29.3.11

Worth Watching - The Aughts (2000-2009)


00
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Ginger Snaps
Scream 3
Final Destination
Shadow of The Vampire

01
Brotherhood of The Wolf 
The Bunker
Jeepers Creepers
Session 9
Wendigo
Trouble Every Day

02
Cabin Fever
May
28 Days Later

03

Dead End
Freddy Vs. Jason
Haute Tension
House of 1,000 Corpses
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)
Underworld
Undead
Villmark
Wrong Turn

04
The Butterfly Effect
Calvaire
Naboer
Cube Zero
Dawn of The Dead (remake)
Night Watch
Saw
Shaun of The Dead
Taking Lives
Three... Extremes

05
Antikorper (Antibodies)
Cache
The Cave
Cry_Wolf
Cursed
The Descent
The Devil's Rejects
Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist
Feast
Hostel
House of Wax
Land of The Dead
Saw II
Sheitan
Wolf Creek

06
The Abandoned
Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Bug
Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey)
Day Watch (sequel to 2004 film Night Watch)
The Devil's Chair
Grimm Love
The Hills Have Eyes (remake)
The Host
Mulberry Street
Saw III
Silent Hill
Slither
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Ils (Them)
The Tripper
The Woods

07
28 Weeks Later
1408
Borderland
Catacombs
Frontiere(s)
Grindhouse
Halloween (remake)
Hannibal Rising
Hostel Part II
A L'interieur (Inside)
The Mother of Tears
El Orfantano
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
[Rec]
Saw IV
Shrooms
The Signal
Teeth
Vacancy
Whisper
Wind Chill
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
Zodiac

08
Acolytes
The Burrowers
Fritt Vilt II
The Children
Cloverfield
The Cottage
Deadgirl
Diary of The Dead
Eden Lake
Home Movie
The Horseman
Lake Mungo
Let The Right One In
Rovdyr
The Ruins
Saw V
Splinter
The Strangers
The Wild Man of The Navidad

09
Antichrist
Blood Creek (any horror movie with Nazis is pretty gnarly)
Carriers
Case 39
The Collector
Doghouse
The Final
Halloween II (remake)
The Hills Run Red
The House of The Devil
Hush
Laid To Rest
The Loved Ones
Mutants
Long Weekend (remake)
The Objective
Orphan
Perkins' 14
Rampage
Saw VI
Splice
Survival of The Dead
The Thaw
Thirst
Tormented
The Triangle
Trick R' Treat
The Wild Hunt (not a true horror but close to the end it gets creepier and more unsettling towards the horror genre)

My Personal Favourites...
- The Wild Hunt
- Perkins' 14
- The OBjective
- The Loved Ones
- The Hills Run Red
- House of The Devil
- Carriers
- The Final
- Rovdyr
- Splinter
- Ils (Them)
- Brotherhood of The Wolf
- Session 9 (one of my all-time favourites)
- Wendigo
- Trouble Every Day (genius)
- Haute Tension
- House of 1,000 Corpses
- Villmark
- Naboer
- Calvaire
- Antikorper
- Cache
- The Cave
- May
- 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later
- Bug
- Fritt Vilt I & II
- Day Watch/Night Watch
- The Woods
- Grimm Love
- The Abandoned
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Worth Watching - The 1990s


90

Buried Alive
Jacob's Ladder
The Exorcist III
Flatliners
Stephen King's It
Misery
Nightbreed
Tremors

91
Begotten
Ernest Scared Stupid (it was a childhood favourite- ease up)
The People Under The Stairs

92
Alien 3
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Candyman
Dust Devil
Man Bites Dog

93

Army of Darkness
Cronos
The Dark Half
Leprechaun
Schramm

94
Dellamorte Dellamore
Nattevagten (Nightwatch)
Nadja
Needful Things
Wes Craven's New Nightmare

95
Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh
Copycat
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The Prophecy

96
The Craft
From Dusk 'Til Dawn
Scream
Thinner

97
Event Horizon
Nightwatch (remake)
The Relc
Cube
Scream 2
The Ugly
Wishmaster

98
Fallen
The Last Broadcast
Ringu
Urban Legend

99
Audition
The Blair Witch Project
Los Sin Nombre
The Ninth Gate
Ravenous
Resurrection
Sleepy Hollow
Stir of Echoes

My Personal Favourites...
- Jacob's Ladder
- Flatliners (Julia Roberts is my wife she just doesn't know)
- Candyman
- In The Mouth of Madness
- Nadja
- Copycat
- The Prophecy
- The Craft
- From Dusk 'Til Dawn
- Scream
- Event Horizon
- Nattevagten
- Cube
- The Ugly
- The Last Broadcast (until the final 15 minutes of the film that ruined everything)
- Fallen
- Audition
- The Ninth Gate
- Ravenous (possibly my favourite horror of all-time)
- Resurrection

