Directed and Written by
Starring: Sherri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Richard Brake
Budget $3M Box Office $2.2M
IMDb 5.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 52% Metacritic NO DATA
I finally got to see this last night. It was released September 16 of this year but, it didn’t spend a lot of time in theaters or that many theaters, for that matter. I had been looking forward to this since I wrote my first post about it being in production in January of 2018. It was well worth the wait.
I still have to say that out of all three films, House of 1000 Corpses will always be my favorite. HOWEVER, 3 From Hell was a great third addition to what has now become a series I suppose, since there’s three films. It’s not really a trilogy because the plot line doesn’t have some sort of weird twist back to the first film that brings it all together.
Now, when I first saw that Rob Zombie was thinking about making this third film, my first reaction was, “Okay, how are they going to explain the fact that they were all shot to shit at the end of The Devil’s Rejects.” Granted, we don’t ever see them actually dead. We just see an intense shootout with the cops where they are pummeled by a hail of bullets as they drive head on into a police barricade. Death is implied with the wounds we see them sustain.
But, that’s the thing about implications…they don’t actually define anything. So, in the beginning of this third film, we find out that after they were turned into human swiss cheese, the cops took them into custody and rushed them all to the hospital where, slowly but surely, all three of them, Otis, Captain Spaulding and Baby, eventually healed and were put on trial. And this trial is so…Manson-esque (yes, I just made that word up and no, I don’t care that it doesn’t really exist). They get a couple of really good shots of Baby and Otis, each playing their own respective Manson Family type roles…Baby, the floating, mindless follower and Otis, the charismatic, psychotic looking and ranting leader.
From this point on, the film is what one would expect and want from Rob Zombie. However, while the first film, House of 1000 Corpses, focused on the violence and madness of the deranged Firefly family, the second film, The Devil’s Rejects, seemingly focused on the sexual depravity and violence of the Firefly clan. In the first film, we get a lot of Otis’s ranting and raving about everything and nothing, while destroying multiple people in the process. In the second film, the terrible trio are much more violent. Almost everything violent in the second film has sexual connotations to it, while sex was more like a by-product of the violence in the first film.
In this third film, Zombie backs off of the sex as a main plot line and focuses more on just these three as people. Demented and sad, but people nonetheless. Also, in the third film we get introduced to another family member, Otis’s half-brother.
Remember now, the trio are all in prison. The half-brother is on the outside, so naturally, there is the issue of getting them out of prison. This film moves more like a regular horror/thriller movie, rather than the wild-eyed back and forth of the first film. I was surprised that this film was almost two hours but, at no time was I checking the counter to see how much time was left.
I thought it was a good movie, a good final entry to the series. At least I assume it’s the final film. You never actually know with Rob Zombie, do ya?
Bill Moseley as Otis is, by far, one of my favorite horror characters ever. And as I said in my review of House of 1000 Corpses, Sherri Moon Zombie’s little crazy china doll laugh is one of the most eerie things I have ever heard in a horror movie. She does that a little bit in this film but, it’s almost like Baby’s grown up or something since her shootout with the police. She has a different mania about her when she walks and talks, when she dances around, when she kills. Otis hasn’t changed much at all which make it an entertaining thrill kill kind of movie to watch. And the addition of the half-brother is a fabulous expansion on the family dynamic.
Any Rob Zombie film fan would like this and dare I say, love it? I actually thought it was better than the second film but I don’t know if Zombie will ever top House of 1000 Corpses. 3 From Hell was a very close go at it though. And I think they did a damn good job of bringing it all together. Especially since there was such a long gap between the making of the second and third film. This is one I’m glad I bought so I can watch it again.
Eli Roth, Mac Cappuccino, Cody Ryder
Christopher Ford and Jon Watts
Starring: Laura Allen, Christian Distefano, Andy Powers, Peter Stormare
Budget $1.5M Box Office $2.1M
IMDb 5.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 46% Metacritic 42/100
I just happened to pick this up at the used movie store down the street from my house. I didn’t know it existed and hadn’t heard anything about it until I saw the cover in the store. They had a special rack of horror movies set aside for Halloween. I grabbed this on a whim just because of the cover image. It looked creepy enough to me to have potential.
Now, while it wasn’t IT by any stretch, it definitely didn’t leave me feeling disappointed. I hate when I watch a movie and after the end I feel let down. So, there’s that to start with. Interestingly, the clown costume slightly resembles the new IT clown to me, but then again, that could be just me. I mean, all those antique clown costumes are hideously terrifying. I can NOT imagine who ever came up with the idea that clowns would be or could be entertaining to ANYONE, let alone small, helpless, hapless children.
Okay, so in this film, we have a typical family man, Kent McCoy, who is a real estate agent just trying to make a living to provide for his ever-growing family. We start on his son’s birthday. Kent’s wife, Meg, had ordered a clown but due to double booking issues, the company screwed up and no clown was sent for the party. Jack really wanted a clown; he was so looking forward to it. To find out that a clown wasn’t coming would just crush him. Meg calls Kent and tells him the situation. Kent, the doting father, springs into action.
When he gets Meg’s call, he’s at one of his properties he’s listing. It’s an old property and the previous owners left quite a bit of stuff. Kent starts to go through the boxes and chests in the basement and thankfully, by some miracle, he finds a clown costume. With a few other random things from around the house Kent becomes Domo the Clown and heads off to his son’s party. He’s a big hit with the kids and his wife is proud and considers him the hero of the day. After a long evening of entertaining a bunch of kids, Kent falls asleep still wearing the clown suit.
The next morning, Kent wakes to find that the clown suit is a little more than difficult to take off. The wig, the red rubber nose, the suit itself, have all seemed to adhere to his body. His family thinks it’s cute and his son even thinks it’s cool that Domo the Clown drove him to school. But Kent is no longer laughing. When he tries to remove the rubber nose it causes him pain. The same happens with the wig. He can’t wipe off all the clown makeup either. He even takes a little handheld jigsaw looking tool to the collar of the suit, trying to cut it off. But, it’s completely indestructible.
Now, Meg is a nurse so the two of them together think that she is a perfectly capable person to help with the removal process. So, she grabs her hemostats and after a few very painful tries, they just straight rip that red piece of rubber right off his nose, taking a lot of skin and some underlying tissue with it. That’s also when Meg notices that the wig isn’t a wig anymore, it’s become Kent’s actual hair.
And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, Kent starts getting the horrific desire to eat small children. Afraid he will hurt his wife and family; Kent runs away and moves to a motel. But he also finds the brother of the owner of the clown suit. He goes to this man looking for answers but what he finds is much more terrifying.
The man tells him the suit is a demon and it is taking over his body. The only way to end it…is to kill himself before the suit takes full hold of him. Kent isn’t thrilled with this idea, I mean, who would be? And neither is Meg. Now, it’s a race against time to see if they can figure out an alternative solution that doesn’t require beheading Kent before he is lost to the demonic clown suit forever.
This was a good film. Although it wasn’t ultra-fast paced or action packed or anything like that, it was still entertaining and creepy. Upon its United States release in 2016 it received very critical reviews with few people having nice things to say about the film at all. Personally, I didn’t think it was that bad. I’ve seen way worse. This wouldn’t get an Oscar or anything but I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it B-Rate horror either. The acting was fairly good. I recognized the guy that played the clown suit’s owner’s brother. He’s in one of the John Wick movies, I believe it’s the second one.
