For the last 2 years, I’ve started the Halloween Horrors series off with a piece from a debuting contributor. As I still truly believe in this series being a “community event”, what better way to enforce that belief than to start off each new year with a voice that this series has not previously heard.
However, this year there’s very solid argument that I just went with good old fashioned nepotism. Yes, folks…. I’m letting my wife kick off this year’s series!
Honestly, the real reason that she will be leading off this year’s event is because her entry discusses how our own family prepares for and celebrates Halloween. I’m willing to bet that some of you do something similar to prepare for and build excitement for your own Halloween festivities.
Also, if you happen to be a frequent reader of our Facebook page, this piece will totally expose just exactly what our “Weekend Spotlight Movies” actually are.
I am honored to be back for this year’s Horror and Sons Halloween Horrors series! I got the letter ‘F’, and boy was it tough to pick a movie! There are so many good ones. Any of the Friday the 13th entries, The Fog, The Fly, Fright Night, etc. But ultimately, I decided on this little gem from 1972 – Frogs.
One of the rules this year is that we try to tie our piece into Halloween somehow. I purposely chose this movie because of this rule. Each year since 2008, the Fallons have had a ‘countdown to Halloween’ movie marathon. We each pick 15 to 20 movies, come up with a weekend schedule, and watch them every weekend until Halloween. We typically pick our movies on Memorial Day weekend and start them right around the 4th of July. It always turns into a good time – we kick off our marathon, have a barbecue, and then blow crap up to end the night. (We spend a small fortune on fireworks.) This year, we also let our boys pick a few movies! It has become a sacred Fallon tradition.
I always try to choose something 4th of July appropriate to kick things off. Something water related, beach themed, etc. For 2019, I went with Frogs, because it is set during Independence Day. We kicked off our Halloween season with that, and now you know why I chose this movie for this year’s series!
Originally released as a double feature on March 10, 1972 with Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, Frogs stars every baby boomer’s favorite hunk, Sam Elliott. Well, at least he’s the favorite hunk of my Mom and Mother in-law. Elliott plays nature and wildlife photographer Pickett Smith. As the film opens, Smith is canoeing through what looks to be a swampy area, taking photographs of wildlife, along with man’s pollution and its stark disruption to the natural flora and fauna.
After what seems like the longest opening credits sequence of any movie ever, Smith makes his way into a huge lake. Cue Karen Crockett (played by a young Joan van Ark, known mostly for her tenure as Valene Ewing on Knots Landing) and her brother Clint (Adam Roarke, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Hell’s Angels on Wheels). Clint is tearing it up in a speedboat while drinking a Budweiser. Smith’s canoe tips over and they rescue him.
The Crockett’s take Mr. Smith to their sprawling Southern mansion where we meet the entire Crockett clan. They are all there to celebrate the 4th, which also happens to be the birthday of their patriarch, played by Oscar winner Ray Milland. Milland was a leading man during the golden age of Hollywood, starring in countless major films of his time, my personal favorite being Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder. However, by 1972, Milland was NOT starring in critically acclaimed pictures, hence his turn as Jason Crockett in our subject movie here.
Very quickly, we learn that Mr. Crockett is a curmudgeonly old coot who rules his family with an iron fist. The other attendees include Jason’s sister, his nephew, his adult children, grandchildren, a groundskeeper, and two house servants. Very early on, our title characters start sliming their way into the festivities. We learn that Crockett has had the property sprayed with some sort of insecticide to keep unruly pests at bay. He hates wildlife, and seemingly hates life itself. He’s a real asshole, to be honest. He’s as unforgiving as Sam Elliott’s pants in this movie. Seriously, those are some tight pants and, every time I watch this movie, I can’t understand how he moves or breathes in those things.
Anywho, the frogs start infiltrating the property, but the ironic thing is that all of the deaths are NOT caused by the frogs. We’ve got death by gator, death by snake, death by chemicals, death by spider, etc. Never by actual frogs, but you get the sense that the frogs are the ring leaders in this society. I won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen it, but nature definitely wreaks vengeful havoc on this family.
This movie is a classic for me. It’s the 4th of July vibe, the cheesy premise, and the 1970’s time period that makes it so endearing to me. I mean, Joan van Ark wears a yellow onesie at one point. It’s a perfect way to spend a day celebrating ‘Murica, and it was a fantastic start to our Halloween movie marathon! Happy Halloween 2019, y’all! Ribbitt!