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SCREAM QUEEN OF THE MONTH-FEBRUARY 2014-CAROLYN JONES

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A friend of mine, Daryl Wor, was showing me various photos that she wanted to use to accompany Episode 7 of The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows. A few of the photos were of Gomez and Morticia Addams; as I looked at them I began to see something that, of all the times I’ve watched the countless syndicated re-runs of The Addams Family, I have never before noticed and that I feel stupid for noticing after all those years and that was that Carolyn Jones was a stunningly beautiful woman. There was way more to Carolyn than her beauty, though. She had a way with the camera. She teased it. A cock of the head here, the sliest hint of a smile there and she could make the lens eat right out of the palm of her hand. I know that she is no longer with us, but I must admit that looking at the photos I found myself falling in love with her a little bit. 

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She was born Carolyn Sue Jones on April 28, 1930 in Amarillo, Texas to Chloe Jeanette Jones. Her father had abandoned the family. She had a sister named Betty. As a child she suffered from asthma and was often too sick to attend the movies that she loved so much. She would listen to her favorites, Danny Kaye and Spike Jones and would read as many movie magazines as she could get her hands on. In school she received numerous awards for poetry, speech and theatrics and in 1947 she was accepted as a student at the Pasadena Playhouse, of which her grandfather agreed to pay for her tuition. She graduated in 1950. Giving herself a complete makeover, including painful rhinoplasty, to make herself ready for a career in motion pictures; she worked as an understudy at the Players Ring Theater and was seen by a Hollywood talent scout and offered a screen test, which went well. Her first role, uncredited as Miss Lillian Smith, was in The Turning Point in 1952.

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Her contributions to the genres of horror, science fiction and thrillers include House of Wax in 1953, The War of the Worlds (also 1953), Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956; and Eaten Alive in 1977.

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She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as The Existentialist in The Bachelor Party in 1957. She starred with Elvis Presley in what was arguably his best film, King Creole (1958).

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She made guest appearances on countless TV series including Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Batman, Wonder Woman and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Her most memorable role, arguably speaking, is the one that I have hinted at in the photographs accompanying this article; that of Morticia Addams in the popular The Addams Family television series (1964-1966), the story of, as IMDb.com puts it, a blissfully macabre family. Despite their morbid nature, Gomez and Morticia Addams were the perfect example of a happy, loving couple who were always there for each other, no matter what.

Carolyn Jones passed away on August 3, 1983 at the age of 53 after a battle with colon cancer. She is interred in her mother’s crypt at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park in Orange County, California.

It is with simultaneous pleasure and sadness that I welcome, posthumously, the beautiful and talented Miss Carolyn Jones as the February, 2014 Written in Blood Scream Queen of the Month.

One more thing; if there are any women out there who have either dressed like or intend to dress like Morticia Addams for Halloween and have decided to use Anjelica Huston as your inspiration then I am sorry, but you’re doing it wrong. There was only one true Morticia Addams and her name was Carolyn Jones.

TRIVIA

Said to have some Native American (Comanche) ancestry.

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THE SEMI-DAILY HORROR MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY-OCTOBER 24, 2013

From Psycho and featuring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates:

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It’s sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn’t allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They’ll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man… as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can’t move a finger, and I won’t. I’ll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do… suspect me. They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, “Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”

THE SEMI-DAILY HORROR MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY-MARCH 31, 2013

From PSYCHO:

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AFTER 10 EDITIONS OF “WHAT’S THEIR BEST FILM?”, WRITTEN IN BLOOD WEIGHS IN

Wow, I’ve done ten editions of “What’s Their Best Film?” already. In that time I have received great response from some of my regular and my non-regular commentators. I’m sure that a lot of you have voiced your opinion of not what you thought a particular filmmaker’s best movie was; but listed your favorite film from said director instead. Hey, that’s cool; because in order to accurately give an opinion of a director’s best movie you would have had to have seen every film in their catalog. I love movies, but I will not and cannot watch movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are more important things such as work, supporting a family and figuring out ways to get Honey Boo Boo off the air. Damn what an annoying kid and her equally annoying mother!

So why am I babbling on and on? I shall tell you. In the last ten editions of “WTBF?” it has been you, dear reader, who has voiced your humble opinion. Now it’s my turn to give you my opinion. I will list each director below and I will tell what I think is their best movie or my favorite movie; whatever you want to call it.

