Friday FaBOOolousness – The Boo Factor: Halloween

Who can get through the Halloween season without watching the spooky 1978 film, Halloween?  Not this horror movie fan!

The House

The Mask

The Scream Queen

Michael Myers

The movie opens with a young Michael Myers stabbing his teenage sister to death in 1963.  He is admitted into Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where he spends the next eighteen years undergoing treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis.  But, on October 30th 1978, Michael awakens from his catatonic state, escapes the hospital, and steals a car.  Where’s he going?  He has unfinished business in Haddonfield, Illinois

The next morning, we’re introduced to Laurie Strode and her best friends Annie and Linda, a happy group of teenage girls walking to school.  The three friends agree to babysit later that night, Halloween night, despite the fact that Laurie feels like someone has been watching her all day – a man in a dark jumpsuit wearing a weird, white mask. 

Later that night, Annie’s boyfriend calls for a ride, so she drops off the little girl she is watching with Laurie who is conveniently babysitting Tommy Doyle across the street.  Alone in the car waiting for her boyfriend, Michael sits up from the back seat and kills Annie.  Tommy watches as the “Boogie Man” carries Annie’s lifeless body back to the house, but Laurie shrugs off Tommy’s antics as a Halloween scare. 

Next, Michael discovers Linda and her boyfriend Bob having sex in the house.  What are the rules of horror movies?  Never have sex.  Have sex, and die. 

Michael sets his eyes on his true target – Laurie.  After very suspenseful scenes, Laurie barely escapes Michael’s grasps and manages to hide the children before crawling deep into a corner of an upstairs closet.  Just as Michael finds her, Dr. Loomis finally catches up to his patient and shoots him.  Michael falls from the bedroom window; however by the time Loomis looks out, he is gone. 

Queue The Music

Ever wonder why the film is referred to as John Carpenter’s Halloween?  That’s because John Carpenter wrote the screenplay (with Debra Hill), produced (with Hill, and others including Moustapha Akkad) and directed the movie, and created the original music.

In October 2010, the Biography Channel aired Halloween: The Inside Story, and my appreciation for the original film of the Halloween franchise grew.  Not only did the film captivate audiences, but the movie’s success came with an extremely low budget, even for the 1970s. 

Carpenter took the small financing and hired a ton of no name actors, including the now famous, Jamie Lee Curtis to play Laurie Strode, Michael’s main target.  He approached famous actors to play the part of Dr. Samuel Loomis, but after multiple rejections, Carpenter finally found an English actor interested in the role, Donald Pleasance.

The other cast members had a few film credits to their name, but many were considered “B” movie actors: Nancy (Loomis) Kyes played Annie; P.J.  Soles starred as Lynda; and Nick Castle played “The Shape” – or Michael Myers as we know him.

Keeping within the small budget, Carpenter selected areas in California for filming the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, and he tasked the actors with gathering and dropping the fake fall leaves over and over again during the twenty-one days of filming.  The most astonishing of all the Halloween facts learned while watching Biography’s special, was the fact that the Michael Myers’ mask is actually a Captain Kirk mask painted and tweaked just a bit so that it wasn’t recognizable as the popular Star Trek character.

Originally the The Babysitter Murders, Carpenter’s movie saw extreme box office success. The approximate $300,000 film made over $47 million at the theaters.  The Halloween franchise remains popular today and consists of ten films, including two recent remakes by rocker, Rob Zombie

Pleasance and Curtis have remained loyal to the franchise; Pleasance filmed a total of five Halloween films and Curtis four.  The Halloween movies have also featured a few familiar faces over the years:  Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, 5, and both of Rob Zombie’s remakes); Paul Rudd (The Curse of Michael Myers); Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Adam Arkin, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (H20); Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks, and Busta Rhymes (Resurrection); Malcolm McDowell and Scout Taylor Compton (Zombie’s 2007 and 2009 movies).

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the only film in the franchise that doesn’t tell Michael Myers’ story, and is by far my least favorite.  So which one is my favorite?  The original, of course.  But, I’ll watch  Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20 anytime I can!

Did the original 1978 Halloween scare you?  Did you ever think twice about babysitting on Halloween?  Which of the Halloween movies is your favorite and least favorite?  Who wins – Michael / Freddie / or Jason?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Halloween!

Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Night Flicks for Fall: Friday Night Lights

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights – whether it be the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.  Some even know the “real” Friday night lights – high school football in West Texas

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the film.  Friday Night Lights is a perfect Friday night flick for fall. 

The time – 1988

 The place – Odessa, Texas

 The who – the Permian High School football players

The dream – to win the state championship

The obstacles – a coach that pushes his players too far, parents living vicariously through their teens’ lives, and societal pressure 

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas – high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pig-skin programs, what do the people inside the state think?  Football is life.  Win at all costs. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton), star Permian running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), back-up running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), and safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) on their quest for a Mojo football championship.  The season seems to be right on schedule, but things erupt when Boobie tears his ACL. 

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins and when a star player goes down, people panic.   

As if the pressure isn’t already mounting for the kids, Billingsley is also faced with managing his father’s (country music star, Tim McGraw) drinking and humiliating outbursts.  Like many other former football stars, Billingsley’s father continues to live in the past and is humiliated that his son is not performing up to his standards.

The season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets Dallas Carter in the state championship. 

Watch the movie to find out what happens next…. 

Have you seen Friday Night Lights?  Have you read the book?  Did you enjoy the television series?  I’d love to hear from you!

Rumor has it that another Friday Night Lights movie is in the works….

On a personal note, I was born and raised in Midland, Texas and I’m a proud Midland Lee Rebel.  My father graduated from the first ever senior class at Midland Lee, as did my brother before me, and now my oldest nephew is a freshman.  My mother has taught at Midland Lee for a long time (no years, I promise…you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), but not before graduating from Odessa Permian and participating on the Mojo Pep Squad.  

Friday Night Lights, while fictional, does not stray far from the truth, and I highly recommend it to anyone attempting to understand the severity of high school football in West Texas.  I was a student trainer in high school, and I remember a man who traveled in his trailer to watch the Midland Lee versus the Odessa Permian football game because he read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.  I grew up watching Lee play, lived the annual showdown with Permian, and was shocked that someone from thousands of miles away would drive just to watch high school kids play football. 

West Texas football is a big deal.  Maybe we’re crazy?  But, we’re proud.

Friday FaBOOolousness – The Boo Factor: Fright Night

Most vampire movies today want the audience to fall in love with the vampire.  Take the Twilight series for example – none of the Cullens actually feed on humans (not that we see, anyway).  No, the bad vampires (like Victoria) are the evil vamps killing innocents; and the good vampires, like the Cullen family, fight these bad seeds to protect Bella and the other humans.

The same can’t be said about Tom Holland’s 1985 classic, Fright Night.

That’s not to say that the viewers don’t secretly love Fright Night’s vampire lead.  Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) possesses all the qualities we love in vampires; he’s sexy, seductive, brooding, and he’s not afraid to sink his teeth into a nightly feed.

But, Jerry is not the character that the audience is supposed to cheer on during the big showdown at the end of the movie.

Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) lives a normal teenage life with his single mother, Judy (Dorothy Fielding), quirky best friend, Edward, aka “Evil Ed” (Stephen Geoffreys), and girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse), until one night he notices the new neighbor moving in with what looks to be coffin-like boxes.

Being a horror fan, Charley immediately questions whether or not a vampire has just moved in next door and he begins investigating.  He reaches out to a television vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for ways to prove, or disprove, that his new neighbor is indeed a blood-sucker.

Watching women disappear after joining the mysterious man next door, Charley decides to sneak over and put some of Peter’s ideas to the test.  His suspicions are confirmed when he notices Jerry’s image does not reflect in a mirror.  But, unfortunately for the teenager, Jerry learns that his young neighbor has been sneaking around when Charley leaves behind a piece of his mirror.

Jerry stalks Charley, terrorizes him, and makes his life a living hell.  He lures those closest to Charley by turning them and compelling them to do as he wishes.

Charley’s only hope is to trust Peter.  Armed with holy water, crosses, and wooden stakes, Charley and Peter enter the vampire’s house with one goal – kill.

Fright Night is not a feel-good vampire movie.  It’s mysterious, dark, and at times spooky.  Even the music was eerie, particularly the instrumental “Come to Me” by Brad Fiedel.

The movie won awards, spawned a novelization, a sequel, a comic book series, and a computer game.

What has this child of the ‘80s so excited about Fright Night today?

DreamWorks (Steven Spielberg) has remade the classic film, and cast Colin Farrell as Jerry.  Colin Farrell!  Who doesn’t think this is the best casting for the sexy, dark role of Jerry?

