Tag Archives: Ignorance

“Stealthy as a socialist, it slithers up our shores…”

Reefer Madness Poster

Reefer Madness The Movie Musical Poster

Not really a Halloween movie, but continuing with our recent theme of the dangers of ignorance, we recently rented Reefer Madness The Movie Musical (2005) through Netflix.

I’ve been meaning to see this movie ever since I heard about it. First of all, it’s a musical – not too many of those being made anymore. Second, it features Alan Cumming and Steven Weber, two actors I really like. And although I didn’t even know who she was when I first heard about this movie, we also rented it for Kristen Bell.

I know acting in and of itself is an art form but I always have even more respect for actors who can do something else – especially singing and even more dancing. We had heard Bell sing a few times on Veronica Mars but only briefly but I could tell she was good. Reefer Madness certainly proved this.

A parody remake of the famous 1937 propaganda film of the same name, Reefer Madness the Movie Musical is a message movie about a message movie. I’ve never partaken in any illegal drug and have never really wanted to but even I know that the ‘dangers’ of marijuana are terribly exaggerated and always have been. The original film depicted all the terrible things that could happen if children get hooked on ‘the stuff’ and this musical depicts just how ridiculous believing this nonsense truly is.

The production values of this movie are top notch, the performances spectacular and the songs are – well, they’re pretty good. There a few stand-out numbers such as “Little Mary Sunshine” but in all honesty the songs are adequate at best. However, the staging of the songs is fantastic and make all of them something to look forward to.

And, personally, I think the songs would have worked better if they had been written in the 30’s/40’s style, but that’s my personal preference in music anyway, so take that observation with a grain of salt.

I highly recommend this movie even if you’re not musical buff. The comedy and absurdity of the entire situation is worth it.

Purchase Reefer Madness – The Movie Musical

And, here are a few visual highlights:

William Randolph Hearst is his Hero

William Randolph Hearst is his Hero (Alan Cumming)

Mary Lane, the picture of good ol' U.S. of A wholesomeness

Mary Lane, the picture of good ol' U.S. of A wholesomeness (Kristen Bell)

Amy Spanger as Sally

Amy Spanger as Sally

No, Mary Lane, don't do it!

No, Mary Lane, don't do it! (Kristen Bell with John Kassir)

The Effects of the Reefer

The Effects of the Reefer (Kristen Bell and John Kassir)

Hip Jesus

The hippest Jesus I've ever seen (Robert Torti)

In a ‘Horror’ble Mood

It’s October again and for the husband and me, that means it’s time for horror movies galore! We watch them year round, but in October we try our best to watch one a night when possible.

We started a little late this year – we didn’t watch our first until the 2nd of October (we’re such slackers) but we’ve stayed on target ever since.

It wasn’t intentional, but we stumbled upon a theme for our two movies this past weekend – the consequences of fear and ignorance in extreme situations.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Bubba Ritter...he's all messed up

We started out pretty low key with a made-for-tv movie from 1981. Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) leads a group of weak-minded characters who are literally looking for any excuse to torment the local mentally deficient man-child, Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake).

After brutally shooting Bubba down while he is hiding inside his mother’s scarecrow, they find out that Bubba is innocent of the crime they were chasing him down for – the death of his only friend, little pre-pubescent Marylee (Tonya Crowe).

But that doesn’t really matter. They weren’t chasing him down for what he did – just for what he was – something they didn’t understand or, in Hazelrigg’s case, something they envied.

At the trial, where all four men are found innocent of murder, Bubba’s mother warns them that there are different kinds of justice and that someday, they will pay for what they did.

They find out that Momma Ritter is right when one by one, they are tormented by the presence of a new scarecrow in their fields – one that disappears when they gather their friends to check it out. Tension levels and panic rise as each are struck down in turn until only one is left and running for his life.

Being made for television, there is very little gore in this movie amounting to a little blood and some gunshot wounds. All violence is implied except for the brutal killing of Bubba and by today’s standards even this is pretty tame. However, the emotional impact has a chilling effect.

This kind of movie just doesn’t work without a strong cast and this movie definitely has that. Charles Durning, a steadily working actor from the 1960’s to the present, will no doubt be familiar to almost any viewer and his performance makes this film.

I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys atmosphere, a little mystery, strong characters and a solid story.

The Mist (2007)

The Mist

On the run from monsters

Sunday night we re-watched The Mist for the first time since purchasing the DVD back when it first came out. Remembering how good the movie was, I wondered why we hadn’t watched it more than once. Halfway through the movie I remembered why.

This movie pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie. It’s a very good adaptation of Stephen King’s novella by the same name, and even improves on some plot points that I really didn’t like from the original source material. The cast is top-notch and the direction superb.

