Olaf’s Bag of Horror

Sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it? Let me explain…

Olaf is a good friend of mine. He’s a composer and music producer. We’ve collaborated on a couple of musicals over the years. Olaf composed the music for a Hollywood horror film that was being shot in Manitoba a while back. The director of the film wanted to hang around after his job was done and kind of oversee the post production phase. More importantly, he wanted a place where he could be alone for a while to write the screenplay for his next feature length horror film. The local producers were trying to figure out where they could they send the director when Olaf overheard and said “He can stay at my cabin.”

The producers looked at Olaf and said “How much would that cost?”

“Nothing,” Olaf said. “No one is using it right now. He can stay there as long as he wants – for free.”

The producers loved this idea, as they didn’t have money in the budget to rent a place. So, the director set himself up at Olaf’s cabin. He bought a bunch of horror DVDs from the bargain bin of Movie Village (the best video store in town, now defunct) and took them with him to provide inspiration. Presumably he watched them when he took breaks from writing. And then, when his screenplay was done, the director caught a plane back to L.A. and told Olaf that he could keep the DVDs.

Olaf knows that I am a big horror fan, so he sent me an e-mail which read:

“Hey Angus,… I have a bag full of miscellaneous horror DVDs to give away. Some really fringy stuff in it… Do you want them? If so they are yours.”

A big bag of horror DVDs? Hell, yes!

I met Olaf at his favourite Indian buffet and he told me the whole story. The DVDs were in a large reusable shopping bag, close to forty movies total. Some I’d seen before, but many were new to me. There were a small handful which were not actually horror movies, but I guess you have to expect a certain amount of chaff with the wheat. I thanked Olaf and assured him that I would get many hours of entertainment out of this bag.

My first instinct was to take the movies out of the bag and sort them into piles: movies I’ve seen before, movies I want to see, movies I know nothing about, etc. I could even get really specific and, say for example there was a werewolf movie in there, put it in a pile to watch on #WerewolfWednesday.

But then I stopped myself. I already had an interesting, if somewhat random, collection of movies in this bag. Why mess with it? I used to have a big box of old DVDs and VHS tapes that I had never watched. I decided to make a point of finally going through it, one movie at a time. Every saturday night I would reach into the box, pull out a random movie and watch it. I started tweeting about it:  “Random Saturday late night movie pulled from storage box” was what I called it. I eventually shortened it to “Random Saturday late movie” and then #RandomSaturdayLateMovie.

I no longer have the box. Well, actually I do but there’s not much left in it. I’ve taken to streaming a random movie off of Shudder or YouTube – and yes, it’s random. At least as much as a box full of movies is random. The choices are limited to what’s inside the box, or in this case, the 20 or 30 movies I have on my Watch Later playlist. I use a random number generator to make the selection. No time wasted agonizing over what I might be in the mood to watch.  And even if the movie looks terrible and I can’t remember why I placed it on the list, I watch it. Sometimes I discover a lost gem. Other times, well…

This brings me back to Olaf’s bag of movies, or rather, Olaf’s Bag of Horror. Seems to me that it’s another perfect opportunity to watch a random movie and experience whatever unexpected delights, or horrors, it may bring me.

Rest assured that I will reaching my hand into that bag very soon – perhaps once a week, if I can settle on a perfect day for it. I intend to keep my #RandomSaturdayLateMovie for the time being. It’s a good way to keep up with the more current releases. #OlafsBagOfHorror will likely be somewhat more behind the times. Who knows what’s in it?

I’ll soon be finding out. And, if anyone besides me ever reads this blog, so will you…