Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How To Scare Your Grandchildren With Classic Movies


Some Grandmas bake cookies and pot roasts for the grandkids.  Some knit sweaters and scarves.  I like to scare my grandchildren.  It's not as bad as it sounds...I do it with classic movies.  It's almost Halloween, so it's respectable.  Tonight the kids are spending the night with Grandma, and it was scary movie night.  (I'm a very young grandmother -- really, I was 11 when I had my son, and he was 11 when he had his -- not buying it, huh?)


Tony is 14.  Sometimes I have each grandchild alone, and I have brought out the big guns for him, like The Haunting (the good one, the original) and The Changeling with George C. Scott.  Pretty scary stuff.  He loves them as much as I.  But tonight both the kids are over.  Eileen is 10, and she is more easily scared.  So I brought out good old Vincent Price.  Couldn't be too bad, could it?  The kids snuggled into the beds we made on the living room rug, I got comfortable in my big chair, and we all settled back with snacks.

We started with Vincent in The Pit and the Pendulum.  I told them about the great Edgar Allan Poe and his wonderful body of work.  Educational material, you see.  Fifteen minutes into the movie, I had Eileen on my lap hiding her face and peeking through her fingers, needing Grandma's arm around her when she was unable to stop herself from looking.  Let's see....harpsichord playing by itself, ghostly voice behind the walls, an old torture chamber, a creepy crypt in the cellar, a giant razor-sharp pendulum whooshing down toward a guy's stomach....I don't know why she got scared.  I said maybe we should watch something else.  "No," she declared.  "I like this one."  But she stayed on my lap.  Tony was loving it.

We took a bathroom break, and I put on The House of Wax, Vincent again of course.  I told them about the original 1930's version with Lionel Atwill, the popularity of wax museums long ago.  More education.  10 minutes into this one, Eileen was back on my lap. Hmmm.....wax figures melting in a fire, faces dissolving, eyes popping out, bodies being stolen from the morgue, a creepy wax museum with tableaus of famous murders, Vincent trying to coat the heroine in boiling wax.....  Again I said maybe we should watch something else  Tony protested strongly.  Eileen said "No, I want to see what happens."  On my lap, of course.


So I decided that our third and last feature would be one that couldn't possibly scare anybody, could it?  It's so bad!  Night of the Lepus, certainly not a classic except among cult lovers of really bad movies.  No opportunity for education here.  OK....cute little bunnies made to look huge by camera angles and slow-motion, shadows of the bunnies on a cave wall, bunnies with giant sharp teeth, screaming people....fortunately Eileen fell sound asleep before the screaming and blood, and Tony and I had a good laugh together with this one.


Many people today think children should not see scary movies.  I know a couple of people who think that the fabulous "Night on Bald Mountain" scene in Fantasia is awful, and would never let their kids see it.  I don't agree with them.  When I was a kid at a re-release of Fantasia, the theatre was full of kids and parents, and we loved it.  We're not talking toddlers here -- certainly very small tots would be too scared by this, I think.  Many parents of older children probably don't realize that their kids have spent the night at friends' houses and watched Saw I, Saw II, Saw XXV, or seen the ghastly creative deaths in Final Destination movies.  With classic scary films, parents have a chance to at least educate their children about the difference between good scary and bad grossness.

I like to show my grandkids the good stuff, experience it with them, and show them the quality scary as opposed to some of the sicko gore shown today.  Some of my most treasured memories involve all 7 of us kids going to the movies with Dad and Mom and being scared together.  My Dad would usually do something to scare us after we got home and went to bed, just to make sure we would remember the experience.  We did, and it was great.

Tonight we had a wonderful time, and I feel good that my grandkids know who Vincent Price is, want to see more Poe stories, and enjoy scary movie night with Grandma.  I'll make cookies tomorrow.

11 comments:

  1. Becky, Sounds like you had a wonderful night with your grandchildren. A night that they will treasure forever. What kind of cookies are you going to make? :D

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  2. Honed in right on the cookies, huh Dawn?! LOL My specialty, chocolate chip. I'm famous for them!

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  3. What lucky kids your grandchildren are, Becky! Sounds like it was a fun and memorable movie night for everyone...not to mention the chocolate chip cookies. Loved this blog - and I'm so glad your back at it.

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  4. I think it's great that you showed your grandchildren horror films! I think children should only avoid movies of said genre if they choose to do so, not because their parents think all such films are off limits. My brother just ran a haunted house (haunted garage, actually), and near the entrance, he had a TV (with a bloody screen) showing Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD. While my sister-in-law tried to explain to someone that the movie was "Night of the Dead... Living... Day... Whatever," my niece said, "It's DAWN OF THE DEAD. The original." This is the same little girl, who, when she was about five, would imitate the crawling ghost scene from Takashi Shimizu's THE GRUDGE. Some kids just don't get scared easily. Either that, or they loved to be scared. Let them enjoy the films!

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  5. What a fun post, Becky! I always enjoy exposing young people to the horror and sci fi classics. If they see them at the right age, they will love them forever. They're lucky to have a grandma like you! As for NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, those slo-mo giant bunnies were frightening!!

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  6. Hummm. You guys maybe on to something. My mother never allowed us to watch horror films as children.. So, I never really got into them.

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  7. Thanks to all you guys for your input. I do love horror movies myself -- it was fun showing them to my two boys, and now I get to have fun again showing them to the grandkids. I think adults just have to be smart about what kind of movie the kids see, as well as the individual child's fears, not ban them altogether. They're too much fun! And Sark, when I say maybe we should watch something else, I am NOT sincere -- I'll do it if one of them is absolutely terrified into epileptic fits, but not otherwise! I'm selfish. I want to watch them myself!

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  8. Becky,

    They will never forget those nights watching classic scary movies with you. Mike and I both remember the movies you had us watch over at your house while we were growing up. It's neat to see a new generation of family getting exposure to Price's movies and the haunting. Good memories

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  9. well...there is HORROR and "horrible"..the former is that classics you have described, especially the ROGER CORMAN POE SERIES..as for SAW VXII..pure crap!!!

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  10. I agree with Doctor Sabelotodo, there is horror and horrible. I remember being terrorizd by the opening sequence of the original Halloween. Carpenter was fantastic at letting us view the violence minimally through the killer's eyes. Thn to discover the killer was an average 8 year old from a Modwestern family -- even more disturbing. Rob Zombie's psychologically trying to explain Michael actually took away from the horror -- I always felt the horror was that Michael could have been any child from any decent home. And who knows what went wrong? Now that scares me!

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  11. Becky, I loved reading about your movie night with your grandkids. You are so right about parents who try to shield their kids from spooky movies--they'll just see them at their friends' homes. BTW, glad to see you are still posting.

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