Tag Archive: Monster House

Spooky Houses

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.


Death of the Last Centaur at Allerton Park

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.


Allerton Mansion

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.

coralineAnother 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.


                 Thirteen Ghost with                Tony Shalhoub

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.


Going into The Tower

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Every now and again, I get surprised by a movie.


Like other movie goers, I read the reviews and listen to what other people have to say. I read boards on movie websites and try to get an idea about a movie before I see it.


Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

So when the husband picked up Tower Heist over the weekend, I was not expecting much. The reviews were poor and some people wondered out loud if Ben Stiller had lost his way.


But that is not what I thought about the movie after I watched it.


Perhaps it was the revenge factor but I was entertained by this movie.


The story is about a building manager of a prestigious building that offers house cleaning and food service to its residents. The Ben Stiller character is close to several of the residents, including Alan Alda who lives in the penthouse.


But when that man, who was trusted with the pension funds of the workers in the building, is arrested for taking his clients’ money and not investing it, well, our building manager goes a little crazy. Especially after one of Stiller’s best employees tries to commit suicide once he realizes his entire nest egg is gone.


Stiller might go up to the man’s apartment with a couple of staff members and bust out the windows of a classic car that sits in the living room. While his actions inspire his staff and Tea Leoni, the lead FBI agent on the case, his boss fires the long time employee. But a comment from Leoni makes Stiller realize he knows where the ‘escape’ money is located. And that is when the building manager begins the plan to get the money back for his workers.


One of the complaints about this movie is you see everything that is coming. Director Brett Ratner is not trying to make a groundbreaking movie; his goal is to make a movie that the family can enjoy in the PG-13 area while giving parents a reason to cheer as another greedy financier gets taken down.


It is popcorn viewing at best with Eddie Murphy getting off some of the best lines.


Is this the best heist movie I have ever seen?


Not really. Tower Heist was fun with an element or two I never expected. However, the Ocean movies, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, have more style to them. I also like Heist starring Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pigeon, and Sam Rockwell which was written by David Mamet.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

But the movie you want to see is the classic 1968 Steve McQueen movie, The Thomas Crown Affair in which McQueen plays a millionaire thief. Faye Dunaway is the detective on his case and she gets very close to her suspect. It is perhaps one of the best heist movies.

As for a kid/family movie in the same ‘heist’ genre, the one that comes to mind is Monster House in which three kids figure out the creepy Victorian house across the street is alive. And if they have any hope of finding the multitudes of lost toy and people, drastic action might have to take place. This movie might be a little too scary for the littlest kids but it is great for those who have just started grade school.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.