Warner Brothers via Everett Collection
There's a whole genre designed to scare the hell out of us — a genre to which we pay particular esteem on Halloween. But even with all the Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets and The Rings (oooh, The Ring...) out there, we still can't help but find terror in a few odd entries in other cinematic categories. Sometimes, movies that intend to make us laugh, teach us lessons, or just take us on whimsical adventures wind up giving us nightmares. Here are a few non-horrors that rattled the Hollywood.com staff in our younger years...
The Pagemaster, Jordan Smith"The Pagemaster, that little Macaulay Culkin movie that hardly anyone remembers, is supposed to be a cute action-adventure story about learning to be brave, but I'm convinced it's really a deeply evil film designed by the film industry lobby to scare kids away from libraries and books. It just doesn't make sense otherwise. There's a moment toward the beginning of the film where Culkin's character is walking around a massive library with thousands of books. All of a sudden, a freaking tidal wave of color chases him around the building. I'm talking about fierce typhoon of evil rainbows that traps him and swallows him whole. That scene scared my little four year old body to the bone. In one fell swoop, The Pagemaster made various colors, running water, libraries, and reading absolutely terrifying. Thanks Macaulay!"
The NeverEnding Story, Casey Rackham"Nope. No thank you. Not for me. I don't know how old I was when I saw The NeverEnding Story, but I know that I watched it on VHS… so I was too young to see this scarring so-called children's movie. I don't remember too much about the plot of the film, but if I'm being honest, I don't really care to. It's bad enough that I remember 'The Nothing': a threatening void of darkness that consumes everything in its path. At that point in my life, the biggest, baddest villain I had met was Cruella de Vil. She's scary, but not nearly as haunting as a black hole of evil. Next up is the 'Swamp of Sadness.' (Come on, why would you name something that?) In possibly one of the most heartbreaking scenes of my childhood, I helplessly watched as Atreyu failed to save his horse who sunk to his death in quicksand in the Swamp of Sadness. And finally, even the character Falkor, a luckdragon that was supposed to be a wise guiding light throughout the movie (and who you were supposed to love), gave me nightmares for weeks. There's just something about a creature who is half dog and half dragon, has flaring nostrils, ruby eyes, and who can 'swim' through air that isn't right. The whole movie gave me a visceral reaction, so no, I would not suggest it to anyone that doesn't want to be entirely wigged out."
Drop Dead Fred, Michael Arbeiter"It was the early '90s, an era during which I spent a lot of after school time watching movies and television with the sociopathic neighbor kids the Rosens. While their tastes usually led us to simply disgusting fare like Ren & Stimpy, we were treated one day to a video viewing of what I would later find out to be Drop Dead Fred. I made it through only one scene of the movie — that in which the title character, a ghost or an imaginary friend or something, squeezed his own head in a refrigerator door. The other kids found it hilarious... I was mortified. For years. In fact, it wasn't until over two decades later that I'd even bring myself to Google the right combination of words to find out what movie it was that enforced upon me such trauma. Not a horror at all, I learned. A kooky, weird comedy. One that I will never watch again. And, needless to say, I don't talk to the Rosens anymore."
Balto, Alexa Smail"Balto, the heroic story of a dog who saved children, right? Wrong. In my childhood, the animated Disney flick was one of the most terrifying movie experiences ever. While, now, I'm not exactly sure why it was so scary, I do remember a giant black bear with eery yellow eyes and a bunch of mean wolves who tried to hurt the sweet and cuddly Balto. There were also a bunch of avalanches, some deathly sharp icicles dropping on the animals, and all the town kids dying from a weird disease that only kills kids… Ok, so maybe I had some good reasons to be frightened, Alaska seemed pretty freaking gruesome."
The Jungle Book (live action version), Julia EmmanueleLike most children, I was obsessed with Disney films growing up. As long as a movie has animated characters and some upbeat musical numbers, I was on board. When I was about five, while looking for a new movie to rent from my local Blockbuster, I came across the 1994 live action version of The Jungle Book. I'm not sure if I thought it was actually the animated film, which I loved, or if I just assumed that this one would also be lighthearted fun involving singing bears, but I convinced my mom to rent it. Once I sat down to watch it, though, I quickly found out that actual jungle animals don’t sing Louis Prima songs, and are actually quite terrifying. It only took about 10 minutes before I began screaming and crying hysterically, presumably because I thought that the panthers were either going to kill and eat Mowgli, or come out of my television screen and attack me. There was one scene in particular, in which the panther pounces on its prey, and I threw such a fit that my mother had to come in and turn the tape off. Not only did it take me forever to calm down that day, I refused to watch Disney's Jungle Book for years afterwards because I thought that the scary panthers would be in that one too. To this day, I've never seen past the first 10 minutes of the live action Jungle Book, but I hear it's a great film.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Top Story: Madonna's Two Cents on Celeb Marriages
Madonna has some advice for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez: get over it. In an interview for Access Hollywood that aired Thursday, Madonna said, "To a certain extent, [Affleck and Lopez] courted the media attention. At the end of the day I feel like that's their job, and then there needs to be a part of the relationship that you keep private." But the pop diva added, "You know, I'm not making a judgment call on Jennifer and Ben ... we can only make assumptions about why it did or didn't happen. Ultimately, if you have a strong relationship, and there is understanding of what a committed marriage is, I don't think that having a lot of media attention can break it up."
