Making the Grades
If you are looking to scare up some summer fun for your family, then you might want to check your local video store for the spine-tingling, funny-bone tickling -- The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
Don Knotts plays (as only he can) Luther Heggs, a henpecked newspaper typesetter with high hopes of becoming a real reporter someday. Unfortunately, his over-reactive nervous nature is constantly getting in the way of his ambition.
But an opportunity to get a byline of his own presents itself when his boss (Dick Sargent) suggests he spend the night in the "old Simmons' place" to see if the house is really haunted. Home of a twenty-year-old unsolved murder/suicide, local interest has been reawakened in the crime by the return of Nicholas Simmons (Philip Ober), heir to the estate, and his plans to demolish the structure.
With some egging on from fellow journalist Ollie Weaver (Skip Homeier), and hoping to show the lovely Alma Parker (Joan Staley) that he's no chicken, Luther accepts the assignment. Entering the deserted residence (on a dark and stormy night, of course), he encounters every thing that can possibly go bump in the night. The insecure investigator returns to the paper office in a flap, with wild tales of mysterious organ music and a portrait that bleeds.
At first heralded as a hero by the superstitious townsfolk, Luther soon faces accusations of foul play with the Simmons' family name. Now he is forced to defend his honor, as well as face his fears, and seek for the long hidden truth.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken pulls out every spooky trick in the book, from black cats and bloody fingerprints to cobwebs and secret passageways. So convincing is the fright of the lead character, that young viewers may find themselves equally afraid. However, older children who can see the silliness of the script are not as likely to have their feathers ruffled. Fans of Don Knotts will appreciate how he struts his stuff in this slapstick thriller proving this comedic chicken is -- a la king.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
Luther is dared into spending the night in the haunted house. What factors do you think influenced his decision to accept the challenge? Was this an example of facing fear and discovering true potential, or simply buckling to peer pressure? How do you tell the difference between challenges that should be accepted and a poor idea that should be walked away from?
What classic techniques does the movie use to create suspense and fear?