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Talking pictures: 'Wild Things' really is too scary for kids under 8

Published: Sunday, Oct. 18 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

At the risk of repeating myself: The movie version "Where the Wild Things Are" might be too intense and too scary for young children.

In fact, I'd suggest that parents see it before they take their children to the film — or at least limit it to kids ages 8 or older.

That might sound a bit extreme, but I've already witnessed what experience the live-action versions of Maurice Sendak's beloved Wild Things creations can do to impressionable young minds.

Children at the promotional screening I attended were clearly upset by the sight of the hulking, monstrous creatures … no matter how kind and "human" their features, voices and actions were.

(A combination of puppetry, performance art, computer-generated animation and voice work was used to bring the beasts to life.)

As far as the film itself is concerned, director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers clearly made it for those of us who grew up reading and loving the 1963 storybook.

There are a lot layers to the story and characters, as well as adult-type material (allusions to marital and family strife). I'm still not sure I caught or understood all of it.

I think it's a movie that bears further study, especially down the road when it's had time to "breathe." And there's no denying its visual beauty.

HOWEVER … "Wild Things" is not the scariest movie that's currently in theaters. Not by a long shot. And neither is the hit horror-comedy "Zombieland."

That honor belongs to "Paranormal Activity," the micro-budgeted horror movie about a supernatural "home invasion."

I still haven't had the chance to see the current theatrical version, though did get to experience it in its original form, when the movie debuted at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival.

It was creepy back then, especially if you're one of those that spooks at every little noise in the middle of the night.

SPEAKING OF SCARY: Edison Street's Organ Loft, 3331 S. 150 East, continues its yearly tradition of showing "The Phantom of the Opera."

Featuring Lon Chaney as the title character, this 1925 version of the much-filmed tale is still the best committed to celluloid.

Show time all three nights (Oct. 21-23) is 7:30 p.m.

The silent-movie house is also bringing in the rarely seen 3-D version of "Nosferatu," under the title "Orlok the Vampire," Nov. 5-7.

Tickets for Organ Loft programs are $5, though there will be a $1 charge for 3-D glasses.

You may want to call the theater, 801-485-9265, for reservations since these programs could sell out. Or browse www.organloftslc.com for more information.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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