Worth Watching - The 1970s


70

And Soon The Darkness
The Wizard of Gore
Mark of The Devil

71

Let's Scare Jessica To Death
Tombs of The Blind Dead (zombie Templar Knights- cool as fuck!)
Twitch of The Death Nerve

72

Death Line (also known as Raw Meat)
The Last House on The Left

73

The Crazies
Torso
The Wicker Man
Ganja & Hess
The Legend of Hell House

74

Black Christmas
Deranged
Devil Times Five
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

75

Jaws
Race With The Devil
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Shivers
Ilsa: She Wolf of The SS

76

Alice, Sweet Alice (also known as Communion)
Burnt Offerings
Ilsa: Harem Keeper of The Oil Sheiks
The Omen
Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom
Who Can Kill A Child?

77

The Hills Have Eyes
Last Cannibal World
Orca The Killer Whale
Rabid
Suspiria

78

Damien: Omen II
Dawn of The Dead
Halloween
I Spit On Your Grave
Jaws 2
Invasion of The Body Snatchers
The Toolbox Murders

79

Alien
The Amityville Horror
The Brood
Buio Omega
Phantasm
Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht
Tourist Trap
Zombi 2 (you know a movie is bad ass when it's not a sequel but still has the number 2 after it)
When A Stranger Calls

My Personal Favourites....

- And Soon The Darkness
- Tombs of The Blind Dead
- The Last House on The Left
- Torso
- The Wicker Man
- The Legend of Hell House
- Black Christmas
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Shivers
- Ilsa: She Wolf of The SS
- Alice, Sweet Alice
- Burnt Offerings
- The Omen
- Who Can Kill A Child?
- The Hills Have Eyes
- Dawn of the Dead
- Halloween
- Invasion of The Body Snatchers
- Alien
- The Amityville horror
- The Brood
- Buio Omega
- When A Stranger Calls

Worth Watching - The 1960s

Significantly less titles came out of the 60s than most of the other decades, but these are the films I felt were excellent from that era...


60
Le Masque Du Demon
Eyes Without A Face

61
The Innocents
The Pit and The Pendulum

62
Carnival of Souls

63
The Birds
The Haunting
Blood Feast

64
2,000 Maniacs
The Last Man on Earth (the good version of the story used for I Am Legend & Omega Man)

65
Color Me Blood Red

66
Hour of The Wolf
Night of The Living Dead
Rosemary's Baby

My Personal Favourites...

- Eyes Without A Face
- The Innocents
- The Haunting
- 2,000 Maniacs
- The Last Man on Earth
- Night of the Living Dead
- Hour of The Wolf

Worth Watching - The 1980s

1980

Anthropophagus (The Beast)
The Fog
Friday the 13th
Cannibal Holocaust
He Knows You're Alone
Maniac
The Shining
Don't Go In The House

1981

The Burning
The Entity
Evil Dead
Friday the 13th Part II
Halloween II
The Howling
Just Before Dawn
My Bloody Valentine
The Omen III: The Final Conflict
Possession
The Prowler
Scanners

1982

Pieces
Poltergeist
The Thing
Visiting Hours
Unhinged

1983

The House on Sorority Row
The Keep
Psycho II
Sleepaway Camp
Videodrome

1984

Children of the Corn
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Gremlins
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Silent Night, Deadly Night

1985

Combat Shock
Day of the Dead
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
A Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge
Re-Animator

1986

Aliens
Blue Velvet
The Fly
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer
The Hitcher
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

1987

Evil Dead 2
Hellraiser
Near Dark
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Predator
Prince of Darkness
The Stepfather

1988

Child's Play
Dead Ringers
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Maniac Cop
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Phantasm II
Pumpkinhead
The Serpent & The Rainbow

1989

Clownhouse
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Leviathan
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Pet Sematary
Scarecrows

My Personal Favourites:

- The Fog
- Don't Go In The House
- The Entity
- Friday the 13th Part II
- Halloween II
- Just Before Dawn
- My Bloody Valentine
- Possession
- The Prowler
- Pieces
- The Thing
- Visiting Hours
- The Keep
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Day of the Dead
- A Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge
- Blue Velvet
- Henry: A Portrait of A Serial Killer
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
- Hellraiser
- Near Dark
- Prince of Darkness
- Dead Ringers
- The Serpent and The Rainbow
- Clownhouse
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Enjoy!