P. Diddy Is No "Sweat" Daddy
In an investigation into whether Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is using "sweatshops" to make his trendy clothing line, Honduran officials said Thursday they could find no evidence of worker's exploitation at the factory, Reuters reports. "We haven't found instances of exploitation, or slave-like conditions," Honduran Labor Minister German Leitzelar told Reuters. The U.S. National Labor Committee accused Combs' factory managers earlier this week of cursing at Honduran workers, refusing to pay overtime, or firing them when they became pregnant. In a press conference, Combs vowed to have "zero tolerance" for any labor law violations in factories producing his Sean John clothing line.
Rocker Weiland Ordered Into Another Drug Program
While still completing a court-ordered drug counseling program, Stone Temple Pilots' lead singer Scott Weiland was charged Thursday with driving under the influence and ordered to a live-in detox program, to be followed by a six-month stay in a residential drug rehabilitation center, Reuters reports. Weiland was arrested Monday after crashing into a parked car in Hollywood.
Chong's Jail Release Denied
A federal judge ruled that Tommy Chong, one half of the pot-smokin' comic duo Cheech and Chong, must continue serving his prison sentence for conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia while his appeal is pending, AP reports. The 65-year-old actor and comedian pleaded guilty to conspiracy last spring in federal court and was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Tyler's Daughter Marries Drummer
Plus-size model Mia Tyler, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's daughter and actress Liv Tyler's sister, married Papa Roach drummer David Buckner in front of thousands of people during an Aerosmith concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, AP reports. The proud father of the bride reportedly told the audience, "Hey Vegas, I need a favor, my daughter wants to get married tonight. Can I get a witness?" It's the first marriage for both.
McCartney Tops British Rich List
Former Beatle Paul McCartney, 61, was named the biggest earner in Britain--the same week his second wife, Heather Mills, gave birth to a baby girl, Reuters reports. The latest Sunday Times Pay List reports McCartney earns $68 million a year. "Maybe a baby will make him feel young and stay in touch with modern trends in his dotage," list compiler Philip Beresford told Reuters. Other rockers on the list include Sting, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart.
Culkin Signs Up for TV Projects
Macaulay Culkin signed a deal with NBC to develop several television projects, including a possible comedy show for fall 2004. "We're going to use him in an unconventional way," NBC's president of prime-time development, Kevin Reilly told AP. "I don't think you'll see Macaulay as a straight-down-the-middle romantic lead. I think you'll see him in something surprising, a little offbeat."
Miller Heads to CNBC
Dennis Miller will host a prime-time cable talk show on CNBC, Reuters reports. The politically charged comedian will also serve as executive producer for the hour-long show, set to debut in January. "With all that's going on in the world today, it's nice to have a nightly platform to air my opinions. I'm happy to be back in the NBC family," said Miller, a former Saturday Night Live regular on the peacock channel.
Role Call: Cain To Star in Peterson Story, Affleck Plays Coach
Dean Cain will portray Scott Peterson--the Modesto, Calif., man accused of killing his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son--in an upcoming USA Networks television movie, AP reports. The film, tentatively titled The Perfect Husband, will be from the perspective of two of Laci's friends and will follow the real-life headlines about the search for Laci and subsequent revelations about Scott, network officials told AP… In more movie news, Ben Affleck has agreed to play retired University of Texas at El Paso basketball coach Don Haskins in a feature about the 1966 Texas Western NCAA championship, AP reports. Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun) will direct.
The Eagles, Billy Joel, No Doubt, Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks are just some of the music artists demanding better relationships with record labels. To that end, those artists will be performing at four concerts in Los Angeles with proceeds to benefit the two-year-old Recording Artists Coalition, which wants to be a watchdog agency for all musicians and was founded by Eagles frontman Don Henley.
Hollywood.com has learned that the bloated recording industry establishment hired Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman to be its spokesman. In his first act as spokesman, Neuman told reporters: "What, me worry?"
King of Pop Michael Jackson won't be performing at the Grammys, although he made plans to do so last month. Despite the fact he refused to perform at the American Music Awards in January so he would be allowed to perform at the upcoming Grammys, the awards show sponsor--the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences--confirmed Jackson won't be among the entertainers. No word is forthcoming from Jackson's Neverland compound, but we think the King of Pop is still pouting after Bubbles told Jackson he likes Macaulay Culkin better.
Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Wizard from Lord of the Rings) told BBC TV Monday that his "money is absolutely on Lord of the Rings" to win the Academy Award for best picture. It's rumored that evil Sauron the Dark Lord has bet all his money on his vision for Middle-earth: Moulin Rouge.
