Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

October 26, 1999


By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

Here it is, Halloween night. Since you're a little too old to go out trick-or-treating, what's on the agenda? A movie, of course. So you pop down to the video store to pick up a copy of "Psycho," or maybe the 1931 "Dracula,” or the original "Frankenstein." Or, hey, maybe "Interview with the Vampire" ...

Excuse us while we laugh ourselves silly.

What? You think you can waltz into a video store on the evening of Oct. 31 and pick up one of those scary-movie classics? Keep dreaming - all copies have been gone for hours and won't be back in stock till tomorrow at the very earliest.

Here you are, wandering disconsolately among the racks. "Exorcist,' nope. 'Exorcist II," nope. "Exorcist III," not even. "The Omen" is gone, “Carrie” has vanished, “The Shining" has winked out, "Bram Stroker's Dracula” sleeps with the fishes.

So here's what you do. Never mind scary, depressing movies of the sort that everyone wants to rent for Halloween night. Instead, go rent a scary, depressing movie that outwardly has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween. Here are a few suggestions.

- SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943): This is Alfred Hitchcock at his peak, a good decade and a half before the more obvious and bloody "Psycho" (1960) - and it's Hitch at his hairiest. Joseph Cotton is a beloved uncle who returns to the town of Santa Rosa, Calif., to the great delight of his darling niece, who gradually comes to the rather distressing realization that Uncle Charlie is in fact a serial killer. David Lynch could (and probably did) take a lesson from this one about the creepiness that underlies idyllic, small-town America.

- THE STEPFATHER (1986): Like "Shadow of a Doubt," this movie brings home a rather provocative truth - namely, that the most frightening thing of all is YOUR FAMILY. Here, a crazed serial killer who seems perfectly ordinary wins the confidence of a single mom and marries her, only to await the moment when he'll slaughter everyone in the house, just as he's done before. The film's great innovation is the employment of blunt-force trauma as a dramatic device - there's no end of people getting offed by blows from two-by-fours and telephone receivers, with an appalling "TRUNK" on the soundtrack. A word of advice, however: If you have kids, and if you just married a man they don't know very well, rent something else.

- THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955): Not only is it as scary as the night is long, with Robert Mitchum as a preacher who goes around killing people, but it's widely recognized by cineastes as a great film - the only one written by ace movie critic James Agee and directed by ace overweight actor Charles Laughton. No less a founding personality of cinema than Lillian Gish co-stars. The camerawork and the atmosphere are out of this world.

- RETURN TO OZ (1985): Dorothy busts out of the mental asylum her aunt and uncle committed her to after her previous psychotic episode and goes back to Oz to challenge the gnome king on his own turf. Roundly trashed as way too grim when it was first released, the film has gained a following among those who recognize that L. Frank Baum's creation does leave some room for fright. (People made out of rags, clockwork and tin? AAGGGHHHH!)

- THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957): Ingmar Bergman movies are, in a sense, tailor-made for Halloween, being filled to overflowing with doom and dread. This one not only has lots of doom and a busload of dread, it's set in medieval Europe and is rife with crusaders, flagellants, people getting burned at the stake and a disillusioned knight (Max von Sydow) who spends a lot of his time playing chess with Death. Be the first on your block to watch a black-and-white Swedish movie, with English subtitles, for Halloween!

- DARK CITY (1999): We're cheating here a bit, because this movie just might be deemed perfectly appropriate for Halloween. But we can't resist, in part because it's a recent movie that never got its due, and because it's absolutely irresistible. As the title implies, it's nothing but wall-to-wall atmosphere - shadowy cabarets, sleepy automats, dim-lit, resonant police stations, etc. The story? It's exactly the same as "The Matrix" and "The 13th Floor" - hero grapples with virtual world where anything goes - but it's the best of the lot. And it's scary.

- THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984): Again, we cheat - but this forgotten first film by Neil Jordan ("Mona Lisa," "Interview with the Vampire”) is a Freudian, surrealistic take on the Little Red Riding Hood story that's almost too rich and provocative to be true. With Angela Landsbury as the granny. Audioanimatronic wolves a bonus.

- A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1952): Hey, it's a ghost story, remember? From beginning to end, you've got ghosts dragging chains, visions of death, yawning cemeteries and general terror. Here's what you do: Rent this tonight, and get “Eraserhead" for Christmas Eve.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

back to top