6.3.11

Fritt Vilt III (Cold Prey 3)

Directed by Mikkel Braenne Sandemose
Written by Peder Fuglerud & Lars Gudmestad
Starring: Ida Marie Bakkerud
              Kim S. Falck-Jorgensen
              Pal Stokka
              Julie Rusti
              Arthur Berning
              Sturla Rui
              Nils Johnson

**** (4/5 stars)

              First off, I'll be reviewing the other two installments of this franchise soon but I wanted to do this one while still fresh in my mind.  I waited a long time to finally see this, and just finished watching it earlier.  I love prequels and Fritt Vilt III gives us a glimpse back at the traumatic childhood of a killer; the mountain man from the previous films in the series is given a much more elaborate backstory than what we had seen in the first and second Fritt Vilt.  Just to give you an idea, the story basically revolves around a boy who ran away from home at a secluded mountain hotel into the Norwegian wilderness and was never found.  After that there starts a wave of disappearances in the mountains around the hotel, the first two films involve current events but here in the third installment we get the real story about how his stepfather hated him because of his deformity (a large type of birthmark over the left eye and side of his face) and basically drove him from the hotel; later, the boy returns to kill the stepfather as well as his mother who seemingly stood by and let the abuse happen.  Then we jump ahead 12 years as we watch a group of young people head out into the forest near the hotel, looking to find the abandoned place and search around  for something interesting.  We also get a glimpse of the boy's creepy uncle who inhabits the woods in a cabin out of the way, and the police officer who went searching for the boy 12 years ago but found nothing.

       The one thing that surprised me was the backstory- in the other films, we get the impression that the boy simply ran off or got lost in the wilderness somewhere but this one gives us a look at the abusive past and what drove him to run.  It's not long but we see enough to understand (not justify) why he went crazy and started killing.  The uncle was a good addition because that gave us a feasible explanation for how the boy survived instead of freezing to death like you would imagine might happen to a young kid all alone.  We get a big creep factor early on from the uncle and that adds to the somber tone of the film.

       One of the things I love about this series in particular is that, like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, the killer is extremely, brutishly strong.  A scene that really shows this is near the end when the uncle is fed up with him and points a shotgun in his direction- the killer grabs the shotgun so quick and hard that the uncle has no time to squeeze the trigger.  It happens so fast that the viewer is all of a sudden in the room, shocked by the force of the mountain man.  Another instance is the first kill, which I won't give away.
       The killer is also calculating and intelligent, despite what you may think.  One of the characters takes out his gun partway through, before they realize they're being hunted down, and loads it up- shortly after, as soon as the killer starts mowing through the rest of these people he takes out the guy with the gun first.  This dashes all hopes in the viewer's mind that they might make it out of this easily- not likely. In a later scene after he disarms his uncle of the shotgun, the remaining two survivors run down into the basement and instead of just shooting where they were (if you notice, most movies are like that) he aims into the wall where they're running down the stairs and tries to blow them away through the hardwood.  To me, these little things are what improve a movie killer's persona.

       Something about this film I enjoyed thoroughly was that it changed up the scenery from the first two, instead of being snowbound this time we get a lot of good cinematography in the forests of Norway.  Lots of green and brown, flourishing fauna, all sorts of beautiful imagery.  This is one factor I think that makes all three films contrast well with the murder and mayhem that's going on inside it- we get these beautiful, serene looking locations and then atop all that there are people being murdered and beaten to death all around us.  The locations here are wonderfully shot and it adds another level to this film.

       The whole trilogy of Fritt Vilt is built upon strong female characters.  In the first film it's a woman who is the survivor, battling him seemingly to death at the hands of a crevasse in the Norwegian tundras.  The second picks right up after the first when the woman is hospitalized and the body of the killer is excavated from the pit he fell into, along with the victims he was dumping there- but then he wakes up in the hospital and she has to fight him all over again, with the help of a few reluctant individuals.  The prequel is no different: the ones who are fighting the hardest to survive are the female characters.  The men either end up dead or wounded severely.  Of course we know it's a prequel so obviously the killer doesn't die, right?  Well we still get that strong female character coming out on top but with a devastating twist at the end.  The finale could have been very typical but it took a turn I really didn't expect and I was very pleased with that.

