The past few weeks, the Turner Classic Movie channel had pulled out a few old chestnuts that drew me in like a fly to… honey.
The two films I refer to were ‘The Legend of Hell House‘, and ‘Five Million Years to Earth‘. People often confuse these films with other similar (and similarly named) films.
‘Five Million Years to Earth’ is a Hammer film about the discovery of a buried spaceship. The protagonist is Professor Quatermass – a character to which ‘Doctor Who’ owes much. Many misconstrue this film with ‘Twenty Million Miles to Earth’ — a B&W Ray Harryhausen work, about a Earth rocket returning from Venus with a nasty extra-terrestrial hitch-hiker.
‘The Legend of Hell House’ is from a Richard Matheson book, and stars Roddy McDowell who leads a team of parapsychology experts into a house with a malevolent aura and deadly history. It is sometimes confused with ‘The Haunting’ — another excellent creep-fest about researching the haunted ‘Hill’ (not ‘Hell’) house.
The reason why I go on about these films, is that they are two in a class of films that if I have the fortune (or misfortune) to stumble upon them while channel surfing, I will be sucked in to watch the entire film, even though I’ve seen it dozens of times before. Why? Easy — strong plot line, strong characters, and excellent dialog that is eminently believable (and beautiful cinematography / animation).
Other films in my ‘Can’t NOT Watch!’ class are:
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Colossus: The Forbin Project
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
- The Princess Bride
- The Thing (1982)
- The Wizard of Oz
- Twice Upon a Time (1983)
By no means is this a complete list!
The two particular films I refer to above are examples of my favorite story type: where the viewer is drawn in to solve a puzzle along with the protagonist. To me, this is the strongest and most alluring of story lines. I am also more than willing to admit that this is the type of story I love to write.
Aw, crud. Now I want to pull out some of my old laser discs!
Another Sunday afternoon shot.