The Video Rental That Made Me Weird

I remember a time when a trip to the video rental store was a Friday night must that determined what I would be up to for that night and possibly Saturday night too. The whole process took almost an hour to decide what two hours I would sacrifice my youth on because in a store with nearly ten thousand movies, there was a high probability that you could end up with a doozie. That probably explains why Iron Eagle was rented close to two hundred times.  And Muppets Take Manhattan. And National Geographic documentary on Sharks. Anyway, I had a very particular genre of movies that didn’t leave much room for anything new and looking back, my parents must have really dreaded Friday nights in the living room. Who can possibly take that many volumes of Gallagher stand-up without going a little mad? But all that changed one fateful night in 1991 when I slipped the surly bonds of Blockbuster’s normal selection to touch the face of horror and forever alter my Friday nights…and sleeping habits. This video was True Hollywood Ghost Stories and it terrified me. And perhaps it took hold psychologically because even today in my Youtube search, when I found this on a whim, because everything is on Youtube, I had this overwhelming need to look behind me.

I am not sure why I rented this particular video. My idea of a scary movie back then was Harry and the Henderson’s so it’s a wonder how this ended up in the family VCR. Looking at the cheesy late-eighties graphics, there isn’t much to be too disturbed about but that is where this film takes a turn for the unsettling and really takes on the same creepiness as the popular show, Unsolved Mysteries, with that amazing Robert Stack voice. The cool part about this film is it has a documentary feel to it and it is composed mostly of clips of old to recent horror movies. The kicker, and reason it made my blood run cold, was how it explained the supposed real ghost cases that the movies were based on and behind the scene disturbances while making them. Now imagine, if you will, a young boy who had never seen a horror movie, getting all the scariest scenes grouped together and then learning about how they may be true. Yeah. There was a spike in the utility bill that month from the hall light being left on at night.

Meet the host, John Carradine. He wastes little time in the introduction to shift from zero to one hundred when he begins with how the film, and the scariest thing I have ever seen, The Exorcist  not only had evil happenings on the set but was based on a real event. I had never even heard of this movie until I rented Real Hollywood Ghost Stories so when I first laid eyes on that grotesque appearance and raspy voice of the possessed Regan, I think I just sat on the floor and cried. I’m not kidding, I was a little pussy as a youth. During little league baseball I once dove for cover from a pitch that ended up being a strike. So, seeing the most terrifying movie ever made and learning how it was true all in the time span of ten minutes, I shorted out. And this video rental only got worse from there.

The beginning of The Exorcist part was the author, William Peter Blatty and he described what his inspiration for writing the book that later became a movie many believed actually had the devil imprinted in the film itself. He said he witnessed a phone picking up off the receiver itself and come down onto the table. I am the believer that chairs, dishes, phones, shoes, anything that doesn’t live and moves on their own is so much scarier than a creature jumping out at you. So as a very impressionable kid hearing this account had me captivated. Especially when it was followed by this face:

Even as I type this I hate looking at that picture. It had such a profound effect on my as a child and it was many years later that I finally summoned the courage to rent it during a high school sleep over. But this introduction to The Exorcist  was enough for me at the time. Especially learning it was all based on true events, people died working on the film, it caused audiences to go crazy and not to mention the fact that I was looking at something beyond my comprehension to what I deemed scary. It’s like growing up training ponies and then someone puts you on a bull at a rodeo. I could have used a gradual transition to horror.

The next story was of a real haunting of a house in Hollywood owned by an affluent couple, the Sommer’s and it was so bad they ended up selling and becoming a world-wide media spectacle after their story was published in Life magazine. Even the photographer was a skeptic couldn’t explain why or how his film kept having shadowy figured in motion from frame to frame. I loved the story but of course, as a kid I took it all very seriously and every bump was a ghost and every settling noise was a poltergeist. This didn’t help much, especially when they tied in the story of Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hopper’s, Poltergeist, and how much like The Exorcist, people died from this film and the set even burned down. Great. I don’t think this would have been quite as impacting if it didn’t have detailed accounts from Life magazine and NBC reporters that witness all these events. Even though I was an impressionable kid, I knew the difference between loons and credible people. Especially the next “true” Hollywood account about a woman who was assaulted by what was to be believed to be an entity. Hence the title The Entity.

