Saturday, April 16, 2011


Family lore has it that once upon a time, a little girl was taken to see "Bambi" in a movie theater.  It was supposed to be a treat and was probably talked up by the mother for several days in anticipation of this fabulous event.  It stands to reason that popcorn was purchased and a beverage was in hand with the expectation of something like Junior Mints to come once the popcorn was exhausted.  It was - in short - a mini-version of nirvana.

(The state of being...not the band.)

The theater darkened and the people quieted and all that could be heard was the sound of the crunching popcorn and the sounds of the dancing concessions making their way across the screen.  It was like a giant television...only BETTER.  It was beyond the scope of all imaginings.  It was THE SILVER SCREEN!

(Silver meaning figuratively in this sense...not the actual color of the screen...although in the early days of film the projection screens really were painted silver for better brightness, contrast and depth according to the oracle...Wikipedia.)

The cartoon was next...probably something from the Mickey Mouse know...the characters that comprise "old school" Disney...Pluto, Donald Duck, Minnie, Goofy, and of course...Mickey.  That turned out to be fun...but it wasn't Bambi.  It was the warm up act! 

The chanting inside the brain began...Bambi...Bambi...BAMBI!

Then suddenly...there he was.  In living color.  Bambi.

Cute, huh? 

Except for that part about Bambi's mother being shot by hunters and the matter of that forest fire scene.  You think a cute little Thumper and some bluebirds are going to offset that?   Let's just say that someone didn't handle all of that very well.  Or so I'm told. 

Yes.  I had to be carried out of Bambi screaming at the age of three because I was traumatized by the forest fire scene.  And for those who wondered why I absolutely must have concessions in a theater and why I must refuse your offer to see something you know. 

Although it was unlikely that I was wearing the tee shirt, it was pretty clear that little Karen was Team "Bambi's Mom" NOT Team "Buck Who Shows Up at the End and Is Supposedly Bambi's Dad."

That was strike one.  Strike two was a movie that I went to see with my mother that she kept her hand over my eyes most of the time.  It was apparently something that she really wanted to see, but she didn't want to deal with the blowback from that decision.  I'm fairly certain that strike three was "Fantasia."  I believe that that one proved to be a bit much for me as well...which doesn't really shock me since it somewhat creeps me out as an adult.   

A few years later, I watched a movie called "Frogs"  It came out in 1972 (per the oracle Wikipedia).  That means I was nine-ish when this cinematic masterpiece came to the Ritz Theater in Thomaston, Georgia.  Here's the movie poster.  

This movie haunted my dreams for the next three years.  Okay...longer.  Overactive imagination?  Yes.  Definitely yes.  Here's the synopsis of the movie in case you were spared it missed it.

Jason Crockett is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back. Written by Kelly W.

Hey, let's just say that what they say about "payback" is totally true.  Ol' Jason got did a whole host of other people. 

Then I saw "Westworld" in 1973. 

Ewww.  Just ewww.  I never did forgive Yul Brynner for making this movie. The synopsis said "a robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park."  Yeah, it caused a lot of havoc and terror for my overactive imagination, too.  (Update: I understand that this is coming back around like most of the movies I detest...Westworld 2012 is apparently being cast right now.  Great.  Just great (not).)

And 1978...Halloween.  I'm not even going there.  I can't even pull the movie poster off to copy it over for you here.  The blog is my happy no.  Just no.

(TRUE STORY: this just happened.  I was editing this to post and heard the theme for Halloween.  The volume is on very low so I've been ignoring the TV.  Guys, it is currently on AMC.  I had to get up and turn it to George Lopez.  O.M.G. Creepy, yes?)

I wouldn't go see any of the "Friday the 13th" movies or "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies when everyone else did during my younger days because I couldn't afford a therapist.  Thankfully, years later, that "therapy" came in the form of a former boyfriend of Jill's who sat on the couch with us during a Friday the 13th marathon and showed me how fake it was.  I felt safe with him sitting there and by about the 6th one...we were laughing...and I finally realized that what I was seeing on the screen was fantasy.

I know.  It took awhile.  I was 42 years old.  I kid you not.

These early bad experiences with movies aside...I have found that I really enjoy some suspense movies, almost all romantic comedies, and a few historical movies.  I can stand the occasional drama...except those that end badly like "Message In a Bottle" and "City of Angels."  Those movies?  I boycott. 

And why yes, I HAVE had moments of drama in a movie theater (see the post on "Amistad" HERE), but not like I did as a child.

I've come to realize that having an overactive imagination is the other side of a double edged sword that makes me somewhat creative and fairly sensitive to what is going on around me.  But let's just say that a lifelong fear of frogs, forest fires, robots and psychopaths means that I've done my "time" in the slammer to earn that creativity.

