Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Horror Flick of the Week: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

I think it’s fair to say any person with even the smallest sense of humor knows Don Knotts was brilliantly funny. Anyone who says otherwise is a dirty, filthy liar. In fact, he was so funny, he took a character on the Andy Griffith show who was supposed to be a minor role…and transformed it into a supporting one, because Don Knotts was just that good. But the best part about Don Knotts? Unlike Jerry Lewis, sitting through a marathon with Don Knotts won’t leave you with a headache.

Anyway, before I start preaching the Gospel of Knotts, let’s talk about this Halloween classic. Actually, it’s a classic in general, but for the sake of October I’m going to go ahead and add Halloween to it. You’ve got your basic Don Knotts storyline, with an awkward coward being thrust into a series of predicaments, and somehow bungling through the whole adventure.

Luther works for the press…type setting, and he’s just driven by a drunk who collapsed by the side of the road after receiving a rather nasty knock on the head by a mysterious block of wood. Right when Luther thinks he’s got a scoop for a sinister murder, he rushes to the police station to tell his story. Right in the middle of it-…the guy walks into the room. Poor Luther never hears the end of it the following morning at the boarding house he lives in. I suppose it doesn’t help that one of the people living there is Luther’s rival in love and work…Ollie Weaver.

But I think we all know the real villain here wasn’t a killer, but a dirty egg thief. This old guy at the table steals that woman’s egg, and nobody even notices! Criminal mastermind, no doubt.

There’s a big deal about to happen, Nicholas Simmons is going to buy his uncle’s house. Why’s that a big deal? Because his uncle murdered his wife and then killed himself 20 years ago. Apparently the house is haunted, and people hear the organ playing all by itself late at night. The anniversary of the murder is coming up, too, and who better to write about it than Mr. Chicken himself? By Mr. Chicken, I’m of course referring 
to Luther…

Clear sign of a haunted house: abandoned for several years, no damage to paint or wallpaper, no foundation problems, perfect condition, crap-load of cobwebs. Ghosts appreciate solid craftsmanship and so do spiders. Luther is in for one wild night…and I’d expect nothing less from Don Knotts.

 But this is just the beginning, pretty soon a sensational article comes out of this experience…and the whole town is stirred up. The least of which is a group of old melodramatic biddies. The worst? Nicholas Simmons.

Much of this movie plays out like an older Scooby-Doo episode, sans a gang of meddling kids and repetitive running sequences. This is the sort of film I’ll pull out to show my younger cousins, if I feel they’re not ready for Vincent Price or Robert Englund just yet. 

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