I first watched this movie as a child (a creepy child who liked sad and creepy things) and I really fell in love with its spooky sense of atmosphere, crazy plot filled with fantastically twisty thriller/horror goodness, and Betty Davis’s main character, who manages to seem at times both completely innocent and violently insane. It also taught me that black and white movies from yesteryear could be just as entertaining as what was being cranked out at the time (and created a soft spot in my heart for everything Bette Davis for the rest of my life). Recently, I gave it a re-watch and found it still manages to pack some spook and intrigue, even when you know all the twisty bits.
Starring Bette Davis (as leading crazy lady Charlotte), Olivia de Havilland (as polite and well spoken cousin Miriam), and with the show stealing Agnes Moorehead (as the crass but loyal hireling, Velma, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress in this role and won a golden globe in the same category), you have a fabulously strong group of actors who scream, snipe and schmooze their way through this 2 hour and 13 minute scream fest, although admittedly it’s Charlotte doing most of the screaming.
When Charlotte decides to run away with her married lover in her youth, he winds up horribly murdered, so she seems to spend the rest of her life alone in her childhood home, mourning the loss. Years later, when that same home is set to be torn down, she refuses to leave, in obstinate gun toting fashion, and calls on the aid of an estranged cousin to help save the day.
From there it gets a little weird and a lot dark. There are plenty of dark and shadowy scenes, bloody bits and overly dramatic…well, everything (this is a 1964 film after all). Yet, it’s not all about the horror you would expect. It also has a hauntingly good reoccurring song from which the movie takes its title (also nominated for the Academy Awards best original song – but Mary Poppins also came out that year and, ahem, cleaned house). Aside from they regular stabby parts it also has some heart stabby moments too, such as in the much delayed beginning credits when some boys try to sneak into her home for a typical spooky-place-break-in-dare only to run away singing a parody of her lovers song in typical blunt childish fashion, now called “Chop, Chop, Sweet Charlotte” while she stands there and looks bereft.
Is she as innocent as she sometimes seems? Or is she violent and insane? Is her cousin looking out for her or her own interests? And most importantly, for all horror buffs, is the place haunted?!? You’ll have to watch to find out! See the trailer below:
And where am I for the challenge?
- Blog post 3/52 – check
- Writing in the screenplay – check – word count up another 2622 this week
- Drawing – check
- Feet writing & drawing – check
Until next time!