raincoaster on the raincoast

Guess what it’s doing out here on the raincoast? Well, it’s not coasting; that’s your first clue.

And when the year is drawing to a close and the nights stretch into infinity amid the whisper of the wind shaking invisible raindrops loose from dead and dying trees, there is only one thing you can do.

Well, two, but I’m all out of gin.

That’s right: you hole up with a damn good spooky movie. And here it is: my very favoritest damn good spooky movie, a portmanteau movie containing multiple mini-movies, all of them good. A British classic from 1945 entitled Dead of Night. Enjoy.

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Friday Fright Night B Movie-O-Rama: Spider Baby!

Lon Chaney Jr

Lon Chaney Jr

And me stone-cold sober!

It’s time for a seriously cheesy, seriously un-serious movie starring one of the Great Old Ones of Hollywood: Lon Chaney Jr. He had a Freudianer, or at least Oedipalier time of it than most, as his father will be forever famous for his portrayals of various costumed monsters. Lon Jr started that way, too, as name recognition is quite useful when it comes to starting a career sometimes; he even changed his name from Creighton Tull Chaney to Lon Jr. He had to wait till his father was safely dead before stepping into his shoes, though. Soon enough he proved himself as a character actor and even, when cleaned up, a leading man, in one of my favorite oldie melodramas, The Shadow of Silk Lennox. But it was just so easy to get jobs in horror films.

His particular niche was slightly dumb, generably amiable, inadvertently sinister character roles. There were quite a lot of them to go around, too. Basically if it was insufficiently classy for Boris Karloff, Chaney got it. He’s most famous for playing the Wolf Man, although to my taste the Spaniard Paul Naschy was better at that role.

Here he is as the faithful servant of a decayed and sinister family in the weirdly mod (check out those opening credits!) 1967 horror flick Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told! Someone needs to make an Austin Powers version of this, seriously. Or at least a Scooby Doo one.

In a dilapidated rural mansion, the last generation of the degenerate, inbred Merrye family lives with the inherited curse of a disease that causes them to mentally regress from the age of 10 or so on as they physically develop. The family chauffeur looks out for them and covers up their indiscretions. Trouble comes when greedy distant relatives and their lawyer arrive to dispossess the family of its home.

Bonus: CAROL OHMART! You remember her! From the Vincent Price 1959 classic The House on Haunted Hill (the one that was actually filmed IN the house reputed to be haunted)? She played the conniving trophy wife. Of COURSE she did; just look at her! Anyway, she’s another leading lady who could act rings around most, and who never enjoyed the success she deserved.

Carol Ohmart should have stayed a pantherian brunette rather than a leonine blonde

Carol Ohmart should have stayed a pantherian brunette rather than a leonine blonde

The suggested cocktail pairing with tonight’s gruesome entertainment is the White Spider Cocktail. Oh yes, there’s another version, but it’s made with vodka and therefore clearly inferior. We’ll wait while you mix yourself one…

White Spider

ingredients:
1 ounce Gin
1 ounce Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 tsp Simple Syrup

Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Give it a few vigorous shakes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

There, ready? Click to enjoy Spider Baby or The Maddest Story Ever Told in full!

Quiz: which classic 80’s fantasy movie should I get next?

With bonus Which Princess Bride Character Are You quiz. Of course I’m Inigo.

I am INIGO MONTOYA. YOU KEEL MY FATHAIR. PREPAIR TO DIE!

I am INIGO MONTOYA. YOU KEEL MY FATHAIR. PREPAIR TO DIE!

You are Inigo Montoya. You have spent your life training in the art of fencing and seeking revenge for the killing of your father. And drinking. Lots of drinking. Now that you have achieved your lifelong quest, you are considering making the move to privateering. Apparently, the market’s pretty good right now.

Yep, pretty much. I literally looked into getting Letters of Marque as a retirement gift for a friend of mine; her son is a ship’s captain, and she founded the national association for social workers, and it would have been hilarious. I should have followed through on it, too. But at least I have all the paperwork ready.

