Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Late Date

First of all, someone close was good enough to lend me her 2004 Universal DVD of The Funhouse and it's really going to make a difference in picture quality from the 2001 Goodtimes release. You know who you are - thanks again.

This reveal of Amy's mom gets a big laugh from audiences. Besides informing us of her one essential character trait, the cut from Bride Of Frankenstein on TV reinforces the complacent bourgeois status of normal "horror." The original 1931 Frankenstein, lest we forget, once sent audiences screaming from the aisles and fainting in terror during its initial release. What a difference 50 years makes. Even by 1981, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was considered something safe next to Halloween. It hasn't taken 50 years for Michael Myers or any of his slasher brethren to become old hat by today's standards, either.

The patriarch, who doesn't even turn his head at his daughter descending the staircase. He's even less unsettled by Bride than his wife.

There's some unfortunate expository talk from the dad here about how he doesn't want Amy going to the same carnival "that went through Fairfield last year when they found the bodies of those two little girls in Parsons creek." Only one bad line in an entire movie is pretty good though. What's ironic is that the first half of the film is nothing but foreshadowing, and only when it happens overtly does it fail to impress.

JR: Joey's POV shots at the top of the stairs are a perfect continuation of the film's up-to-this-point story, that of the uneasy regard between a juvenile, conversant mind and his, by comparison, fully matured and ever more witting, worldly-initiated sister.

Amy lies to her parents about going to the movies instead of the carnival as the younger generation watches with contempt.

JR: How much does little Joey realize he is seeing here? Besides his sister on the brink of many things (as we'll soon see), he also is witnessing a top-down view of the constipated family unit he's hardly aware he is a part of. As we cut away from his viewpoint, Amy plops herself on the couch into her parents' view and the scene plays out as alternating individual shots of the three, never putting them in the same frame.

JR: Things to observe are the crisp return shots to Amy as she reacts, responds, and her head is caught in constant whipping motions as she goes from placating her parents to staring vacantly at the TV. Also, the "diptych" made up of the following tow shots - 1) Amy's father with his arm on the couch, and 2) Amy next to him on the couch with his arm behind her - I find arch to the point of hilarity: the way his arm is placed there hanging like a slab of meat; the way it seems like she placed herself just in (but out of) reach of her father practically having his arm around her.

Buzz wakes up the whole neighborhood with his horn, Amy leaves, and Joey's Frankenstein doll gives him away. There's a well-timed scream from the background movie when the toy hits the floor.

It doesn't take eagle eyes to notice the dice and skull / games of risk and death on display.

"Listen, how would you like to go to the movies tonight instead of the carnival?"

"The movies? What for?"

"Well it's the same carnival that went through Fairfield County last year
when they had all that trouble."

"Terrific, maybe we'll get a little action around here."


"Oh come on. You're not afraid to go, are you?"

"No, I'm not afraid to go, I just don't feel like it. Besides, I sort of promised my
father that we were going to the movies."

"Forget about your old man, he's just trying to bum your evening."

"How can you say that? You don't even know my father."

"Look, it's late."

"Aren't we supposed to pick up your friends, Liz and Richie?"

"Hey, loosen up, will ya?"

In closing this sequence, Hooper uses the first of what will be several amazing amazing crane shots afforded to him by his first theatrical studio budget. As at the top of the stairs, Joey is the unseen observer curiously gazing down at thrill-chasing young adulthood from the heightened safety status of childhood - elegantly framed in this shot by the window of his room within the safety of his home.


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