I’ve just gotten to a point in my life where I can’t sympathize with ignorance any longer and especially the use of ignorance to generate fear and even more the use of religion to perpetuate that ignorance and fear. The character of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) is a loathsome woman who does more damage to the survivors of the mist than the actual monsters now roaming the world.

I realize that this is the point of the film – that letting others use fear to control us is even more dangerous than letting the unknown frighten us out of our wits. By the end of this movie, the few rational people left dare to face the very real monsters outside the store rather than deal with the even more dangerous monster that is now human society.

Perhaps this is why my husband has such a problem with the movie’s ending – which does differ from the source material and not in a necessarily better way. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I think I have to to make my point here. Our few heroes brave the unknown but it still ultimately destroys them. The only survivor has to kill all that he has left, including the personification of innocence, only to find that it was completely pointless.

So, yeah, if they had kept the original ending from the book, my analogy here would have been much more uplifting. And maybe that’s ultimately why I’m not going to be able to watch this movie more than once every few years.

The Mist

Less scary than fanatics

Still, I highly recommend the movie. So many of King’s horror stories have been butchered by Hollywood and director Frank Darabont does a marvelous job adapting this tale for the screen.

If you get the special edition, I do recommend watching it as intended – in black and white. We watched it in color this time and while it still works, the black and white photography lends more to the alien atmosphere outside the store and reinforces the metaphor of opposing factions inside the store.

Purchase Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Purchase The Mist on Blu-Ray

I’m getting really tired

I’m exhausted. I woke up feeling okay but then I checked the election results. I had to go to bed at 11:00 last night and the final result on issue 1 hadn’t been figured. When I went to bed No was winning by a few percentage points.

After finding out that my newly adopted home state joined the ranks of those denying fellow citizens basic rights all I wanted to do was go back to bed. But no, I had to go to work and be around people that I know voted Yes on 1. There are two things I refuse to discuss at work – Politics and Religion. Not everyone feels the same and I know several of my co-workers’ stance on both. It’s interesting that those who have no problems spouting off their politics are those with which I disagree.

I’m just so tired of people trying to control other people’s lives. I’ve been fighting against this tyrannical behavior since I was in college and it only seems to have gotten worse. Having a complete moron in the White House for eight years (Bush Jr. in case you don’t know to whom I’m referring) has emboldened the ignorant and fearful and they have no problem using that fear as a tool in their ongoing war with anything that doesn’t fit into their own personal world view.

I’m just so tired of it all.

Land of the free? – bullshit.

Home of the Brave? – double-bullshit.

We live in a Republic, NOT a Democracy

The United States of America has a Republican government, not a Democratic government. And no, I’m not talking about political parties here.

I don’t have my notes handy but I remember learning in school that a Republic is a form of government where the majority rules but that the rights of the minority must always be protected. In contrast, a true Democracy is a form of government where the majority rules, period, and anyone who disagrees with that majority – well, they’re out of luck.

True Democracy would not be a good form of government. I know there are many out there who disagree but look at it like this: The majority of this country prefers chocolate to strawberry flavored ice cream. What if your favorite flavor was strawberry and it was banned because the majority preferred chocolate? How would that be fair? Your preference to strawberry is hurting no one and there’s no real reason that it should be banned.

So, we come to Civil Rights. Fifty years ago, the majority of this country believed that black people shouldn’t have the same rights that whites have. However, this was an infringement on the rights of a minority and despite the will of the people those rights had to be protected.

We’re going through this again today with yet another minority group and I’m sure you know who I’m talking about, unless you live in ignorance. In case you do, that group is homosexuals.

Several states passed anti-gay marriage laws this past Election Day, the most appalling being California. Why is California guiltier than the others? Because they didn’t just vote to deny rights, they voted to take away rights that those people had already been given.

Does that really sink in? Americans voted to take away rights. We’re supposed to be the land of the free and we’re taking away rights from individual citizens of this country – rights that hurt no one.

What was that? The sanctity of marriage? Give me a frikkin’ break. If voters are so damned worried about the sanctity of marriage, why aren’t they trying to ban divorce? It has nothing to do with sanctity. It comes down to what it always comes down to – pure and unadulterated bigotry, hatred and ignorance.

Gay marriage isn’t going to hurt the institution of marriage – the vows traded by straight couples won’t mean any less, the bond people those people will still be as strong and their love for each other can not be diminished just because a pair of homosexuals are getting married at the same time.

I know that my little rant here is a waste – it will change no one’s mind either way. Hateful, ignorant bigots tend to want to stay that way and I can’t figure out why what I would normally consider a compassionate Christian can’t just let others live their lives. I couldn’t understand that when I was in the church so I certainly can’t understand it now.

My only hope is that the court will recognize that the will of the people really has no place here. This is a rights issue and it’s not lawful for the majority to deny rights to a minority.