This didn’t go over well either because learning how the local university recorded and documented this story and it became a constant in the world of parapsychology, even studied at the prestigious Duke University, I did not like learning about rape-ghosts. Nope. It’s as if this video kept trying to out-do itself! Each movie and real case scenario was a segway to the next bone-chilling tale. Like how The Entity was a great shift to the world renown Amittyville Horror. And of course, I got a taste of it by only seeing the most frightening scenes.

Much like the Poltergeist scene, a rocking chair doing what it does best by itself is about as scary to me as it gets. Especially when a kid is interacting with it and when an adult comes interrupts everything goes quiet. That is until the adult goes tot the window only to be met with glowing eyes and pig grunts. From then on I did my best not to look outside at night which proved to be tough because I had an atrium in the center of my bedroom.

Well, this fateful video rental kept up the creeps and went into the legends of Hollywood and their ghostly encounters like Houdini and the original Superman who committed suicide. It’s odd that both the original and the motion picture Superman was named Reeves. Is that a well-known fact? Maybe it is. Anyway, the scares peter down a bit but it is still a pretty good watch, even for today’s standard.  They leave the viewer with a really cheesy music montage of a pretty corny song and truth be told, it’s absolutely perfect. It even manages to leave you with the warning not to take for granted you are ever alone in the dark. I took that warning to heart and kept the lights on almost through middle school.

You can watch the whole series on YouTube and I’ll start you off with the first part. Enjoy this as much as I still do. Sometimes it’s nice to look back and still get the same impression from when you were so very impressionable. Sleep tight!

Movies That Don’t Hold Their Tunes

You know what? I have not done a post like this in some time. I guess I forgot my roots or maybe it’s the fact that Matt from X-E hasn’t updated his site very much. Or at all. I will save that heartache for another day. But for now, someone has to pick up the flag and charge it ahead screaming, “I want people to read my opinions over shit that makes no difference!”. So today as I sit in my office, taking an earned brake from the stresses that stress others but not me, I will write about….movie themes that are scarier than the movie.

  1. “Laurie’s Theme” from the movie Halloween:

I love this theme in the movie Halloween. It had a way of creeping you out in sense that even though it was day, there was a sense of impending doom after nightfall. Well, that’s how I felt when I saw it on Channel 46, mid-October, one Saturday afternoon many years ago. Since then this little piano tune that John Carpenter created has brought many memories of hayride smells, cider, pumpkins and latex masks. The entire mood of autumn is in these few notes. That and the intro to The Great Pumpkin.

2. The Shining

I think I am in the majority that claims the movie The Shining was not as terrifying in the way it has been portrayed. You can ask almost anyone that hates horror movies and they will tell you The Shining is the exception. And it’s the exception because it is smart and tolerable to many cinematric-snobbies. (made both those words up)

The musical score, however, is bone chilling. Perhaps it is the foreboding, heavy brass that paints this picture that a small nuclear family is going face to face with a giant in the form of isolation, impassable roads, unlivable temperatures and a hotel with dark secrets. Or maybe it’s just the damn creepy wailing between the brakes in music. Regardless, it is hard to listen to alone at night and as far as I am concerned, way creepier than the film itself.


Ok, I have an artistic license to contradict myself here and say that in this case, the music is not a scary as the movie was. But still, I think John Williams deserves an honorable mention for trying because no matter where I am; pool, lake, ocean, tub, sprinkler; this score is playing in my head.This has always been a theme for something or someone that is inevitably about to be devoured. Whether it is shark vs. man, lion vs. zebra, or me vs. broccoli, I owe John Williams kudos for giving predators the ultimate theme song.

And it’s PG?!?!?! We were a lot tougher back in the day, huh?

4. Amittyville Horror

The more I watch this movie the more I realize that this could have been made to be far more frightening. They tried to remake it a few years ago but I won’t even try to trash it because it’s not worth the efforts of my fingers. That being said I will give a standing ovation supported by a golf clap for the theme music. Very disturbing and like the theme to Steven Spielberg’s (Tobe Hooper, really) Poltergeist, kids singing “laa laa laa” is always unnerving. Especially when you have an overactive imagination like mine and you assume those are dead kids singing from your backyard at night.

By the way, the sequel is way more scary. It has possession, Catholic guilt, evil, incest, family violence and murder all wrapped into one hour and forty five minutes. Hooray for boobies. I don’t know…

Well, this was short and sweet but I felt that I needed to get something up and keep it in theme to what I love: all nonsense. And how annoying is it that YouTube redirects you to YouTube when you want to watch a video? Why can’t everything be how I want it?

