Horror 365, Movie 120: The Ten Commandments

I once spent easter in Wisconsin. And not in some big ol’ metropolis like Milwaukee, Green Bay, or Sheboygan. No this was remote Wisconsin where the nearest coffee joint was 12 miles away which isn’t such a bad thing when you live in a city but becomes quite another when it’s still snowy and -250 degrees. Why I would do such a thing is anyone’s guess.

Anyway, at one point I put a question to my dear ol’ pa. “So when are we gonna color easter eggs?” I thought it was a legitimate question. It was easter. All I got was The Look. Everyone in my family knows The Look. It tells whomever you direct it at that they have just managed to utter the single dumbest thing anyone has heard ever, or at least heard today. It’s a look that says “There are no words for my utter disregard for what you just allowed to fly out of your word hole.”

This facial maneuver can be neither learned nor taught. You can either just do it, or you can’t. I do it. Often. My dad does it. So did my grandfather. So does my youngest daughter. The point is, color eggs we did not. My dad allowed as how we could put peanuts in plastic eggs and hide them for the squirrels.

Funny guy.

We did, however, settle in for another easter tradition, and that would be the watching of the entire three-and-a-half-hour slog that is Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 Ten Commandments. This happened pretty much every year from as far back as I can recomember. Marvel, we would, at the wonder, the glory that was VistaVision with color by Technicolor. Really it was the highlight of the cinematic year.

Okay. I know. You’re thinking “Oh he’s gone too far this time.” But come on. In my defense how is The Ten Commandments not a horror movie? For one thing, it’s an extravaganza of paranormal shenanigans. Staves (what can I say, I was an English major) into snakes, rivers of blood, flaming hail, a curse that kills the first born unless blood is smeared over the door, and an unholy pagan ritual. All we need is poster of a glowing-faced Moses with some creepy, scratchy lettering and some of that fiery hail in the background, and this is a whole other kind of experience. Plus Vincent Fucking Price is in it fer god’s sake.

The Ten Commandments is also chock full o’ quirky lil bits and bobs. Why, for instance, is the queen of Egypt The. Whitest. Woman. In. The universe? Really, why is the entire movie white as fuck? Criminy. And why does the “mysterious light” Moses sees turn out to be a two-day hike away and on the other side of a mountain? And when he first sees it, he points it out to Joshua who says, “You mean the bush that is on fire but does not burn?” No the other mysterious light right next to it you fuckwit (at which point Moe shoulda given him an NCIS back-of-the-head smack). I’ve also speculated for years about why anyone thought it was a good idea to “save” baby Moses from death by floating him away in the crocodile-infested Nile. I suppose it’s the choice, one might argue, between certain death and almost certain death.

Freakin’ everybody is in this. Not just Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, but Anne Baxter, John Carradine, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, Edward G. Robinson (guess that little McCarthy faux pas was somewhat forgiven), even Carl Switzer (yeah, Alfalfa) shows up briefly.

And so, just in terms of grandness of scale, I gotta say hats off to old Cecil B. though in truth, other than his original 1923 silent version of this, I couldn’t tell you one other movie the man directed. I’m sure on some level that’s horrifying. Still. Shoulda colored eggs too.



SKULLS- 13
BODIES- Who can tell? It’s gotta be spectacular. The plagues, pharaoh’s troops at the bottom of the Red Sea, it’s a slaughterhouse
For rent on Apple TV, Google Play, iTunes, Prime, Vudu, YouTube

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