Autodidact: self-taught


Fun Films for October 3

by V. L. Craven

Certainly, Battleship was a rather questionable idea for a film, but that doesn’t mean that game-as-screenplay is always a stinker of an idea. For example, the first film based on a board game was Clue (the game was called Cluedo in Britain, though the film was ‘Clue’).

An all-star ensemble in a mansion during a violent storm. No one knows why they’re there or who the other guests are and they’re not allowed to use their real names–having been given pseudonyms, ‘Mrs Peacock, Professor Plum,’ etc. It comes out that they do, in fact have something in common, though. They’re all being blackmailed by the same person–a person none of them have met. One of the ‘guests’ reveals he is the blackmailer and… If you’ve seen it you don’t need to read the plot synopsis and if you haven’t seen it then go. Go watch it now.

There’s thunder, lightning, power cuts, secret passageways, a rambling mansion with a creepy basement and spooky attic… It’s a great October film.

With its wordplay and physical comedy, it’s a cult fav, as some people think it’s awful but others find it to be utterly brilliant. Guess on which side I fall. This was one of my favourite films growing up–I can still quote large portions of it. But this, this is classic:

And a compilation of the 25 best moments by some kind soul on YouTube:


Speaking of an ensemble cast of characters invited to a mysterious house for reasons unknown, another very fun film is Murder By Death, written by Neil Simon. This time, everyone knows who everyone else is, as they’re the world’s best detectives (or spoofs of them, in this case). There are stand-ins for Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, and Nick and Nora Charles. Alec Guinness is wonderful as the blind cook, Nancy Walker is hilarious for the deaf and dumb maid and Truman Capote (of all people) plays the host of the party.

Lionel Twain (Capote) has invited the world’s best detectives to his house for a murder. If one of them solves the case they win one million U.S. dollars, but if no one can solve it then that will prove that Twain is actually the best detective and the rest are frauds. Within the universe of the film, it’s as though the detectives write about their own cases and leave out important facts or invent ridiculous plot twists so the readers have no way of working out the guilty. The weekend is a way of paying them back for those sins. No one scene really stands out in this one–though quotable lines abound.

Murder By Death was partially shot at Oakley Court, Windsor in Berkshire:

Which was Frankenfurter’s castle in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, shot the previous year. (RHPS is a great October film, but I don’t know what to say about it other than: Tim Curry** in fishnets.)

Are there ‘spooky’ films of this nature set in the present? Murder By Death is set in the 20s, Haunted Honeymoon is set in the 30s and Clue is set in the 1950s.


**Of the six films I’m posting about for October, Mr. Curry is in three of them: Worst Witch, Clue and RHPS. Apparently, the man likes giant castles in the murk as much as I do.

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