Well hello there! Welcome to this week’s installment of The AE Movie Club, the most thrilling celebration of Hollywood since the last scene of Day of the Locust. (Look it up, watch it, and wonder how you ever got along without it.)
It may be the dead of winter (though you’d never know it from the weather in New York), but things are thankfully starting to warm up on the movie front after the traditionally dull month of January (aka Major Studio Dumping Month). So that means you only have a few more weeks to catch up on all the Oscar contenders and last season of Downton Abbey before the cineplexes are once again in full swing. So – as a gay farmer might say, “Make heyyyyyyyy while the sun shines.”
In today’s combo pack I’ve tucked a few Reviewlets of new movies opening this weekend (Big Miracle and W.E.), and introduced a new Fast Five feature that this week is dedicated to my favorite ghost movies, in honor of The Woman in Black. There’s some Vintage Beefcake courtesy of a certain Justified fella, another diamond in the streaming rough that is Instant Queue, new trailers and posters, and a Movie Confessional that might take you back to your first Tiger Beat subscription.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 …START!
Fast Five: The Ghosts With the Most
Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black
This weekend one film marks three splendid returns. The Woman in Black is first and foremost the first film to star Daniel Radcliffe since he wrapped up the Harry Potter franchise last year (don’t forget to take our Radcliffe quiz!). But the film also marks the return of the legendary Hammer Studios, who were responsible for churning out some of the best Victorian horror movies of the ’60s and ’70s (alongside some of the worst), and turning actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing into household names thanks to their gleefully lurid retellings of various classic horror stories, including Dracula. And third, the film is a remake of the beloved 1989 made-for-TV adaptation of the novel of the same name – a creepy little flick that managed to scar the psyches of more British children than Katie Price.
In honor of the bewitching Woman, I thought I’d share my five favorite ghost movies in a new segment called Fast Five. (I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that it’s a segment devoted to the fifth Fast and Furious film, right?) Note that I consider ghost movies and haunted house movies to be distinctly different, and in this case have stuck strictly to films where ghosts played lead roles (so no Poltergeist or Hell House on this list).
5. The Frighteners
This 1996 Peter Jackson horror-comedy was a total flop, but it’s a fantastically mean and visually inspired little flick. The ghosts themselves are main characters (alongside Michael J. Fox as a reluctant medium cashing in on his talent) and the central mystery about a ghost who is killing other ghosts plays out in a spectacularly ghoulish fashion. Plus, it was waaaay better than Jackson’s other ghost movie, The Lovely Bones.
4. Blithe Spirit
Never before has a movie about death been so damned funny. (I’m looking at you, Ghost Dad.)
3. The Others
A great ghost movie for many reasons, the most obvious one being the least of them. The quiet, the art direction, and the crushing feeling of cold, damp misery were the stuff of the most classic ghost stories.
Funny, goofy, arch, and wildly inventive, this eye-popping spectral spectacle from Tim Burton is a masterpiece of both design and dark comedy. Plus: Alec Baldwin was a total smoosh.
1. Ringu (The Ring)
The American version is okay too, but the original Japanese film is so completely bizarre that when I first saw it on a pirated VCD a decade ago I had no idea what the hell I was watching. The basic idea – that a ghost can be passed from person to person – is brilliant, and the post-climax scene with the television is one of the greatest horror sequences of all time – all the more so because it comes after you think the horror is over.
So those are MY favorite ghost movies, although there are or course many more great ones out there. What are your faves?