Archive for June, 2011


#SampleSunday – Beginning of “Mama.”

This is my first try at doing a #SampleSunday on Twitter. This is the prologue of “Mama.”

Paul Hilch’s Mazda minivan pulled a little ahead of the Winnebago. On the hill, the weight of the big vehicle held it back. It was a very slender lead. Paul knew it wouldn’t last long. He also knew he was going to die. The woman and her children were monsters. Worse, they didn’t exist, according to the sheriff he talked to in the last town. Get some rest, the sheriff said. Don’t drive such long hours.

Papers flew around the cabin of the minivan. His briefcase was open, letting its contents loose. A sales chart hit Paul in the face. He swatted it away.

The minivan crested the top of the hill. Paul saw his death in the down slope. He looked desperately for any hope. At midday the brutal sun blasted the desert landscape. There were no other cars. The only witnesses were cactus.

Another paper hit Paul in the face. He pulled it away. It wasn’t a sales chart, or any other business paper. It was the picture Jimmy gave him just before he left L.A.

Daddy and Mommy and Jimmy, in the five year old’s wavering crayon line, stood together on a boat. Maybe Jimmy was thinking of the boat ride they took to Catalina a few months ago.

The Winnebago crashed into the back of the minivan.

There had to be a way out. A truck driver would come to the rescue. A sheriff would pull the RV over and arrest the hideous woman. He would wake up in a hospital and someone in authority would give him a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything.

Paul heard a giggle. He turned his head and saw the baby. The fat, naked, horrible baby   sat in his passenger seat. He jerked his head to scan the back seat, horrified that the woman was also in his car. Nothing there. He looked at the passenger seat again. The baby was as repulsive as ever.

The front wheels went off the road. Paul lost control. The back wheels spun on the soft shoulder. The minivan fishtailed as the dust and gravel failed to give the wheels any friction. The Mazda went off the edge of the road and fell on its side, creating a cloud of dust. It slid through sand and rocks for about ten yards, hitting a group of Joshua trees.

The Winnebago slammed into the back of the Mazda at high speed, crushing it like an empty soda can.


Classic Scary Movie: Night of the Hunter

I recently rented a movie I have heard about for many years but never seen, Night of the Hunter. Robert Mitchum plays a “preacher” who romances widows for their money. When in jail he is cell mate with a man who stole $10,000 from a bank and hid the money on his farm. Mitchum’s Reverend Powell determines to find that money.

Directed by Charles Laughton, his one and only directorial effort, the film is both scary and…weird. It has incredible black and white imagery. Laughton must have watched every German Expressionist film ever made and taken notes. This is both a good and a bad thing for the film. There are many scary images of Rev. Powell menacing the children of his cell mate, who know where the money is. On the other hand, Laughton goes off the deep end with bunnies and other wildlife along the banks of the river as the children escape. I suspect they were meant to symbolize innocence, but too much symbolism spoils the broth of this movie.

A shot of the children’s mother, (Shelley Winters) dead in her car underwater and with her hair flowing in the current of the river, is an amazing, beautiful image. There are a number of great images in the movie. However, I think Laughton let this Expressionistic, beautiful image side of the film overpower the actual story.

The children are taken in by Lillian Gish, who is sort of a cat lady but with kids. She takes in random orphans. It’s the depression, so there are a lot of them. I still have not figured out why the townspeople chase Gish and the kids after Mitchum is caught, as if she has done something wrong.

Anyone who likes classic scary movies should see this, and anyone who likes gorgeous black and white images. Mitchum gives a great performance and is very frightening. The film was a flop and Laughton never directed again. I think he should have concentrated on the story more and left some of the other stuff behind, but if he did maybe we wouldn’t still remember this film so many years later.


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