This was a pretty dramatic film. There wasn’t a lot of comedic relief, if any. No witty jokes really, no snappy one-liners. It did make for a slightly depressing movie. I mean, if you have a heart at all, you start to feel for Kent and his plight. Though it does also bring to mind the old adage “No good deed goes unpunished.”.
Still, I’ve not seen anything like this before. It was definitely different. I can’t say it’s a film I’ll be watching over and over however, it was worth watching at least once. I will say that if I had gone to the theater to see this, I probably would have been a little pissed, with how much it costs to go to the show anymore. But I got it used at the movie store for $5 or so. So, I feel I got my money’s worth. It might be fun to check out, especially if you love clown horror movies like I do.
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Steve Harris
Budget $13M Box Office $137M
IMDb 5.1/10 Rotten Tomatoes 54% Metacritic 54/100
It has been quite a while since I have seen The Purge, which was the first Purge movie. I do remember that it messed with my mind and I thought it was a pretty damn good movie, although I also remember it wasn’t something I was willing to watch over and over again. Maybe that’s because of the idea behind the plot of the movie.
This film, The First Purge, is about the very first Purge in the United States. Now, remember that the original movie was just a depiction of a typical “Purge” night. By then the people have long fortified their homes and have chosen one side or the other, whether they participate or stay home.
So, for those of you who don’t know, “The Purge” is an idea the government has put into practice that allows all crime, ALL CRIME, to be 100% legal and acceptable without retribution or consequences from the law for 12 hours each year, providing they don’t attack any government officials. Medical and Emergency are available the whole time. So, one night every year for twelve hours, all crime is legal and unpunishable.
Again, remember the first movie took place in 2022. THIS movie takes place in 2014, when the new government first passed the law allowing the Purge. In, this film we see the original purpose of the Purge night and what happened therein. Not to mention, we get a very good idea of how the agencies involved in the Purge exploited people in order to try to make it more successful. It becomes a fight for survival as people start to realize that they really are free from the law for twelve straight hours.
It must be the whole idea of this Purge thing that spooks me the most. The idea that for twelve hours our government would say it’s acceptable to murder or rape someone just, well…scares the shit out of me. There really aren’t many movies that can give me the willies or make me feel uncomfortable but, these Purge movies, they are some twisted stuff.
I liked that we got to see the origination of The Purge itself. When I saw the first movie I was like, how did this happen? Were there not people opposed to this? Funny how, in this movie, they answered my questions completely.
I liked this movie. It made want to watch the first one again. And the other Purge movies. There’s a whole slew of them PLUS a television series now. Definitely a major franchise. So, I assume the other movies will be good too but, then again, we have Halloween III: The Season of the Witch…ummm yeah. So, you never really know where they’re gonna take it at times. Still, I think this is a good flick for a Friday Night Fright with friends and food. There’s action, horror, a tiny bit of love, suspense. Practically something for everybody in the horror club!
Kevin Kōlsch and Dennis Widmyer
Based on Pet Sematary by
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow
Budget $21M Box Office $112.4M
IMDb 5.8/10 Rotten Tomatoes 57% Metacritic 57/100
As you all know I am a huge Stephen King fan. Also, you should all know by now that I am NOT a huge fan a remakes, reboots, redux, re-whatevers. I love the original Pet Sematary and so I had to see this just to see what they did to mess it up. Because I assume if it is one of those RE-somethings it’s not going to be as good as the original.
With this movie, I was right AND wrong. They change quite a few things from the first film. For example, the circumstances of the death of Ellie’s cat are different. Why? They bring up Zelda, Rachel’s dead sister, way earlier in this version than the original AND they changed the way she died. For what purpose? What was wrong with the original story?
Now, I will admit that I have NOT read this book. So, I can’t say what parts are accurate to the book itself and what parts are not. But there is something that is missing from this new remake version that I feel is crucial to the story. And they completely left it out.
We all know that Ellie’s cat Church dies. Louis, her father, takes the dead animal and goes with the neighbor from across the street, Jud, to bury it in the Pet Sematary. In the original, Jud is taking Louis to the old Native American burial ground beyond the Pet Sematary. He gives Louis a speech as Louis buries the cat, telling him that what you put in the ground is yours, and it will always come back to you. I have to tell you, that’s one of the creepiest moments in the original and they don’t have it in this version. Plus, how they end up dealing with Church after he returns has been changed too.
There are some other changes but I don’t want to ruin the whole movie for you. It’s not that I didn’t like this version. I actually did. But I have to say that I think some things were needlessly altered. Then again, some of the changes had a very strong impact just as taking out some things did too.
All in all, I did like this film and I thought it was done well. I wouldn’t be afraid to recommend it to anyone who likes horror, thrillers, those kinds of movies. I do hope, as with all remakes, that you will keep an open mind when you watch this if you’ve seen the original and are a big fan. I’ve seen all of the Pet Sematary movies so, I knew they would be changing some stuff just to switch things up in an effort to make it fresh. But it was fun to watch and there were definitely a few moments where I was shocked and surprised to say the least. You should probably check it out if you haven’t already.
Written and Directed by R. Lopez
Catherine Daisy Coleman as Sheena Star
Bryan Slusher as Muppet
Cody Calderas as Andy
Dakota Danger as Sidwell
Melesa Murphy as Teresa
Special appearances by Benjamin Bartlett and Jeff Homan as Tobi and Duke from The Toking Dead
No Sauce LLC.
Rose Parlor Tattoo
The Toking Dead
Crude Comics Inc.
I FINALLY got a chance to sit down and watch a screener of a movie I was sent a while back. I am kicking myself that I didn’t watch it sooner. It’s a horror comedy made by R. Lopez at Crude Comics Inc. I personally LOVE horror comedies. It seems to be one of the most unbridled forms of horror freedom on film.
Now, to truly appreciate horror comedy you need a good sense of humor, a strong stomach and a passion for horror. You have to be willing to overlook things like budgeting and film resolution quality in order to get to things like having fun and letting loose. When people decide to create a horror comedy their purpose is for the audience to have FUN and the makers want to have fun in the process of that creation. These guys OBVIOUSLY did exactly that.
Now, I don’t want to give a lot away because I really, really want you guys to see this. But we start out meeting Stoner Jesus. (Oh, stop being offended, it’s a comedy film, for crying out loud, nobody’s preaching anything). I was laughing the whole way through. This film has all sorts of humor in it. Everything from slapstick to toilet humor. I do have to admit, and I giggle even as I write this, that if you haven’t done certain drugs in your lifetime, there are probably parts of this movie that aren’t going to be funny or make sense to you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. But for those that may (or may not, depending on the advice of your attorney) have had a misspent youth, some of this stuff is going to be absolutely hilarious to you. (On the advice of counsel, I decline to answer as to whether or not I have any sort of direct or indirect knowledge of any aforementioned substances that may or may not give me insight on the hilarity factor of this film. Moving on…)
If I were going to try to describe this film to someone, I would have to say it’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1000 Corpses got into a head on collision and then comedy of all kinds violently poured down upon the crash site. There are so many small jokes, funny little references, snappy one liners. There’s regular stuff that really happens in real life between stoners that people that get high truly do laugh at.
