As a child of varying ages, I can remember three made for television films that scared the beejeebies out of me. Now at age 32, I am hard fought to land all three for my home collection. But in tribute to the films that started out my horror movie watching career, I write this article.
ABC Literary Classics- The Fall Of The house Of Usher
I believe this film was created for the tube in the late 70s but I had seen it for the first time in 1982. It was our first night in our (then) new home in a small suburb of Missouri named Woodland Heights, located between Bourbon and Sullivan Missouri. My two older sisters and I were taken to McDonalds in Sullivan to pick up some happy meals. At that time they were giving out Happy Meals inside blue plastic boats which were water tight for eventual bath time usage. It was the only time I can remember where the toy WAS the box. The television room was actually down stairs in the basement. My sisters and I sat before the TV, lights out and began watching the movie that at that time I called The White Headed Lady Movie. I was of course referring to Madeline Usher.
This film was not the first version of The Fall Of The House Of usher. But it was the first version which I had seen and I think Martin Landau made an excellent Roderick. I regret that I cannot remember the name of the actress who played Madeline but she scared the hell out of me. I believe Madeline Usher is THE iconic mad woman of literary lore. Walking around after rising from the dead, swinging that morning star with tears of blood in her eyes. The movie gave me Nightmares for a week. Madeline Usher scared me before Jason ever did.
Because it wasnt the most noted release of the film, obviously being a TV movie, it became hard to locate this film in print. I never saw the film again, until the year 2000 that is. My Step Brother had located a VHS version used, for sale on Amazon by some movie rental store from parts unknown named Galaxy Video. This was as close as I would EVER get to the film in years, and I was happy for the reunion. The most potent element of this film, and of the usher films, and the story itself is the frightening Madeline Usher, the face of terror.
Dark Night Of The Scare Crow
Not but a few years after seeing The Fall Of The House Of Usher, I saw this creepy film about a special needs man named Bubba who had befriended this little girl. The girl loved flowers, as memory serves me, forgive me because I have not seen this film in well over two decades. But Bubba would make her a necklace out of flowers. Somehow while alone, the girl managed to get attacked by dogs. When Bubba arrived to visit his friend he saw her bleeding on the ground and scared the dogs away. But when some small town jerks arrived, all they saw was a nearly dead girl cradled in Bubbas arms. Bubba MUST have done it. So they proceed to hunt Bubba down, regardless of his plea that he didnt do it.
Remembering how he played Hide and Seek with the little girl, he hid inside a scare crow and hung himself up in the post, hoping to be passed over by the sheriff and his posse. But alas the blood hounds sniffed him out. So, while he was in the scare crow outfit up on the post, he was shot to death execution style by five angry men. The movie becomes a vengeance tale as each of the men who had shot Bubba, were then killed themselves, one by one. In the end when the girl runs into the killer scarecrow and asks, Bubba is that you? Now this part was very eerie. I remember the killer scare crow bending over and giving the little girl some flowers.
By todays standards these films are somewhat cheesy. But theyre still fun to watch if for no other reason than nostalgic value.
The Midnight Hour
This was a film they used to play on every Halloween during late night marathons. Made for TV it was a film about Teens who unwittingly release all the evils of their small eastern town. A powerful Witch..er..vampire, wolves and Zombies. The hero of the story is the unwanted kid, who ends up falling in love with a Bobby Sox Cheerleader from the 50s turned ghost. The film has endearing value for its oldies rock n roll soundtrack and the occasional howl from Wolf Man Jack himself. So a boy from the 80s and a girl from the 50s must work together to seal a curse while every dead or deadish creature in town chase them down relentlessly. I love this old film, and it is the ONE film I am actually able to buy on DVD, although it will cost me a pretty penny.
All three films were old school 80s made for TV films. But each of these films melt together well in a classic haunts collection which sports the presence of Friday the 13th, The Fog, and Phantasm. I will not give up until I own all three movies in my collection. Any helpful tips are heavily appreciated.