Let’s begin:

MARTIN SCORSESE

Is it any surprise that I’m going with Goodfellas for this one? In my opinion it’s the greatest gangster flick ever made.

Runner-up: Taxi Driver

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MICHAEL BAY

Most of what Bay puts out is complete shit; but if I had to choose a movie of his to watch I’d go with Armageddon . At least it got the Criterion Collection treatment.

Runner-up: Transformers

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Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho. It’s my favorite “Hitch” film and in my humble opinion it is also his best. The shower scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Runner-up: Rear Window

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STEVEN SPIELBERG

Schlinder’s List. Spielberg may have given us the first summer blockbuster with Jaws; but with Schindler’s List he gave us his first and finest masterpiece. Ralph Fiennes is chilling as Amon Goeth.

Runner-up: Jaws

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QUENTIN TARANTINO

Two words: Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Okay, so that’s six words. That’s because these movies rock so hard they blow up two words and turn them into six!

Runner-up: Pulp Fiction

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PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON

I loved Magnolia and watch it at least three times every year. There are just so many great performances in this film from Julianne Moore to John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar for his role as informercial sex guru Frank ‘T.J.’ Mackey.

Runner-up: Boogie Nights

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JOHN CARPENTER

Do you honestly think I would choose anything other than The Thing?

Runner-up: Halloween

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DAVID CRONENBERG

Jeff Goldblum had the role of a lifetime in Cronenberg’s vision of the George Langelaan short story The Fly. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Runner-up: The Dead Zone

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BRIAN DE PALMA

Some might say Carrie, some might say Scarface; I’m going with Blow Out as De Palma’s best. Travolta’s performance is one of the key reasons Tarantino wanted him for Pulp Fiction.

Runner-up: Carrie or Scarface (tie)

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ROBERT ALTMAN

I loved Short Cuts the first time I saw it and every time after that. Fantastic ensemble acting.

Runner-up: M*A*S*H

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ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Not only is Sin City Rodriguez’ best film; but it is also the single most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel from page to screen that I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s also the movie that once again made a contender out of Mickey Rourke.

Runner-up: From Dusk ’til Dawn

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CLINT EASTWOOD

Unforgiven is one of the greatest westerns ever made. It was directed by Clint Eastwood; who in turn learned a few tricks from one of the greatest filmmakers, Sergio Leone.

Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River (tie)

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SAM RAIMI

This is cheating, but I’m going with the entire Evil Dead trilogy for this one. Who needs Spider-man when you’ve got Ash? Bruce Campbell rocks!!

Runner-up: Spider-man 2

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DARIO ARGENTO

To be honest, I’ve only seen three Argento films: Suspiria, Mother of Tears and Opera. Of the three of those I suppose my choice for his best would be Suspiria. What a creepy and atmospheric film.

Runner-up: Opera

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DARREN ARONOFSKY

I have to go with The Wrestler on this one. I’ve been a fan of the squared circle for quite a long time and it’s the first film to take the subject matter seriously. Mickey Rourke was amazing as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

Runner-up: Black Swan

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WES CRAVEN

I could be a complete asshole and go totally against the popular choice of A Nightmare on Elm Street as Craven’s best; but that would just be stupid. He gave us Freddy Fucking Krueger with this one, for crying out loud!

Runner-up: The Last House on the Left or Scream (tie)

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TOBE HOOPER

Just as Craven brought usFreddy Krueger with his greatest film A Nightmare on Elm Street; so did Tobe Hooper bring us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface 10 years prior. Watch this movie and you’ll think twice about picking up hitchhikers and eating Texas Bar-B-Que.

Runner-up: Poltergeist

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ALEXANDRE AJA

It may seem like a strange choice, but I pick his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes over High Tension (aka Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance) as Aja’s best film. It’s close though; both movies are fucking brutal.

Runner-up: High Tension 

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ROB ZOMBIE

Some people seem to love Rob Zombie’s films and other people seem to hate his films and his fucking guts. There’s no middle ground. What’s his best film? That’s easy: The Devil’s Rejects.

Runner-up: Halloween

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JOE DANTE

What have I said before? The Howling is the greatest werewolf movie ever made; so the choice here is a no-brainer.

Runner-up: Gremlins

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STUART GORDON

Re-animator, of course. Those of you who disagree can get a job in a sideshow. This film brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘giving head.’

