Family and The Washingtonians

Family - Starring: George Wendt, Meredith Monroe, Matt Keeslar

Directed by: John Landis

The Washingtonians -

Starring: Johnathon Schaech, Venus Terzo, Myron Natwick

Directed by: Peter Medak

I am returning to the Masters of Horror series for two more creepy short films.  The first, Family, was directed by John Landis.  George Wendt of Cheers fame is Harold, a man who lives in a nice, quiet neighborhood.  He has a pleasant home in a nice subdivision and blares gospel music while he works in his basement downstairs.  What's in the basement? Oh, a workshop where Harold bathes corpses in acid to melt off the flesh, leaving behind a skeleton.  He then wires together the articulated skeleton, dresses it, and puts it upstairs in his family room.  He goes there in the evenings to relax with his wife (posed reading a tabloid), his daughter, and now grandpa.  He talks to the skeletons, and in his vivid imagination they – as fully-fleshed people – respond.

A new couple, a young doctor David Fuller (Matt Keeslar) and his wife Celia (Meredith Monroe) move into the neighborhood.  After accidentally backing into Harold's mailbox in the wee hours of the morning, they go over to apologize.  They talk of wanting to re-start a family after tragically losing a daughter to cancer.   Becoming friends with Harold, they share dinners and chat often.  Meanwhile, Harold begins to develop a slight obsession with Celia, obviously considering adding her to the family.

This is quite a good tale, full of surprises and with an out-there yet not too ridiculous plot.

If you:

  • Like movies that let you peer into the motivations of a psychopath
  • Have even been suspicious of your neighbors

Put it in the queue!

However, if you can't bear the thought of "Norm!!" being a murderer, don't put it in the queue.

I watched the second movie with my brothers.  Since they are big American History fans, we chose TheWashingtonians.  This tale focuses on a family of three who are in town for a funeral.  Mike (Johnathon Shaech) has inherited his grandparents' house as a result of his grandmother's death, and they are staying there while in town.

Daughter Amy (Julia Tortolano) is terrified of the house.  And even more terrified of the local real estate agent who is waiting for them on the front porch.   Samuel Madison III (Myron Natwick) looks more like Colonel Sanders than a creepy creeper, but his false teeth and saccharine compliments to Amy are a bit disconcerting.

Amy continues to be afraid of everything in the old house, including a giant portrait of George Washington (she mistook it for a person in the cellar).  While her parents are cleaning out the basement, Amy decides to stand up to the image of the Father of our Country and yell that she's not afraid of it.  Which promptly causes the painting to fall over.

Behind a corner of the canvas, Mike finds a small scroll wound around a fork that looks like it was made from a small bone.  The note on the scroll suggests George Washington was a cannibal that ate children.  Strongly disconcerted, Mike immediately begins dithering what to do about it. In the meantime, he cannot help but imagine all the townsfolk as flesh-chomping maniacs; he and Amy are both fairly freaked out about the town and can't wait to get away.

After the funeral, he asks the realtor about the note and fork.  His reaction is also relatively strange, and he both implores Mike to keep it a secret and perhaps sell it to a collector he knows.  While he is making calls, Mike escapes to his grandmother's house.  Later that night, his family receives a visit from a group of people dressed in colonial garb (powdered wigs and all) and gross, bloodstained teeth demanding both the note, and silence about its contents.

Generally I enjoy historical fiction, and mayhaps even believe George Washington and his founding friends could have been involved in some Masonic skullduggery.  But cannibalism? That is a very unappetizing thought.

If you:

  • Like to believe extreme conspiracy theories (for example – George Bush belongs to a reptile alien race)
  • Like unnecessary gore

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Don't believe cannibalism is what the founding fathers meant when they said "the tree of liberty must be watered with blood."
  • Are creeped out by the thought of ghoulish colonial cannibalism re-enactments.  Or even ghoulish colonials wandering about New England.

Don't put it in the queue!

Written by Jennifer Venson