December 08, 2004

Let's be specific here.

Jacob and I watched Sleepy Hollow last night. It's a Burton/Elfman film, it's got Johnny Depp, and a quick glance at the DVD case confirms that it's both stylish and strange. You can hardly go wrong with qualities like that, but on the other hand, it's also described as a "classic tale of horror". That bears careful checking, so I interrogated Jacob about it.

He described it as fun, creepy, okay, wait, not really creepy, I mean, there's a headless guy, it's a ghost story, right? There are some kind of "boo" moments. Fun, though, really. Fun! Come on, there are gadgets! I shone gestapo lights in his eyes and asked him if he thought it was creepier than Donnie Darko, to which he replied that Donnie Darko is pretty creepy but no, no way, Sleepy Hollow isn't any worse than that.

Is it obvious where this is going? We watched it and I went to sleep and had gory, unsettling dreams. I woke up at 3:30 and spent an hour trying to simultaneously keep my back to Jacob, keep my eyes open, think about things that didn't involve the words "severed" and "bloody", and ignore all the little sounds of it being 3:30 on a rainy night in an 80-year-old house with two wakeful cats and one sleeping human. Thump. Creeeaaaaak. Jingle. Drip. Drip. Drip. Exhale. Thump. It was a treasure trove of sound effects for the murderous-equestrian-ghost specialist.

There has to be some kind of reference scale that can be used to reliably predict whether Dianna can handle a given movie. Perhaps I can make a formula with variables describing gore, startlement, supernaturalness, and slow creeping horror. When G=4 and S=3, SN and SCH must be less than or equal to 2 or nightmares will ensue? G + S^2 + SN^3 + SCH^3 cannot exceed 30? That one might actually work. On the one hand you have, let's say, Finding Nemo, with all four variables approximating zero and Dianna calm and happy. On the other, you have The Ring, with all four variables needing to be expressed with double digits and Dianna refusing to sleep for a week. In between you have varying degrees of crime flicks and spook stories that sit on the line described by the equation and only pass into unacceptability when one characteristic spikes unexpectedly.

Math: it beats having nightmares.

Posted by dianna at December 8, 2004 10:56 AM

i have sort of the same problem. basically i just had to see a lot of the wrong kind of movies and be horrified by them, so now gene and michele have a barometer and can both unerringly tell me which movies i can and can't watch.

Posted by: didofoot at December 8, 2004 11:05 AM

See, I need something like that. It would be much simpler than trying to predict the value of each variable for a movie that I haven't seen so that I know whether I can see it. Unfortunately, my barometer thinks "Evil Dead 2" is a fun watch, so I have to take his predictions with so much salt they become pretty much unpalatable.

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2004 11:12 AM

You have to admit, I almost-sort-of-warned you about Sleepy Hollow. Sort of. I *did* say that it was creepy. I *did* say that it had ghosts. I *did* say that people had their heads cut off.

Then again, I also downplayed all of those elements in favor of the Tim Burtonness and Depposity. Perhaps I'm subconsciously trying to use shock therapy to turn you into someone I can watch horror movies with. Perhaps that's not such a good plan.

Posted by: Jacob at December 8, 2004 11:44 AM

You did almost-sort-of-warn me. You said all of those things quite clearly. Then you led me to believe it was a good idea for me to watch it anyway.

Your plan is a fiendish one, but it has one major flaw. If I can't sleep, you won't get to sleep either. It's in your best interest to keep me unscared.

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2004 11:52 AM

Like you, I also make the mistake of watching scary movies that subsequently incite gory dreams and murderous nightmares.

Unlike you, I do not have a sleeping person to press my terrified back up against. Nor do I have wakeful cats.

You needn't worry too much. Jacob could *totally* take the headless horseman, and we all know that ghosts are astoundingly frightened of cats. You're set.

I, on the other hand, am totally fucked.

Posted by: kati at December 8, 2004 12:29 PM

I didn't think it was creepy, and I had nightmares after Gremlins.

Posted by: Chris at December 8, 2004 12:32 PM

Kati, wakeful cats are a mixed blessing. They are a generally benevolent living body, which goes a long way toward banishing hysteria. They also make floors creak and they brush against your feet when you're not expecting it, which goes a long way toward creating more hysteria. Still, you're right about Jacob. He's mightier than the sword.

Chris, my sister had nightmares after Gremlins too. She was about three, though. How old were you?

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2004 12:45 PM

Eight or nine, I think.

But seriously, that shit was freaky.

I probably shouldn't admit that, but I had nightmares after Jurassic Park too. And I freakin' love dinosaurs.