I recognize that, to an extremely straight arrowed kind of person, this movie would seem very haphazard and without flow, might seem strange (to say the least) and might seem like a waste of time. But that’s not who it’s meant for.
I loved watching this film. It’s like watching a home movie of a bunch of stoner friends take a road trip and then some weird creepy ass stuff gets thrown in the mix. There’s weird stuff going on with Sasquatch type monsters, creepy old men, creepy younger men…ravioli.
All in all, definitely fun to watch. If you need laughs this is your ticket to them. Oh, and a killer side note…our killer friends over at The Toking Dead not only have their comic and some of their TTD gear shown in this film, the guys actually make a special appearance!!! I was so excited to see them!!! I was already stoked when I kept seeing their comic and merchandise but, then POOF there they were! Totally cool!
Lopez and his crew really worked hard on getting this comedy right and it shows. They had fun and in turn, I had fun. Total success!!!!
You can buy a copy at crudecomicsinc.com
Bragi F Schut and Maria Melnik
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, Jay Ellis, Yorick van Wageningen
Budget $9M Box Office $155.7M
IMDb 6.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 49% Metacritic 48/100
Okay, so, the whole premise of this film got me from the beginning because I have always been fascinated by the idea of an escape room. Not that I am convinced I could get out myself but, with a certain select group of friends, it would be interesting to try. However, this is a film that might make you think twice about signing up for such an entertainment activity.
Now, if you don’t know, (and honestly the only way you couldn’t know is if you are say, over the age of 80, under the age of 7 OR you’ve been living in a cave being raised by wolves and have no idea what lengths human beings will go to for entertainment, to prove their intellect and for a good adrenaline rush) an escape room is a form of a puzzle room. People sign up and pay sometimes a good sum of money to get locked in a room that presents a hypothetical danger and they must find the clues hidden within the room to piece together the final answer to unlock the door. (If you hate logic games, puzzle games or anything like that, even hidden object games, you probably wouldn’t like or do well in an escape room.)
However, if you like watching people freak out, turn on each other, bond together, logic puzzles, human behavior, killer graphics and movies that give you an edge of your seat suspense feeling with an adrenaline rush kind of feel…then you’ll probably dig this film.
In Escape Room, six people are given invitations to participate in a highly coveted, top-rated Escape Room challenge. IF any of them can be the first to escape, they will win a prize of $10,000. Sounds pretty enticing huh? I mean, it’s just a game, right? Like a haunted house. What could go wrong?
The mix of participants is interesting. We find that among them is a very successful money manager/stock broker type guy. His invitation was a gift from a client for instance. Then, there’s an incredibly intelligent, genius-level intelligent, but, wickedly shy and closed in college student. She got her invite from one of her professors. Next, we have Ben. Ben comes into work one day at the stockroom to find his invite waiting for him on a stack of the inventory he should be putting away. We have Mike, who is a regular guy who drives a truck for a living and we have Amanda, who is an Iraq War Veteran. Last but certainly not least, we have Danny. Danny is an escape room fanatic and has done pretty much every single one in the area…and more. It’s funny to see all six of them sitting in the waiting room looking at each other trying not to look at each other. (I mean, this movie was made this year and that is a perfect example of human behavior. Why is eye contact NOT okay anymore? When I was growing up it was REQUIRED. It’s like people are scared to look at other human beings and make some sort of human connection with them.) Upon entering the main building entrance, they were required to relinquish their phones, otherwise they would have all been looking at a tiny digital screen, pretending to be incredibly absorbed in whatever is on their home screen, homepage or what texts they AREN’T getting at that moment.
So here they are, these six strangers in a waiting room, waiting for the “game” to begin. The only problem is, it already has. They don’t know it but once they all got there and that door closed, the game was on. Now, a lot of escape rooms can be just one room, ya know, like a beginner level. Then there are ones out there that have many rooms with many puzzles that you have to get through. THIS one these people are in…has multiple rooms. BUT, they aren’t just regular rooms.
A LOT of money has been put into this game. A LOT. Who knows who’s backing this sort of thing? Some sicko millionaire? The government? Foreign enemy forces? Some whacked out scientist? I mean, when you think of the things ACTUAL people have done in REAL LIFE for entertainment, the possibilities for the mastermind villain in this movie are endless.
I did enjoy this movie. And since it IS so new, I am not going to tell you a whole lot about it. I will say that I think it was made well. I liked the actors. I think they portrayed their characters particularly well. And the special effects and graphics, very cool. Very well done.
I have to admit there were many times I was surprised and impressed with the way they were able to bring things to life on screen. And whoever came up with the puzzle ideas, they’re good. This guy, gal, people, whoever, talk about some creative work.
One of the best things about this film is that not all of the normal horror movie rules apply.
One of the not so great things about it frankly, was the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. But, to me, incomplete. It makes me wonder if they are leaving it open for a sequel, a franchise perhaps. But then again, it could have been that they got to the ending and just had a hard time closing it down. That happens so often with horror movies. So many times, we expect that climactic ending like we got in Friday the 13th, an ending that shocks and scares, that final heart-stopper, that final scream. And so many times we are let down. I’ll let you decide for yourself if you feel like the ending was befitting the rest of the film.
Starring: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Steve Buscemi, Matthew O'Leary
Budget $75M Box Office $54.2M
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 24% Metacritic 29/100
Although this is not a HORROR film, it is certainly a suspense/thriller of sorts. Now, I'm going to tell you right up front that there isn't a lot of hardcore murder, action, blood, gore or the intensity that you might expect from a suspense or thriller type movie.
However, this was, in my opinion, a good film. As you can see, once again, I disagree with the peeps at Rotten Tomatoes but, really, what else is new? I seriously often wonder who these people are and what their criteria are for a good movie?
In this film, John Travolta plays a regular guy named Frank Morrison, who is an old-fashioned wooden boat builder. His son, Danny, lives with his ex-wife and her new soon-to-be husband, Rick (Vince Vaughn). The two exes seem to get along well and the only problem seems to be Danny's behavior.
Danny seems to have a problem with lying. Well, let me rephrase. He doesn't have a problem with it. It doesn't seem to bother him at all. He lies to everyone. He lies to the police, his mother, his grandmother, his teachers, strangers, everyone. Everyone except his Dad, Frank.
So, when Danny comes to Frank frantic saying he's just witnessed Rick commit a murder, Frank has to take him at his word. Unfortunately, this revelation comes on the heels of not only Danny's mother, Susan's marriage to Rick BUT also the news that she and Rick are going to have a baby.
Frank must now decide whether or not to believe his son and if he does, what to do about it? The stakes are high when children are involved and the cost could be considerable. Frank has no idea who Rick truly is…and honestly, neither does anyone else.
I enjoyed this film for several reasons. First, we see Travolta in a role other than some sort of military-trained badass or psychotic villain. I know there are other movies out there that he's done like that such as Saturday Night Fever, Look Who's Talking, A Civil Action, Wild Hogs. However, I feel it's rare we see Vince Vaughn step so far out of the comedy genre and I think he did very well as the creepy new husband. He still has the sly sarcastic delivery and it's perfect for his character. You can't help but want to like Vaughn's character in this film and yet, at the same time, you just know he's a bad dude.
