Welcome to the very first installment of Books About. Here, we will explore and examine how books are featured in popular entertainment. Why do movies name-check particular authors? And who is quoted, where and why? Here we will decipher how entertainment—songs, movies, television, and more—use books to develop characters and extend situations.
Books, writers, and the art of reading show up in the strangest places. As folk/pop singer Regina Spektor reads with her pickle, so does Ren McCormick defend Slaughterhouse Five in Footloose; as Johnny as Pony read Gone with the Wind in The Outsiders, so does Bast fall to his death beneath, that’s right, a wobbly bookcase in Howard’s End. Our purpose here is to celebrate these moments when books make their mark.
Books About in…
Friday the 13th: Part 3
I’m embarrassed to say the idea for Books About presented itself to me during my weekend viewing of this schlocky picture. What can I say—my husband and I managed to get hold of the original 3D print, and after buying the Blue Harvest special edition of Family Guy, we had two sets of 3D glasses just perfect for a 3D movie night in our very own living room.
The very thought had us jumping about like skitty kids high on too many Nerds.
It all started out so well, too. The film opens on some bedsheets, swaying on a clothesline. The camera moves under and about the sheets, and the effect is such that you feel as if you’re floating through this backyard, the sheets whipping about you. It’s absolutely brilliant.
But then you meet the owners of this backyard and are reminded how really terrible this film is and why you’ve not watched it in decades. Schlock-plus. Still, praise be to the powers that be here—ie., those who come up with interesting and unique ways to kill people in these movies—that they actually considered the book as a fairly decent weapon.
(It’s possible they got their idea from Howard’s End, but somehow I doubt it.)
Chris, the heroine of the piece, is running through a farmhouse. Her boyfriend has just had his eyes popped out by rampaging Jason Voorhees. She’s running, fearing for her life. In true horror heroine form, she runs up some flimsy stairs. But then, she spots a heavy book shelf, crammed with big hardcovers. She grabs hold and pulls it over, intending, of course, to squish her attacker. Or at least keep him momentarily at bay.
It works, though for too brief a time to really make a difference. He does cower a bit, though. I think maybe she would have had some luck if she’d grabbed the books one by one and just pelted Jason. These are some heavy books.
Really, Chris’s retaliation is instinctual: Jason is coming, find something big, and hurl it. Maybe it was just coincidence that she hurled the shelf. Still, someone designed the Friday 3 set. And when you look around that secluded cabin, there are a lot of books. Perhaps it’s not too out there to think that it’s intelligence that fails Chris, that books-smarts are useless when battling Jason’s brand of fierce evil. This girl will need her street-smarts, a quick head, and a sprinter’s agility to bypass him. Point taken.
What happens to Chris? I’ll let you rent the movie to find out. For now, I’m just happy we managed to find a key book-related scene in a Jason flick.
// Short Ends and Leader
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