The Mother Within

It’s happening. I sense it peeking around the corners at me. It lurks in the back alleys waiting with all the patience of a cat watching a mouse hole. It smells my blood. It knows, oh yes indeed, it knows there’s no way I can escape my own mother growing inside me.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom is AWESOME! and to see those little sparks of her emerging from me during certain situations isn’t always a bad thing, unless it’s when that part of her is the part that wants to smack some idiot upside the head with a two-by-four. Not that mom ever did that of course, at least not literally – that I know of. Twice this week I have wished for said two-by-four. In fact, a large hammer and two shovels were given serious consideration late Monday morning by myself and two of my fellow co-workers.  Ah, yes. The joys of working with liars and thieves. Gotta love it! Said thief rather reluctantly returned the ill-gotten booty this morning. Guess there is some sort of guilty conscious in there after all. I made sure to thank the person for the return of the ‘mistakenly taken’ property.

But, in the heat of the  moment when I realized what had happened, my mother emerged in one of her darkest forms. You just don’t want to mess with Jackie when she sees an injustice being done ‘cuz she’ll damn well set you straight right to your face and not give a flying fu… erm fish, what you or anyone else thinks about it.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.

Mom came out again last night while Jim and I were at Karaoke.  I don’t drink a lot. When Jim and I go out I will have usually just one beer or mixed drink then go right for ginger ale on the rocks. Last night I indulged and was half way through my second beer when it happened.

Some dork had arrived earlier and was either smashed out of his mind or off his medication. I suspect both. Jim and I are sitting listening to the singers of wide ranging abilities croon to their hearts content and this dude is getting louder and louder and by his own mistake, he sat down next to me just moments before Jim went up to talk to the DJ about a song. Feeling pretty brave, ya know, with all of 1.5 bottles of liquid courage running like wild fire through my veins, I tried to very,  very hard to ignore this guy. I really did. But when every other word was spoken was the F-bomb and said less than a foot from my ear, Mom has her limits.

My mother turned on that bar stool I had sat so quietly at all evening and she looked at him through my eyes and said, “Do you mind? I am trying to listen to these people sing and if you say ‘f—‘ in my ear one more time I’m going to knock your ass off that barstool. Shut the f— up!”  *ahem* He looked back at me as if I’d suddenly grown a second head. “What? I wasn’t swearing.” I replied with, “Don’t what? me. All you’re saying to me is F-this and F-that. Say it again and I’m gonna smack ya.”  Apparently a friend of his overheard this and came over and said, “Is he bothering you.” I said he was and for the next five minutes or so she stood there talking to him telling him to stop cussing and leave people alone. I turned my attention back to the stage, took a deep breath and realized my heart was ready to leap out of my chest – or maybe that’s what it feels like when your mother releases her possession of you.

Just then Jim innocently and ignorantly strolls back and sits down beside me. He’s got his own beer buzz going on and the girl who has by now taken the offending Mother-rouser out of the picture comes over and says to me, “Sorry about that.” To which I nod and say thanks and we all go on our merry separate ways. Jim looks at  me, “Huh? What was she sorry about?” I told him he’d missed all the excitement and would tell him later on the drive home.  His remark later, “You shoulda said something. I woulda kicked his ass.” I snickered, “Nah, woulda been more humiliating to him if I’dda done that.”

So, *ahem* the part of my mother that speaks up and says something, the part that has a spine and doesn’t take crap from people is growing inside me. As I sit back and consider the situation and add my grandmother to the equation – oh yeah. I see where this is going real fast, kids!  “You kids! Get off my lawn!!” Just kidding, she never said that – but I’m getting the gumption of two of the most amazing women in my little corner of the family tree. And, woe unto the fella that messes with my daughter! She’s only 20 and she’s been displaying this trait for years! She’da kicked that drunk dude’s ass first and asked questions later.

So, thanks Mom and Gramma for spending a bit of time with me these past couple days. I can see so  much better where you’re coming from and where I’m headed and it’s not such a bad place at all.

 

Top 5 Scary Movies I Will Never Forget

I still haven’t seen The Conjuring so shush if any comments in some way lean towards spoilers on that one. There are a couple haunted house movies on this list. I pay little attention to what the critics say about movies (or books or anything for that matter) so this is purely my personal list of the Top 5 movies that have scared the be-jeebus outta me over the past oh, 40 years or so.

#5: Aracnaphobia (1990)

I suffer from this phobia (fear of spiders for those who don’t know) and I tell you what, I could NOT bring myself to see this baby on the Big Screen. NO WAY was I going to sit through two-hours of GIANT spiders – in the dark. Instead, I waited until it was available in a rental and even then I was I not thrilled with the idea. A spider as big as my television screen? Are you serious?

Anywho – this Frank Marshall-directed film starred Jeff Daniels, John Goodman and Harley Jane Kozak and involves a spider from South American who hitches a ride via coffin to a small, unsuspecting town. Said spider is highly venomous and breeds with a standard American house spider. TERROR ensues. The two most horrible scenes for me are when one of the GIANT spiders (there is no such thing as a small spider to us Aracnaphobes) is crawling around on the inside of a lamp shade and you can see its cute little (GI-NOR-MOUS) shadow skittering along in there just as a hand reaches up to turn off said lamp. Mega-Spider drops down and that’s that. The other scene took place in the shower. I’m sorry, Norman Bates you ain’t got nothing on this, NOTHING! Another spider is happily skipping along the top of the shower rod while the innocent and oblivious, naked and helpless victim washes up below.  If I didn’t always check the shower walls, ceiling and curtain BEFORE this movie, damn straight I did after seeing it – and still do.

