Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

The witching hour is fast approaching! I’m referring to “All Hallows Eve,” also known as Halloween.

‘Tis the time ghosts and goblins, tricks and treats, eerily glowing Jack-O-Lanterns, and things that go “bump” in the night.

It’s also a great time to watch scary movies.

If you Google the phrase, “The scariest movies of all time,” you’ll get some very subjective lists. Even Reader’s Digest weighs in with their list of the top 31 scariest movies of all time. I don’t agree with all of them, but here is their list: The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980), Halloween (1978), Poltergeist (1982), The Evil Dead (1981), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Birds (1963), Alien (1979), Coraline (2009)

I think Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” should have been on the list, (but I’ve always been partial to the shower scene with Janet Leigh.) I also liked “Them” and “The Blob.” It’s a generational thing.

Which movies would you pick for your Top 10 Scariest Movies?

During last year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film there was a special screening of “The Legend of Beaver Dam.” This short film was funny, scary, entertaining and should be in the “Top 10” list of any scary short films.

On this same subject, here is an interesting link from David Thrasher on the Iowa Films Facebook page at:
His link for the movie factoids is:

This year for Halloween, I’ve developed my own scare tactic. I’m downloading a picture of a huge motor home. Then I photo shop a picture of my wife and myself standing next to it. Next, I email it to the kids with a note asking, “Do you think this will fit in your driveway?”

I wish I could see their faces when they open THAT email! Bwaa haaa haa!

Not to be too scary, but are you getting ready for next year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film. It has a way of sneaking up on you.

And if you notice that Lonnie Schuyler has a lot more gray hair…you know he saw my motor home email!


Who Shot Liberty Valance?

Way back in 1962, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” opened in theaters around the country. It starred Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, and Lee Marvin in what is arguably one of the best westerns ever made.

What, you might ask; does that have to do with The Snake Alley Festival of Film? Well, Sunshine, hang on to your skivvies. I’m getting there. The story from which that movie was taken was written by a lady who was born in McGregor, Iowa, a little town much like Burlington. And…she was one of the first women; if not THE first woman to write a western that was accepted by what had been an all men’s club. Her name was Dorothy M. Johnson.

Although she was born in Iowa, her family moved to Montana when she was young. There, she fell in love with all things western. After studying English in college, she moved to New York because jobs for women writers were scarce in the west at that time. Writing short stories, poetry and books, she eventually became editor of a women’s magazine.

But she missed Montana and still dreamed of writing westerns. She made her way back and wrote the story that became “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Other stories by her became “The Hanging Tree” starring Gary Cooper and “A Man Called Horse” starring Richard Harris.

She was in her own way a pioneer. She was a woman who broke the barrier into what had been a good-ole boys club.

And…at last year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film, a female screenwriter (another Iowa girl) walked away with the prize for best screenplay. Her name is Danielle P. Smith. (What is it about Iowa that produces so many talented people? Is it the water—or something else?)

So, start writing troops, or filming, or editing, or whatever. The next Snake Alley Festival of Film will be here before you know it.

(This blog was inspired by an article written for by Bob Greene.)