Oh! And now I am in Moscow. Moscow, Idaho that is. Look it up because it might be the source for more “ripping on Idaho” posts. So far I like it a hell of a lot more that where I was but the other night I was almost accosted by interpretive dancers. No shit.

Insanity Has A Face

If there is any doubt that YouTube has changed the face of entertainment then I challenge that with the thousands of regular people who have become over night celebrities simply by uploading videos to share with the millions of people who probably are not doing what they should be. Like I said in a previous blog, if you feel like watching a dog named Bill eat a carrot, there is a good chance you’ll find it. For that, I am thankful. Actually I am going to say that at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Because then I would have missed an opportunity to review The Norma Lee Show.

Oh where to begin with this? I guess I’ll give you a little history before I introduce you to the lady herself. I lived in Atlanta a few years ago and anyone who lives there will tell you the morning commute on 400, 285 and 85 is much like getting a root canal. Luckily for me they had a great morning radio show on 96 rock called The Regular Guys Show. Somehow they found Norma Lee’s homemade recorded CD and played it on the air and I fell in love. I mean it was pretty fucking terrible as far as the music was concerned but her innocence was very endearing. I thought she had fallen off the face of the Earth until an accidental YouTube run-in this afternoon. Now I can share it with you. Enjoy…

Now you see that we are dealing with a pretty special case here. Inspired by the 80’s craze of music videos, she wrote, performed and produced this gem called “He’s Swapping His Boat For A Tractor”. The lyrics are pretty straight forward. It’s about her significant other who just retard (?) from a factory and he has all this land that a boat can’t help with. So he swapped his boat for a tractor with the help from God and his family. I’m still confused by the basketball, though.

Oh my God that was priceless! First off, the shout out to Dr. Phil made my millennium. I doubt there will be any references made to him that won’t cause me to break out into song, “HEY DR. PHIL..DO YOU WANNA..” You have to love the way she gives a real “fuck you” to Paris from the state of Kentucky. She pulled out all the stops and used such great props like a clock, stair rails for prison bars, Lightning McQueen from Cars, a few bottles and oh yeah, her own ass. So take it in stride Ms. Hilton and quit flapping your jaws.

“Reckon they got a caller I.D.?” I hate to break it to you Norma but they can’t see you through the phone. It makes one wonder if the bag over the head was a joke that went over her head. I also wonder if there is a dick of a person who is filming this and suggested she wear a bag. I hope not because she seems like a real sweet person. I don’t believe she will be asked to take the Mensa test but she looks like someone that will bake you a pie when you are sick. Even if the pie is filled will some thing strange like corn or baked beans. It’s the gesture.

I think this was creatively driven by Norma’s boyfriend. Only a country dude can make a video about guns, legs and toe-maters. I must say that I was a little uneasy hearing Norma moan while the camera focuses on her feet. I think someone has a fetish and now I won’t be able to sleep.

This must be a big thing around Kentucky because Norma is going out of her head. Her low octave tones inspires me to wipe out my schedule next Saturday and cruise the neighborhoods for yard sale signs. When I find one I will demand a song before I buy LA Gear sneakers and Kenner Star Wars toys with missing pieces. I wish I knew what Norma was selling. Hopefully autographed cassette tapes. “…come on down and buy my junk!”

I love this song. From the first time I heard it I immediately had mental pictures of Jesus actually copping a squat on a human heart. That image can make me laugh but at the same time terrify me to the core. It reminds me of what the creepy old guy in Poltergeist 2 was singing. Norma also teases us will cookies, Amish bread and the chance to catch a glims at a swing set just out of view from the camera. But at least we get to meet the baker of the Amish bread or at least his gut that eclipses 90% of the screen.

I think we will end on a high note. The song, “I’m Not An Old Dooshbag” (that’s how it’s spelled on the track) really knocked over some barriers in what I consider hilarious. Never in my 29 years have I seen dolls referenced in a song about a dooshbag complimented with a singing Grandma and a background Sony keyboard demo beat. I would use the word awesome but I think it falls short. So I will say niftyawesomebadasscool.

Norma Lee, you have touched my heart. There is no way I will cruise the YouTube world with out stopping by the Norma Lee Show to see what is new. I can’t believe your album has not gone platinum yet but give it time. The world will soon know your talent and I hope that day is soon. At least before you retard. (?) And Norma….you are no dooshbag.

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