You’ve probably already seen the trailer for the upcoming movie about Sarah Winchester and her infamous mansion. You may even have visited it for yourself. I’ve never personally witnessed it, but I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I saw a documentary about it years ago (I forget the name of the production). Legend has it that Sarah was haunted by the spirits of those murdered by the very instrument that was said to have won the West – such “winning” came at the bloody expense of the Native American tribes doomed to stand in the way of Manifest Destiny.
As a result, there’s a lot of social commentary to unpack here, and I’ve found one such article that has done it better than I could. Was Sarah was building her house to appease the spirits who haunted her now that she had inherited her husband’s $20,000,000 stake in the Winchester fortune? That’s obviously the theory that is dramatized for the upcoming film starring Helen Mirren. Others assume she was merely keeping carpenters and artisans employed out of a sense of noblesse oblige. Her reclusive and eccentric nature coupled with a nation grappling with his legacy of violence helped fuel the stories of a cursed woman. In my opinion, such a story would have been a powerhouse in the hands of someone like Guillermo del Toro; his early movies are a master class in using ghosts to portray collective national trauma (the linked video is well worth a watch). However, it doesn’t look as though that will be the approach. Jump scares and a terrorized Sarah Winchester a la Insidious or Poltergeist seem to be on the menu. Hopefully, I’m wrong. The subject matter and leading actress are enough reason to draw me to the theater. But I would have liked a telling that left me unsettled and sad. Because we have yet to exorcise our nation’s ghosts.
When I was a little girl, my family belonged to a particular sect of the Evangelical Church known as Fundamentalists: meaning they adhered to a literal interpretation of the Christian Bible as a means of practicing the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The churches we attended tended to be tightly-knit sects that fiercely squashed any questioning of its tenants and often fell under the sway of charismatic and obdurate leaders. These leaders were to be obeyed as if they were God, for they were seen as God’s chosen spokesman. I am not speaking for all members of these types of churches, but as I grew older the line between these I attended and those that wound up on the nightly news blurred more and more. At the time, we were like most people in that we felt we were too smart for a cult. We would never drink poison or live monastically away from family and friends to “help God along” in our destination to the afterlife. And yet…that’s basically that’s what we were asked to do. The only things keeping us from joining the fates of so many were education and our parents’ inability to perpetually swallow inordinate amounts of bullshit.
The story of such a group is being retold in a 6-part miniseries beginning on January 24. Waco stars Michael Shannon, John Leguizamo, and Taylor Kitsch (as David Koresh), and will attempt to convey the story of the Branch Davidians as their leader hurtled them towards a showdown with the United States government that lasted 51 days. There is still some bitter blood between small government types and federal law enforcement, and the Branch Davidian compound is still held up as an example of “big government” enforcing itself onto a group’s right to practice their faith as they saw fit…even if that group suffered severe mental and sexual abuse at the hands of their leader (it was even a key source of inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombing that occurred two years later). One argument is that it didn’t have to end the way it did if the feds hadn’t gotten involved. Another is that Koresh’s crimes forced the hands of local and federal law officials to take drastic measures. In any regard, it proved a recipe for tragedy. And lest we fall to the temptation of elevating ourselves as being free of any such influence, remember that no one is above falling under the spell of a flashy showman with a gift for gab that claims to know exactly what it takes to solve all our problems and is willing to fight the government on our behalf. Sound familiar?
As much as I have problems with the first Overboard from 1987, I do have a soft spot for it. After all, it has some things I hold dear: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, deliciously rotten kids with hearts of gold,and …Continue reading →
If I’m being completely honest, I really thought that the title of this film was a reference to an STI. Goes to show you just where my head is lately. Anywho, the trailer for this week is The Clapper, an …Continue reading →
I’m really torn on how to feel about The Greatest Showman, the upcoming P.T. Barnum fantasy/bio pic. On one hand, I love Hugh Jackman. I’d be pretty crushed if it came out that he’s slime. I want him to be successful …Continue reading →
You didn’t really think I was going to let this one slide, did you? Pitch fucking perfect. The Bob Ross parody is the joke we need right now (not necessary the joke we deserve, but Mr. Pool is a giver. …Continue reading →
Oh Charlie Brooker, you sexy sombitch. You just had to go and do another season of Black Mirror for us. Black Mirror is one of those shows that is so good it impacts me on a visceral level after each episode. Case in …Continue reading →
I wanted to be sure to come out of hiding to wish everyone a Happy Halloween without disrupting the scheduled line-up of posts for this week. So this is going to be a slight deviation from my usual fare of Trailer Tuesday contributions.
Once a year, I emerge from the dank recesses of my lair and adjust my hood, lest the piercing gaze of daylight sear my flesh. I’ll now gorge myself on thousands of unsuspecting Reese’s minis, watch classic horror films, and submit this post to assure everyone I’m alive before scuttling back to the sewers to slumber until Christmas. Part of the ritual also includes taking stock of my life (because what self-respecting ghoul doesn’t on a day that celebrates our fragile mortality) and turning to nostalgic entertainment. I’m not the only one, apparently. Creatures like me have taken over your TV and your town. We’ve possessed your young Millennials to find joy in throwback entertainment, including homages, tributes, remakes, and downright rip-offs. Today, I’m going to give you a trailer mash-up to watch once you’ve reached that point in the evening when you’re home from the party and under the influence of candy and alcohol (you know, that point when you feel you should hate yourself, but rationalize that it’s only once a year so the guilt is short-lived). It’s those moments when you’re done with everything you planned to do for the night, but aren’t quite ready to go to bed. Nostalgia TV (or in this case YouTube) is often the cure for that moment of post-revelry ennui.
So lie back. Dust the candy wrappers off your costume, and sink under the spell of nostalgic horror entertainment. I’ll be watching…
Full disclosure: I was not as pumped for the Twin Peaks revival as my friends were. Yes, I know, it was supposed to be wonderful. We were all supposed to cry tears of Lynchian joy but I just couldn’t bring myself …Continue reading →
This week has blown up in terms of how much the female experience can suck sometimes. Yes, we get wonderful moments (hello, multiple orgasms, my old friend), but there’s a ton of bullshit that either gets perpetuated or willfully ignored. …Continue reading →