Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: R, S & T

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Year: 1975
Runtime: 1h 40m
Rated: R

Director: Jim Sharman

Writers: Richard O’Brien, Jim Sharman

Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick

“It’s not easy having a good time.”

Initial: Not horror, really, but a Halloween movie, at least for me. And I really needed a fun break from horror and, well, life.

Production Notes: The first televised broadcast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show occurred on Oct. 25, 1993…

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
… And that would be the first time I ever saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show, though I’m sure a in PG-ized prime-time version. I have a very specific set of memories attached to Rocky Horror. Nineteen ninety-three was my freshman year in college and I had just moved from one dorm room (where I had a roommate) to another (where I didn’t). All the friends I had made thus far in college were in the other building and this particular Monday was the first weeknight I spent, alone, in this new room. I watched Rocky Horror, studied for a chemistry test, and fretted about how I was going to survive the semester. I was pretty sure there was no way I was going to pass my classes. I remember thinking that Rocky Horror was loud and weird and, I would later think to label it, queer. It felt safely transgressive. Watching it today, I’m amazed that it was on TV! This year, it was perfect thing to watch instead of the presidential debate.

Stir of Echoes

Year: 1999
Runtime: 1h 39m
Rated: R

Director: David Koepp

Writers: Richard Matheson, David Koepp, Andrew Kevin Walker

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Zachary David Cope, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas

“I’m not shocked that there’s another woman. Of course, the fact that she’s dead gives one pause.”

Initial: I’ve been looking forward to rewatching this film since I set my lists back in late August.

Production Notes: Director/writer David Koepp teamed up again with Kevin Bacon for another novel adaptation: You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Coming out a month after The Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes never got as much credit as it deserves. This is the style of ghost story I enjoy most: one that has the supernatural, but is also a mystery that isn’t entirely solved by the supernatural. The plot is well put-together. Plus, I really like the blue-collar characters and neighborhood. Kevin Bacon plays a great somewhat likeable asshole. Yes, sure, it doesn’t have the “twist” of something like The Sixth Sense, but it’s solid and creepy.

Twice-Told Tales

Year: 1963
Runtime: 2h
Rated: N/R

Director: Sidney Salkow

Writers: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert E. Kent

Stars: Vincent Price, Brett Halsey, Beverly Garland, Joyce Taylor

“My old friend, you had the grace of a panther!”

“I did, didn’t I?”

Initial: Decided there hadn’t been enough Vincent Price in my autumn.

Production Notes: Based loosely on three stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and The House of the Seven Gables.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
This movie is very 60s Victorian/Gothic, as can be expected. The “Rappaccini’s Daughter” segment was my favorite. Brett Halsey and Joyce Taylor are good-looking people with some chemistry and the garden is over-saturated and bright, the perfect contrast to the tragic romance of Giovanni and Beatrice. Price is at his most complex here too. His Rappaccini is honestly confused as to why no one thinks he’s done the right thing by making his daughter and her lover poisonous.

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