Runner-up: From Beyond

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GUILLERMO DEL TORO

I haven’t seen everything by Del Toro, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. It was an amazing little ghost story.

Runner-up: Hellboy

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GEORGE ROMERO

There is no question that Night of the Living Dead is Romero’s greatest film; the trouble is that Dawn of the Dead is every bit as awesome. Folks, we have a tie! Zombies everywhere have Uncle George to thank for their popularity.

Runner-up: Day of the Dead

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BRAD ANDERSON

I loved Session 9 and The Machinist on equal terms; but if I had to choose I’d have to go with the latter based simply on the strength of the performance from Christian Bale. The Machinist is a brilliant film about guilt and how it can affect us so deeply.

Runner-up: Session 9

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WILLIAM FRIEDKIN

William Friedkin

The Exorcist. Nothing else need be said.

Runner-up: The French Connection

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LUCKY MCKEE

Lucky McKee

I choose May as McKee’s best for one simple reason: the deliciously disturbing performance from Angela Bettis. She deserved an Oscar for that movie.

Runner-up: The Woman

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EDUARDO SÁNCHEZ

Eduardo Sanchez

It’s going to take Sanchez a long time before he gets out from under the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. He’s been making heavy strides with films like Altered and Lovely Molly. Still, it is the witch who holds sway over all.

Runner-up: Altered

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MARIO BAVA

I’ve only seen one Bava film and that is Black Sunday. I do want to see more.

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LUCIO FULCI

The same goes for Lucio Fulci and Zombie. I know, I know I need to watch more Fulci and Bava.

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SERGIO LEONE

The man who gave us The Man with No Name. It’s hard to pick one great Leone film. A Fistful of Dollars? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Once Upon a Time in the West? Once Upon a Time in America? Nope, I just can’t do it.

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There you go; my choices. Some are your choices as well and some are not. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they make the world go ’round.

What’s Their Best Film?

Okay, so it’s almost 6 in the A.M. I got off work at midnight, spent too much money at Wal-Mart and I have had an over-all crappy day with a few exceptions. So, I do not feel like watching a movie and blogging about it. So, I am going to start something that I hope will become a semi-regular thing on maybe Thursday, maybe Friday nights. It’s called What’s Their Best Film? Here’s how it works:

I will name three directors of various genres, of various eras and all the rest of that stuff and I want your opinion. I want to know what you think is their best film. You can either just give me the title, or you can tell me why. I love hearing from all of you. So, without further adieu I present to you the first three.

1. Martin Scorsese

2. Michael Bay

3. Alfred Hitchcock

I can’t wait to hear from you. Take care and stay scared.

PSYCHO

PSYCHO=United States-109 Mins. 1960

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane

Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates

John Gavin as Sam Loomis

Vera Miles as Lila Crane

Martin Balsam as Det. Milton Arbogast

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay by Joseph Stefano

Based on the novel by Robert Bloch

It would be stupid of me to try to review Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The film is a well-established classic of not only the horror and suspense genre, but of cinema in general. Without it, several of the horror films of today would not exist. Without Norman Bates there would be no John Doe  (Se7en), no Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs). The landscape of film would be forever altered. Steven Spielberg would have never made Jaws if he had not first been a student of Hitchcock’s masterful style of building an almost unbearable level of suspense. Almost the entire film catalog of Brian DePalma would cease to exist without this film. No Sisters or Body Double. No Carrie, no Blow-Out and no Raising Cain. Do you get my point? Do I need to name dozens more films that would never exist, dozens of careers that would never be the same without the influence of this monumental masterpiece? Okay, what about the slasher film? If Black Christmas is the father of the modern day slasher film, then Psycho is that films’ proud grandfather.

Alright, maybe I’ve beaten this horse as much as I can without killing it. All I am trying to say in a way that will make this commentary longer than four words is that Psycho is a classic. It is as deserving of that title as much as The Godfather, The Exorcist or Jaws. If you have yet to see it after 51 years then you are missing out on a work of art presented to you by the Master himself, Alfred Hitchcock.

Trivia

Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Robert Bloch for only US$9,000. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.

In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Alfred Hitchcockwanted to show her as being “angelic”. After she has taken the money, the following scene has her in a black bra because now she has done something wrong and evil. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse; after she’s stolen the money, her purse is black.

First American film ever to show a toilet flushing on screen.

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