       In all, there are some really creepy scenes that just chilled me to the bone and there are lots of great kills that you'd expect in a horror film.  Lots of people don't think that the original film was a very good one but as a horror fanatic I found it amazing.  The same people think that this was terrible but I think that it's a great prequel for an even greater series; this is a new age for slasher films.  We need to constantly broaden the horizons of what constitutes a slasher film (and horror films in general) because we need more new ground for people to step on and experiment with.  Norway has a few really great horror films that I've become an outrageous fan of- I wouldn't even mind seeing another one of these installments in the series, but who knows where that would take us.  Either way, I hope more films like this start to come out.

19.2.11

My Top 5 Scariest Scenes

                I have seen copious amounts of horror over the years, but I sat down recently and tried to come up with my top 5 scariest scenes.  Now what you need to really think about is how would you really feel, how would you really act in the position of these unsuspecting victims?  We know we're watching a horror film, but when you try to put yourself in the characters shoes it becomes different.  It's all about atmosphere.  Sit down in the dark, by yourself, throw on any of these movies and see if you don't get at least one good scare.

5) Hostel gives me the creeps just thinking about it, I don't care what anybody says- that movie is incredible.  Nearing the end when all is revealed, Paxton is brought to the factory where it all goes down (and we get a sweet Takashi Miike cameo: "Be careful- you could spend all your money in that place").  What ensues is some of the creepiest stuff I've ever seen.





4) Forever will The Shining frighten the life out of me.  Any scene in this film could be on the list really, but it's mainly the point where Jack snaps and is following Wendy around and up the stairs.  I once memorized that monologue that he does for a drama class.  It amazes me to watch Jack Nicholson act, and Shelley Duvall was perfectly terrified.  Another especially creepy moment is when the person dressed as the dog is giving a man on the bed a blowjob- weird.


3) The ice skating scene from Curtains.  The killer in this little known Canadian film is one of the scariest I've ever seen because of the mask.  It's like an old man with long, woman's hair.  Add that to the fact that the killer then skates after one of the victims and you've got a few really creepy moments leading up to a kill.


2) The mine scenes in My Bloody Valentine.  Breaking the lights as he stalks down the narrow mine hallways after his victims, coming out of the darkness in the tunnels.  The beginning scenes of Harry Warden being trapped in the mine and all that business, also creepy.  When they find him as the sole survivor, he almost looks like one of the zombies from Dawn of the Dead.


1) Leatherface's debut in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre- there is absolutely nothing scarier.  A huge maniac covered in human skin, wielding a chainsaw and screaming?  You tell me you've got the balls not to piss your pants after that and I'll show you a bullshitter.



18.2.11

The Last House on the Left = Realism

The Last House on the Left (1972) vs. The Last House on the Left (2009)
1972
Directed by Wes Craven

Written by Wes Craven & Ulla Isaksson (earlier screenplay)

Produced by Sean S. Cunningham
    Katherine D'Amato
    Steve Miner

Editing: Wes Craven

Original Music by David Alexander Hess

Cinematography: Victor Hurwitz

Starring: David Hess
      Sandra Peabody
      Lucy Grantham
      Fred J. Lincoln
      Marc Sheffler
      Richard Towers
      Cynthia Carr


2009
Directed by Dennis Iliadis

Written by Adam Alleca & Carl Ellsworth
Based on the screenplay by Wes Craven

Produced by Wes Craven
    Cody Zwieg
        Ray Haboush
    Sean S. Cunningham

Editing: Pete McNulty

Original Music by John Murphy

Casting:  Scout Masterson & Nancy Nayor

Starring: Tony Goldwyn
      Monica Potter
      Garret Dillahunt
      Aaron Paul
      Spencer Treat Clark
      Sara Paxton
      Riki Lindhome


In 1972, Wes Craven directed his gritty debut The Last House on the Left.  The tagline was "To avoid fainting keep repeating: it's only a movie, it's only a movie, it's only a movie...".  It was a brutal, vicious film about two girls on the way to a rock concert who end up getting abducted by a gang of escaped convicts, led by the incomparable David A. Hess as Krug Stillo.  The lesser known facts are that it's based on the 13th century Swedish ballad "Töres dotter i Wänge" on which Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring is also based.  An incredibly ambitious first project which landmarked Craven as a new and interesting face in horror.  There have been many things said about the film, that it's useless, it's sick and utterly depraved, but then in 2006 Rogue Pictures picked up the film rights for the remake slated being the first film produced by Craven's new production studio- Midnight Pictures.  He had limited funds in 1972 and now was interested to see what could be done with an ambitious director and more cash.  The new film was darker looking and even more realistic than the original, which many thought probably harder to do.  Both contain a rape scene which was criticized in the 70s and once again in 2009 after the film was finally released, if not more so in the remake.  Many things can be said about this film, but certainly that it isn't interesting can't be one of them.

