Bill and Ted discuss Stanley Kramer’s social problem film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) and Jordan Peele’s social thriller/horror film “Get Out” (2017). Released fifty years apart, Kramer’s film is about encouraging changing attitudes regarding racism in America where Peele’s film is about investigating how slow that progress actually has been. One film is filled with anxiety and optimistic hope, the other with anxiety and pessimistic doubt. Putting these films together is an exercise in comparisons and contrasts, a barometer of where N. American Culture has been and where it is now. Films aren’t only conversations with their audiences, sometimes they have conversations with each other. Join Bill and Ted for this experimental double feature episode.
Bill and Ted discuss Frank Capra’s 1944 film “Arsenic and Old Lace” featuring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, a theatre critic who finds unexpected drama of his own tucked away in his aunts’ window seat on Oct 31st in Brooklyn New York when he and his bride come to tell the family the good news of their sudden nuptials. Hoping to quickly skip town for a honeymoon in Niagra Falls, Mortimer and his new wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) become embroiled in a macabre comedy of errors as Mortimer struggles to contain the situation. This is broad, physical, and at times gallows humour filled with some great performances, even if Grant was unhappy with his own. If you find Capra to be sentimental and overly serious, have no fear; this film is far less sappy and much more on the silly side.
Bill and Ted are joined by Tom Caldwell from “Good Evening: An Alfred Hitchcock Podcast” for a conversation about Hitchcock director of The Birds (1963), North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958) and his most famous work Psycho (1960). Often referred to as the father of horror flicks, his work is less about gore and more about suspense and tension. Loved by directors, critics and the public, Hitchcock provides just the right amount of white knuckled fear and cleaver storytelling to keep everyone hooked and on the edge of their seats.
Bill and Ted discuss Tim Burton’s 1988 film “Beetlejuice,” featuring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the ghosts of newly deceased Adam and Barabra Maitlandas they try to spook the NYC high society Deetzes’ and their Goth daughter Lydia played by Winona Ryder who purchased their house in a sleepy New England town. Failing to frighten the Deetzes on their own, they reluctantly turn to the rogue “bio-exorcist” ghost Beetlejuice played to the hilt by Michael Keaton. Burton merges German expressionist style with upbeat Calypso music in this oddly colourful and straggly up-beat ghost story. Of the film Burton says, “It has elements of horror but it’s not really scary, and it’s funny but not really a comedy.” If you enjoyed this film you may also like these: Ted’s Picks: Defending Your Life (1991), The Frighteners (1996), Corpse Bride (2005)
Bill and Ted discuss Robert Eggers’ film “The Witch,” A New-England Folktale where a father accepts banishment from a 17th century Massachusetts puritan colonial plantation taking his family out into the wilderness to start a farm by the edge of the woods only to be tragically plagued by a Witch: A study in despair and dysfunction, a film about the evils of pride and the dangers of temptation and isolationism, a religious horror film. Here are Ted’s Picks for more films dealing with witches or witch trials: Häxan (1922), The Crucible (1996), The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Bill and Ted discuss Rob Reiner’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Misery,” a suspense-filled thriller where an injured romance novelist is held captive by an unhinged and deeply disturbed fan. This physiological horror film delves deeply into the nature of misery and what it can drive people to do. Here are Ted’s Picks for more great non-supernatural Stephen King film adaptations: Stand by Me (1986) The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Dolores Claiborne (1995)