The votes for the most recent reader poll are in… and y’all overwhelmingly chose The Breakfast Club (1985)! This movie galloped to an early lead when the poll went live last month — and never looked back, ending up with 75% (!) of the reader poll votes. 🙂
Here is a look at the final results of the poll:
I will be rewatching this classic ’80s movie, and more closely analyzing the setting of the school library and how it relates to the plot of the movie. So on the next regularly scheduled post on December 28th, I will be back with a film analysis post for The Breakfast Club. It’s like an extension of Christmas, right? 😉 Stay tuned!
In the meantime, if you’d like to peruse previous reader poll winner write-ups, please check out them out below:
It’s that time again — the twice-yearly reader poll! I started doing this in Spring 2014, for readers to choose what reel librarian movie I would analyze next. For reader polls in the past, I’ve done themes (like the “scary movie edition” theme in Fall 2018, and the “romantic adventure” theme in Spring 2018), but for this reader poll, I’ve rounded up options from a specific medium: VHS cassettes of reel librarian movies! Yes, I still have some VHS tapes in my media collection, as well as a VHS player. Sometimes you just have to go old-school. (No? Just me? Fine, I’m ok with that. 😉 )
Note: This post is NOT sponsored. This is a t-shirt from my real-life closet that I personally purchased. And ScreenCrush and host Ryan Arey have no idea I exist. I’m just a fan! 😉
So to tie in with my new old-school VHS t-shirt, I rounded up my remaining VHS versions of reel librarian movies. And it just so happened that they’re all from different decades and different genres — another grab bag of options, like the Spring 2022 grab bag reader poll! I’ve arranged the Fall 2022 reader poll movies below alphabetically by title, and the poll is at the bottom of this post.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
There is no actual reel librarian in this “Brat Pack” classic coming-of-age movie, but almost the entire movie is set in a school library, which I thought might be interesting to analyze. Five teenagers from five different high school social groups/cliques serve detention together on a Saturday in the school library. The movie stars Emilio Estevez as Andrew, the jock; Judd Nelson as John, the rebel; Molly Ringwald as Claire, the popular princess; Ally Sheedy as Allison, the loner; Anthony Michael Hall as Brian, the geek; and Paul Gleason as the vice principal.
Good News (1947)
In this musical, college library assistant and student Connie (June Allyson) falls for the football hero Tommy (Peter Lawford). He notices her when he goes to the library to look up a French word, and she helps him succeed in college. They sing the song “The French Lesson” while she closes up the library.
Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
In this romantic comedy-drama, a poor librarian (Richard Benjamin) from the Bronx has a summer romance with a privileged “Jewish-American princess” (Ali MacGraw), and their affair highlights how different their worlds are. At the public library, Benjamin tries to connect with a young Black boy who likes to look at art books. There are several scenes in the public library and several librarian co-workers (who are not as nice as Benjamin).
Personals (1990, TV movie)
In this TV movie mystery/thriller, Jennifer O’Neill plays a librarian, Heather Moore, who finds men through newspaper personal ads and kills them on the first date. A meek librarian by day, a killer by night! There are several scenes in the library that Heather works at.
Now is the time to choose your next adventure! What should I watch next? You decide! (Please note: The poll below can take a minute to load.)
The poll will stay open through the next few weeks, and I will reveal the winner on the next published post, scheduled for Dec. 14. I will then analyze the winning film in the next regularly scheduled post after that, on Dec. 28. A holiday gift for all the Reel Librarian readers? 😉
And please browse through all my posts tagged “reader poll” if you’re interested in past reader polls.
Both versions gift us with more reel librarians to “love, love to hate, or hate.”
Last month, I analyzed Joshua Grannell’s indie camp horror movie, All About Evil (2010), and in that post, I mentioned that the original inspiration and short film, Grindhouse (2003) was also included in the special edition Blu-Ray. (Please note that the 2003 short film Grindhouse is different than the 2007 feature film of the same name, starring Rose McGowan and Kurt Russell.) I thought it would be fun to continue the scary season in order to analyze the original short film and compare the portrayals of the central reel librarian character, Deborah “Deb” Tennis, in both versions.
If you’re unfamiliar with the central character and premise, the summary on the Blu-Ray edition for All About Evil captures the foundation of both the short film and feature film:
When a mousy librarian takes over her late father’s struggling movie theater, a series of grisly murders caught on camera will transform her into the new queen of indie splatter cinema.