The rape scene in the original 1972 version was nowhere near as graphic and extended as the remake, which is something I prefer; most new horror movies, or remakes of some classics, always have to go for that nastier version.  In the original, even the brutal scenes where they toy with the girls (including the rape scene) has a tinge of humour in it, along with David Hess' original music that adds the definitive 70s feel and some camp to the overall film.  Craven went for a more subdued feel, even though the movie is still a brutal, realistic trip into hell; in the remake, it seems mainly they were going for all shock value instead of emotionality.
David Hess plays a much creepier and ruthless criminal in the original than Garret Dillahunt, although the latter is especially ruthless in the humiliation of the girls and the eventual rape.  Hess is a more typical bad guy, in the sense that he really toys with the character of Mr. Colling in their big showdown; he taunts the father to pick up a weapon to help himself out and even the odds, and he even taunts his own son into killing himself when he pulls a gun on him.

The killing of Weasel is a lot better in the 1972 version than the death of Aaron Paul's character (although the manner of death is much cooler and more gory in the remake, of course).  Mrs. Collingwood comes on to Weasel and lures him outside for a little fellatio, then proceeds to bite off whatever she can fit in her mouth; when Monica Potter's character tries to seduce Aaron Paul, however, she does a very realistic job of portraying the emotions of her character because she is very nervous about being near one of the men who killed her daughter, whereas Mrs. Collingwood in the original acted as if nothing had happened and it almost seemed too easy.
The ending in the original 1972 version is a lot better than the remake, mainly due to the fact that we see (most likely) there will be consequences to the parents actions for their revenge, when the sheriff shows up just as the last of the gang is being killed.  As much as we can relate to the parents and say we would kill the ones who hurt our loved ones, there is still the fact that in reality there would be payment due for their vengeful actions.  In the remake, we just get one last throttle as Krug's head is placed in a microwave to be blown to bits by the parents. 

It seems in the remake we get more of a clear understanding on the part of the parents that their daughter was killed by Krug and his gang; apart from the shot of the necklace on Krug Junior, there's not a whole lot of evidence that the gang was responsible, where in the remake we also get a good scene where the son notices a picture of Mary on the fridge and goes white as a ghost with Mrs. Collingwood looking on.  Of course, we know what the necklace means and especially once they discover their daughter in the woods, but it just seems that Craven sort of jumped right in without caring about any fortified proof on the parents behalf- not a major plothole, but just a small one that I noticed upon rewatching the original version.  Then again- maybe I missed something?

One big improvement, which is also very obvious, is that the look of the film is newer and it's very well shot.  As much as I love movies from the 60s and 70s, a lot of older films sometimes do not stand the test of time with a lot of audiences mainly due to the fact that it looks so old and the grainy filmstock creates this vintage look that a lot of people are put off by (which I have personally heard a lot of people from my generation say).  If nothing else, the more slick look of the remake has drawn an audience that normally would never have heard about this film- hopefully a lot of those people who enjoyed the remake might have decided to go and have a look back at the original.  As much as I wish Hollywood would concentrate more on original screenplays and new ideas, one good function of the remake is that a lot of times it draws more of an audience towards the original films and gets people into some classic, older cinema.
Another advantage that a remake in our time has is that the sleeker look (most) films have today can enhance the dirty, nasty feel and look of a film.  The gang looks greasier, nastier in this version, the blood looks better and it looks disgusting- all this is possible because of the technology nowadays, so it doesn't fully take away from the gritty feel of the original, it just gives the grit a different taste in our mouths.

In closing, I have to say that there is merit in the rape and revenge theme of The Last House on the Left because it's realism; life is ugly, ugly things happen to good people some times.  I do agree with certain critics that the remake, the rape scene mainly, is almost too realistic for people to handle.  Some times less is more, and I think Wes Craven as a director understood that best when pertaining to the difficult issue of the rape when filming the original.  Of course it was still over the top, it was still ruthless and disturbing yet it still was subtle at points where it really needed to be.  We want to see the revenge but to see it we also have to experience the incident that triggered, and therein lies the difficulty.  We're there to see the horror aspects, people want to see the death and destruction that a horror film usually brings.  An exploitation film such as The Last House on the Left gives us that but also tries to bring us right into the real world by involving the rape.  The film, both versions, is a very difficult and realistic look at a terribly ugly part of human life and art usually does imitate life.  We want to see all of the beauty but we are so afraid to look at the pain.

