My Take by Jim Carl

MY TAKE is a blog about my funny life experiences that happened to involve movies, and how I found myself in charge of programming films for a living.  I’ll discuss how certain movies came to be responsible for my bad attitude, memories, associations, personal beliefs, and plain stupidity. Yes, I fully intend to trash films considered sacred in certain circles, and will probably offer a poor explanation for doing so. I also intend to squander praise on movies considered awful by most everyone, even if it makes me sound ridiculous, because I have a funny memory to share about them.  Again, I’m not writing reviews.  All I mean to do here is tell some good stories, and perhaps a clever lie or two.  No one has ever accused me of suffering a shortage of ways to make a fool of myself, and because blogging is one I haven’t tried, at least this is one most of my friends haven’t yet seen.

That a film like Suspiria even played in my small Texas hometown in 1977 amazes me. That my mother took me to see it, even moreso. There's so much out there all ready written about this film that to summarize its plot is pointless. Here's the rub: Did anyone in 1977 imagine that Suspiria would still be so heavily-discussed all these years later? I mean, how could anyone have known? I, for one, sure didn't. As a ten year-old, such thoughts never crossed my mind, especially considering that I couldn't pronounce the title, and never mind that it was Italian, which was the last thing I would have understood. For years, I believed the name of this film was Tintorera, which is about a killer shark in Mexico, and which explains all you need to know about my pronunciation of foreign films. Not for nothing did I get a B in French, I'll admit. Languages are not my strong point.

The scene in Suspiria that haunted me for years involved that girl with the needles stuck in her face, bursting through the doors, and attacking Jessica Harper. Many a childhood night was spent cowering under my bed sheets, staring toward the closet doors, and mentally preparing myself for my inevitable demise by needlepoint. It was the first time in my life that an image from a film terrified me. Perhaps 20 years passed before I saw Suspiria again, this time on VHS. It still got me, if you know what I mean. It remains, even today, one of my favorite horror films of all-time. Have there been scarier movies? Probably, and some were better than Suspiria for reasons of their own, but very few of them have stuck with me for decades like this one. I'm glad that Suspiria became a classic and is now considered by most critics as one of the best horror movies ever made. It's a worthy addition to those types of lists, no argument here.

JIM CARL is Senior Director of the Carolina Theatre.  He has been in charge of its film program since 1995.  Some of his favorite contemporary movies include True Grit, Jaws, True Lies, Postcards from the Edge, Star Trek, Aliens, The Fog (1980), Private Benjamin, What’s Up, Doc? and almost anything involving Great White Sharks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gilda Radner, Kurt Russell, or is set underwater.  His favorite movie of all time is Ordinary People.  Some of his least-favorite contemporary movies include 300, Alien 3, Brazil, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Moulin Rouge, G.I. Joe, District 9, Take Me Home Tonight, The Tourist, Sherlock Holmes, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Scarface (1983) and almost anything involving Ben Stiller (except Flirting with Disaster), British gangsters, or a toy that transforms into a loudmouthed robot.  His least-favorite movie of all time is Pulp Fiction.  He is a film believer in the presentation and preservation of 35mm film and will book any movie he suspects will make money, even if he hates it. 


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