Thursday, November 6, 2014

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

To be honest, I really hate talking about or writing about "classic" movies.

First of all, it's not really fair to watch a movie made decades (or almost a full century) ago and expect it to have the same effect on me as it did when audiences first saw it. This is 90% of the problem I had when watching Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

The movie is fine. It's fine. It tells the story of two aging movie star sisters, one of whom was famous at a young age, turning her into an absolute monster, and the other famous in her 20s, keeping her relatively grounded. The one who peaked early (the aforementioned "Baby Jane") starts slipping into madness and eventually traps her now paraplegic sister in her room to torture her.

Part of the reason that I think this movie had such an impact back in the 60s when it came out was because the leading actresses actually were faded movie stars. That is still interesting today, but it doesn't carry the same weight as someone in the 60s watching who might actually be familiar with the actresses's prior work. I imagine I would be at least a little bit intrigued if someone like, Macaulay Culkin made a movie about a former child star doing a fuckton of cocaine or something. However, again, I just can't get the same effect that someone who saw this movie in the 60s got.

Part of the problem with the time difference between then and now is the shock factor of it. I wrote "torture" two paragraphs up, but that barely describes what happens in this movie. The crazy sister kills the paraplegic's sister's bird and puts it on a plate. Then doesn't make and serve her breakfast. This is the torture in the movie. It's not really traumatic in any sense of the word. Part of the reason for this is that I don't think it's meant to be a horrifying type of torture, and part of it is that, having been born in the 80s and lived through (living through?) the torture porn era, there's not much here to make me worry about this old lady.

The other thing when discussing classic movies is that you always have be conscious of the fact that without films like this, even if they don't hold up today, directly contributed to other films that have come out recently. Without this movie, a whole string of horror movies would never have existed. That doesn't mean the movie is still good, but it does mean that it holds a place in film history.

In all, that means this movie only appeals to people studying the art of film. If you're looking for a horror movie or a good way to spend a Friday night, this isn't terrible; but there are a lot of other movies I would recommend you watch before getting to this one.

1) Well made? - Shot well, lit well, and the two lead actresses acted the hell out of this.
2) Contributed?  - Without this movie, the entire horror landscape would be changed for the worse
3) Good time? - Sadly, no. I couldn't get creeped out by the crazy sister, and I couldn't get over how dumb some of the people in this movie act
4) Watch again? - I can almost guarantee that I won't
5) Worth it?  - For me, it did shed some light on more recent horror movies, but if you're not reviewing films on the internet or trying to watch every movie on the IMDb 250 list, you can skip this easily
6) Who should watch this? - Anyone wanting to educate themselves on horror movies of the past or wanting to examine the origins of psychological horror films

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