11.2.11

Censorship & Horror

                Why is it that Billy Bob Thornton & Halle Berry can have nasty sex on camera for several minutes yet horror filmmakers are forced to pick and poke at their films only to remove sometimes just seconds of footage to obtain a suitable rating?  There is an odd grey area in which it seems people morally stand when watching things on film.  We see news of assassinations in other countries on the television and even JFK's death gets watched regularly as the internet becomes a greater influence on news media.  When watching movies, most times stories that are fictional, people seem to feel that there is a greater need to subdue the material that's being presented; granted, I can acknowledge that horror films are for the most far more graphic and disturbing than the news but the fact is that it's still fiction.  When teens get pregnant and have abortions you never hear people protesting about sex in movies, yet any time a teenager kills someone or a school shooting happens you can almost bet money on the fact that specific movies will be referenced (the taglines might as well be quoted).  When did we draw a line in the sane deciding it's okay to show sex but violence which we already hear about every day on the news is a big no-no?  When most recent statistics show teen pregnancy births in the USA at 494, 357 (for 2009) while murders in the country amounted to 16,204 in the same year, how can anyone viably argue that violence is what's influencing young minds the most?  All questions and no answers.  It's said that the media in all it's forms affects our youths the most yet in the statistics we clearly see where the problem lies - 16, 204 homicides is a terrible figure, proving itself to be menial when compared to teenage pregnancy births which is near 30 times higher.  Murder is horrid and inexcusable, but what about the irresponsible creation of life?  Putting more people on the planet than can be manageable in a roundabout way requires more people to die- for balance.  When critics argue that horror movies poison the minds of our youth (and the population in general), I just feel that Jason's mother had it right- the ones who are drinking and fucking go first.


       We can blame some of it on the fact that the ratings system didn't really kick into full gear until the mid to late 80s, but there are some films that should have been rated right alongside a lot of horrors.  Gremlins & Raiders of the Lost Ark both helped Spielberg (who produced and directed respectively) give birth to the PG-13 rating due to some scenes that definitely classify as full on horror.  Beetlejuice managed a PG even though he was a horny pervert who even uses the word "fuck" at one point in the uncut version, and also grabs his balls.  Even Jaws only got a PG stamp originally- one of the defining horror movies of the 1970s, a classic and the birth of the true summer blockbuster.  The Graduate, in particular I would like to mention, only received a PG rating.  So, we don't want children watching an R movie about a man who isn't real that comes in your dreams and kills you, yet it's fine if they see a much older married woman committing adultery by seducing a much younger college kid into an affair?  Believe me, I think it should ALL be allowed, under discretion- but why promote one and shun the other?  Expose people to all or none of it, there should be no distinction between the two.  On the subject of moral standing, don't they both seem to be amoral?  Justifying one is justifying the other.



       Times change it seems for most genres but some things just stay the same.  Midnight Cowboy received the dreaded X rating although still winning Best Picture and 32 years later the previously mentioned Monster's Ball only got an R, winning Halle her Oscar.  Even though the ratings loosened a little, both pictures garnered Academy Awards.  Where are the Best Foreign Film awards, even nominations, for Dario Argento?  Why didn't Hitchcock win for Psycho?  Midnight Cowboy, a film which I own and love, is an exceptional production and deserved an Oscar nod but is it a film that deserved an Academy Award for Best Picture in the same world where Psycho did not win Alfred Hitchcock an Oscar for Best Director?  It boggles my mind how a piece of work can be ignored solely due to the subject matter being that of horror.  The Academy does not want a slasher to hold the gold.  Now if your killer is a racist on Death Row- Oscar bait.  If your film is about the Holocaust or another genocide, the Academy wants YOU.  Did you play a role where you are beaten, raped and later murdered in a story about love against all odds?  Start writing your Oscar speech.  Where do we draw the line?  Apparently sex is fine, even taboo stuff sometimes, as long as nobody gets killed- wait... people can get killed, but it has to be fashionable and make it sexy.  It can't be too real, we wouldn't want to get too close to reality.  As long as it looks less threatening, as long as there's some humanity in it- oh, like the humane scene in which Hilary Swank is brutally beaten and raped in the backseat of a car by two men?  The role she won her first Oscar for.  Good thing that rape isn't traumatizing like those nasty horror films...

