(I don’t care if the sign says “Vacant;” I’m not staying there–especially alone.)
It’s springtime and we fast approach the “Season of Sun and Sea”, so significant a time if one grows up near the ocean. But I’ll share with you: I’ve never fully recovered from a movie that terrified us all in the summer of 1974. To this day, I remember ”Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom”….that repetitive sound as the shark advanced on the swimmer several feet out from a Cape Cod shoreline. Next came the tussle in the water as the swimmer bobbed up, gulped for air…went back under…then came up again….only to be ripped under for the last time. The rhythmic beat quieted but the audience gasped in horror as the water turned blood-red. Finally, stillness reigned.
As a young woman, I used to snorkel at points off Jamestown, Rhode Island, where the rocky cliffs join the sea. There, I’d search for little crabs that clung to rock walls and smaller fish who sought refuge in the deep crevices, away from predatory fish. A group of us equipped with facemasks and snorkels often went on these excursions for the day, or for as long as we could stand the chill waters.
That was—until the movie “Jaws.”
Following that movie, I never recovered from the fear that a terrible, 20-foot menace patrolled those same waters. I feared I’d turn around early enough to know my demise as the monster barrelled towards me. I knew I’d never have enough advance notice because Rhode Island waters are milky and opaque, lacking the clarity of the Caribbean. That guaranteed the predator would sense me waaayyy before I knew he was about.
The rhythmic music from that movie plays in my head to this day….always when I swim in the ocean. “Jaws” did that to me.
Another movie that gave me way more emotional bang for my buck was “Psycho.” An instance of how it affected me? I remember the night I traveled in a car from Pittsburgh to Providence when fatigue forced me to find a motel in New Jersey. Oh, I found a perfectly fine one, but due to its off-road status and single-level appearance, I passed it over, despite the fact it was AAA-approved and a third the price of the Hampton Inn nearby. It looked too much like Bates Motel.
You see, I never forgot Janet Leigh driving in the rain, the music again signaling something ominous would happen. She checked into that lonely motel whose desk clerk (Anthony Perkins) was anything but normal. But she cast aside misgivings, exhausted as she was, and preoccupied with the felony she’d committed (stealing her company’s money).
While she showered, he attacked her, brandishing a butcher knife. She flailed about and finally descended, ripping the shower curtain as she fell onto the tub floor. Soon, there was no more movement—only blood puddling in the drain.
That scene lived perpetually in my head as I knew it was entirely possible to travel and meet up with some hotel proprietor who was mentally unhinged. I admit: Hitchcock had a chilling premise for this movie. A son who was irretrievably and unhealthily locked into a relationship with his mother, so much so that he hated her, while he loved her, to the point he never relinquished her—even to death. That’s why he positioned her corpse in the windows of the Victorian overlooking the motel, as if she were still alive.
And who killed Janet Leigh’s character in the movie? The son (in the guise of his mother), for “she” was ostensibly jealous of anyone who threatened to take away her son’s affection. A curvaceous Janet Leigh could reasonably do that.
I know “Psycho” is fiction, and I realize full-well that its characters are actors. Regardless—Give me the conditions whereby I’m driving solo on a rain-drenched night, add in the condition of exhaustion (with its requisite need to find a hotel room), and I’m right back there at “Psycho.” The music starts playing in my brain….
All I’d need to kick it to full fury is the illusion of a creepy inn-keeper.
But I never take those chances. Instead, I pay the exorbitant fee of the big chain hotels…You know, the ones that have the triple lock doors and hermetically-sealed windows. Because I’ve never truly recovered from Norman Bates’ intrusion.
Finally, you know how some movies and Broadway shows are said to be tainted with evil karma, portending bad luck for their casts? (“Spiderman’s” had a host of problems.) Access the link below to learn how Janet Leigh’s body double (yes, that wasn’t she in that shower scene) met an untimely death……………
It would appear Biddy’s not the only one forever compromised by these films.
P.S. Because those films “live” forever in those of us who’ve seen them, Biddy salutes the directors and producers who produced them and encourages the new breed to follow their winning prescription. Now, tell us about your your own reaction to these films. Click “Comment” or “Leave a Comment.” Your e-mail address is never given out. Promise.