Monday, September 18, 2017

My First Horror Film: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

When I was a about 3 or 4 years old, my parents took my family to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in the theater. At a certain point in the movie my mom had to take me out to the lobby since I was freaking out and crying. I don’t remember that first viewing but I’ve seen the original movie many times since then and still think there are many things that are truly freakish about this film.

Before I attempt to explain why this movie is so scary, I have to admit there are many great one liners and funny scenes, but that can’t undo the damage inflicted upon every young viewer who sees it for the first time. I will now offer my analysis of why Willy Wonka is more of a horror movie than a fun kid’s adventure story.

Where to begin?

1) All four grandparents living in the same filthy bed and then Grandpa Joe being exposed as the lazy, faker, soda pop stealing old man he is. Charlie’s household plays on people’s fears of filthiness and poverty.

2) Scary Slugworth constantly showing up out of the shadows and whispering in kid’s ears and finally confronting Charlie when he’s alone in the dark tunnel.

3) Oompa Loompas were an obvious problem. I was not prepared for the orange skin, white eyebrows, and green hair. These musical midget’s songs, lame dance moves, and their unexpected large subtitles displayed on the movie screen were very unsettling.

4) The naughty kids being eliminated one by one. Take your pick…
*Augustus Gloop falling in the chocolate river kills two birds with one stone by featuring drowning and claustrophobia as he is sucked up the tube.
*Violet turning into a blueberry and changing color while expanding then being taken out by Oompa Loompas to have the juice squeezed out of her.
*Mike the cowboy being turned into billions of pieces and shrunk.
*Verruca sitting in the giant goose cages and going down the rotten egg hatch.

Watching the Oompa Loompas accompany the parents to retrieve what was left of their kids each time was sad. Even though it is explained that the spoiled kids did not actually die in these incidents, the disposal methods used were still traumatic, but it’s Wonka’s sarcastic, could care less attitude that is even more disturbing.

5) The scene with the Wonkatania boat featuring close ups of Wonka’s face, the psychedelic colors, and flashes of disturbing images. He begins the ride by singing an eerie song, then starts speaking gibberish, and then goes full blown crazy and ends up screaming at the top of his lungs. What the heck?

6) Gene Wilder’s hair is frightening throughout the entire movie, but the scene towards the end in his office when he takes off his hat and his quasi afro actually falls over like a demolished smoke stack still gives me chills to this day.

7) When Willy Wonka loses it and unloads his anger on Charlie and his grandpa and yells “You get nothing! You lose. Good day sir.” Even though he was testing him it is still pretty traumatic.

8) The glass wonkavator breaking through the roof and eerily hoovering over an odd European town backdrop just didn’t feel right either. It was intended to be a happy magical ending but it made me even more anxious.

Maybe you think I am way too sensitive and fragile when it comes to this movie, but the spirit and feel to the entire movie is creepy and unsettling. There are some things about it that I just can’t put my finger on. It’s probably a combination of the story line, props, costumes, and the fact it was made in the early 70’s. Anyway, I don’t know why more people have not been traumatized by this movie. Despite my troubled relationship with this movie, I give it 7.2 stars.

No comments:

Large Association of Movie Blogs