always upset me as a kid and I still find myself nervous when Otho raises Adam and Barbara from the dead. Besides, there is something about Burton’s collaboration of color extremes that sets an unnerving tone throughout the film, especially, to me, in the remodeled home of the Deetz’s.

Thanks to my mother, Tim Burton has entertained me since childhood. Sure, some have been less than perfect but we have to admit that he has supplied us all with some amazing films. Beetlejuice will always stand out to me as his best. It is as close to perfection as I think it gets.

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The Twilight Zone was a staple in our household. I grew up watching marathons with my father when they would air on holidays. Eventually, I began watching them alone at night in my room, resulting in some of the strangest dreams one might have. Naturally, with my parents’ love for the show, I had to see the movie.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie is a horror anthology, bringing together four big name directors to create their own versions of episodes from the series, with one original story by John Landis (American Werewolf in London, Animal House).

Landis creates a story about a racist man, played by Vic Morrow, angry that he has been passed up for a promotion that is given to a Jewish man. He steps out of a bar into Nazi invaded France where he must experience what it is like to be Jewish. After being chased by the S.S., he is then chased by the KKK, who wants to hang him for being black. During his escape, he finds himself in Vietnam, under attack by U.S. forces who want to kill him for being Vietnamese. He is forced to learn the hard way that minorities don’t have it as easy as he thinks.

Story number 2, a remake of the episode “Kick the Can,” is brought to us by Steven Spielberg (E.T., Indiana Jones). Scatman Crothers of The Shining infamy plays Mr. Bloom, an elderly man who comes to stay at a retirement home. Here he teaches the old folks that just because their bodies are old, doesn’t mean their minds have to be. For one night, he helps them become children again and allows them to choose whether they want to remain that way or stay old with fresh young minds.

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Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling) remakes the episode “It’s a Good Life” starring Kathleen Quinlan as Helen Foley, a school teacher who accidently hits a young boy named Anthony on his bike. Due to the horrible shape of his front tire, Helen gives Anthony a ride home where she is invited to dinner by his very strange acting family. She soon discovers that Anthony’s family is terrified of him due to his ability to make anything happen with just a wish. When strange things begin to happen, Helen must get Anthony to control his gift before things get out of control.

The final story, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, a remake of the episode of the same name, is recreated by George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet). John Lithgow plays John Valentine, an airline passenger who is in bad shape due to his fear of flying and the horrible storm outside. Forced to remain in his seat, John has nothing to do but stare out his window where he sees a gremlin destroying one of the engines. When he calls this to everyone’s attention, the gremlin is gone, making John look horribly insane. Upon the destruction of a second engine, John is forced to take out a window to attempt to kill the gremlin himself. Although everyone believes him to be insane, there are two engines ripped to pieces with claw marks in the metal.

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The last two segments were always my favorite. They have creatures that most people would find hideous that I, naturally, think are absolutely adorable. They terrified me as a child, especially the giant evil bunny at Anthony’s house and the gremlin on the wing when he grabs Lithgow’s face. Now I wouldn’t mind keeping them as pets.

These four very talented directors put together one fantastic film and tribute to the late Rod Serling. If you’re a fan of The Twilight Zone series, you may want to consider giving the film a chance. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

all photos credit to warner bros.

It’s Saturday the 13th, and though it may not be that day that Jason rises from his grave to kill horny teenagers, its close enough. Today’s film is obviously from that fun series based at Camp Crystal Lake, the only summer camp covered in more blood than Sleepaway Camp’s Camp Arawak. I am speaking, of course, of Friday the 13th. As the first film in the series focuses on Pamela Voorhees getting revenge for the death of her son, I thought that tonight I would watch Jason get his revenge. So, without further ado, tonight’s film is Friday the 13th Part 2.

Five years after the death of Mrs. Voorhees and the massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, the camp next door is opening for the summer. A group of counselors have arrived for their training before the camp fills with kids. Unbeknownst to them, Jason never drowned in that lake 30 years before and he witnessed Alice murder his mother. With Alice now dead and his revenge taken, Jason is living in an old Crystal Lake shack and doesn’t want to be disturbed. When a couple of counselors decide to break the rules and trespass on Crystal Lake soil, Jason is angered and decides to give all of the teens at the camp the punishment of death.

Besides the original, Part 2 is my favorite in the series. It’s not only the introduction to the murderous Jason Voorhees, but it also introduces us to just how cold and inhuman he really is. He doesn’t care who he kills or how, as long as his thirst for blood is satiated.

Personally, I think Jason is a little gay. What kind of guy seeks out the hot chicks to kill first anyway? There isn’t so much as a grope. And he kills every guy that tries to or succeeds in getting laid. Come on man, you need to be killing the ugly chicks and helping a guy get laid.

Jason isn’t so much scary as he’s just a dick. However, gay mama’s boy or not, the dude is brutal. The guy not only kills a defenseless guy in a wheelchair, but then pushes him down a flight of stairs. If that’s not brutal, then nothing is.

Just a giant nerd in love with horror, 80's action flicks, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @scarletjupiter to talk horror or just to browse the horror collection.