RHODY LIFE

It isn't even my birthday

Posted 1/27/21

Lately, I have been struck by how often a scenario in real life models one from a scary movie. I stood atop the winding staircase in an older home in East Greenwich. As I put my hand on the curled, wooden banister, a slight shudder came over me. The

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RHODY LIFE

It isn't even my birthday

Posted

Lately, I have been struck by how often a scenario in real life models one from a scary movie. I stood atop the winding staircase in an older home in East Greenwich. As I put my hand on the curled, wooden banister, a slight shudder came over me. The steep steps, twisting to triangles instead of rectangles, caused me to pause. Looking downward, it was very much the type of staircase on which a person could fall … or be pushed. Very slowly, step by step, holding on tightly, I made my way down one step at a time. At the bottom I paused and let out a sigh of relief.

This staircase, with all of its historic charm, was a symbol of cinematic tragedy. Countless times in the movies and on television I have seen people fall, trip, lose their balance or be pushed down similar stairs. It got me thinking about what other iconic scenes were played out every day.

Driving along Route 37, there was a large swarm of black birds swirling in the sky above my car. There were so many that the sky appeared to darken in their wake, wings flapping in synchrony, churning and dipping in unison. Similarly, down Oakland Beach, I had witnessed a flock of seagulls, swooping together on a target brandishing a french fry or piece of a clam cake. One after one, unsuspecting diners scream in terror at the onslaught of birds and drop the morsel of food as though it were on fire. Both of these incidents were reminiscent of the movie “The Birds.”

As I sat at the beach gazing out onto the blue water, fleeting thoughts of sharks came to mind. The movie “Jaws” was my first, and still favorite, scary movie. Most of the film was spent imagining the terrifying creature in the depths below as represented by a musical score so haunting that it is synonymous with the movie. The terrifying first scene where the shark jumped out of the water and almost ate the Captain made ME jump out of my seat and screech. (This fear has since been tamed after seeing the “real” shark used for this scene at Universal Studios in California.)

“Rosemary’s Baby” was a particularly scary thriller with nary a scene of blood, violence or misshapen monsters. (Mia Farrow, as it’s star, was an icon of mine, sending me to the hairdresser’s to coif a pixie cut of my own even though my ears were huge and stuck out sideways through my thin hair a la Alfred E. Neuman.) This cinematic endeavor proved that a movie does not have to have gore to be frightening, and I stay away from most of the current horror flicks because of this attribute.

The first 90 percent of the movie “Get Out” met my strict “no blood, no gore” standard. I greatly enjoyed the black comedy (as in dark humor, not African American). It started casually enough with a cute Caucasian woman dating a successful African American photographer. The psychological terror began when she brought him home to meet her family, with the final, violent ending providing actual comic relief.

During this frightening time of COVID-19, people are struck down by a virus that spreads by respiratory droplets released by others unknowingly affected by the disease. It is easy to see the resemblance to movies such as “The Andromeda Strain,” although that virus had an extraterrestrial origin and disappeared itself into the atmosphere. Perhaps the movie “Contagion” would be more apt. Quick synopsis – a professional woman comes home from China, where her construction company has unknowingly unleashed infected bats. She brings the virus to the U.S. Doctors develop a vaccine, but there is not enough so it is given out by a lottery based on birthdays. Eventually, everyone will be able to get the vaccine. The end.

This week I am going to get my vaccine, and it isn’t even my birthday!

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