Fortunately, it is not genetic.  My daughter can see the most heinous things in a theater and not be freaked out.  She can sleep afterwards.  But then again, she can also ride fair rides with abandon and has no problem with that bungee cord thing at the beach.  My heart rate went up just typing that, by the way.  My son can hang with her, but he knows his limits.  That means...he normally avoids horror movies, but if his sister is home, he will watch one with her occasionally. 

Big Dave just sleeps through, whatever.

I did find the antidote to my movie paranoia...watching old movies.  Catching James Dean in "East of Eden" sometime around 1977 introduced me to what we know now as "Turner Classic Movies" or "AMC."  There used to be a movie that came on WTBS - Channel 17 - out of Atlanta in my hometown in the early afternoon on Sundays.  It  was a huge deal because up until that time we only had three channels and PBS.  The "TBS" stood for "Turner Broadcasting System."  Thank you, Ted Turner.  Oh, and this explains why we all watched some of what we did.  Five channels.  No, not five things worth watching out of the three hundred channels you have...five channels, period.  So, if you can do the math with five worthy shows out of 300, do the math and you'll understand why we watched a lot of Lawrence Welk, Hee Haw, and soap operas.  Exactly!  Captive audience.

Julie Harris (in this movie) was in a play at a theatre where my parents were working...I think it was Bucks County Playhouse...but I'm not entirely sure.  Anyway, she held me as a baby.  Cool, yes?  :)
By the way, did you know that James Dean only starred in three movies?  "East of Eden" was the first followed by "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant."  He certainly made an impression, though.

I grew to love old movies (and still do) because they weren't trying to push the envelope as much.  Even their scary movies were tolerable to me.  Old movies tend to end right.  They don't have rapid fire profanity or graphic scenes that make me uncomfortable (ie. Anne Hathaway in "Love, Drugs and Other Things.")  They entertained the viewer without trying to take that viewer somewhere that they really didn't want to go.

(Like a camp out in the woods with a bunch of other teenagers, for instance.)

And just when I thought I was over all of the "movie paranoia" out comes "Black Swan."

The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara.

No offense to Natalie Portman, but I still don't know exactly what that movie was about.  Fortunately, it ended well.  The description "well" is relative, here.

In a few weeks a movie is coming out that I'm looking forward to seeing.  It is called "Something Borrowed" based on a book by Emily Giffin.

And the best thing?  I already know how it ends.

It ends well. 

If you are one of those people who can sleep after watching Linda Blair in the "Exorcist"...more power to you.  I am not from your tribe.  But if you are up for it...we can catch a good chick flick somewhere.  Just know that popcorn is mandatory. 

So are good endings.


  1. Are you sure we're not twins separated at birth. In so many ways I really identify with you in well - just everything. But THIS I HAVE NEVER understood why the frightful or the R rated can be called entertainmentDuring my early illness, I discovered AMC, TBS, USA, TNT, TBS, Fox Movie, etc. When I am down after the count, I have no idea where I would be without my old movies. I rarely watch regular tv and have no money for movies (nor can I sit through much). But, I thought they invented those channels just for me!! I can't even watch Law and Order without nightmares, or just not going to sleep at all. I have to be very careful of what goes in my brain near bedtime, or there is no bed time. In fact my telephone and internet just came back up so I saw this while I was up. Now I shall go back to bed with TCM and see if it's un-scary enough to lull me out. Or, if all else fails, 820 the Instrumental Channel. Thank God for those too!

  2. First, I have really enjoyed this week's posts.

    Second, I was right behind you on the Bambi thing. Ditto Dumbo and Ol' Yeller. To this day I can't read or watch any of them OR Black Beauty. Apparently I could watch it through one time until I knew there was grimness. Like Dances with Wolves.

    What is the point of movies and books that are grim when we have politics and the evening news?

  3. Can't wait for a girls night out to go see Something Borrowed! Loved the book.

  4. My favorite movie of all time is Dirty Dancing...I always wanted to be able to dance! I also love ANYTHING with Richard Gere in it and I have seen them all! Off to see "Hannah" this afternoon with the hubby...good adventure movie!

    Need to read Something Borrowed!

    Thanks for what you do!

  5. James Dean only THREE MOVIES!@?!?!?!? And when SOBO comes out on May 6, I am going to the 10 AM showing cuz they show movies that early out here and I am going to sit through the next movie showing of it too!!!! I cannot wait! In fact, I have downloaded the two songs from the trailer already and listen to them all the time!!! PS--am deathly scared to watch Black Swan!!! : )

  6. Manic! Thank you so much for stopping over! You inspired me to celebrate, you know. :) I'm honored! :)

  7. I am with you..... NO HORROR MOVIES for me..... you were brave to watched and see that the movies were FAKE. But you & I know that!!

  8. I've never watched scary movies and don't plan to start watching them this late in the game. Anyone ever wonder why Walt Disney always had super scary scenes in his children's movies? The trauma of forest fires, witch chases, mom's in isolation, and on and on, are more traumatic than the happiness of meeting the father, kisses from princes, flying through the air.