In Honor of Thanksgiving . . .

Ah, Thanksgiving. Clearly, it’s the best holiday ever, or at least the one with the most awesome name. When I get around to creating a national holiday—shut up, it’ll happen—I think I’ll just come up with a couple of words and arbitrarily smash them together. Like . . . Pizzaeats. Pizzaeats will be a glorious holiday where everyone will celebrate in the sheer joy of making crazy pizzas, learning about the history of pizzas, and (of course) eating as much pizza as humanely possible. I’m trying to think of what would be a good day for that. Does Pizzaeats sound like a summer holiday to you?

Anyway. Point is, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks . . . at least in theory . . . and so, I’ve decided to come up with this new list about the movies that I’m most grateful for.

10 Movies I’m Thankful For—For One Reason Or Another

1. Scream

Scream wasn’t the first horror movie I ever saw, not even the first horror movie I ever liked (that would be Poltergeist), but it was the first horror movie that really got me into the genre. I was eleven years old at the time, and it was just me and my sister in my dad’s relatively unfamiliar apartment. I’m not sure exactly where he had run off to, but I do know that Mekaela and I were by ourselves, and I know that we were watching it at night.

Scream is both funny and scary—although some of the jokes are definitely funnier now that I know more about horror movies in general. Still, I think Scream instantly created this connection in my head between humor and horror, and its self-aware script wasn’t really like anything I’d ever seen before in film. I won’t argue that Scream is the best horror movie out there, but it’s easily my favorite slasher—if only because it’s proven to be so influential to my own work, and because it kind of, sort of, broke my horror cherry.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Because it’s one of the most awesome movies I’ve ever seen.

Honestly, I adore Edgar Wright for making a film that was specifically intended for geeks. I mean, I’m sure he would have liked it if more non-geeks had found their way to the theater—you know, box office sales and whatnot—but Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World knows who its audience is and doesn’t disappoint them by trying to, I don’t know, make it more accessible to non-gamers or something. It’s nice to watch a movie that doesn’t constantly feel the need to apologize for itself. I’ve watched enough movies that were clearly intended for other people. It was nice to be the target audience, for once.

3. The Craft

I’m trying to figure out the least embarrassing way to admit this.

You know how a bunch of teenage girls decided that they wanted to be witches after watching this movie? Yeah, I was kind of one of those girls. Even though I KNEW that The Craft had fuck all to do with Wicca, I sort of used it as a leaping off point anyway and became interested in studying magick, trying out spells, that sort of thing. It’s kind of hard to describe, honestly. What I had, it was part spirituality and part make-believe. I was never an actual practitioner, but I wasn’t just fucking around for some half-assed rebellion, either . . . I kind of made up my own mythology, and it was something I think I needed, at the time. Middle school was not exactly the high point of my life, and I felt a sense of self-empowerment that gave me something to, I don’t know, hold on to.

So, yeah. Silly as it sounds, I’m kind of grateful to The Craft for all of that. Also, for “I’m flying, I’m flying!” Because, wow, that never gets old.

4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

All the mock-fests I have ever held . . . all the bad horror movies I intentionally rented just to laugh at . . . they all started with this one.

Years ago—I don’t remember how many, maybe six or seven?—-Mek and I attempted to rent the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and picked this one up by mistake. We had rented a handful of horror movies to watch with friends. By about three in the morning, half of those friends were asleep, and so it was only my sister, my friend Cerena, and little old me, hanging out in the living room and watching the full, ridiculous glory that is Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

It was . . . it was a revelation. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was my first so-WTF-I’m-collapsing-in-helpless-giggles experience, and ever since, my heart has been lost to so-bad-it’s-good horror.

Thank you, makers of this movie. Thank you from the bottom of my scornful little heart.

5. X-Men

Before X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Spiderman 3, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Catwoman, The Punisher, Punisher: War Zone, Hellboy, Hellboy 2, Daredevil, Elektra, Superman Returns, Hancock, Ghost Rider, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, Watchmen, The Incredibles, and Kick-Ass . . . there was X-Men. Just X-Men.

Obviously, X-Men was not the first superhero movie, and just as obviously, some of the movies listed above are really horrible and probably shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Still, I’ve loved superheroes since I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, and X-Men kind of restarted the whole genre back in 2000. It’s also a pretty good movie, and it introduced Hugh Jackman, at least to American audiences. You know Dougray Scott was originally supposed to play Wolverine, right? Can you even imagine that now?

Yeah. Me either.

6. Brick

I’m grateful to Brick because it’s interesting. A film noir set in high school sounds kind of neat, but let’s face it: this movie could have gone so badly in so many different ways, it doesn’t even bear thinking about.

But Brick really commits to its premise. It’s not wink wink, nudge nudge. It’s not campy. It’s not dumb. It’s a very smartly written, highly stylized, and well-crafted film with none of the stupidity or senseless melodrama you normally associate with high school movies. Brick feels original, fresh, exciting. I’m grateful for films that really feel like something I’ve never seen before, and this was one of those movies. Trust me, there aren’t that many.

7. Night of The Living Dead

It’s not my very favorite zombie movie (28 Days Later), and God knows I’ve had trouble with some of Romero’s other work, but I can’t not be grateful for Night of the Living Dead. Other than this awesome exchange—

Johnny: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”
Barbara: “Stop it! You’re ignorant!”

—we all know that this movie reinvented the zombie as we know it today. All of the zombie movies I love and treasure wouldn’t have been possible without this one. Night of the Living Dead was the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, and I am eternally grateful for that.

