1 posts categorized "movie etiquette"

06/01/2009

I can't even drag my wife to 'Hell' in peace

Helluse The devil went down to the neighborhood movie house, he was looking for a soul to steal.

(Thanks, Charlie Daniels)

My wife and I went down to our local semi-upscale movie multiplex Saturday afternoon, looking to see if someone was really going to be dragged, you know, way, way down south. 

Suellen loves well-constructed horror flicks as escapism entertainment, especially if they're a little campy and fun.  So do I.

Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell" fits the bill beautifully.  It's silly and cheesy at times, but on purpose, not like those slice-and-dice blood-letters that draw unintentional laughs from their own genre shortcomings.

We even had fun going in.  "Which way to 'Hell?" I asked the somewhat-stunned kid taking tickets.

In a moment, he rebounded:

"Um, Theater 9.  Right over there," he said, with just the hint of a sideways grin as he pointed.

The ticket taker's look was one the late Elvis Presley might come up with if he bit into a rotten banana slice lurking in his peanut butter and banana sandwich.

All we wanted to do was spend a couple of carefree hours being shocked a little and entertained a lot as we munched on popcorn and Milk Duds.  (If you know me at all, you know I'm the Milk Duds guy.)

I had already seen the movie, of course.  (Click here for my review.)  I just couldn't wait to see how Suellen reacted as Raimi (the filmmaker who has given us the "Spider-Man" fantasy adventures) returned to his first genre love:  Horror films with humor. 

It only took a few seconds and the sighting of older kids bringing what looked to be about a 5-year-old boy into the auditorium to exorcise 99 percent of the fun from our escapism movie outing.

"Drag Me to Hell" is rated PG-13.  But it is hardly meant for impressionable tykes with single-digit ages. 

Raimi plays the audience like his personal fiddle.  He uses harsh scary sounds, frightful sights and sudden horrific images that go way beyond standard bump-in-the-night stuff to scare his audience into what is intended to be a gleefully ghoulish entertainment thrill ride.

As the gaggle of late teens or early 20-somethings with the little boy took their seats in the row directly behind us, Suellen also spotted two men arriving with a little girl.  She was about 8.

And our carefree outing at the movies was officially ruined.

Suellen has compassion for all decent citizens of the world, especially defenseless children, that rivals Mahatma Gandhi.  She could stand it no longer:

"Can I say something to them?"

I responded something like, "Go ahead if you want, but it won't solve anything.  Come back later when the theater is full and you'll see 30 or 40 kids dragged in here by stupid parents or older siblings.  You can't save the world."  (I like the way comedian Ron White sums it up:  "You can't fix stupid.")

Youngsters, of course, aren't able to understand that the filmmaker is just having fun as he gives us the heebie-jeebies.  They just process the shocking images and file them away to be haunted later when, as Suellen says, "The dumb parents fail to understand when their child cries out of fear when the lights are turned off at night."

I heard the little boy behind us say, "I'm not scared" after almost every horrific filmmaking punctuation mark.  I'm not sure if he was trying to convince his older seatmates or himself.

Later, over dinner, Suellen pleaded her case to me again about getting involved:

"Even if that little boy is subjected to mental abuse like that his entire young life, he might just remember that one day a lady stood up for him in a movie theater."

I joked back:  "Yeah, or he might always remember that day when his sister's ex-con boyfriend stabbed a lady in a movie theater."

Even though I fended off her heartfelt comment with weak humor, Suellen's compassion and her courage to stand up and fight for what's right is something I will never forget.

Shame on you folks for taking little kids into PG-13 or R-rated movies just because you're too cheap to get a babysitter or because it isn't convenient for some reason.

And shame on me for not standing up and being a man on Saturday.

Suellen, please forgive me.

(Photo:  Lorna Raver prepares a knockout blow in "Drag Me to Hell."/Universal Pictures)