Anyhoodly…I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently, and remembering more. For OpHippie I screened The NeverEnding Story for a room full of people on mushrooms and weed, and succeeded in completely wiping The Da Vinci Code from their minds for the next 48 hours through the awesome power of the Childlike Empress and that stupid, fucking nag Artax. And I have The Princess Bride. Now what do I get?

Blame Artax!

Blame Artax!

Blame Artax!

The NeverEnding Story is a childhood classic with a neverending potential for discussion. Last week, we discussed how it’s all Artax’s fault that the generation that saw this as children turned out to be completely fucked up. Stupid horse! If you’d just stayed cheerful in the Swamps of Sadness (what, they don’t have bubblegum pop playlists in Fantasia?) you’d have made it out alive, a generation would not have wasted their adolescence pretending to be Fiona Apple and Trent Reznor, and Atreyu would have saved the world a helluva lot faster, you goddam waste of alfalfa!

Emo pony doesn't care about your sugar. Life IS lumps, sweetie.

Emo pony doesn’t care about your sugar. Life IS lumps, sweetie.

This week, we bring you the last thoughts of the late Artax, emo basketcase and (formerly) living proof that man’s best friend is a dog, not a goddam equine.

I’m feeling pretty crummy, if I’m honest with myself. And sort of…melon…what’s that word? Melatonin? Melancholy, that’s it. Boy, I gotta start doing the crossword again, my vocab’s gone to shit.

‘Course I never was the sharpest nail in the horseshoe.

Is the mud getting deeper or is it just me? It is just me. Atreyu! I’m, like, four feet tall all of a sudden. What the heck?

It…it just gets worse from there. Go on. Read the whole thing.

Shrooms

Gilligan's Island zombies by Once upon a Geek

Gilligan’s Island zombies by Once upon a Geek

Anyone who’s read this blog or my food/booze blog for long knows I’m a big fan of the shrooms. Just the regular ones: I’m already so strange I need white noise apps to fall asleep, otherwise the sound of the Earth breathing keeps me awake. My friends who’ve dealt acid warn me against it: me taking LSD would be too dangerous, like if The Doctor settled down with Jadis, the White Witch, read Ken Kesey, and had a baby named Damian.

Could go either way, knowmasayin’?

So today I’d like to talk about the mushroom meme in zombie literature.

The wha?

Shut up and watch this:

That is a mashup of Richard Cheese’s cover of “Down with the Sickness” and the schlocky Japanese horror movie Matango, known in North America as “Attack of the Mushroom People.” This genius piece of celluloid was the basis for the very-much-dumbed-down-yet-still-enjoyable Gilligan’s Island. And now? “Chernobyl Fungus Feeds on Radiation,” which is a horror movie waiting to happen if ever I heard one.

And it was based on something earlier, and creepier, still: William Hope Hodgson‘s eerie short story The Voice in the Night.

And this is what it said:

“You need not be afraid,” answered the queer voice, having
probably noticed some trace of confusion in my tone. “I am only
an old man.”

The pause sounded oddly; but it was only afterwards that it
came back to me with any significance.

“Why don’t you come alongside, then?” I queried somewhat
snappishly; for I liked not his hinting at my having been a
trifle shaken.

“I — I — can’t. It wouldn’t be safe. I ——” The voice broke
off, and there was silence.

And for goddam good reason, too. Read the rest of it if you prefer not to sleep tonight. So interesting to see the (de)volution: the Edwardian skin-crawler, the Fifties drug allegory, the Sixties bowdlerized Eden fable. Pick your favorite now that you have all of the options. If you want to stay neutral, at least tuck this (very) esoteric erudition away to haul out whenever someone mentions either a) Gilligan’s Island b) the infectious zombie trope (as opposed to the supernatural zombie, which is a whole other dichotomy post).