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My night was filled with long movie titles (not unlike this article’s).

I turned off Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. The brief animated opening credits, over-the-top music, and oddball character development was too much to take in one sitting. It’s another one of those 80’s flicks where you can picture the producer doing cocaine between takes with a production assistant. Or the director phones the editor in the middle of the night with an idea similar to what “works” in Steven Spielberg movies.

I hope you know, the corniness of that time can usually be narrowed down to imitation. And most were imitating the musical score and happy family tone that Steven Spielberg (and John Williams) unfortunately created. (Speely took the most dated aspects of 1950’s comedies and has never stopped running with them.)

Writer/Director John Hughes may have had his goofy moments (why is everyone breaking out in a choreographed dance routine in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? – another long title), but his scripts and character analysis have brought out some great performances and ring true on the page.

In less than a half hour, I replaced what I thought was going to be some Babysitter’s Dead nostalgia fun with a movie I’d been waiting to see: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.

This proved to be another overlooked film from the 70’s with underrated performances (14-year-old Jodie Foster could have, and should have, been nominated for an Academy Award two times in the same year, but only got the nod nom for Taxi Driver in 1976.)

I’d like to call The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane a classic because of the breezy camera work; punching dialogue; and eccentric, believable performances. But I can’t because of the filler funk music.

Bouncy grooves was a thing in Italian horror movies from the same period. You’re invested in an unusual, enticing story until you’re immediately thrown out of their world and can’t help imagining yourself in the Bronx and a seedy strip club from 1970-something. (My son said he was waiting for Charlie Brown and Linus to start chatting. Not that those two go to strip clubs. That’d give Peanuts a whole ‘nother meaning.)

Spanish Poster

For my son’s sake, I quickly tried differentiating between corny and dated.

The Babysitter’s Dead moment of flipping a pizza box in slow-mo with unmatched sound FX = corny.

The Little Girl has enough foresight to embrace Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Minor” yet slaps the bass during an earlier scene of contemplation = dated.

I began to elaborate about today’s filler music in action films, but my kid cut me off, not wanting me to ruin any more cinema for him. He’s right. We should keep movie magic alive as long as we can. (It was ironic, since he was laughing and ruining the better of the two movies for me as if we were part of a YouTube video.)

Also, be aware of the ratings when you’re watching anything pre-1984, the year Red Dawn and Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom were released and brought us PG-13. (Spielberg’s also contributing to the long titles, eh?)

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is inaccurately rated PG. R didn’t yet exist, but the content alone is disturbing enough for a PG-13 today.

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead feels like a G-rated kid flop but is appropriately rated PG-13.

Spielberg’s Jaws is PG while Alfred Hitchcock’s mild Psycho has been updated to R. (The MPAA must still be snorting cocaine … with Spielberg. Just joking, Speely. I’m sure you don’t need any assistance in popping out that corn. The masses sure eat it up.)

 

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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