Daily Archives: September 2, 2020

Horror Films A–Z, Sept. 2020: A & B

The Awakening

Year: 2011
Runtime: 1h 42m
Rated: R

Director: Nick Murphy

Writer: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

OBSERVATION: Between 1914 and 1919 war and influenza have claimed more than a million lives in Britain alone.

CONCLUSION: This is a time for ghosts.

Initial: I’m officially starting the season with the rewatch of a favorite of mine.

Production Notes: Stephen Volk also wrote the screenplays to Gothic (1986), and Ghostwatch (1992).

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The Awakening begins with one of my favorite on-screen seance/debunking scenes. It perfectly sets up the character of Florence Cathcart as a skeptic, but also a wanna-be believer.

As befits a good period piece ghost movie, there are family secrets and a plot twist that *mostly* holds up to scrutiny; maybe better after repeat watching than the first time through. What The Awakening does really well, though, is presenting a supernatural story filled with characters who are haunted by real-world traumas.


Beetlejuice

Year: 1988
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: PG

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Michael McDowell, Larry Wilson, Warren Skaaren

Stars: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton

“Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual.’ I myself am strange and unusual.”

“You look like a regular girl to me.”

Initial: Rewatch. I was kind of hoping for my new-to-me pick, but that’s how the dice rolls. Haven’t seen Beetlejuice in a while; I’d forgotten that Alec Baldwin is the husband.

Production Notes: Winona Ryder’s first big film.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
While not written by Tim Burton, it is possibly the film I think of as most embodying the Burton aesthetic. Honestly, though, that might be because of Danny Elfman’s awesome score.

I will always be up for stories where the ghosts are the main characters. After all, I wrote one of those…

What struck me on this rewatch is that the Maitland’s and the Deetz’s are both semi-incomplete families. Adam and Barbara want a child and Charles and Delia don’t know how to relate to each other. Together, it all works out.

Still find it a little bizarre that there were Beetlejuice toys and a cartoon. This isn’t really a family friendly property.