Before Steven and I had our collection of 50 Horror Classics, we had a smaller collection of horror movies which we enjoyed. It came in a tin box that made haunted house noises at the press of a button. I purchased it almost purely because it contained Nosferatu (the original silent version), the scariest movie ever made. But we’re not talking about Nosferatu today.
Recently a co-worker was telling me about a horror movie he had which he thought I would like. He could not remember the title but it had Jack Nicholson in it and it was trippy. He went on and I can’t remember what all he said, but something rang a bell.
“I’ve seen it,” I exclaimed (I really did “exclaim,” although I realize it sounds a little dorky when I write it that way). “It has a bird in it, right?”
“I can’t remember what it’s called either.” So I went home and checked my little tin box.
The Terror (1963) also stars Boris Karloff. He would be the operative star for my purposes, although Nicholson has the bigger part. Even more importantly, the movie is directed by Roger Corman. Lovers of horror cheese need look no further.
I finally got around to watching it again, thinking my conversation with my co-worker would make a neat introduction (“neat” as in “tidy,” not “nifty neato”). Full disclosure: I did not write about it right away. I even made a note in the TV Journal that I didn’t know if I could write about it. Then I thought, on Non-Sequitur Thursday, with no other topic to hand, it would be worth a try.
Nicholson plays a soldier who is lost from his regiment, about to expire on a sandy beach, presumable the ocean, since he is dying of thirst. A beautiful girl brings him to some fresh water (which looked to me like some ocean water had just washed into a cove, but what do I know?).
It is obvious from the get-go that there is something strange about the girl, but naturally it is love at first sight for Nicholson. It should surprise no one that he intends to spend the rest of the picture trying to help her rather than rejoining his unit like a good soldier should (I don’t know why I always advocate these logical courses of action that would make for a short, boring movie).
Karloff plays a mysterious (naturally) old baron, living by himself in a creepy (naturally) old castle. He’s had a very sad and bitter past. It’s kind of too bad there aren’t any flashbacks, because the character doesn’t really have a whole lot to do in the present.
The other characters are Karloff’s servant, an eerie old lady who might be a witch, her half-wit (I think) son and, of course, the bird. I don’t know if it’s a raven or a crow or just a big old black bird, but you just know it’s going to peck somebody’s eyes out. I didn’t need a spoiler alert before I told you that.
The movie is, as my friend said, trippy. I don’t think I can even tell you what is going on, because I’m not even sure about what seems to be going on. And this was at least my second viewing. I guess I’ll have to watch it yet again. I may even write about it yet again, especially as it seems I haven’t told you much so far.