Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
Last week the husband and I made a field trip to Allerton, an estate owned by the University of Illinois. The original owners were Samuel Allerton and his son, Robert. Samuel made his money in the hog markets of Chicago, going on to own lots of real estate and forming one of the largest banks in the U.S.
His son, Robert, studied art in Europe but eventually came home to help run the family business. He may not have been an artist but he knew how to appreciate it, becoming a founder, supporter, and one of the largest donors to the collection of the Art Institute in Chicago. He took that art sensibility to Allerton with sculptures placed throughout the grounds.
For those Anglophiles, the estate will conjure images of Elizabeth Bennett and Lucy Honeychurch running about while figuring out life and choosing the best suitor for marriage.
The brick Georgian manor house has walled gardens of various themes and flora. One long section is devoted to peonies, another is filled with annuals. Or maybe they would be if we hadn’t gone in the middle of October when gardens are being dismantled and put to bed for the winter.
We need to go again, especially on a full moon hike night.
A house like this must be spectacular but alone on the prairie, one must wonder what else could live there. It is that spooky season, after all. And while the house has spectacular gardens, it is surrounded by dense woods.
Well, we know about those spooky house movies. One of my favorite for kids in 3rd grade and up is Monster House starring Mitchel Musso (Phineas and Ferb) as a 14-year-old who begins to wonder about the spooky house across the street. He and his buddy, Chowder, team up with cute Jenny on Halloween night to get Chowder’s basketball back. Along the way they discover the house’s secret.
While fun and filled with deep meaning, this can be a potentially scary movie for the little ones. However, for the pre-teen set, it has elements of kids working together to solve a mystery even after they are not believed by the adults.
Another spooky house story that appears to be meant for kids is Coraline directed by Henry Selick. Coraline has just moved into a new house with her parents. They are too distracted to pay her much attention or to explore the house with her. So when Coraline find a door that leads to another dimension where they love and adore and shower attention on Coraline, she feels happy. That is until all of this wonderfulness doesn’t feel good and the young girl has to solve a big problem.
Again, this movie is not for the younger children but perfect for your pre-teens who love Tim Burton-like spookiness and heroines who have to learn how to save themselves..
Lastly, for the adults chances are you have seen movies such as Hill House and The Lady in Black where the house is as much of a character as any human. But I was thinking about Th13teen Ghosts (13 Ghosts) starring Tony Shalhoub. This is one of those creepy movies about a man who inherits a house from his uncle. Now the uncle was eccentric and perhaps a bit evil. But the man is in dire straits and needs this house so his kids can have a stable home. That is until walls start moving and people die off.
My son says I prefer cheesy horror movies and he might be right because this is not my favorite genre. But after fifteen years, I still remember this movie and the fear it left inside of me. Yes, it is a “B” movie but Tony Shalhoub is in it. To me, some of the kills were imaginative and chilling as one character wound his way through the house, not caring what happened to others.
But if you’re like me, this movie won’t even make it to the watch list because nightmares are not your thing. Perhaps there is a spooky romantic comedy out there to watch instead.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.