Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 80: Hush, hush Sweet Charlotte

I love this movie. I mean I LOVELOVELOVE this movie. Really I do. I watched it back when I was a kid and every twisted twist shocked me, and I loved seeing the evil people who do evil things being haunted by the evil they created. It was like watchung one of those old "Tales from the Crypt" and "Vault of Horror" and "Haunt of Fear" stories come to life, and in a lot of ways it was creepier and more effective than the TV show "Tales from the Crypt" ever managed to be. Don't get me wrong, I loved that show, but there's something about reading one of those stories, where despicable people commit despicable acts and are then haunted by something trying to get revenge from beyond the grave that never translated well onto film for me, until I saw this movie when I was ten. Here, houses are haunted by more than ghosts. They are haunted by memories and past misdeeds can catch up to you even years later, and people aren't always what they seem, and things can be so disorienting and confusing that it's hard to know who is a friend and who is out to harm you.

That's the mystery haunting Charlotte in this movie. Years ago, she was all set to run away with her married lover, but her father wouldn't allow it, and on the night she was supposed to escape with him, he was murdered. The image of Charlotte walking into the ballroom of her father's mansion covered in blood and confused about what was going on is a GREAT image that still holds up to this day. Of course, no one was able to pin the murder on Charlotte, but in the small town in which she lived, everyone had her tried and convicted, so she grew to be an old recluse in her father's decaying mansion, getting more and more eccentric every day. By the 1960s, the state is set to tear down the mansion that has been her home and her prison, and she doesn't know what to do. Her cousin Miriam returns, ostensibly to help her, but what really happened all those years ago when the man Charlotte loved was murdered? And what is haunting Charlotte now, trying to scare her to death? Is it her lover's ghost?

This was the first gothic mystery I ever saw as a kid, and it stuck with me. Looking through the gallery of movie posters trying to find the best one to include with this review, I was happy to see this movie has been translated into many languages and seems to be beloved by lots of other people besides me. I'm glad, because I honestly think this is a great movie and I don't often see it getting the praise it deserves. Of course the "mystery" has a solution that is blatantly obvious to me now, but it shocked me as a kid, and even now after seeing this movie many many times over the years, the climax is still just as explosive as it was when I first saw it. I couldn't ask for a better ending. Give this movie a chance. It may be old and dated now, but every time I watch it, it peels back the years to my childhood, and suddenly I'm ten years old again, rooting for the mystery to be solved and the truth to come out and the troubled spirits finally get their revenge. Like I said, I loved it then and I love it now and if you watch it, I hope you have as much fun with it as I do. Happy Halloween.

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