The casting all around is FaBOOolous: Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation, Star Trek) plays Charley Brewster; Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, United States of Tara) plays Jane Brewster; David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) plays Peter Vincent; and, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Role Models, Kick-Ass) plays Evil Ed.

A few other notable roles to watch for include: James Franco’s (Freaks and Geeks, Spiderman, 127 Hours) little brother, Dave Franco, playing Mark; Sofia Vergara’s (Modern Family) little sister, Sandra Vergara, playing Ginger; and, Lisa Loeb (1994 hit song, “Stay”) playing Evil Ed’s mom.

Fright Night 2011 hits theaters August 19th.

Are you a fan of the 1985 classic? Do you plan to see the 2011 remake?  What do you think about the casting of Colin Farrell to play Jerry?  What’s your favorite vampire movie of all time? How much does the music play a part for you? Do you like the traditional role of cinematic vampires or the newer heroic roles? I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – The Titter Factor: Clueless

Comedies took over television in the 1990s with popular sitcoms Seinfeld, Friends, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Young viewers also found plenty of programs they could relate to in the ‘90s with the hit teen soap operas Beverly Hills, 90210, Dawson’s Creek, and Felicity

So, why be surprised with the 1995 blockbuster success of the now classic film, Clueless

That’s right – classic. 

Clueless combined humor with every teen drama stereotype imaginable: like the stress of training for a driver’s license, dealing with parents and step-siblings, partying and drugs, deciding which cliques to join, trying to keep up with style and dress for success, and, most importantly, awkward relationships.

Unknown at the time, Alicia Silverstone immediately gained star-status with her portrayal of Cher Horowitz.  Cher resembled so many of the girls in my school – exaggerated, of course.  Cher was sweet, but superficial and hailed from an extremely wealthy family.  Some would call her spoiled; she did have a rotating closet the size of most living rooms in her father’s (Mel Horowitz played by Dan Hedaya) mansion.

One of, if not the most attractive and popular girls in school, Cher uses her ability to negotiate her way out of all sticky situations.  But, when she can’t talk her way out of a bad grade, Cher decides to play cupid for the single and miserable teacher standing in her way.  

Feeling that match-making is now her calling, Cher then adopts the new girl in school, and plans to transform her into a beauty.  With help from her best friend, Dionne (played by Stacey Dash), Cher befriends Tai (Brittany Murphy) and immediately begins creating another paper-doll cut-out to follow in her footsteps.  She transforms Tai’s hair, clothes, make-up, and attitude – maybe too well. 

Tai instantly connects with the skater in school (Travis Birkenstock played by Breckin Meyer), but Cher refuses to allow Tai to date Travis; therefore, she hatches a plan to play match-maker with Tai and the popular boy, Elton (Jeremy Sisto), who just so happens to have his eyes set on Cher.

After failing her driving test, failing to successfully pair Tai and Elton, and falling for a gay, Jason Priestly look-a-like hottie (Justin played by Christian Stovitz), Cher crumbles and leans into her older, ex-stepbrother, Josh (played by Paul Rudd). Making matters worse, Tai figuratively slaps her in the face, and Cher decides it’s time to focus on her own life instead of others.  Step one – land Josh. 

Everything of course works its way out in the end, but viewers don’t get there without hysterical laughs along the way.  The movie was such a hit, that television producers attempted to recreate the popularity of Clueless with a television series, and cast many of the movie’s actors in the same roles (Stacey Dash as Dionne, Donald Faison as Dionne’s boyfriend, Murray, and Elisa Donovan as Amber, Cher’s nemesis). 

Conversations in the’90s would have never been the same without Clueless’ coined phrases: “Whatever” and “As If”.   

Can we please bring As If back? I mean, Whatever never left.

In addition to the words most repeated by teenagers across America, the Clueless writers also provided rich-clueless-valley-girl lines that Alicia delivered perfectly.

Dionne: Hello? There was a stop sign.

Cher: I totally paused.

****

Cher: Okay, so you’re probably going, “Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?” But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.

****

Cher: Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.

**** 

Girl: It’s just like Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true.”

Cher: Hamlet didn’t say that.

Girl: I think I remember Hamlet accurately.

Cher: Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that.  That Polonius guy did.