Again, this is one of the few movies out of Travolta's 40+ year film career that he doesn't play some sort of trained killer or secret badass living in suburbia, that kind of thing. Not to mention some sort of psychotic villain, which I love those roles. All of them. I've often wondered if his involvement in Scientology helps in those roles of psychopathy…just saying. And believe me, it's not the actual faith base of that "religion" I question, I mean, to each his own. But, that…culture…functions more as a cult and a business than an actual religion and THAT is where my questioning only begins. I don't care if they believe in aliens and all that jazz. Big deal. I do care that their practices can cause harm (emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, financial) and that's NOT what faith is about. So, you might be able to see how I may draw a connection between those practices and his ability to portray a psycho. But moving on…Scientology is a whole different article.
So, this is a decent flick. Don’t be expecting a whole lot of suspense type action. I mean, you know the truth the whole time the film is rolling on however, what you DON’T know is how it will all turn out. It’s definitely worth watching at least once.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb
Based on the 1974 novel Jaws by Peter Benchley
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Budget $9M Box Office $470.7M
IMDb 8/10 Rotten Tomatoes 97% Metacritic 87/100
Okay so, EVERYONE in the horror community knows about the movie Jaws. If you don’t, you’ve been living under a rock, it’s just that simple. Even the newest generations know of this movie as it still gets attention by various marketing companies as the make spoof t-shirts and magazine covers and such off of the original movie poster image. And everyone knows that classic theme song sound, that parade of single notes one after the other that can let anyone know that, just like with the Halloween theme song, nothing good is about to happen.
This film is also very near and dear to my heart. This was a favorite of my father’s and mine that we used to watch any chance we got. I know the majority (if not all) of the dialogue and because of a special trip I was lucky enough to get to take with my job years ago, I actually got to go to the back lot of Universal Studios in Hollywood and go to the dock area where they filmed some snippets of this movie. I got to get my picture taken next to the shark they “think” is the killer shark, the one they caught and bragged about near the beginning/middle of the film (it’s the one Hooper says the bite radius doesn’t match and he says it’s a Tiger shark). I also got my picture taken with the Amity sign, the one that gets defaced by the “little paint happy bastards” the Mayor wants “hung up by their Buster Browns”. (For you really young folks, that was a brand name of shoe back in the day.)
Now, everyone knows this is a killer flick. I have to be honest with you all and admit I have NOT read the novel by Peter Benchley…but I am ordering it and I am going to. The reason is simple…Spielberg had to leave a lot of the subplots out of the storyline in order to focus the film on the shark. The bulk of what we see in the film is really only about the last 120 pages or so of the book. So, we are missing quite a bit. I’ll do a comparison once I read it but, for now, moving on to the classic film itself.
The story in the film is very, very simple. Amity Island is a tourist community that gets the vast majority of their yearly income from the tourists that come to the beach every year over the summer. They depend on their summer business for their very livelihood.
Early in the season, just as the warm weather is beginning to hit, a group of local teens gather at the beach for a nighttime bonfire party. After a bit of drinking and flirting, two teens run off to get their groove on down by the water, well, in the water actually. Now, the chick is much more in control of her faculties and has no trouble stripping down to her bare ass and jumping into the ocean. The guy she’s with however, gets about halfway to naked and then drops in the sand because he’s too drunk to be of any use to anyone, especially a female. While she’s out swimming, something grabs her form below the waterline, violently jerks her from side to side and then pulls her under, all the while her screams for help being muffled by splashes of water going in her mouth and going unheard and unanswered. The next day, what’s left of her is found washed up on the shore.
At first, her death is ruled a shark attack by the medical examiner/coroner (whatever it is they have in such a small town) but, then there seems to be a meeting of the political minds of the town and that cause of death is quickly changed to boating accident.
Enter Chief Martin Brody. Brody moved to this small island from New York. He figured small town, low crime, easy life for him and his family which includes his wife and their two sons, Michael and Jordan. Ironically, Brody hates the water. In fact, he fears it…completely. I don’t think he’s even willing to wade in the water unless it’s absolutely necessary…like when he has to pull his son Michael out of the water after a shark attacks a boater near him and he falls into the water, the shark swims by him and he goes into shock. Even then, the kids Michael was with pull him to the shore and THEN Brody gets in the water only up to his shins to pull Michael in the rest of the way.
So, by now we’ve had two shark attacks. The Mayor can’t seem to get it through his thick skull that they need to close the beaches and hire someone to kill the shark until the second attack happens and only then does he agree because HIS KIDS were on the beach too. (What an ass! Only when YOUR children are at risk are you willing to close the beach??? The town should have hung HIM up by his Buster Browns…or whatever shoes he was wearing with that god awful anchor covered suit…yuck!)
Now, we’ve closed the beaches. And now, we meet Quint and Hooper. Quint is a shark hunter. He’s very rough, not just around the edges but, all the way through. He has a mouth like a sailor which fits since he later tells a story about being on the USS Indianapolis, which was a real event in American history. But, I will get to that later. Quint has offered his services to the town to hunt down and kill this shark.
Matt Hooper is an expert from the Oceanographic Institute that was asked to come out to the island to help determine what exactly they are dealing with. Hooper is a smart guy with a lot of money. This is something that really pisses off Quint. He sees Hooper as a rich kid playing fisherman. But Matt is no newbie and spends a lot of the movie proving himself to Quint, along with throwing some sarcasm and attitude at him when he gets the chance. It’s obvious Hooper knows his worth, even if Quint doesn’t.
So, these three guys load up on a little boat called The Orca to travel out into the unknown of the ocean where this giant and perfect evolutionary machine (that’s what Hooper calls it) awaits their arrival. The rest of the movie is about them hunting for and killing the shark, which they do. No everyone makes it home though. And of course, Jaws isn’t the ONLY Great White in the ocean.
Now, normally this is where I would tell you whether or not I liked the film and if I thought the actors pulled off their characters well or if it was filmed well, etc. However, this time is gonna be different since I already told you in the beginning I love this movie. Instead, I’m going to give you a lot of random information about the film you may or may not already know. But first…
Yes, I love this movie. Yes, the actors were incredible. Yes, it was filmed magnificently, especially for the time. Now, I’ll move onto what I consider to be the COOL stuff.
This was the very first horror film to be released at the box office in the summertime. It was also the first time a filmmaker had ever dared to film on a live body of water, like the ocean, and not in tanks and pools at the studio back lots. Both of these things were unheard of in 1975 when this movie was made.
Spielberg was still a very young and somewhat green director. As he began filming this movie, he and his crew ran into one obstacle after another. Nobody had ever used that kind of very expensive (and very heavy) film equipment actually IN water. So they had to figure that out. What they ended up doing was they had a guy (a genius for the times really) build a waterproof camera box for each camera so that when water filming was required the camera and its entire apparatus could be completely submerged in water without damage. He also rigged a device to keep the camera equipment steady in the strong current of the ocean water. This man’s name was Bill Butler. (And the current IS strong. If you’ve never been swimming in the ocean, I’ve been off the west coast in SoCal, it doesn’t take but getting out a few hundred feet from shore before the undercurrents really start pulling at you. And then there’s the tides. So, being actually OUT ON THE WATER in boats, that current is something wicked, even though it always looks so peaceful in pictures and from a distance.)
