November 30, 2012

Maynard and Emma's ADDAMS FAMILY AWESOMENESS

Wahoo! Hello and welcome to the Horror Movie Diary's very first Double-Blog-Post!
For a very long time, I wanted to review the two 90s "Addams Family" flicks, but sadly I'm a massive non-expert on all things Addams-roots, and a simple review-post without any Addams-history... no, it would feel incomplete.
So I decided to team up with my blog buddy (and Halloween Buddy) EMMA, the mastermind behind the delightfully gorgeous blog "Little Gothic Horrors", who is a HUUUGE fan of all things Addams and knows best when it comes to oldschool Addams Family stuff.

So first, you get my reviews for the 90s flicks, and then you get a massive article from Emma about the original cartoons and the 60s TV series. Lean back and enjoy the Addams-Family-awesomeness!! :-)

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

German Title:
Die Addams Family

USA, 1991
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

9/10








Next to "The 'Burbs" and "Gremlins", one of the very first "horror"-themed comedies I've ever seen, and also one of my alltime favorites: Barry Sonnenfeld's directorial debut "The Addams Family", a delightfully entertaining and visually awesome update of the 60s TV series, which was based on Charles Addams' funny New Yorker cartoons.


With a wonderful script by Caroline Thompson ("Edward Scissorhands") and Larry Wilson ("Beetlejuice"), and an absolutely stellar cast, "Men In Black"-mastermind Sonnenfeld created a marvellous and super-witty movie that never fails to amuse me. Fun and diverting from beginning to end, and packed with the coolest set designs and most beautiful costumes outside of a Tim Burton film., all wonderfully captured by Owen Roizman's ("The Exorcist") great cinematography and accompanied with a playful score by Marc Shaiman ("Misery").

Every single character is just wonderful, every single actor delivers a top notch performance, most notably Raul Julia as hyper-hilarious Gomez Addams
("We danced the Mamushka while Nero fiddled, we danced the Mamushka at Waterloo, we danced the Mamushka for Jack the Ripper.")
,
Anjelica Huston as his stunningly beautiful wife Morticia
("Last night, you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again!"),
a fantastic Christopher Lloyd as Gomez' brother Fester ("Children, look! Great aunt Lavinia. She was beheaded by her own children!"),
the gorgeous Christina Ricci as grumpy daughter Wednesday ("I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.")
Carel Struycken as Lurch, Jimmy Workman as Pugsley and Judith Malina as Grandmama.



Other brilliant dialogue lines:
"It's Gomez I'm terribly worried about. He won't eat. He can't sleep. He keeps coughing up blood." - "He coughs up blood?" - "Well, not like he suded to..."
"Remember that fateful night?" - "You smoked your first cigar." - "What? Come on, old man! I've smoked since I was five. Mother insisted!"
"When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy." - "A girl." - "An open grave. It was my first funeral." - "You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse."

"The Addams Family" is undoubtedly one of the coolest movies of the 90s. A modern classic, I love it!

Wiki ~ Imdb



ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES

German Title:
Die Addams Family in verrückter Tradition

USA, 1993
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

8,5/10








"Addams Family Values" is one of the rare cases of a sequel that's almost as great as the original. Sonnenfeld delivers the goods and created a wonderfully hilarious follow-up, based on a script by Paul Rudnick ("In & Out"). The story may be a bit predictable, but who cares when everything else is just awesome?


Part 2 is really crammed with great ideas, superb plot points / twists and highly memorable scenes, such as Gomez and Morticia's amazing dance sequence, the outrageous Thanksgiving massacre or the electric-chair finale. Cinematographer Donald Peterman ("Planes, Trains & Automobiles") gives the movie a bright and epic look, while Marc Shaiman comes up with another excellently enjoyable soundtrack.

The cast is simply stunning (again!), at times even better than in the first one, especially Raul Julia ("My name is Gomez Addams and I have seen evil!"), Anjelica Huston ("You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that."), Christopher Lloyd ("When he was asleep, I opened his skull and removed his brains!") and Christina Ricci who delivers so many terrific one-liners, it's insane ("Hello Polly. I'll clean my room... in exchange for your immortal soul." / "I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground." / "Be afraid. Be very afraid!").
New to the cast: Joan Cusack as fantastic serial-killer-nanny, Peter MacNicol & Christine Baranski as super-annoying "Kumbaya My Lord"-singing summer-camp-owners, and Carol Kane (replacing Judith Malina) as Grandmama.


More brilliant dialogue:
"We don't hug." - "Oh, they're just shy." - "We're not shy. We're contagious."
"I dreamed that when I met him, that we would wait until our wedding night to give ourselves to one another, to make the ultimate sacrifice." - "A goat?"
"Wednesday's at that very special age when a girl has only one thing on her mind." - "Boys?" - "Homicide."
"Hi, I'm Debbie Jellinsky from the agency." - "The agency? But they claimed no one else was available. They suggested a Doberman."

"Addams Family Values" is everything a great sequel is supposed to be. Kudos to everyone involved!
Sad fact: Raúl Juliá died in 1994 after suffering a stroke, and with him died the hope of a possible third installment. Um... ok, there WAS another Addams-film in 1998, called "Addams Family Reunion", but we don't talk about it.


Wiki ~ Imdb





In 1933, at the age of 21, Charles Addams' first published work appeared in 'The New Yorker' magazine. He went on to become one of their major contributors for nearly 60 years, producing thousands of artworks, some of which included characters who would come to be known collectively as 'The Addams Family'. Prior to 1964, however, these characters were undeveloped, appearing in one-panel gag cartoons. It was only upon his collaboration with David Levy, after the producer approached him with the idea of using some of his cartoons as the basis of a television show, that Charles Addams set about creating names and backstories for the characters who would thereafter be known as Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Lurch, Thing and Cousin Itt.


