Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taking You to a VHS Wonderland

Good lord. I guess you're teetering dangerously on hipster territory when you find yourself using the VHS half of your dual player more than the DVD half. But in my defense, when I first got a TV for Christmas and didn't have anything to hook it up to, my friend Steve (bet you're feelin pretty popular at this point, Steve) gave me his roommate's dual player out of the kindness of his heart. Only we discovered shortly after plugging it in that it was more of a VCR than a dual player.

Disclaimer: Does not actually play DVDs. We were just kidding.

However, I am not one to turn up my nose at any movie, no matter how grainy the picture is and no matter how silly looking those tapes appear (hehe tapes...).

No, my friends. For someone who will literally watch the movies of mini vans on the Garden State Parkway trying to figure out if it's a movie she knows and where they are in the plot, this VHS tape nonsense was no blow. Actually took me on a pretty fun journey to the past (Anastasia? Anyone?).

So I raided everything, guys. Goodwill, thrift stores, my parents' house, the cabinets, the attic, my roommates' movies, everywhere. And now I have the most kickass movie collection from ten years ago that anyone would ever wish to have.

Some might call this excessive. I would call it having options.

Speed, Jurassic Park, The Others, Indian in the Cupboard, The Mask of Zorro, The Matrix, Moulin Rouge, Monster's Inc, The Wedding Singer, Cape Fear. You'd be jealous of me in 2002, man. So jealous.

But honestly it was the non-blockbusters that really had me giggling when I was hunting down these babies. Movies like Mars Attacks, Troop Beverly Hills, Smoke Signals, The Prince of Egypt, Muppet Treasure Island, and (omg) The Haunting.

So I popped The Haunting into my new used ($35 at Goodwill, fools) dual player the other day and holy crap. What an inexplicable display of whole-hearted movie attempt. Honestly I don't even know where to begin, so I guess I'll begin with the plot (plot?).

The movie starts off with Eleanor (Lilli Taylor), who has just been told by some sort of relative that they are taking her dead mother's house, where she has lived as her mother's caretaker for what I can only assume has been her entire life. Then Eleanor, left with no place to go, gets a phone call and checks out this insomnia study that some doctor is conducting. Only the audience finds out seconds later that the insomnia study is a ruse, and that Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) is doing a study on fear and is trying to create an incredibly suggestive environment in which to do it. Other co-testers include Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Luke (Owen Wilson). After their arrival they hear a brief story about who built the house that they're staying in, a house which looks like some sort of baroque castle.

Shmancy.

Apparently some dude named Hugh Crane got rich off his textile mills and wanted a bunch of kids, but his wife kept having stillborn babies. Then eventually she killed herself, he threw himself into the construction of his home, and people in the village kept getting creeped out cuz they'd hear kids coming from the house. Standard.

Right off the bat weird stuff starts happening (of course). When they're having dinner the first night some chick's eye gets cut by a wire off of the piano and she has to get taken into town. The rest of the film is filled with ghost children asking Eleanor to help them for some reason, the house attacking the various occupants, and Hugh Crane's ghost personally messing with all of the main characters.

So I know this movie is supposed to be scary but honestly it just ends up hilarious. First and foremost, Eleanor's character makes no sense. She keeps getting personalized messages from these ghost children complete with bloody footprints and is just kind of like "Huh, that's weird. Boy I love this house. Guess I should help these creepy ghost children since they like talking to me so much." A reaction completely contrary to anyone in a sound state of mind.

"Oh don't mind me. Come find me later. I might be alive, I might not, no big deal."

And since Eleanor is the only character that the audience really gets to see for most of the movie, it gets pretty funny watching her run around the castle house trying to make sense of what has happened to these children. Of course she finds out that Hugh Crane kept kidnapping kids from the mills and killing them for some reason and no one believes her. And then the movie gets totally carried away with itself and it involves part of the house being her mom's old room, her being related to Hugh Crane, and the children somehow being sent to heaven by her getting sucked into a door for five minutes.

Um...what?

Dat shit cray.

It also doesn't help that looking at CGI effects from 1999 is a laugh riot. They make the film lose any credibility that it might've had otherwise. If you're trying to ease your way into watching scary movies, this is your ticket!

Haha, I give it a 3 out of 10 for pure humor.

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