But, before that, they had to find a coastal area that looked small town enough to fit the idyllic Amity Island but would also be okay with an entire Hollywood film crew, cast and everything and everyone that comes with movie production being there. That’s not a small request. I mean, you’re talking probably at least 100 people coming in and taking over a town. There were 40 people involved just in building the various sharks used in the movie alone, plus taking 14 people just to operate them. That’s over 50 newcomers right there. Then you add the cast, the camera crew, sound crew, all the guys nobody ever thinks of like the boom operators, makeup team, hair stylists, costuming, the people who find housing for everyone, the clapperboard person (or persons), the list just goes on and on.
So, where could they go and peacefully disrupt an entire town’s complete way of daily living? Martha’s Vineyard. At first, the residents were okay with it as they were told the crew would only be there for 55 days. Instead, they were there 159 days. By then, the townspeople were at their limit with these Hollywood bozos. And going over on production days was just the beginning of the problems for Spielberg.
One of the biggest problems with filming on actual live bodies of water was that you have no control over, well, anything. Martha’s Vineyard is not only a residential town but, it too is a tourist place. But, it is home to a number of wealthy people who, they themselves, love the water and sail and picnic and do normal beachfront property owner activities. Now, you can’t, as a film crew, just go into some town and say, “Okay, um, we’re from Hollywood and we’re making a movie in a way that’s never been done before so, uh, if you all could just not come to the beach or get in the water in ANY WAY unless WE ask you to, that would be great, thanks.” Yeah, that’s not going to work. So, there were many, MANY times during filming that they needed a clean and clear horizon shot in the background and all of a sudden a sailboat would pop up out of one side of the shot and start slowing putzing through. And just as that boat would be almost out of shot, a yacht would come into the shot. Sometimes they’d have to wait for three or four boats at a time to get out of the shot. By then, the natural lighting is all wrong for where they are at in the story and that, of course, sets them back in filming. And that didn’t just happen ONE DAY. This was a repeated problem…or shall I say nuisance.
The original budget for the film was $3 million but, after all the delays in filming and the mechanical and design issues with the sharks, etc., it ended up costing $9 million. Now, as a young NEW director (Spielberg had only directed one other theatrical film at this point) this is NOT GOOD. The bigwigs at Universal eventually start calling Richard Zanuck (a producer) and start chewing on his ass about why the film is taking so long, what the issues are, they gotta wrap it up, they’re not gonna keep losing money…blah blah blah. Zanuck was the voice of reason and the go-between amidst Spielberg and the studio. This led to a lot of tension resting on Spielberg’s shoulders and he often stayed up until the wee hours of the morning or all night working on the script or notes or effects issues for the next day’s shooting.
Then there were problems with Bruce. That’s the mechanical shark. The shark was named Bruce by the crew after Spielberg’s lawyer (I actually find that hilarious, I know some lawyers personally). In reality, there were three full-size sharks made for the film. One was what they referred to as “a sea-sled shark” which was a full bodied shark except it had no underbelly. This is where the mechanical mechanism was that ran from the shark all the way to the ocean floor and was used to propel the shark through the water. Then there were two other sharks built. Each was full size but only one half of the shark from mouth to tail, first the whole right side of the shark, then the whole left side of the shark. All of the sharks that were fabricated were pneumatically powered, meaning they were moved by a mechanism that used a series of hoses and blasts of pressurized air and/or gas to propel movement.
But practically every day, every single day, there were calls over the little handheld radios (walkie-talkies is what we called them in the 80s, millennials if you don’t know what those are, use Google…THAT is something that I am just not willing to explain, to me it seems pretty self-explanatory but, these days I am finding that nothing is self-explanatory) that there was something wrong with the shark, that it wasn’t working, etc. Sometimes it would be that they couldn’t get the shark to swim or that it only swam in circles, sometimes its mouth wouldn’t open, other times they couldn’t get the propelling system to push it up out of the water. There were so many mechanical issues with the famous Bruce that they actually ended up cutting the shark out of a number of scenes. That’s why we see so little of the actual shark and instead, we get little tidbits and a lot of implying of the shark’s presence and the danger it imposes.
Spielberg and his team also came up with a brilliant filming technique for the film to really pull the viewers into the depths of the ocean with the characters. They filmed with the camera at the waterline for a number of shots, especially shots where danger is supposed to be felt, instead of filming at eye level or from above. This put the viewer right smack dab in the heart of the danger zone with the shark…that they couldn’t see. And we always fear more what we cannot see versus what we can. Then, Spielberg asked that during certain “attack” shots there be no red in the background or in the shot itself. This made the blood of the victims the only red the viewers would see, thus making it so much more impactful.
The gal that played Chrissie (the girl that dies in the very beginning), Susan Backlinie, was actually hooked up to a pulley system that violently yanked her from side to side and up and down to simulate the shark swimming around with her in its mouth and pulling her under. It was operated by two men, one on each end. She has said in interviews that is was very hard work and it WAS painful to go through that process. Also, Spielberg was so concerned about the last final tug of her going under being just right that he himself yanked her under for the last pull into the water down to her demise on film. At the time this film was made, it was very difficult to find a pretty girl who was young that was athletic with stunt experience and willing to do a full nudity scene on camera.
Now for something I find incredibly interesting. Richard Dreyfuss was completely miserable during the making of this film. He had no faith in it whatsoever and he just knew his career would be over before it even really got started. He had only done a handful of films and though some of the titles were big titles, he either went uncredited, didn’t have a big part as a credited actor, didn’t do well or the film didn’t do as well as expected. There were a number of times during filming he called his agent very upset and angry about taking this role. (He had just done The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitzand was once again convinced everyone would hate it. After seeing the screener, he called Spielberg and asked for the part of Hooper, which he initially turned down.) Richard was certain the whole film was going to be a total bust, that the critics were going to hate the film and him and that he was surely never going to work in Hollywood again. He felt his character was never really developed and that because of that, he was not able to give a full performance worthy of his true talent. He has been quoted as saying, ”We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark.”
There were problems with the cast at times as well. They didn’t always get along. Especially as time kept dragging on and tensions kept running higher and higher. Shaw had a drinking problem and an attitude with Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss had an attitude about his confidence in the film and his character…and career. A lot of the cast and crew got sea sickness during filming. I mean, how pleasant does that sound?
Now for the USS Indianapolis speech. This is a key moment in the movie. And one of the most famous. Quint and Hooper are getting drunk and bonding over sharing shark bite/injury scars. As they are going back and forth talking about what seem like some pretty close calls, Chiefy looks at his stomach to see his one and only scar…from his appendectomy. That doesn’t quite qualify for the very friendly pissing contest they got going on here. Then, as the two shark-boys are about to toast to their legs (watch the movie), Brody asks Quint about a scar on his arm. Quint says it’s a tattoo he got removed. (I don’t know about how it is now but, old school military, especially Navy, got tattoos, usually representing a wife, a woman, a mother or the ship they were assigned to. After a couple smartass jokes from Hooper, Quint reveals it’s a tat from the Indianapolis. Hooper immediately knows what that means, Brody does not. So, Quint tells a brief summary of the tragedy at sea.