****

We can’t end the post without discussing the fashion.  High school girls across the country wore plaid mini-skirts with knee-high lace socks and baby doll shoes because of Cher.  What about the white, sheer shirts?  Clogs?  Platforms? C’mon, we all had at least one item in our closets that Cher wore in Clueless

Cher: Do you prefer “fashion victim” or “ensembly challenged”?

**** 

Mel: What the hell is that?

Cher: A dress.

Mel: Says who?

Cher: Calvin Klein

****

Teenage girls in the ‘90s were definitely fashion victims courtesy of Cher, and we spent too much money on our clothes. 

Clueless changed the ‘90s pop culture forever, and launched movie stars Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy (R.I.P.), and Paul Rudd into movie stardom.  Not to mention, Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash) and Donald Faison (Scrubs) might not have the television popularity they do today without their supporting roles in Clueless.    

Who’s singing, “Rollin with my homies,” right this very second (be honest)?   Do you believe or agree that Clueless is now a classic?  Who do/did you relate to more:  Cher, Tai, Travis, or another character? If you could have one movie phrase that was popular back in the day return now – what would it be and why?  What other ‘90s movies have you watched repeatedly that have changed pop culture forever?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Memphis, Music, and Mystery

This week, my partner Amber West and I change things up and instead of talking about the same network, we switch over and review two police dramas currently airing on TNT and Lifetime.

First up: Memphis Beat on TNT starring Jason Lee ( from My Name is Earl, and Kevin Smith’s hit movies such as Mall Rats, Chasing Amy, and Cop Out in addition to the motion picture adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks) as detective Dwight Hendricks. 

Dwight loves Memphis, his mamma (played by Celia Weston), and music – specifically Elvis Presley.  He followed in his daddy’s footsteps by joining the Memphis Police Department, and strives to keep his city safe alongside his partner, Detective Charlie “Whitehead” White (played by Sam Hennings). 

Unlike Whitehead, Dwight has a cool demeanor and never raises his voice even when interrogating the worst criminal.  He also uses his peaceful tone to help his partner deal with his insecurities about aging, and Dwight assures Whitehead that he’s still a great cop – a better cop, actually.    

Dwight drives a classic blue 1964 Pontiac GTO instead of a patrol car, and he has a music den at his house where he tends to sleep on the couch night after night.  Does Dwight have a bedroom?

Once a case is solved, Dwight performs at the local bars in Memphis singing popular blues hits from Elvis and Waylon Jennings to just name a few, while his fellow squad members fill the audience with cold beers in hand. 

Spoiler alert – Jason Lee doesn’t sing, at least not in all of the scenes; he has a stand in vocalist for many of the bar performances.  Sorry ladies; I’ve seen him confirm it as truth on Regis and Kelly.

Dwight’s precinct was upended when the new department’s lieutenant took over (Tanya Rice played by Alfre Woodard), and Dwight stepped in to ease the tension between the new boss and his unit.  Knowing his fellow detectives look to him, Dwight does his best to oblige, but continues to maintain his unorthodox detective methods forcing Lt. Rice to slowly adjust her attitude toward the Memphis way of doing things.  Now, if only Lt. Rice would learn to like Dwight’s partner…

Continuing with his “good-guy” role, Dwight mentors his fellow co-workers including Officer Davey Sutton (played by DJ Qualls) and Detective Reginald Greenback (Leonard Earl Howze).  Although he’s a master marksman, Officer Sutton is looked at as a joke by others in the department and especially out in the field – he’s as skinny as a rail and he looks like a young school boy – yet Dwight works to make him feel like a part of the team.  Detective Greenback has problems of his own, like supporting a family on a cop’s salary – will this lead to trouble?  We’ve already seen some questionable actions from Det. Greenback. 

Watching Memphis Beat makes me want to plan a trip to Tennessee soon, especially for the music and cuisine.  Ironic really, when you consider most of the show is filmed in Los Angeles and New Orleans.

I give Memphis Beat a JFTV rating – Junk Food TV.  It’s not the best police drama on TV, but it’ll definitely keep me coming back for more….especially since it airs mostly during the summer months when there’s not much else on the tele. 

What are your thoughts about Memphis Beat?  Should I have given it a higher rating?  Do you prefer Jason Lee as Earl Hickey or Dwight Hendricks? Should Dwight get a love interest anytime soon? I’d love to hear from you!

