Tag Archive: Richard Dreyfuss

jawsI was beyond thrilled when I found out that Phoebe had never seen JAWS before. When I was a kid, it was my absolute all-time favorite movie. Every Easter, TBS would show JAWS as part of it’s animal-themed horror movie marathon. When my parents got me the VHS, I was in my glory. I knew all the trivia. I could recite all the lines, including Quint’s harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis. Hell, I used to clean my room while listening to the soundtrack on CD, and recite the dialogue.

I was absolutely over the moon when Phoebe and I got ready to watch JAWS. I made birthday cake and white chocolate popcorn with shark gummies for our snack. (I don’t care if you judge me or not, I used to be a teacher. I have no children. I miss being a teacher, and I get overboard excited whenever Phoebe comes over to watch a movie.) We had the living room set up, and Zelda snuggled with us.

I explained that the movie was made in 1975, so in some ways she’d have to lower her expectations of the movie’s special effects. I told her that the shark was an actual metal construction, NOT CGI. I also told her that part of it was filmed in a backyard pool, and she asked me to point that part out. (If you’re wondering, it’s when they find Ben Gardner’s boat chewed to hell and back and the head pops out of the bottom of the boat. Classic!) I also told her that the metal shark prop, Bruce, didn’t behave at all. It kept sinking and got messed up from the salt water exposure during filming. That last part wasn’t very exciting to her, except that she questioned the intelligence of the special effects crew, since they kept using a faulty prop.

Phoebe was absolutely not having it right from the beginning. She chastised Chrissy for boatgoing swimming at night in the ocean and the guy who was with her for being stupid drunk. I think what got to her the most was how preventable the whole scene was. If Chrissy hadn’t gone swimming in the dark, at night, by herself, she would have been alright. Phoebe also decided that had she not been hanging around with someone who was so drunk, they might have talked her out of going into the water in the first place. She pointed out how dangerous it is anyway, especially considering that boats can’t see you when it’s dark.

Right around the time when the town meeting is called, Phoebe had hit her limit. She turned to me and said, “Why don’t they kill the shark already?! If it’s that much of a problem, kill it!” Her outburst came about 15 seconds before Quint verbally flays the townspeople for their stupidity. She was stupefied when they argued with Quint about killing the shark. She thought he was the most capable (if not batshit crazy) person in the room. (Which, when you think about it, isn’t really saying much considering how long it took for the townspeople to decide to do something about the shark.) When the Mayor wimps out and doesn’t hire Quint, P decided that he was going to get what he deserved, since he wasn’t doing what he should to protect the townspeople and the tourists.

Even though she’s seen CGI shark movies before (Sharknado, ugh!), she really liked the death scenes. She thought they were really well done. Especially the guy in the estuary whose boat gets tipped over. She was impressed with the effect of the shark creeping up and snagging the guy off the side of the boat.

She wasn’t too thrilled about Quint, but that’s because she didn’t buy into the shark jumping onto the boat. She figured if that’s all it took, the shark could have done that in the beginning and ended the movie right there. However, once Quint was in the jaws of the shark, she was all in again!

What bothered her even after we turned off the movie, was the human element. When Hooper is examining Chrissy’s remains, Phoebe thought it was terribly obvious that a shark had killed her. She didn’t understand why it took a “shark expert” to figure it out. Phoebe has a really good heart, and I hated explaining to her that people don’t always do what’s right for everyone. There are people that are only out for what they can get. She was shocked that people would put other’s lives at risk, but I told her that you can’t underestimate a selfish person.

Phoebe really enjoyed watching JAWS. She’s curious about the sequels, especially when I told her that in one of them, a shark takes out a plane. Since she enjoyed JAWS, Jurassic Park, and Arachnophobia, I asked her if she wanted to see Deep Blue Sea, which is one of my guilty pleasures as horror movies go. We will have to wait until everyone’s in bed, because Dipper hates that movie. Tkout might be up for it though. (Yes, I have forewarned her that it contains CGI effects, and has a paper thin storyline. But hey – Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, and CGI sharks!)