The truth: In July of 1945, the USS Indianapolis was a Portland-class heavy cruiser that our Navy sent to deliver bomb parts that would later be assembled into the first nuclear weapon used in war to the Island of Tinian to our Air Force Base there. That nuclear bomb was the bomb used in the attack on Hiroshima the following month in August. On July 30, on their way to their next assignment they were torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The entire ship sank in about twelve minutes. With it into the water went almost 1200 men…our soldiers. About 300 men died with the sinking of the cruiser. The other approximately 900 men, they were left floating in the water with lifejackets, very few lifeboats, no food or water and left with the dangers of exposure to the elements, saltwater poisoning and shark attacks. After an awful and intense nearly five days helplessly at sea only 316 were rescued.
On August 19, 2017 an independent investor hired a search team to locate the wreckage of the Indianapolis. It was found at the explosion location, at a depth of about 18,000 feet.
On December 20, 2018 the entire crew of the USS Indianapolis was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service and sacrifice to their country.
Quint’s version: Quint tells pretty much the same story except it is, of course, dramatized emotionally for the movie and embellished for impact. Quint says they weren’t even listed overdue for a week. That’s not true. They were sighted four days after the cruiser sank. Quint also never mentions any lifeboats. However, there was a huge screw up, or I’m going to say series of screw ups, by the US Navy that, had they not occurred, could have very well saved hundreds of lives.
Now, because Quint is super drunk in this scene when he gives this speech, Robert Shaw, who plays Quint, thought that the only way he could really do this scene right would be if he too were drunk. It didn’t go as he planned. Shaw fouled up the scene so many times that they eventually called it quits and waited for the next day. On that next day of filming, Shaw showed up stone cold sober and nailed the speech the first time.
A few extra tidbits about the speech…
Roy Scheider was the one who came up with the line about sharks having eyes like a doll’s eyes.
The speech went from an original three quarters of a page recollection to a four-page monologue into the concise intense story we see on screen.
Multiple cast members, the script writers and Spielberg contributed to the final speech we view in the film.
Okay, so who IS Peter Benchley anyways right? Well, if you watch the movie, on the first day the beaches are open to tourists there’s a reporter doing a story about what’s been going on in Amity as of late. He’s got dark hair and glasses and he’s wearing a suit on the beach with a microphone in his hand. THAT is Peter Benchley. He re-wrote the screenplay for the movie three or four times before he handed it over and told the studio and filmmakers that he’d done all he could with it and the rest was basically on them.
Spielberg wasn’t the first director offered this film. The first director basically quit and Spielberg had to ask for the film because he happened to see it on the desk of someone at the studio, I believe it was Zannuck’s desk but, I can’t be 100% on that one.
Spielberg was in constant fear throughout the making of this movie that he was going to not only be fired but, probably cast out of Hollywood forever as the worst director of all time.
The end scene where the shark explodes was a one-chance/one-take shot. They filled the shark with real raw fish, calamari, chum, etc. to simulate the actual bloody guts of the shark being blown up.
Spielberg did not go to the set on the last day of filming. He flew back to Hollywood early. He was so afraid the cast and crew were going to do something to him, like footballs players dumping Gatorade on the coach but worse, that he cut out in order to avoid his impending doom. To this day he says he still does not go to the set on the last day of filming out of tradition and possibly, superstition.
In the scene where Mrs. Kittner slaps Chief Brody, Roy Scheider was slapped over 25 times before they got it done the way Spielberg wanted it. Roy has said it was very difficult to brace yourself for a smack in the face you knew was coming without looking like you knew it was coming.
The theme song, as I said in the beginning, a classic parade of single notes back and forth is deemed by Spielberg to be responsible for half of the film’s success. He feels that had it not been for that specific iconic tune, the movie wouldn’t have been near as successful.
Several big name actors such as Robert Duvall and Jon Voight were considered for main parts in the movie. But they were either not receptive to what parts were being offered or Spielberg thought they might be too big for the movie, period, and steal the show from the shark, such as actors like Charlton Heston, who wanted to play Quint.
When Hooper is underwater in the anti-shark cage, there are two interesting things they did to make this scene so believable.
Finally, probably the most famous line in this film is, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” It is said by Chief Brody when he’s throwing out chum and the shark jumps out of the water at him and scares the crap out of him. Originally, this line was said immediately after the shark appears. When the screening was first shown and they were gauging what was working in the film and what wasn’t, the screams of the audience when the shark appeared COMPLETELY drowned out Brody’s famous line. Spielberg felt this line was crucial, instrumental to the scene and the film as it added a certain amount of levity to such an ominous situation. So, after the screening, they changed it to what we now see, where Brody stiffens up, walks straight backwards into the galley and THEN tells Quint “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” They also raised the volume level of that particular line in the film versus the rest of the dialogue. By doing that, the audience had settled enough that the line could be heard and have its comedic impact.
Also, the scene where Hooper is looking at Ben Gardner’s boat underwater and the head pops out at him, that was added after the filming at Martha’s Vineyard. Spielberg just wanted one more scare for the viewers. It was filmed in a pool at someone’s house. They added powdered milk to the water to try to match the murky waters of those at Martha’s Vineyard and shot it in Hollywood in a personal pool, not even on the backlot at the studios. Spielberg even used $3000 of his own money to do so. (What a guy!!!!)
And one last thing…Jaws was the first film to hit over $100M at the Box Office (they call it theatrical rentals) ever. It surpassed The Godfather which only grossed $86M. The Jaws record was beaten by Star Wars just two years later but Jaws was the first to hit the $100M. (Atta boy Spielberg, and you thought you were dead in the water, tsk tsk tsk.) Within the first two weeks of release all production costs had been covered and the rest was all profit from that point forward. They also did a much larger nationwide theatrical release than what was normal for the time. They released on June 20, 1975 in North America in 464 theaters, which was just unheard of and by the middle of August, the film was in over 900 theaters. This totally went against everything the studios thought would bring in viewers. But, they were wrong. People were lined up to see this movie all summer long, around the blocks of theaters all over the country, not to mention when it went international. It has been revered as such a classic that is has been re-released in theaters in 1976, 1979 (this is also when it first aired on television getting the second highest viewing audience in history at the time, only being beaten out by Gone with the Wind), and then again in 2015 on two different dates.
So, there you have it. That’s the bulk of the information I have on the film Jaws…in a nutshell. I can’t imagine someone NOT liking this movie and I pray that Hollywood doesn’t do a remake/reboot/redux F&!@ UP on what might very well be ONE of the most perfect horror films ever. We are talking about a cataclysm of blunders and misfortunes, mind changes and matters of naïve genius, perfection and patience, egotism and humbleness, all smashing together in a catastrophic way to bring us something that could never be recreated again. This was magic on screen in a way that they just don’t do anymore. These days everyone relies so much on CGI that nothing you see on screen seems to have been done by hand. REAL special effects used to be an actual art form. It’s such a shame that with all this technology we’ve gotten to the point where we feel the need to do EVERYTHING electronically, digitally. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that CGI is also an art form. I truly do. But there’s something about being able to build something with your hands and make it look as realistic as possible versus everything being done on a computer program. Maybe I’m just old school. I don’t know.
