Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Halloween (And Wrong Parenting)

October 31, 2013 by Richard Wright in Journal, Life

The Curse of FrankensteinEva’s pre-Halloween viewing, and her first horror movie, was Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein. By today’s standards, there’s nothing much here that your average ten year old won’t take in their stride, and she seemed to enjoy herself. Whether she enjoyed the movie per se, or whether she just enjoyed the fact that she was actually watching a horror movie is harder to say. She’s certainly up for Hammer’s Dracula on Friday.

That or SAW. I haven’t quite decided yet*.

As for me… I was sure I’d seen this in the dim and distant past, perhaps late at night on BBC2 in my youth, but it wasn’t familiar to me at all. Christopher Lee’s monster is a refreshing change from the Karloff archetype, but this isn’t the story of the monster. It’s all about the Doctor, and it’s Peter Cushing who makes the film thrilling even today. It’s such a pleasure the be reminded of just how fine an actor he was – watching his careful descent from calculating man of science to scheming murderer is like taking a masterclass in how to sell the unthinkable. He takes all of the decency and gentility for which he is best remembered and carefully peels it back to demonstrate how skin deep such affectations are. His performance is one of fast looks and gestures – carelessly wiping his bloody hands on the pale lapels of his own suit while his mind is on other matters, the unspoken decision to murder his servant and lover, made in the space of a glance that nobody watching can miss. I loved it. The production is gorgeous too, defying the film’s tiny budget with a riot of colour and detail.

A very fine way to welcome in Halloween. Tonight, of course, we shall be armed with things made of sugar and chemicals, for only Xmas offers equal opportunities to poison children and drive them insane (and at Xmas, you’re only allowed to do it to your own child, so this is rather special). I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of which, this is Eva’s Halloween costume this year.

KnifeShe wants to be a serial killer. Despite our trying to gently suggest famous historical serial killers she could be, she has insisted that her costume will be this retractable plastic knife, a black hoodie, and a face smeared with blood. We haven’t seen it in action yet, but it feels more like ‘crazed junkie mugger’ than ‘serial killer’ to me. On the plus side it is a costume of little effort, that requires no fiddly construction. On the more negative side, it occurs to me that we may be doing parenting wrong…

*Yes I have. I’m not going to show my ten year old daughter SAW. Put the phone down.

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