From the world of second, third and fourth chances, self-destructive Robert Downey Jr. is set to star in The Singing Detective, a Mel Gibson-produced film based on the BBC series of the same name. Michael Gambon originally starred as the title protagonist, who has a high fever that destroys his perception of reality. Downey should be perfect for this part: He knows all about altered mental states.
Director James Cameron (Spider-Man) is joining other celebs in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, which benefits a program for a children's hospital in Long Beach and Orange County. Frankly, after what happened in Titanic, we're surprised Toyota would let Cameron pilot anything bigger than a tricycle.
First Matthew McConaughey gets hitched, and now he's about to be ditched. The co-star of The Wedding Planner is in negotiations to return to romantic comedy, as McConaughey is up to star opposite Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The movie Hollywood.com really wants to see made is, of course, How to Lose Your Mother-in-Law in 10 Days--now that would be a box office hit.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 50 years of rule, and England's throwing a big concert in her honor: two of them, in fact. Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Paul McCartney and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa are just some of the headliners set to fete the Queen for her Golden Jubilee with two open-air concerts in June. Hollywood.com is sad to report that Britain's own Herman's Hermits isn't on the list of performers.
West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin told The New Yorker magazine that "The media is waving pom-poms, and the entire public is being polite" with regard to President Bush, as the media have laid off "the bubblehead jokes" long enough.
A spokesman for Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek insists that it was a migraine, and not a salary dispute, that caused Kaczmarek to walk off the set of the Fox hit show two weeks ago. Kaczmarek has since returned to the set..
The personal writings of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain have been purchased by the Riverhead publishing label for close to $4 million. The 23 notebooks contain close to 800 pages of Cobain's notes, and fans hope there's some clue as to why the popular singer committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27. (As if waking up next to Courtney Love each morning isn't enough to send most men over the edge.)
Fred Durst, lead singer for band Limp Bizkit, has agreed to testify--either by written statements or via satellite video--at the Australia inquest of a 15-year-old girl who suffered a heart attack during a stage rush at a Bizkit concert in Sydney and died five days later. Durst said he was too busy to attend in person.
Diva Celine Dion's self-proclaimed retirement is at an end. The Canadian singer will perform at L.A.'s Kodak Theater this Sunday as part of a CBS TV special, along with Destiny's Child. Dion also signed a reported $100 million contract to perform at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace five nights a week for three years. Looks like Wayne Newton will be facing some stiff competition.
Being a Hollywood star doesn't mean much in London, but being ex-President Clinton's daughter seems to count much more. Chelsea Clinton, 21, was the hit of the The Shipping News premiere Monday night, outshining some of Tinseltown's luminaries. Clinton signed autographs and chatted with fans. (Hollywood.com has learned that some female fans really talked to Chelsea only to get her dad's mobile phone number.)
Johnny Cash is nearly 70, but is feeling better than he has in a while. "I've felt really good these last few months, better than I've felt in the last three years," Cash told the AP. Cash is currently working on finishing an album, American IV.
Warning: "ER" Spoiler
If they're such good doctors, how come people keep dying? PageSix.com is reporting that Dr. Mark Greene's (Anthony Edwards) exit from ER will be occasioned by his passing due to a recurrence of his brain tumor. Greene isn't the first major character to be killed off: Med student Lucy Knight was brutally stabbed to death a few years ago. Edwards' departure leaves Noah Wyle the sole remaining original cast member who's been on the show continuously since day one.
Actor Brad Renfro reported to the set of "Bully" in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday, one day after the teen was released from jail for allegedly trying to steal a boat. The "Apt Pupil" and "Client" star, 18, and a friend, Harold Bond, 24, were arrested Monday by police after the pair were apprehended for attempting to commandeer a 45-foot luxury vessel valued at $175,000. According to police reports, the duo forgot to untie the dock lines, bouncing the boat back and damaging the stern.
Renfro was released after posting $10,000 bond Tuesday. He is charged with grand theft in the incident.
The actor is in Florida to work on the Larry Clark film for Tri-Mark/Lions Gate about a group of teenagers who grow tired of being picked on by the school bully. When the bully’s best friend (Renfro) and his girlfriend (Rachel "Mrs. Macaulay Culkin" Miner) decide that life would be better without the bully, eight of the teens lure him to a swamp and kill him.
Renfro has had trouble with the law before. In 1998, he was arrested after police found heroine and cocaine in his front pocket.
Former child star Macaulay Culkin, of "Home Alone" fame, made his debut on the London stage Wednesday night after six years away from the acting limelight. Culkin, now 20, plays a 15-year-old schoolboy who has an affair with his French instructor, played by Irene Jacob, in "Madame Melville." Many in the London theater audience reportedly found the still-boyish actor's seduction scenes awkward and strained.
Once the hottest child star in Hollywood, Culkin's career lost steam by the time he turned 14. Contributing to the demise were the outlandish demands made by his father and manager, Kit Culkin, as well as a bitter custody battle between the child actor's parents.
Estimated to have earned $30 million to $50 million from his handful of films, Culkin married actress Rachel Miner, both 17 at the time, in 1998. The couple recently separated.