And these guys didn’t have that CGI option. And while the newer generations look at the film quality, see vintage or the date of 1975 and immediately think NO WAY and move on, they have no idea what kind of skill, talent and manpower it took to make a movie like this. It took six months just to build the three sharks, built by 40 men, by hand. Not some computer. Filming took like 159 days instead of the scheduled 55. They had every problem you could imagine and all the ones you can’t. They were breaking new ground in this film. I feel like this gets lost somewhere along the line. I mean, really, even if we do let computers do everything, who’s gonna fix the computers when they break? Another computer? And when that one breaks? You need humans in there somewhere people. You can’t replace all human action, activity and skill with a computer. No matter how hard you try. Technology is supposed to aid us, not replace us.
So, for some good old fashioned summer horror, this is the go to flick. Not a whole lot of blood but, there is some. Not a lot of gore, except for that whole Quint dying thing. Not a lot of foul language. Only a small spot of brief nudity. But totally loaded on suspense and thrill. A personal favorite and a true classic. Jaws wasn’t just a MOVEMENT in the horror film industry. It was a REVOLUTION. A movement suggests something that goes for a distance and then stops and sort of dies off. A revolution seems to cycle back around again and again. And Jaws…will never die.
Behind the Scenes
Directed by Wes Craven
Screenplay by Harlan Ellison, Alan Brennert
Starring: Bruce Willis
So, I just watched a 1980s episode of The Twilight Zone called Shatterday. (My first thought was “Wow, they gave William Shatner his own themed episode??? Seriously???” But, alas, this was not the case.)
This was an intense episode and it’s hard to explain so, you’ll have to be patient and just, muscle through a bit.
Bruce Willis plays a man named Peter Novins. We first meet Peter while he is sitting at a bar having a drink, waiting for his girlfriend to arrive. As she is late, he decides to call his girlfriend’s office and see if she’s left yet or something like that. Here’s one of my favorite little tidbits. He dials his phone number KL56189 (that’s Klondike 56189 for you younger folks. So the number would translate into 555-6189. ‘K’ and ‘L’ are on the number 5 on the phone key pad. So WA48484 is said as Wabash 48484 and is dialed as 924-8484. Okay? I think this is fun because we don’t use the letter/number system anymore and this particular episode was made in 1985 and they are still referring to a phone number that way. By then, the majority of phone numbers were referred to as numbers only, no letters. Just a little history lesson there for ya. Moving on.)
So, Peter dials KL56189. But it’s not his girl’s office…it’s his home. Now, normally when you call your own home and you’re the only one that lives there, a person doesn’t answer. Peter is not so lucky. On the other end of the line…is Peter.
Now, take a minute to wrap your head around this. You call home and YOU answer. And you start having a conversation with yourself to confirm your own identity. How whacked out is THAT??? Needless to say, Peter in the bar (we’ll call him Novins) gets completely freaked out by his conversation with Peter at home (we’ll keep calling him Peter) and leaves the bar, telling the bartender that if his girlfriend shows up to tell her he couldn’t stay. (Um, yeah…dude? That’s soooo not gonna fly with her, okay? Just sayin’.)
What this conversation, and following ones from a phone booth, entailed between the two Peters was very revealing and antagonistic. Peter says they can’t both exist. That two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time. Peter tells Novins that he knows his life is crap and he won’t even make any effort to change it. Peter starts antagonizing Novins about all his misdeeds, bad choices, his lack of character, his general lack of lust for life. He bashes him telling him his life sucks and he’s let it get out of control. Peter says that those days are over.
Novins gets agitated very quickly and maintains that eventually Peter will have to leave the apartment eventually and when he does, Novins will slip in, thus taking over the apartment and his life again. This whole thing is seemingly a battle over occupancy of the apartment. But through more antagonistic conversations, we learn that it runs much deeper than that.
So, by now, Novins is locked out of his own apartment by Peter (himself) and has checked into a hotel. He’s also emptied his bank account so Peter has no access to his money thinking that will put a strain on him. Then, more phone calls.
Novins calls Peter and tries to enforce his monetary upper hand. But Peter IS Novins. So, he knows about the $200 in the jewelry box. That blows Novins’ plan right out of the water. Then, as if that punch in the gut wasn’t bad enough, Peter tells him that his mother called that day. He says she knows he lied about why he left his visit with her early. She knows he left and checked into a hotel for his last day. Peter says that she said she forgives him and just wants him to spend her life with him.
Now, Novins is losing it because he gets all buggy when he’s around his Mom and he already feels guilty but, he pushes that WAY down to the pit of his gut so he can ignore it. And this ass clown is straight guilting him to the nth degree here. But, Peter tells Novins not to worry, he’s already arranged to make amends. He invited Mom to come live with him. Novins REALLY flips out on that one!!! He doesn’t want his mother in his apartment. He’s a guy, with a life. Well, too flippin’ bad because Peter has made it so. And there is nothing Novins can do about it. Not from the outside. Peter is the one in the house. He’s the one able to do the work at his job. He’s the one answering the phone and talking to people. Peter is in control. Novins…merely a passenger now.
They briefly discuss how the two parts of the whole somehow got separated…talking about auras and spirits floating off during sleep. None of it is given much thought or much weight. Peter just keeps reinforcing that he’s in charge.
I have to take a brief moment to describe the two Peters. The house Peter is very well kempt, clean cut, well dressed and well spoken. He’s calm and collected. He’s got morals and a conscience. The bar Peter (Novins) is stressed and disheveled. He’s sweaty and pale. If you could touch him, I would bet he would be clammy. His eyes are heavy and bloodshot. And as the phone calls keep coming his appearance gets worse and worse while Peter remains forever GQ.
Stuck out in the rain Novins calls Peter and tries to come to some sort of conclusion, some sort of resolution to where they can come together again. Peter suggests the one that DESERVES to be Peter Novins should take over the life. This leads to a conversation about integrity and morality. It’s clear Novins feels like the victim, like Peter is doing this TO him but, Peter assures him that Novins has done this to himself.
Now, this has been going on for five days. Novins is slowly getting more and more sickly looking as he stays holed up in his hotel room. Meanwhile, Peter is taking over Novins life…and continuing to make some changes.
Peter calls Novins and taunts him with fake concern for his health. He calls Novins out on how he got some gal Patty to leave her husband, taking her son with her, and set her up in an apartment to have a relationship with her…until he got sick of her and just blew her off. He says he took the liberty of calling her and apologizing to her for the way Novins treated her. Peter also informs him he has intervened on his relationship with his girlfriend, apologizing for being a jerk and making plans to move forward with a whole new outlook with her. And that she was receptive to that. This just cuts into the core of Novins and you can see his soul start to just with away. I mean, the man looks like he’s just dying, inside and out.
Then we get to SHATTERDAY. (They have named various days of the week that this whole thing has taken place like Day 1: Someday, Day 2: Duesday, Day 5: Freeday and Day 6: Shatterday. Day 2 was when he went to the bank and took out all his money.)
So, here we are…Shatterday. Novins is sprawled out on the bed in the hotel room, looking like death slightly warmed over. And all of a sudden, a knock at his door, and then it opens.
In walks Peter. Novins sounds like he’s breathing and talking through radio static. And for the first time, they have an actual conversation about what is REALLY going on. Novins brings up the archetypes from Jung, the shadow or the persona, the ego or anima, which one is Peter? Peter admits that when he first broke loose he was the shadow but now, now he’s the self.