Now – remember to visit Amber’s review of The Protector starring Ally Walker on Lifetime.  She created a new rating for this one…NIV.  You’ll have to click to see exactly what it stands for, but the acronym reminds me of an infectious disease.

Come back next week when Amber and I speed things up – each of us will host two USA hit shows for a total of four reviews!  I’ll review Burn Notice and Suits while Amber reviews Covert Affairs and Necessary Roughness.

Friday FabOoolousness – The Titter Factor: Caddyshack

Who doesn’t love to laugh? We all know the old proverb: Laughter is the best medicine, right?

I recall hearing a statistic once that babies and children laugh, on average, hundreds of times a day; whereas, adults only laugh enough times to count on their fingers and toes (assuming they have close to all twenty).  Isn’t that sad?

You can fake an orgasm, but you can’t fake laughter. ~Bob Dylan

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other. ~Alan Alda

One of my favorite board games, Whatzit, has a “Wicked Whatzit” card perfect for The Titter Factor:

Ha, Ha…Ho, Ho…He, He, Hee? What the heck does that mean?

Have you figured it out? This game will drive you mad!  Hang tight; the answer is at the end of the post.

We personally love to laugh in our household, and lately we have the tendency to watch funny movies over any other kind (well, besides horror).

What’s the first movie that made you laugh your butt off?  Forget about the cartoons, etc; what’s the first comedy you remember falling in love with?

For me, it’s Caddyshack.  Granted, as a child, I thought the movie was funny because of the laughing and dancing gopher, and the floating “doodie” in the pool (right, right, it was a Baby Ruth candy bar).

But now as an adult (and I only admit that on rare occasions) I have a deeper appreciation for the humor behind the fabOoolous performances of the great comedic actors (Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight, and Michael O’Keefe just to name a few) and the fabOoolous writing of Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Douglas Kenney.

Last year, the Biography channel aired Caddyshack: The Inside Story and filled the two-hour episode with tons of fun facts about the production behind one of the best comedies of all time.

  • Caddyshack is loosely based on the Murray brothers’ (Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and John Murray) childhood working as caddies at an Illinois country club.  Besides living the story, somewhat anyway, all three Murray brothers also played a role in the movie: Bill Murray as the forever fabOoolous greens-keeper Carl Spackler, Brian Doyle-Murray as the head caddy Lou Loomis, and John Murray as a caddy extra.
  • Caddyshack was filmed at the only golf course in Florida that would have them, which also happened to be the only golf course without palm trees (since the movie was supposed to be set in the Mid-West).  The actors and crew lived at an on-site dormitory, paving the way for all night parties, every night.
  • Caddyshack was only Rodney Dangerfield’s second motion picture role.  Isn’t that hard to believe?
  • Bill Murray did not have a speaking role in the original script, but his sensational improvisational skills grabbed the camera’s attention and they filmed endless footage.
  • The original script didn’t have one single scene with the two biggest stars – Chevy Chase (Ty Webb) and Bill Murray.  Up until this point, the studio executives let the young director, Harold Ramis, run free with the taping of his movie, but the Hollywood types finally intervened and insisted that the two Saturday Night Live stars have at least one scene together.  Nervous because of an alleged fist fight back-stage at SNL, Ramis stuck the two comedians in front of the camera for the now famous scene when Ty’s golf ball crashes through Carl’s shack.
  • The explosion at the end of the movie was not approved by the golf course administration.  What a surprise! Thinking on their feet, Ramis and the producers thanked the golf course staff with an off-site luncheon to celebrate the final day of filming; while the owners and trustees were away, the film crew blew up the course anyway.
  • The gopher was not a part of the movie until after the filming was complete.  John Dykstra, famous for his special effects in Star Wars, incorporated the gopher at the last-minute.  The gopher sound effects were the same as Flipper’s sound effects.  Yea, the dolphin.  Who knew that a gopher and dolphin shared the same voice?

C’mon, are you singing “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins this very second?  You’re wiggling around in your chair doing the Gopher-Dance too, aren’t you? I thought so!  Me too….

What’s your favorite Caddyshack moment?  Which actor do you feel stole the show? Did you ever pull the “doodie” trick on anyone in a swimming pool near you?  Which of the movie-fun-facts listed above surprises you the most? What other comedies would you like to see on The Titter Factor?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now for the answer to the “Wicked Whatzit” card…make sense now?

LMAO…it gets me every time!