The television series, which ran for two seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1966, starred Carolyn Jones as Morticia, John Astin as Gomez, Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, Ted Cassidy as Lurch, Blossom Rock as Grandmama, Lisa Loring as Wednesday, Ken Weatherwax as Pugsley, and Felix Silla as Cousin Itt. It was not quite as dark or macabre as either the cartoons or the 1991/1993 films, but it was remarkable in its own way. As John Astin, who played Gomez Addams, put it, in his forward to 'The Addams Chronicles', by Stephen Cox, the show was:

"A celebration of the unconventional in a world of conformity."

Watching reruns of 'The Addams Family' television series is one of my fondest childhood memories. Back then, I was too young to understand the meaning of the word "irony", but I was still very aware that even though the family was strange, and did peculiar things, like Morticia cutting off the heads of roses and tossing them away, they were also loving, generous, polite and loyal. The show's so-called normal characters, on the other hand, were invariably rude, nasty and often out to swindle the family. Even psychologists and psychiatrists of the era took note of how functional the seemingly dysfunctional family was. As John Astin also wrote:

"They said we were, in fact, the healthiest family on the air." 


My father owned a few paperback collections of Charles Addams' cartoons, which he has since given to me, that I endlessly scrutinized as a small child. One of my favourite cartoons showed the Addams clan, standing on the roof of their home, about to pour boiling oil on Yuletide carollers below and I was so pleased when that made it into the opening scene of the 1991 film 'The Addams Family'. 

The television series also had examples of cartoons being directly translated to the screen, like the scene where Wednesday and Pugsley assiduously tend to the fireplace with a pair of bellows in order to insure that a trip down the chimney by Santa would be nice and toasty. 


One of the most significant differences between the cartoons and the TV series was the character of "Thing". In Charles Addams' cartoons, Thing was depicted as some sort of shy creature seen peeping behind objects in the background of the drawings. On television, and later in the movies, Thing became a disembodied hand who performed small everyday tasks for the family, like retrieving the mail.   

There were a few slight changes made to the family when they made the leap from the small screen to the movies too. In the television series, Uncle Fester is Morticia's uncle whereas in the movies he is portrayed as the older brother of Gomez, while  Grandmama was Gomez's mother on TV but became Morticia's mother in the feature films. 


In the sixties series, Morticia's mother, Granny Frump, was a recurring character played by Margaret Hamilton, who was famous for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film 'The Wizard of Oz'. Another recurring character from the series, who did not appear in the two movies, was Ophelia Frump, Morticia's older sister. She was played by Carolyn Jones in a blonde wig. 

Charles Addams had originally suggested "Pubert" for the name of Gomez and Morticia's son, but it was rejected in favour of "Pugsley". "Pubert" eventually resurfaced however, in the form of the family's third child, a mustachioed baby, in the 1993 film, "Addams Family Values". 

I have to confess that I have an extra special place in my heart for the television series, but I also adore Charles Addams' original cartoons and I think the Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston movies are absolutely wonderful. I hate to compare the three separate manifestations of the clan because each is a fabulous art form in its own right and each has added a unique layer to the darkly delightful phenomenon that is 'The Addams Family'.

22 comments:

  1. An absolutely fabulous review/overview! There are two other iterations not covered: a third movie - direct to video "Addams Family Reunion" with Tim Curry (!) as Gomez and Daryl Hannah (!!) as Morticia. There was also a new series in the late 90's with a different cast and John Astin as Grandpa Addams. It even managed to go one more episode than the original series - 65 to the original's 64!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Craig! :)
      I mentioned the Reunion thing, but... well, we don't talk about it :-)

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    2. I completely missed that paragraph of your review on my phone screen! Sorry about that!

      Delete
  2. Wonder review of the films and such wonderful backstory and on the origins of the characters! Great read!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Daniel. Yeah, Emma's backstory part is amazing!!

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  3. Love, love, LOVE this! The Addams Family in series and in film is my favorite family in the whole world aside from The Munsters, of course. ;)

    Thank you both for this amazing post. Two thumbs and a disembodied hand way up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who cares for the Munsters when we can have the Addams family? *Na Na Na Nah Snap Snap* :D

      Thank you for your comment, your thumbs and especially the dismbodied hand :D

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  4. Thank you so much for asking me to join you in all this Addams awesomeness, Maynard! ❤ And thank you to Craig, Daniel and Melissa for their kind comments! Not only was it such a fun post to work on, but now, with both our posts up, I'm revelling in seeing my beloved Addams Family everywhere I look! Haha.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for participating, Emma. You did a fantastic job on all the backstory stuff. Care about a Tim-Burton-themed team-up next year? :)

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  5. Oh, this bring back grade school memories! Especially the 90s Hanna Barbera cartoon, which I religiously watched every night back then. Good times, good times.

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    Replies
    1. Really? There were Hanna Barbera catoons of the Addams in the 90s? Hm, guess I'll stick with the flicks :)

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  6. Loved reading this! You guys did a great job!

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  7. Great dual review. Though I will still go with Christina Ricci as a superior Wednesday because I <3 Christina Ricci.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alex! Yes yes, Ricci is just amazing!!

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  8. This is so Awesome...and informative! You imply MUST do another collaboration this year. FUN!!! }:D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll tell Emma about it. I'm sure she would like to do another one :-)

      Delete
  9. ha! Yes, make sure it is impish...imply Impish! heh (effin tyos on muh iPad)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, that's why I still use an oldschool PC with mouse and keyboard :-P

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