These two men, these two parts of the same man, battling it out with each other over who would possess the life of the body and mind. Which one will have control? And in Novins current condition, it seems Peter has won the battle. He tells Novins he’s becoming a memory. Novins finds that slightly hurtful although he’s so far gone he’s not feeling much of anything. Peter says he’s glad they broke apart, that Novins was basically a sickness and now he’s rid of him. He also says he’s not going to say he’s sorry for that nor for being a better man without him. (Seems harsh doesn’t it?)
Peter tells Novins he is there to see if he wanted anything, if there was anything he would do different. Novins says no, nothing special really, asks him to give Patty some money to help take care of her boy. But, Novins just seems empty and lost by this point. Peter says that means he’s accepting his fate and that’s good. Novins doesn’t look like it’s a good thing, believe me.
Peter goes to leave and Novins reaches out his hand. Peter takes it in his and they share a final cordial handshake as Novins starts to fade away. Peter grabs his coat and heads to the door. We see a transparent Novins sitting at the window of the hotel room. He fades to nothing as Peter leaves, he stares out the window. When Peter turns back to look at Novins, he’s gone.
And Peter Novins leaves the hotel, a better man than he was before.
So, what if this could happen? What if the worst part of you was confronted and overrun by the best part of you? Locked out of your life, stripped of your identity, and hidden away until you simply just faded away. What if the reverse happened? People struggle within themselves all the time. This episode just took that inner turmoil and put it as a side by side battle with oneself. That’s exactly what you are doing when you are wrestling with your conscience. It’s YOU arguing with YOU. It’s just different parts of YOU. The easiest way to explain it is the Angel on your right shoulder and the Devil on your left shoulder, each whispering in your ears telling you what you should be doing. That’s your conscience (hopefully you have one) on the right fighting with your desire on the left. Now, I am putting that in the most GENERAL and simplest terms to get the idea of this man versus himself struggle across.
There is an entire psychological theory on this whole thing by Sigmund Freud involving the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego. Basically, the Id would be the drive of desire. The Super-Ego is morality and critical thinking and the Ego acts as the mediator between the two.
But, imagine the conversation you would have with yourself if you could confront YOU face to face instead of just in your head. Even if you could just have that talk over the phone, it would be so much more sobering and impactful if you heard it in your own voice like that. Because even when we DO talk to ourselves, it’s never the way we talk to others. And the way we would go off on someone else is usually markedly different than how we would come down on ourselves. We tend to use a different language with ourselves in anger, we may be harder on ourselves but our inner dialogue tends to be more intimate and abrasive and outright brutal. We tend to insult ourselves in more intimate ways, more personal and exact attacks, with specific examples of failures and shortcomings. With ourselves, we know how to go for the jugular with the first shot every time. Whereas with others, we tend to go for general faults and insult general flaws since we may not know their deepest and darkest secrets. It’s always easier to tear a person apart emotionally when you know more about them personally. So, if you are battling yourself, you’re your own worst enemy. Because who knows more about you than you?
The end of this show was a real WOW moment for me. It was actually a moment that made my heart sink a little bit. It was like whoa, this was a guy battling his own demons, we just got to see it play out as if it were two people instead of one. Then, you kind of feel good for the guy because he won his war over his demons and is a better man living a better life, he’s made amends for the wrong he’s done, he’s focusing on his mother and his girlfriend, making plans for his future. But, at the same time, the idea of watching a part of yourself dying off, fading away, you encouraging it, willing it and then being happy about it…just seems a little unnerving to me. It would be unsettling to me to literally visually watch a part of myself die off. Especially knowing that I’m killing that part off with my own actions and decisions, my own will and power. Seems so morbid to me in a way.
But, that’s what you’re doing when you make changes to your personality, right? I mean, if you’re a total schmuck and you decide you want to be Mr. Nice Guy and not El Schmucko anymore, you basically kill off the schmuck, don’t you? I mean, yes, technically it’s a series of retraining the brain and new behaviors replacing old ones and forming new patterns and thoughts processes but, in order to do that you have to rid yourself of the bad thought processes, behaviors, patterns, etc. It’s just replacing the bad with the good, the old with the new. So, you’re killing off the old and letting the new (or the rest) continue to live. Still, to see it with your own eyes would be quite chilling, in my opinion.
So, definitely an episode worth seeing.
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Guinevere Turner
Producers: Cindi Rice, John Frank Rosenblum, Dana Guerin
Matt Smith as Charles Manson
Hannah Murray as Leslie Van Houten
Sosie Bacon as Patricia Krenwinkel
Marianne Rendón as Susan Atkins
Suki Waterhouse as Mary Brunner
Chace Crawford as Tex Watson
Budget N/A Box Office $25, 562
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 50% Metacritic 55/100
This is one of the most interesting films on the Manson women to date. While the screenplay is written by Guinevere Turner, the film itself is based on two different books:
The Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion by Ed Sanders
The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten by Karlene Faith
The most interesting about this film is that it focuses more on how Charlie treated the WOMEN in his cult rather than Charlie himself. All the hype around the Tate-LaBianca murders, along with other murders such as that of Gary Hinman, generally focus on Manson himself, as if he was the only person in the cult. This film certainly gives you a closer look from the point of view of “the Manson Women”.
While in all their interviews and statements during their arrests and trials they maintained “Charlie is love”, the truth is the man was a creepy little manipulative monster that preyed on the vulnerabilities of young women. We see in this film how Charlie systematically strips these young girls of their identities. He exploits any weakness he finds but, in a way that makes them feel loved and cherished and special. He digs into their psyche and plays with their minds and emotions.
These girls openly go to Charlie. They willingly allow him to explore their minds, their bodies, their pasts. They answer every question, believing that in their honesty with him, THEY will be considered his “special girl”. We see how willing they are to take his abuse and humiliation, how they let him pass them around like property to other men.
People often ask how it was that this tiny little nothing was able to get ahold of the minds of so many young people. This film does an excellent job of showing how he got control of the group, collectively and individually. We get a taste of how his ego played a big part in how he treated these girls, whichever one fed his ego the most seemed to get the best treatment, as it usually goes with cults. However, as it also usually goes with cults, those that defy the leader, no matter how much they are favored, will be disciplined and more often than not in front of the rest of the group. There are a number of things that Charlie did to these women, who were just kids at the time really, that really messed with their heads. And while that doesn’t excuse what they did, it does help explain how they got to that point.
I know people don’t like hearing that “the Manson Women” are/were victims. It just doesn’t seem to sit well in the pit of the stomachs of the public or the justice system. But you have to remember, these girls didn’t start out as murderers. Some of the girls from the cult came from affluent, good homes, went to good schools, etc. Some were runaways looking for safety and direction. Some were just looking for fun, drugs and free love. There were people that hung around the cult for days, weeks, even months and then just took off. They weren’t the true followers. They were just passersby if you will.
The writer of this film, Guinevere Turner, has a unique perspective as she herself was raised in what mainstream society refers to as “a cult”. To her, it was just her way of life. She didn’t know any different. She did, however, get to see firsthand how the hierarchy of a cult works, the systematic degradation of human beings and brainwashing of minds, the attempts to rebuild people in the image of one person’s mind of what is ideal and perfect and how the attempts of perfection and Utopia can turn into menace and mayhem. You can read her essay on her experience published on The New Yorker website here:
I highly recommend this film to anyone who would like a completely different view of the whole Manson Family story. One that is not skewed by the press, the prosecutors or Manson himself.