When Halloween was actually upon us, I began writing this post. It was going great, I was reliving my heyday, and then I got super ridiculously sick. I spent about four weeks battling some kind of upper respiratory infection and wound up on amoxicillin, prednisone, and levoquil. (The last one is known to cure anthrax encounters as well as…wait for it…wait for it…The Plauge. Whoa, damn!) In any event, I wanted to get going on some new posts, but I wanted to show you all this one first. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to let me know your favorites in the comments section!

Halloween is upon us, and so I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of my favorite horror films from when I was growing up. I want to warn you, there is a really good chance that nobody else holds these movies sacred but me, but that’s cool. I can live with that. Another warning, if I may, by “childhood”, I mean the 90s. Which pretty much means I’m going to subject you to some horrors from the 80s and earlier.

spookiesSPOOKIES (1988)

My first encounter with this gem was on a television network. I was channel surfing for a horror movie, and stumbled upon this creature feature. A house of horrors awaits travelers, who serve as fodder for the myriad creations of the evil sorcerer/necromancer/living dead guy Kreon. Kreon’s sole purpose is to bring his wife back to life, The special effects are pretty terrible, the sets are dark, the acting is less than inspired, but the make-up is pretty good. Be on the lookout for a red-eyed grim reaper, a spider woman, and a plethora of farting mud-men. Altogether, it’s a fun romp, though you’ll have to watch it on YouTube, because it is only available for purchase in Region 2.

HOUSE (1986) & HOUSE II (1987)

houseEven if pressed, I couldn’t tell you which movie I liked better. I had a huge crush on William Katt growing up, but then again, Aztec skulls are pretty interesting too! Both films follow the struggles of the inhabitants of the houses as they battle the various demons, spirits, and curses contained therein. The special effects in both movies are pretty good, considering the time period. In the first movie, William Katt’s zombie Vietnam War buddy’s makeup is pretty convincing, while House II featured a crazy long-dead relative in search of an Aztec skull. (While researching this part of the post, I saw that there is actually a movie called The Horror Show, aka House III, though I’ve never seen it. It was made in 1989, so it certainly follows chronologically. I will let you know if I ever get to see it.)

gremlinsGREMLINS (1984)

This tongue-in-cheek horror film scared me witless as a child! The scenes with the evil gremlin’s hands reaching over desks and through wall vents terrified me. I still have trouble walking by wall vents today, and when I pass a floor vent, I can’t help but stop and search it for a few minutes, just in case. Despite all the funny moments (leg-warmer gremlin anyone?) the movie was still extremely chilling, and the special effects hold up today. When I turned 16 and became a lifeguard at the local town pool, I couldn’t help but think of Gremlins every time I dove or jumped into the deep end. I remembered the way the water bubbled and broiled as the gremlins inside began to multiply. I could only imagine what they looked like climbing out to go and terrorize the little community in the movie. Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Cory Feldman steal the show. (No, the sequel is not worth watching.)

CRITTERS (1986), CRITTERS 2 (1988), CRITTERS 3 (1991), & CRITTERS 4 (1994)critters

The Critters franchise is populated with a crew of misfit-Tribbles, who run amok wherever they can. Their preferred method of annihilation is to tuck themselves into a ball, roll like hell, and shoot quills that make people fall asleep. The franchise starts out in a quiet rural town, and ends up where most 80s franchises eventually wind up – Space. The sharp-toothed, murdering bastards somehow wind up cryogenically frozen, and wake up in space where they continue their hungry rampage. It’s alright if you can’t help but laugh at the thought of them barreling through a spaceship – you’re not alone! Throughout the series, look for stand-out performances from Dee Wallace, Billy Zane, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angela Bassett, Brad Dourif, and Lin Shaye.