Posted by: Chris at December 8, 2004 02:04 PM

i thought sleppy hollow was one of the lamest, least scary, mostest boring burton/depp failure i'd ever seen. i was appalled by that movie, in fact, and more horrified by the fact that jacob liked it when we saw it in theatre than by the movie itself, (wait, did we see it together or did we just both see it in the theatre at different times? this was years ago, my memory sucks). it was one of the movies which i came out of laughing because i found it so bad it sort of almost trespassed into funny, BUT NOT QUITE. still too boring to be funny, but making fun of it was funny. and, mind you, i went into it thinking it would be good. i love burton, i love depp, i'm TERRIFIED of christopher walken. you'd think at least he with his pale eyes and pointy teeth could have scared me shitless, but no. no. heh.

Posted by: michele at December 8, 2004 02:31 PM

Christopher Walken's script was fantastic. "Raaa!" "Yaaaa!" "Aaaaa!" "Raaa!"

Yes, it was bad. I wholly recognize that it was bad. It had fucking severed heads in it, though, and that's enough to creep me out no matter how cheesey and lame it was.

Same for Jurassic Park, which also gave me nightmares. I'm glad you said it first, Chris, because I was embarrassed to admit it.

Posted by: Dianna at December 8, 2004 02:37 PM

I, too, had nightmares after Jurassic Park.
We were camping when I saw it, which may have made is creepier.
I tend to be easily creeped out when camping. Lots of young people go camping and never come back...

I mean, that's what I hear.
I know better than to watch *those* movies, but I get the idea.

Posted by: kati at December 8, 2004 02:52 PM

By far the movie that scared me the most makes me laugh now. The Omega Man starring Charleston Heston - it took place in a post nuclear world and these mutants would come out at night only. Charleston Heston played a scientist that survived and had to avoid being killed by the mutants.

After my parents went to bed I would get out of bed and go around the house turning on all the lights. It took sometime to get over it - my dad finally convinced me that all the street lights would keep them from ever getting near me. Of course, whenever I would see someone wearing sunglasses inside or at night I would get the creeps.

As for Sleepy Hollow...not scary. I agree it was not one of Burton's best.

Posted by: Peter Marshall at December 9, 2004 05:38 AM

the mutants were totally creepy. as was the fact that heston ever became an actor. though i didn't see that movie till i was like 20, so i didn't need to be placated with street lights.

Posted by: michele at December 9, 2004 11:07 AM

Thou shalt not hesitate to see Charlton Heston movies!

Posted by: Moltar at December 9, 2004 11:28 AM

Kind of OT, kind of not, I assume that everybody has checked out the trailer for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the next Burton/Elfman/Depp flick? It can be found online now and, well, it looks like something special.

Posted by: Erik at December 10, 2004 06:18 AM

well, as long as it's better than the burton/ewan mcgregor fish movie. was my perception of that film too colored by my reading the book first? probably. will my appreciation of this remake of charlie and the chocolate factory be dimmed by my love of the original? maybe.

Posted by: michele at December 10, 2004 09:09 AM

Jesus Christ, what have they done to Johnny Depp? He doesn't look like himself in that trailer, unless of course he really has turned into a gaunt, middle-aged woman while no one was looking!

Posted by: Dianna at December 10, 2004 09:19 AM

yes, the sunken face and pageboy haircut are extremely disturbing. my guess is that tim burton was going for an aging man who still thinks he's a child. hence the affected "ew" when augustus falls in the chocolate river.

Posted by: holohan at December 10, 2004 09:56 AM

Ahhhhh. It looks like he succeeded wildly in that, then. Since I haven't read the book, I had no idea of what to expect from Willy Wonka's character besides my standard set of assumptions about Johnny Depp characters: attractive, disturbed, essentially good-hearted. Affected and unappealing is a new look for the man.

Posted by: Dianna at December 10, 2004 10:09 AM

i dunno, ed wood and fear and loathing were both affected and unappealing.

also, gene wilder is willy wonka, for now and always. i love depp but he should stick to pirating.

Posted by: didofoot at December 10, 2004 10:33 AM

My standard assumptions don't take either of those movies into account, because I haven't seen them. But I've seen Edward Scissorhands and I've seen Benny and Joon and I know cute, cuddly, and screwed-up when I see it. Actually, he's pretty cute, cuddly, and screwed-up in Sleepy Hollow too. Mmmm.

Posted by: Dianna at December 10, 2004 10:54 AM

Geme Widler is awesome, but also not very similar to the Willy Wonka in the book.

Posted by: sean at December 10, 2004 12:05 PM

GENE Wilder, however, is a different story.

Posted by: sean at December 10, 2004 12:35 PM

yeah, in the book willy wonka seemed angrier to me. on the other hand, he didn't have a random watery cave full of horrible shrieking monsters, so how angry could he have been?

Posted by: didofoot at December 10, 2004 12:44 PM


Posted by: danny at December 11, 2004 12:24 AM

yes, book. what DO they teach you in these schools?

Posted by: didofoot at December 11, 2004 11:55 AM