Back in 1992, Peter Jackson told Trash City, “I don’t take stuff seriously. I saw Hellraiser 3 the other day at Cannes. It’s OK. It’s a good film. I didn’t hate it or anything. I thought it was quite good, but it was all just so serious. Some guy walking round with pins sticking out of his face. I just can’t sit there and think, ‘This is really scary.’ If I made a Hellraiser film, I’d like Pinhead to be whacked against a wall and have all the pins flattened into his face.” Just like that, Peter Jackson managed to define my sense of humor. That being said, here are some times when I watch something that’s either truly scary or supposed to be scary and I manage to errupt into giggles. It’s typically the most inane and inappropriate thing you can get your hands on. I can’t help it. It’s who I am. What can I say – it’s a gift. Nothing is scared. One film I’ve done this to? The Shining. Scary? Yes. Well shot? Absolutely. Unintentinonally funny? You bet your sweet ass. For every legit scare, there’s something I can find funny. Here are some of the things that give me the giggles while watching it.
This is petty, but sweet fucking Christ does this woman’s teeth provide a distraction in any scene she’s in. Every. God. Damned. Scene. The result: the minute she opens her mouth during a terrifying moment, I find myself going, “Jesus, put those things away!” Normally, I’d think this was just me being a dick, but then I brought it up to someone and had that person laugh. Then the person after that laughed. And the person after that. It’s not just me. As the years have passed, it went from horrified reaction to insanely funny. I now watch this film with the same glee as I do the Oscars, knowing full well that someone is going to wear a terrible dresss paired with too much spray tan. It’s a sick glee, but it’s my sick glee.
|PUT THOSE THINGS AWAY!|
In the book, Jack is a man struggling with a disease that wants to make things right with his family. He loves his son and feels badly about hurting him, and that makes the book that much more effective. This was completely lost in the translation from book to film, to the point of being humorous. You know that look on your friend’s face (male or female) that can’t stand kids and is asked to hold a baby? That look of pure terror that you capture and post on Instagram? It’s the perfect cocktail of fear, disgust, uncertainty, and prayer that it’s never them. That’s Jack Nicholson in this film. Nicholson really can’t pull off doting father; he’s more like the distant dad that will maybe send you a card three months after your birthday’s passed (no cash, because those beers and trips to Vegas don’t grow on trees). Between the heart-to-hearts about cannibalism and the beyond-awkward hugs coupled with stares off into deep space, there is no love in the remote vacinity of the screen. Any time that Nicholson shares screen time with Danny Lloyd, it feels like Nicholson had to take four shots of whiskey in order to interact with the kid. It’s not natural at all, and it’s amazing to watch. Speaking of which….
Some people love this kid in this film. I am not one of those people. Lloyd’s line delivery is flat, his posture is always tense, and he lets his mouth gape open in a way that would get you made fun of quicker than chocolate disappears in my house. This makes the film SO much more enjoyable. Given, he’s not Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace. That’s the fucking child acting equivalent of a terror alert right there. No, Danny is just detached enough to make you wonder how in the hell someone hired him. It wasn’t for his winsome smile or broad range. Can you imagine that casting call? “We need a kid with a bowl cut. He needs to be able to look scared and talk in a weird voice. If we can’t find anyone, we’re stuck using this pillow.” Watching someone so bland onscreen can really bring a lot of joy.
|This is me, every Monday.|
Because there’s nothing scarier than two little girls staring at you and smiling. Given, they do look creepy with their matching outfits. And those side parts? Terrifying. But really, there’s good reason why the gag in The Chickening works (which, if you haven’t watched the trailer…you need to). Something that weird can go from scary to completely hysterical in ten seconds if one person gets the giggles. And those girls, man, I have to laugh. If only because I’d be yelling, “It’s eight! Get your ghost asses to bed! And quit creeping out the new kid while you’re at it!” While we’re at it, how funny would a well-timed fart have been from those two?
Stage direction: “Get out of the tub.” *skeevy voice* “Slooooooowly.” This woman poses as she’s standing up; there’s no denying that. It looks like she’s sucking in her gut and contorting for the best angle (don’t you dare deny that you know what this is like – we all do it when we want to look good naked). It’s meant to be enticing, but it’s not subtle in the least, and that makes it fucking funny. I just hear Madeline Kahn singing to herself while kicking off her shoes during the honeymoon scene at the end of Young Frankenstein. All that was missing was her licking a finger and making a sizzle sound as she touched her ass.
I’ll be honest: Nicholson has never really done it for me. I don’t get the appeal at all. He’s smarmy and looks like he’s carrying VD. He’s not even scary sexy; he’s just scary. He can be scary in this role… when he’s speaking. Facial expressions, though… it’s easy to laugh. I can see why Stephen King thought he was too over-the-top. There’s a Jim-Carrey-as-Ace-Ventura quality to him. It’s like his face is made of rubber. Really, after a while, it makes me picture him wearing a pink tutu while playing football with himself (and no, that’s not a euphemism). I dare you to not picture that when you watch it in the future every time he pulls a face.
|How is this not funny?!|
When someone chases you, you don’t flail your arms around like you’re Anna Faris in Scary Movie. Fucking hell, Wendy. Every time I watch this film, I raise one eyebrow and marvel at the fact that this woman is such a mess while running. Give her a baseball bat and it’s the worst series of swings since I was a little girl trying to hit the baseball off of the tee. She loses more speed with the way she runs, and it feels like it’s too much effort to put more into it. It looks like the Ministry of Silly Walks meets the worst self-defense mechanisms since my high school anti-rape lesson in gym class. Couple that with the facial contortions of trying to express shock and horror, and I cannot take it seriously.
There are points of this movie where it feels like the goal is to put you in the position of the Torrence family, trapped for a long winter in an isolated hotel. It goes from a month passing by, then to days, then to hours. Some nights, this is scary. Others, it’s funny. More often than not, it’s funny. I half expect to get half-hour increments with mundane details, such as Wendy flossing her teeth or Jack on the crapper. You know how you’re waiting for a really boring thing to end – like a meeting or a dance recital – and you’re staring at the clock, and you swear to Christ that it’s moving counterclockwise? That’s the feeling right there. After a while, you have to laugh in order to get through it.
Seriously, how fucking long did it take to type that? Which poor soul was stuck doing that? I hope whoever it was wound up well-paid for his or her efforts. As someone who learned to type by using a typewriter, I laugh because every line on every page is perfect. You know that Kubrick demanded perfection too, so some poor sap got stuck with the assignment from hell. Either way, messing up on a typewriter is a bitch. So here I am picturing nutty ass Jack screaming, “MOTHERFUCKER!” every time that he needs to grab a new page or the Liquid Paper. Now that I’ve mentioned that, you’re going to be thinking it, too.