Friday, July 25, 2008

Time Flies

It looks like I haven't posted all week, but I realize now that's because I started the post-apoco top 10 on Monday and posted it on Wednesday, but blogger kept the Monday date.

I was playing with that format a bit, too. It's a fair amount of work. The pictures all link to Amazon, yet Amazon itself does not host the images. Those are actually on my server. I could've uploaded them to blogger, but blogger wanted to change the size. And I looked at uploading them to an image hosting site, but I didn't see an image hosting site that would let me upload all 12 images at once.

So I just copied them to my local server. One day, the pictures may be gone, but they'll still link to Amazon.

I was thinking of doing a "top 10 Old Dark House" movie list. This was a genre that had its heyday in the 19th century and devolved into camp in the early 20th century. This PBS site has Poe's Usher as the first ODH, but I think you can trace the genre back to the Gothic novels of Walpole (like Castle of Otranto) and Mrs. Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho. (The beauty of 18th and 19th century literature is that you can read it for free online.)

As the link notes, Mary Robert Rinehart's wildly popular play "The Bat"--the real life inspiration for The Batman, as well as Bruce Wayne's inspiration for the Batman costume--was probably the beginning of the end for the ODH. The tropes used so permeated society--books, movies and tons of old radio shows--that they became mundane and impossible to fear. It became easier to play it for laughs than play it straight--and worry about getting the laughs anyway.

As a result, the otherwise effective The Cat and the Canary is ruined by Bob Hope's quipping. (Or saved by it, depending on your point of view.)

The ODH persists, though it has mutated somewhat. Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster is a late attempt at playing the ODH straight. William Castle's House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts are reasonably straight attempts. There's nothing straight about Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the ODH influence is strong there.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. More later on.


  1. "The Haunting of Hill House" -- quite a scary book and movie both.

  2. The Shirley Jackson one? I haven't read the novel.

    You know, I saw the Robert Wise movie probably about 40 years after it came out and I'm not sure it still worked.

    The Jan De Bont film is remarkably bad.

    Sometimes a movie gets a bump from the book, though. Like The Exorcist.


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