#4: Legend of Hell House (1973)

The screenplay for ‘Legend of Hell House’ was written by Richard Matheson and based on his own book ‘Hell House’ . It tells the story of the “Mount Everest” of haunted houses. In many way this is a classic haunted house tale in which five people walk in and not so many walk back out again. I won’t tell you how many or who makes it back out alive (sane is questionable). 

It stars my all time favorite actor, Roddy McDowall along with Pamela Franklin and Clive Revill.  McDowall and Franklin both play psychics. McDowall is a physical medium and has been to Hell House before. Franklin is a mental medium and foolishly goes against McDowall’s advice to “stay shut off” during the duration of their stay. The scientific mind is portrayed by Revill who is certain he can clear the house off all ‘spirits’ with his handy-dandy electromagnetic destroying machine.  The original owner of Hell House was Emeric Belasco who was well-known for his sado-mascochistic parties that were only made more lovely with excess drug and alcohol use. Belasco mysteriously vanishes after the discovery of a mass murder within the house which sets it up as a prime haunted real estate. It ain’t pretty in Hell House and it’s not portrayed as such. It’s violent. It’s sexual. It’s in your face haunting. I’ve seen it at least half a dozen times and will likely watch it again just as many more before my time here is through.

#3: The Other (1972)

Not to be confused with “The Others” (2001 – starring Nicole Kidman) these two movies have nothing in common but their very similar names.  No, my number three choice is set in 1935 and takes us on a dark ride through the minds of twin brothers, Niles and Holland Perry as they scamper and play tricks on their family and neighbors, deadly tricks.

Niles is the good brother while Holland is the little devil who comes up with all these schemes to scare people literally to death. Not only that, but Niles has come into possession of not just Grampa’s ring but a lovely finger wrapped in wax paper to go with it. Niles really tries to be good and is doted on my his grandmother who teaches him The Game which allows him to see through the eyes of other creatures – most dramatically illustrated when he gets a crow’s eye view of the farm on which they all live. But, something ain’t quite right with the Perry Twins – no, sir, and when their mother finds out exactly what that is she pays the price with a paralyzing fall down the stairs.  You don’t even want to know what happens to that missing baby but you’ll find out anyway!  Chris and Martin Udvarnoky play the fiendish twin brothers with Victor French and John Ritter in supporting roles. It was directed by Robert Mulligan and was adapted for film by Tom Tryon (who also wrote “Harvest Home” from which we got the warm and fuzzy film “Dark Secret of Harvest Home” starring Bette Davis) from his book of the same name. Also a good one but didn’t make the Top 5.

#2: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

This could very well be where my idea for Blood of the Scarecrow sprang from. “Dark Night of the Scarecrow” was a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS and scarecrows were never the same to me after.

Bubba is a mildly retarded man who is befriended by a town girl by the name of Marylee and a good number of the town folk ain’t too pleased by this completely innocent friendship. When Marylee is attacked by a dog, Bubba comes to the rescue but is almost immediately accused of not just attacking the girl himself but raping her as well. The Haters quickly form a posse and decide if the law won’t take care of business, they will. Bubba’s mother gets word of this and dresses her son up as a scarecrow and instructs him to stand in the field very still to try and fool his would-be killers. Unfortunately the costume doesn’t fool the bloodhounds and Bubba is shot dead where he stands. The lead accuser, Otis, sticks a pitchfork into Bubba’s dead hand in an attempt to  make it appear as if Bubba was killed with that instead of multiple gun shot wounds.  But, gentle, sweet Bubba isn’t so kind in death as he was in life.  The stalking of Otis Hazelrigg begins and it’s all that you could hope for!

#1: The Haunting (1963)

The 1999 remake of this AMAZING film blows. I’m sorry, but it does and it takes such a HUGE swing away from the Shirley Jackson novel “The Haunting of Hill House” that it doesn’t even seem like the two movies could possibly be based on the same book.  Okay, the characters have the same names  and it’s in a haunted house but that’s where the similarities end.

The original movie stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson and was directed by Robert Wise. It is told from the perspective of Eleanor “Nell”  Lance (Julie Harris) who receives an invitation to help investigate this alleged haunted location along with several others. Nell has spent most of her life taking care of her invalid mother and for her this is the chance of a lifetime, to do something,  to go somewhere and to be someone special. She’s special alright. Upon entry, Nell feels as if she’s finally come home and that may not be such a good thing. The best scene in the movie is when the spirits are walking up and down the hallway outside Nell’s room. Out of fear, Nell and Theo (Claire Bloom) are sharing a room by this point and though we never SEE anything ghostly, we hear it, we sense it, we see what it can do. Your imagination starts to go crazy as the doorknob turns and the door itself bows under the power of the entities on the other side. You know it’s bad when even the wallpaper starts to watch you and when someone you thought was holding your hand, isn’t. I’ve watched this movie many, many times and each time I’ve been spooked by it in some new and wonderful way. Maybe I’m just a masochist  but I look forward to the goosebumps I get every single time I get a chance to watch this.

In conclusion, I hold “The Haunting” on par for all other haunted house movies since I first saw it. I have some serious doubts that “The Conjuring” is going to be able to top it but I’ll give it a shot as soon as I can.