       Funny thing is nowadays it's like the sex is getting more violent, but regular violence is still pushed back to the darkest corners of cinema.  It seems every second new "torture porn" or remake of a classic features a tediously long rape scene, single handedly proving that sex is predominate over all other appeals.  Sure, people love to see a bunch of teens running around in the woods getting killed one by one- but they also love to see a good rape.  It's disturbing.  You can say the same thing that wanting to see murder on screen is sick and twisted but even if it seems funny to have such an ethical code when it comes to killing versus sexual assault, don't you think that enjoy watching rape is a little creepier?  Sexual violence is a whole different form of depravity.  There can be some of that in horror but that's when the genre becomes weak, the reason why the "torture porn" generation of films coming out as of late is a plague on the horror genre as a whole.  Sexual violence becomes the main focus of these films and sucks life out of the story; rape and sexual assault is emotionally exhausting because it's not a natural part of life as much as people can argue for the case of instinct, whereas death is more natural (even if it is at the hands of some maniac killer but you get what I'm saying).

       I understand fully that a nipple or a vagina is nowhere near being as disturbing as a decapitation, a chopped off hand or a mutilated penis; you'd have to be a serial killer to actually think that way.  What I am saying is this: it's all fake, it's art.  Too long have we assumed that death isn't in art, but then how do you explain someone like Francis Bacon?  The grotesque and weird paintings he created are straight from something of horror.  One of the paintings that inspired him greatly was The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens which depicts a Biblical mass murder when Herod ordered to have all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity that were two years old and younger killed.  Salvador Dali influenced generations of artists of every kind, and also made one of the strangest films of all-time: a sixteen minute short film, a dreamlike movie with no real plot and also some creepy eyeball mutilation.  So why is it that a slasher film couldn't be considered art?  I'm not saying that some of these terrible, low budget slasher movies should be looked at like a work of art, but I'm wondering why can't it be like that?  If I made a serious and well scripted slasher film, why couldn't that be considered to be a masterpiece just as much as a work of drama or a thriller, or any other genre?  People watch shows about crime scene forensics and programs about real, violent crimes because of a morbid fascination with death and murder.  Truly, it's the fascinating concept of evil that intrigues us all.  Yet people are so afraid of such obvious works of fiction.  We want to see documentaries and shows about real life crime stories of murder, rape, terror, but we're so afraid of the fictional boogeyman.  This proves that the general sheeplike public is afraid of what we ALL have inside us: imagination.  And maybe that's why they're so afraid.

       *Statistic shown on teenage pregnancy births and homicides in USA for 2009 all available on NationMaster.com*

8.2.11

Classic & Modern Horror: Distinction

                Horror films need to be divided into two large categories: classic and modern.  Now within those two categories there are plenty of sub-genres, but to me there is a distinct moment in movie history where modern horror broke through the classic mould and created a land of opportunity for new, thirsty filmmakers, young and old.  
One of the two moments I'm talking about was in 1968, when George A. Romero made the modern horror masterpiece Night of the Living Dead; no longer were filmmakers and writers confined to classic horror monsters and killers such as Frankenstein, Dracula, the mummy, the wolfman, or a plethora of giant monsters and alien life forms.  Now, there was a new threat in the horror world, a threat of infection, madness, and consumption of HUMAN FLESH!  Romero singlehandedly ushered in a new era of horror that has inspired new artists in the genre right to the present day.  He also created a unique form of social commentary with the zombie film, where he could push civil rights with a strong, black protagonist (also poking at racist America with the shocking ending of the movie), and take shots at consumerism in the United States with Dawn of the Dead, using the shopping mall as a perfect setting.  
The second moment in movie history I'm talking about, although technically this one came before the first I mentioned (nobody said I'm going chronological here), is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.  Hitchcock did something similar in the sense that he took the concept of the psychopathic killer and turned it on it's head by relying heavily on psychological theories (the ending is a testament to this as the psychologist explains what Norman Bates went through to end up so disturbed); Norman Bates opened the door for many new slasher films and personalities, a door to a more complex, innovative horror film.  
Indeed, Alfred Hitchcock & George A. Romero had both created something innovative & unique in their films and this is why I feel that classic & modern horror films are now distinguishable when it comes to their subject matter.  

