My podcast for next week debuts on Halloween. To celebrate the timing, I’ve asked Berwyn legend Svengoolie to come on and share his top five horror movies with me.
In advance of that, I thought I’d offer up my top five personal favorites:
The Ring (2002)
Say what you will about how the Japanese version (Ringu) is better; this movie unnerved the shit out of me.
On the plus side, it put the final nail in the coffin of VHS tapes for me..
My father took me to see Alien when I was nine years old (hey, everyone makes mistakes). At the film’s terrifying peak, an unnatural birth scene that need not be described, I told my dad that I just couldn’t watch anymore. I left my popcorn on the floor and ran to the nearest exit. It wasn’t until years later that I felt stable enough to rent and watch the movie all the way through.
Night of the Living Dead (1969)
The zombie movie Rosetta Stone. Nothing before had come close to what George Romero created with this classic.
The black and white filmmaking adds to the claustrophobic horror as a handful of zombie apocalypse survivors hole up in a farmhouse. What caused the zombie outbreak? Does it matter? They’re coming to get you, Barbara!
The Mist (2007)
So much better than anyone wanted to give it credit for. Based on the Stephen King novella, The Mist is a frightening and stressful monster movie that can claim one of the darkest endings I’ve ever seen.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Equal parts sci-fi and horror, this remake is a creepy psychological nerve-wracker about an insidious alien invasion that turns humans into emotionless drones while they sleep.
Not just one of my favorite horror movies, this one’s an easy pick for my top five all-time list.
Matthew Bennell: [dials his phone] I’ll get the police.
Telephone Operator: [voice] Police.
Matthew Bennell: Officer, I’d like to report four bodies in my backyard.
Telephone Operator: Wait right there Mr. Bennell.
Matthew Bennell: How do you know my name?
Jack Bellicec: [Jack's eyes widen with fear] Hang up, Matthew.
Matthew Bennell: [into the phone] I didn’t tell you my name.
Jack Bellicec: Hang up!
Matthew Bennell: [hangs up the phone] I didn’t tell them my name!
For your Easter enjoyment, here’s a song performed by Echo and the Bunnymen:
Today is Casimir Pulaski Day. Even though it’s been over 30 years since the holiday was first officially observed in Illinois, I still couldn’t tell you who Pulaski is or why my kids aren’t in school today.
Illinois isn’t the only state with obscure regional holidays. Alabama celebrates the treasonous leader of the Confederate army, Jefferson Davis, every year in June: “Hey, Clem! Sure does suck that slavery didn’t stick. Whatdya say we crank up ‘Simple Man’ by Skynyrd and remember our man J.D.?”
Up north, Wisconsin celebrates women’s suffrage every February with Susan B. Anthony Day. Remember the dollar coin from 1979? This is just like it, only in holiday form.
The stomach flu-sounding Evacuation Day is coming up on the 17th in Massachusetts, celebrating the removal of the Brits from Boston during the Revolutionary War. Consider the fact that Evacuation Day lands on St. Patrick’s Day … in Boston.
For your Pulaski Day enjoyment, “Casmir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens:
Happy New Year!
To celebrate New Years Ray, 2012, I give you … Ray Davies. And the Kinks.
Goodbye, 2011. As we part, I’d like to offer one final Steve: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
Here’s a live version of “Draw the Line” from ’78, If this riff doesn’t move, incite, or inflame you, you’re beyond hope.
All things Steve continue:
The countdown to the end of the year continues with another Steve: Steve Martin.
As Martin’s ridiculous hit from the 70s shows, his musical efforts are better served with a banjo.
Continuing the new annual tradition of celebrating Steves at the end of the year, here’s today’s Steve: Steve Earle.
With Christmas now a ghost of holiday past, all eyes and attention are on Saturday’s New Year’s Eve. Allow me to introduce a new tradition to the annual end-of-year climax: NEW YEAR’S STEVE.
Today’s Steve is Stevie Wonder. “Master Blaster” is an old favorite of mine:
Besides being the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday and the Columbine massacre, today is a counterculture holiday celebrating pot-smoking. And to its credit, more people know when 4/20 happens than they do Arbor Day. It’s not quite a Hallmark holiday, though I’m sure you can find a someecard to celebrate it.
I don’t smoke pot, though I don’t condemn those who do. A persuasive argument can be made that marijuana is far less damaging than legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine. In fact, once you add medicinal benefits and tax opportunities to the conversation, the case for pot’s legalization seems especially strong.
When it comes to 4/20, the “holiday,” there’s nothing less counterculture to me than institutionalized counterculture. 4/20 isn’t a holiday or a social movement. It’s a rallying cry to encourage pot-smokers to…smoke pot. As a team. Go, Team Stoner!
And to be clear, my issue isn’t about marijuana use, but rather the way people define themselves around the drug. Identifying yourself to the world by the drugs you smoke, drink, or snort is limiting and sad. Grow the F up.
And don’t even try to tell me that 4/20 is a political movement. There’s not a rational thinker on earth who believes that scores of 311 t-shirt-wearing, Jim Brewer-watching, stoners around the world can impact social policy. Outside of, maybe, Berkeley, I doubt you’ll find a politician or legislator who will even pay attention to the day’s activities.