ghouliesGHOULIES (1985), GHOULIES II (1988), GHOULIES III (1991), & GHOULIES IV (1994)

I’ll admit I’ve only seen the first two, and didn’t realize there were two more movies until working on this post tonight. (Incidentally, I’m watching the first one on Netflix, which is what got me thinking about writing this post.) When I was a child, I was focused solely on how crazy the little Ghoulie pack looked, and it amused me that they were coming out of a toilet on the VHS cover. However, in watching it again, I realize I missed 95% of the plot. Apparently there’s attempted child sacrifice, demonic possession, Satanic rituals, attempted murder, dwarven servants, a creepy clown doll, and zombies. Lots of zombies. And a woman who screams like a whistling teakettle. (That list ought to disappoint some deviant web searchers when they find out it’s only a movie review!) The possession special effects are lacking, but the puppetry of the Ghoulies is still fun to watch. Standout cast include Mariska Hargitay, Jason Scott Lee, and Matthew Lillard.


Good. Grief. This tale of voodoo, Haitian history, and the search for the elusive tetrodotoxin was extremely memorable. Bill Pullman stars as Wade Davis, the renowned ethnobotanist, in a highly fictionalized version of his search for the secret behind the voodoo powder. The film also delves shallowly into the world of the cruel dictatorship of Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier, who ruled Haiti at that time. The book (of the same name) is an extremely worthwhile read. Even though it’s not a supernatural tale, the rich history contained is both interesting and enlightening.

ArachnophobiaARACHNOPHOBIA (1990)

If I had a penny for every time I made my parents sit through this movie with me, I would have enough money to bail our country out of debt. I literally turned the majority of the early 90s into a spider-infested Hell for my parents, insisting on watching this movie every time it came on TV. Then my parents gave in and bought me the VHS. Basically, a tarantula hitches a ride to America in a coffin, sucking the juices out of the body of the man it killed a few scenes prior, and gets loose. A rampage of epic proportions ensues as the spider’s offspring dominate a small and peaceful town. (Some of the spider animatronics towards the end may look a little silly, but if you’re like me and you hate spiders, it’s the thought that counts. It’s also worth noting that there are enough real spiders in the movie to inspire a healthy dose of terror from any arachnophobe.) It’s up to Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, and Julian Sands to save the day in style.

TREMORS (1990)tremors

This movie also has the distinction of being the first DVD I ever owned. Once again, a favorite that I would coerce my parents into watching with me. Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire have to battle giant underground worms. The idea is that the heroes have to stop the worms before they leave the valley and cause irrevocable damage to he rest of the world. 90s B-movie horror at it’s best! This movie is gross as Hell, and pretty funny as well. Bacon leads a credible cast, and the special effects aren’t bad either! The gore is just explicit enough that you may want to forego anything with tomato sauce immediately before or after watching it.

jawsJAWS (1975)

I wanted to save my ultimate favorite for last. From the moment I first saw JAWS, and continuing today, I have always loved this movie. It inspired in me a lifelong fascination with sharks. It also made sure that I will always look at the ocean with terrified respect. As a child, I would clean my room while listening to the soundtrack, reciting the lines. I watched every movie documentary and behind the scenes, any any other material I could get my hands on. I knew the name of the mechanical shark was Bruce, I knew that the salt water played havoc on all the models, and I knew the name of most of the crew that worked on the film. I used to make up trivia questions (the harbormaster is Frank Silva – don’t believe me? Watch the movie!) The raw simplicity of the story line – three men out to conquer a monster – was enticing. Glimpses of the shark are infrequent, allowing suspense to build, but when it does make its appearance, it is no disappointment! This movie is based on a popular book by Peter Benchley, but I haven’t read it yet. That’s one book I’m not sure that I will ever read, because I’ve come across comparisons online, and I’m not sure if I am ready for the characters I grew up loving like family to turn out so differently.

What are some of your favorite movies?