An example of distinction between a classic horror film and a modern one is The Night of the Hunter.  Now most likely a lot of people would put this in the category of a thriller or maybe even film noir, but I consider it to be a classic horror film because Robert Mitchum's character was a killer, and he was a terrorizer of children as well.  This is an example of a classic because there is no blood, there's no 'jump out at you with scary music just for the sake of scaring you', there's no sex and debauchery- it's all built on suspense and tension, the unease that Mitchum creates with his psychotic character.  So you take this classic film and you then look at a modern horror, such as The Stepfather, which also plays on a lot of the same themes excluding money (which does lean The Night of the Hunter towards film noir).  This film is a more modern horror because it plays on sexuality at times, it has more graphic violence, it has blood.  The main character is a lot like Mitchum's, in the sense that they're both very disturbed individuals, but the fact that The Night of the Hunter was made in the 50's also comes with restrictions due to the public opinion on sex & violence in the movies.  We see a lot of similarities between two movies such as these, even when they are 30 years in the difference, but we also can distinctly see what classifies each as it does; such is the case with a lot of films after Hitchcock and Romero forever stamped their signature on the genre.  
The older of the two relies heavily on the religious fanaticism of Robert Mitchum's character, whereas The Stephfather had a psychologically disturbed man searching for the perfect all-American family and was ready to kill if that wasn't what he got.  The two differ also distinctly in the fact that at the end of the latter, Terry O'Quinn's character was seemingly killed off; at the end of The Night of the Hunter, Robert Mitchum was merely caught and put in jail by the police.  One obvious and significant difference between classic & modern horror films is that a classic film usually relies totally on atmosphere and the script.  In modern horror films, it's not that the scripts always suffer as a rule or anything but it seems that a lot of filmmakers use other factors to create the horror of a picture nowadays.  After Hitchcock and Romero both redefined what a horror film could be, people took different things from what they had done to create their own stories.  Some people used the psychological factors from Hitchcock's perfect film about Norman Bates to create endless new slashers with disturbing problems behind their killing sprees.  Others took to the 'shock' factor that came along with Romero and his zombies, the infections, viruses, the outbreaks of consuming disease that rendered human beings into hideously deformed cannibals.  What they all took from it was this: more gore.  The classics never relied on it because it wasn't really something that any films had jumped into, but with the notorious shower scene in Psycho along with the brain & gut eating crazies in Romero's magnum opus later in the decade, modern horror filmmakers found they could use blood a little (or a lot) to make the atmosphere even darker.  


  The increase of blood and guts in modern horror films opened up a new door- a door which didn't always lead in the right direction.  It's not like there weren't bad films before the change in horror cinema, but there's certainly a lot more potential for cheesy and terrible movies now that gore is so prominent.  Herschell Gordon Lewis is the name that comes to mind when I think of bloody movies that are effective; not all of his films were great but his incredible Two Thousand Maniacs in 1964 in particular is one of the best gore films.  Others have tried to do what he has done, some have succeeded but many stray so far into using the gore as a technique to further the horror in the film that they forget to use anything else.  Atmosphere and setting fall by the wayside when filmmakers focus too much on trying to shock the viewer visually, which has truly become clear over the last decade.  Hostel, which I feel is one of the best modern horrors in recent years, opened the door even further for more 'torture porn' (which I think the cannibal movies through the 70s & 80s as well as the Ilsa films really started) to shock and terrify viewers.  A few other films hit the mark such as Turistas, due to more innovative ideas, but most usually delve too deep into the blood and guts to tell a good story.  It can really damage a film if it's not used correctly, just like any other technique.  Filmmaking in any genre is a collective effort between many different aspects, a meshing of elements to create one united picture.  It's like the way an artist mixes together different paints on a palette to create that one unique colour and if you mix in too much of one colour it just overpowers the end result.

  There are many differences from looks, to production, to thematic elements and to the overall tone, between classic and modern horror films.  The divide between the times is clear in my mind, as I mentioned before.  Alfred Hitchcock forever defined what a horror movie slasher could be, as George A. Romero reinvented the movie monster in a way that nobody could ever dream of.  It only fits that the two people who've influenced me the most in my aspirations of filmmaking are the ones who changed the genre of which I'm a diehard fan.  I also mentioned a film by Eli Roth, who I think has the potential to be named among the previous two filmmakers (one of these days); Roth has a talent for creating unique characters and for innovative scriptwriting.  Film continues to evolve, and I hope the filmmakers themselves do as well.  I'd like to see someone twist the genre on it's head again soon because without that we'll see a longer trend of unimaginative movies about torture and remakes of rape revenge flicks.
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