Let’s start by outlining some basic info about each version:
All About Evil
Director & screenwriter
Lead actor playing Deb
Additional librarian characters
Mink Stole as Evelyn
No library scenes; Deb is referred to one time as a “dirty little librarian” by her mother
Two scenes set and filmed at San Francisco Public Library Presidio Branch library
Character played by Joshua Grannell
TV interviewer Richard Hunter
Peaches Christ, drag queen & horror movie buff
Comparing basic details of Grindhouse and All About Evil versions
Below is a visual comparison between how we first meet Jennifer Taher as Deb in Grindhouse vs. Natasha Lyonne in All About Evil. Both versions showcase Deb reading a book while at the concession stand, dressed in dowdy clothing and a messy bun. Interesting to note that the 2003 Deb wears glasses — a typical prop for the reel librarian! — while the 2010 Deb does not.
The initial transformation of Deb from librarian to a star — after her first kill is caught on the movie theater’s security camera and accidentally shown to the audience in the theater — remains very similar in both versions. Deb embraces her “star quality” after her first kill, and her liberation from librarian to filmmaker begins:
The way that Deb’s mother describes her also remains almost identical between both versions (except for an adjective used with “librarian”):
2003: “You are nothing but a dirty little librarian with big, big, big dreams, and hideous little looks. You read too much. You are nothing but a loser.”
2010: “You are nothing but a boring, little librarian with big, big dreams and hideous little looks. Besides, you read too much. You’re a loser.”
In both versions, this is the only time anyone refers to Deb as a librarian.
After this initial “first kill” scene, the rest of the short film then features a TV interview with Deb and interviewer Richard Hunter (Joshua Grannell), during which we flash back to scenes from her real-life slasher films. The TV interview and reporter also pops up in the feature film; the character, a much smaller role, is renamed Peter Gorge (Patrick Bristow). It’s also fun to see how different Deb looks in each incarnation:
Both versions feature tongue-in-(bloody)-cheek references to great literary works, which serve as the inspiration for Deb’s short films:
Film title / literary inspiration
All About Evil (2010)
A Tale of Two Severed Titties / A Tale of Two Cities, a novel by Charles Dickens
✓ (movie poster)
✓ (scene & movie poster)
The Slasher in the Rye / The Catcher in the Rye, a novel by J. D. Salinger
✓ (verbal reference)
The Scarlet Leper / The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Maiming of the Shrew / The Taming of the Shrew, a play by William Shakespeare
✓ (movie poster)
Gore and Peace / War and Peace, a novel by Leo Tolstoy
✓ (movie poster)
The Diary of Anne Frankenstein / a literary mashup from The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, and Frankenstein, a novel by Mary Shelley
✓ (movie poster)
The Satanic Nurses / The Satanic Verses, a novel by Salman Rushdie
✓ (movie poster)
I Know Why the Caged Girl Screams / I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a memoir by Maya Angelou
✓ (movie poster)
MacDeath / Macbeth, a play by William Shakespeare
✓ (movie poster)
Comparing literary references in Grindhouse and All About Evil
Beyond the movie titles and posters, Deb’s focus on literature is also highlighted in both versions:
In the 2003 short film, Deb states in the interview that “While it’s true my films are filled with gore and violence, if you look past all that, you’ll find the great literary works of all time.”
In the 2010 feature film, we see Deb doing research with a copy of A Tale of Two Cities in her hands, and she gets angry at Mr. Twigs when she suspects he hasn’t read the book she gave him.
This literary connection is also why I think it matters that we learn she’s a librarian in the opening scenes. Although Deb soon sheds her librarian persona in favor of being a “directress” (her own words in both versions), she remains true to her librarian and literary roots.
Here’s a visual comparison between the posters for “A Tale of Two Severed Titties” featured in both versions:
The closeups of Deb portraying “The Scarlet Leper” is also a fun visual comparison, as the bathroom setting for this short film remains similar in both versions.
The original short film doesn’t delve into WHY Deb kills people, beyond her first kill when she stabs her cruel, domineering mother. Grannell fleshes this out in the feature film version, and here’s how I described it in my post last month:
But in her mind, she doesn’t just murder people for fun… she murders them for a reason, because they break “the rules,” her rules. Yet in killing them, she becomes the ultimate rule-breaker herself.
Interestingly, in the 2003 short film, the interviewer also references rule-breaking when describing Deb:
I must say, Deborah, you truly are an original. Never one to play by the rules, you’ve carved out your own Hollywood-type niche.
Ultimately, when comparing the original 2003 short film with the 2010 feature film version, the broad strokes remain the same: Deb’s liberation from librarian to serial killer, her focus on literary works, her murderous method of making her short films, her evolving sense of style, as well as her growing self-confidence and ego. Grannell took the kernel of the idea and reel librarian character from the short film and expanded it, including adding another (epic!) reel librarian character (Evelyn, played by Mink Stole). The more expansive structure and additional characters makes sense, in order to turn a short film into a feature-length film, and it’s gratifying to realize that the foundation for both is similar and solid. Both versions gift us with more reel librarians to be able — as the reporter in Grindhouse puts it — to “love, love to hate, or hate.”