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

For always making me smile. Well, almost always. The very first time I watched it, I was in such a bad mood that I couldn’t even enjoy it properly. I promised myself I’d give it another try when I wasn’t surrounded by people who I hated, and thankfully I did, because . . . these quotes. These quotes!

“Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.”

“What makes you think she’s a witch?”
“She turned me into a newt!”
“A newt?”
“. . . I got better.”

“It’s just a flesh wound.”

“The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.”
“Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”
“Be quiet!”
“You can’t expect to wield supreme power just cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!”

“Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?”

Now, if I’m in a bad mood, I can just pop this movie into the DVD player, and a couple of hours later, I feel a lot better.

9. Die Hard

For three very simple reasons:

A: Hans Gruber is one of my favorite villains of all time.
B. This is my very favorite Christmas movie of all time.
C. This movie introduced, “Yippie ki-yay, motherfucker” into the common vernacular.

That is all.

10. Clue

Because I simply can’t imagine my life without it.

Honestly. I’ve been watching Clue over and over since before I can even remember. Clue has always been there—it’s like a part of my family. (And I can tell you right now, my mother is certainly not grateful for this movie. She might have liked it once, way back on the twentieth viewing, but I think after watching it around 400 times, her enjoyment dwindled a smidge.)

I can tell you every line of this movie. I smile just hearing the theme music in my head. My sister does Mrs. Peacock’s monologue whenever we watch this film, and I act out Mrs. White’s “Yes, yes, I did it” speech. Tim Curry is our hero, not for Rocky Horror Picture Show, not for Legend, but for this. (Well, this and Pennywise, obviously, but Wadsworth came first.) I just adore this movie because I can’t even imagine my childhood without it.

So . . . that’s it.

Happy early Thanksgiving, everybody. And for those of you who don’t celebrate—happy random day in November!

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10 Responses to In Honor of Thanksgiving . . .

  1. fatpie42 says:

    I hate to say it, but Scream actually put me off the genre (or at least what I thought were the limits of the genre) for YEARS. You can probably thank Scream for the utter lack of horror classics I’ve seen. I think I considered it a particularly big betrayal since it was marketed as humour, when it’s only humourous if you are already familiar with the horror tropes it is spoofing. I think I’d actually have been more likely to laugh during one of the older classics.

    Love Scott Pilgrim. Love The Craft. Still haven’t seen Clue…

    I don’t think it was necessarily the bad company that left you unable to engage with Monty Python’s Search For The Holy Grail first time around. It’s pretty much inevitable that it will baffle you the first time around. It’s a common feature of Monty Python humour, I find, that you start laughing later on when you remember it, but not necessarily at the point where you first see it.

    X-Men? Really?

    I mean, I’m not convinced it jump started a superhero movie renaissance like you suggest.

    For me it seems that the superhero movie highlights prior to that were:
    Superman (Still the best superhero movie ever made.)
    Batman (Possibly Tim Burton’s only good movie. Showed superhero movies could be darker.)
    The Crow (The first superhero movie to introduce serious violence.)
    Blade (Um… because it introduced vampires?)
    Mystery Men (First high profile superhero spoof.)

    I suppose we could think of it as a cycle though. Batman and Robin very nearly buried the franchise which was keeping superhero movies going. But X Men managed to renew confidence in superheroes. I think I can agree with that.

    But it wasn’t long before Daredevil, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hulk, The Punisher, Elektra and Catwoman were nearly burying it all over again. It’s at that point that I think we see our true superhero movie saviour: Batman Begins.

  2. Becki says:

    If you liked the Scott Pilgrim movie, you should also check out the comic series the movie is based on. =) I’m a fan of both versions, and I think the movie was really faithful to the comics. The first half is almost identical, and the main reason there’s changes in the second half is because only the first 3 (of 6) volumes were published when the movie was being made. Though if I remember correctly, Brian Lee O’Malley (the creator of the comics) told the director what was supposed to happen, or worked on the script, or something along those lines, but was definitely involved in the movie version in some way.

    Also I hadn’t heard of Brick but it sounds awesome and I need to check it out now.

    • I was interested in trying out the comics, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. I know Ramona’s supposed to have a bigger role, and I was interested in seeing what they did with her storyline.

      If you watch Brick, let me know what you think. I really liked it the first time I saw it, but I’ve grown to love it more and more with each viewing.

      • Becki says:

        I actually did watch Brick recently. It was good, but I had a lot of trouble with the dialogue. Between the slang and some sound issues on the Netflix version, it was really difficult to figure out what they were saying half the time. D= But other than that I enjoyed it. I loved the premise, and the pacing was good. Also I remember being genuinely surprised a few times.

        • I did forget to say—the dialogue is easily the most challenging thing about Brick. It’s definitely the kind of movie where you want the sound to be working properly because even with good sound quality, you really have to be paying attention to catch everything. The cast of Brick makes the cast of The West Wing sound slow. Throw in all that slang that you pretty much have to decipher like a second language—yeah, it’s not easy. But I think it gets easier on repeat viewings. Glad you enjoyed it overall 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    I love that freaking Die Hard is your favorite Christmas movie.

    • For some reason, we didn’t really watch the traditional ones growing up. I can’t quite make myself try out It’s A Wonderful Life. To quote Batman: The Animated Series: “I couldn’t get past the title . . . it’s not relentlessly cheerful, is it?”

      Die Hard will always be my favorite Christmas movie. But Black Christmas is good, too 🙂

  4. Jim King says:

    Scream is a movie that almost ruined the genre for me. It might have been the untalented and unlikeable cast, though, more than anything.

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