Clue: The Movie

Six guests are invited to a Gothic mansion in New England. The year is 1954. They are assigned aliases and introduced to each other. Mr. Body, the host of the party, is blackmailing the guests and has gathered them together. They discover that they are all involved with illegal or “un-American” activities. The guests receive weapons. Let the game begin!

I loved the board game version, so I couldn’t help but be interested in the film version of Clue. I probably should have watched some other 80s classic, but I didn’t care—I made the right call. Well, actually, I guessed the wrong murdered in the end. But no matter—the process was entertaining. Who knew murder could be so fun.

First of all, the movie isn’t scary. Even a horror lightweight could handle this one. I’ll admit though, each time someone turns the lights out, a tiny bit of fear dilated in my chest. It’s not really supposed to be scary. The emphasis is on postmortem investigation—very detached, as if there were no current danger. It’s a fascinating way to address murder. They were hopeless, with an external locus of control.

The popular conception of homosexuality has changed drastically since this film. All of the guests are involved with some sort of illegal, sexual, or perverted activity. But when Mr. Green stands up and admits his sexual preference, the guests look just as disgusted as when the butler reveals that Professor Plum takes advantage of his psychotic patients. Apparently Mr. Green would loose his job with the government if he was discovered. But no matter, at the very end, Mr. Green ends up revealing himself as a plant or “spy” at the party—a representative of the government and saves the day. The audience assumes that he is not gay and cheers his efforts. Hmmm…

At first, I rolled my eyes at the cheesy one-liners:

After a lengthy explanation, the butler says, “To make a long story short…”
“TOO LATE,” the guests yell in unison.

And the melodramatic acting:
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” Ms. Peacock scream.

It sounds even worse than it looks.

But, once acquainted with the theatrical style of the movie, it was thoroughly enjoyable to watch the guests frantically run about the mansion.

For the theatrical release of Clue, the movie was shown with one of three different endings—different theaters received different endings for the film. It did poorly in the box office, but the home video has all three versions. I would certainly be disappointed without all three.

“I’m not bad… I’m just drawn that way.”

Today I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for the first time ever, and I have to say, I’m glad I did so!

Growing up, I had often heard people mention this film, so I had a general idea of what to expect… I knew that the movie revolves around a murder that occurs in a world in which cartoons and people coexist, and I imagined that the effects would look something like those in Mary Poppins – great for the time period, yet outdated for me. Boy, was I wrong! The special effects in this film were great! So great, in fact, that at first I thought that the film wasn’t made in the 80s at all and that I had made a mistake. From start to finish, the interaction among the toons and the “real” actors was seamless! What’s more, the toons interact with their environment, as well, which also served to heighten the sense of reality – Roger Rabbit picked up real plates, the weasels held real guns, Jessica tugged on Ed Valiant’s tie… This list goes on and on.

But, to return to the plot, the movie follows Detective Eddie Valiant, an (at first glance) unsuccessful private investigator who makes his living spying for others. He hates toons with a passion, yet as the film advances, he finds himself trying to prove Roger Rabbit innocent in a murder he was framed for. Fighting him is the evil Judge Doom, who delights in subjecting toons to ‘the Dip’ and who tries everything in his power to capture Roger.

However, the character that attracted my attention the most was Jessica Rabbit, Roger’s cartoon human wife. No, it was not her glamorous red dress or her insanely impossible curves that fascinated me. It was simply the fact that her character is the only one that I had trouble defining as either good or evil. She kept me guessing the entire time! At some points, I was 100% sure that she was in cahoots with Judge Doom and that she had framed her husband. At others, I was convinced that she was a loving wife and she wanted to protect Roger. While I puzzled over her morality, she delivered my favorite line of the movie: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” This quote was loaded with significance for me. It made me realize just how much influence movie directors and/or animators have over our perceptions. They are ultimately the ones who steer our opinions of characters. In this particular case, they wanted us to think that Mrs. Rabbit was evil, only to shatter that same illusion in the end!

Overall, I found that this original combination of animated comedy and film noir worked incredibly well! The animation brought humor to what would otherwise have been another dark mystery film; I would definitely recommend it – if not for the plot, for the wonderful special effects displayed.

Detective Eddie Valiant and the mysterious Jessica Rabbit

Why Children of the Corn Isn’t as Scary Now

Steven King’s Children of the Corn, directed by Fritz Kiersch, is a must-see cult classic. As a horror movie fan, I appreciate the motifs that make this film memorable. To start, the ominous Gregorian chanting (performed by children of course) accompanies most of the movie and adds suspense in preparation for gory ritual and murder. There are no words, just eerie, sustained “Ah-ing” that sears itself into the minds of the audience.

One only needs to “Ahh” at a fellow viewer later in the day to increase their heart rate and make them moderately uncomfortable around children.

Another contributor to Children of the Corn’s classic status is the crayon drawings. Sarah, a young child that disagrees with the leader’s ways, draws bloody, gruesome pictures of the future. She predicts the coming of the “outsiders,” Burt and Vicky, and illustrates the gory rituals associated with a perverted religion that believes any person over 18 should die.

The children never use a gun to kill. Poison, scythes, and knives are the only offensive weapons in use during the film. Defensively, they defame public property with dried up corn stalks to create a hostile environment and they immobilize Burt’s car, disabling him from fleeing the town—not that he would be smart enough (despite being a doctor) to make that decision.

The setting lends to the perverseness of this ordeal. Gatlin represents small-town America. Traditionally, small-towns are associated with community, safety, and innocence. This rural virtue, teamed up with the purity of children makes the transition to home of cultic murderous children a disturbing one.

BUT, DESPITE ALL OF THESE SUPERBLY SCARY THINGS…the modern viewer is left unfazed.

WHY?

1)   The children of the corn are a misguided group that follows the bible verse, “and a child shall lead them.” Creepy, but at least they have a guiding principle.

Now, children just want to fuck people up for fun.

Since Children of the Corn, kids have been heavily recycled as lone murderers, ghosts, and Satanic symbols. More recent movies like Orphan (2009) and Insidious (2010) take psychotic children to the next level—they are sexual, supernaturally powerful, torture people for enjoyment, and are completely unpredictable. Children of the Corn is still perverted, but less so in comparison to the latest creepy kiddos. Scary children are scary, but less so because the standard of perversion has risen.

2)   Plus, the ending computer graphics and tunneling dirt ball are a bit cheesy now. The more real supernatural is, the scarier it is. What modern viewer could resist giggling at the red and black amoeba that consumes Isaac?

Children of the Corn paved the way for the coming generations of psychotic younglings and realistic computer graphics of supernatural power. That is why it’s both a classic and a shadow behind modern horror. The six sequels attest to this.