Off Topic Messages

Ten favourite Horror Films

Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:50 pm

This was posted today on my blog, and I thought it might be of interest to some of you...

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Well, it’s that time of year, folks, where the horror genre comes to the fore as we all go a little Halloween crazy. Actually, I can’t say Halloween has ever bothered me a great deal (and the original film even less so), but it is a damn fine opportunity to wheel out another in my occasional series of “ten favourite” blogposts. As with the entries on 1910s and 1920s films, these are favourite films and I make no pretence that they are or might be the ten “best” horror films.

Waxworks (1924)

It’s true to say that Dr Caligari leaves me a little cold, and so if I’m looking for a German expressionist horror film it is Waxworks that I normally turn to. This is a great little portmanteau feature which includes three stories within a framing device in which a writer is employed to write stories about the various exhibits in a waxworks museum. The most famous sequence is by far the shortest, and involves the coming to life of the Jack-the-Ripper type figure. The sequence only lasts six minutes, and seems like a bit of an afterthought compared to the other stories lasting nearly forty minutes each. However, there are reasons for this. Firstly, there was originally going to be a fourth story, although this was never filmed and, secondly, the order of the stories was changed due to the censors in Germany. It is the resequenced version we have on DVD from Kino. However, the film was shown in its original sequence at its USA premiere in 1926 – so perhaps a version with the pre-censor sequencing is hiding in a vault somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered.

The Mummy (1932)

For me this is the most chilling of all films in the first cycle of Universal horror films. Dracula feels stage-bound and Frankenstein, though a brilliant film, is not one that ever unnerved me. The Mummy, on the other hand, does just that. Karl Freund’s direction is remarkably creepy, Karloff is superb, and the flashback sequence is as horrifying now as when it was filmed.

I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

I have always felt this was a most unfortunate title, as it is one that makes the film sound like a trashy drive-in type move from the 1960s. It is instead a brilliantly executed horror movie inspired by Jane Eyre. In all of the current crop of zombie movies, there is nothing quite as terrifying as the zombies portrayed here in what is probably the best of all the Val Lewton-produced horror cycle from the early 1940s. It wasn’t an instant classic, however. The New York Times review didn’t have much positive to say: ‘To this spectator, at least, it proved to be a dull, disgusting exaggeration of an unhealthy, abnormal concept of life. If the Hays office feels it has a duty to protect the morals of movie-goers by protesting the use of such expressions as “hell” and “damn” in purposeful dramas like “In Which We Serve” and “We Are the Marines,” then how much more important is its duty to safeguard the youth of the land from the sort of stuff and nonsense that their minds will absorb from viewing “I Walked With a Zombie”?’

The Uninvited (1944)

I recently re-watched The Uninvited and was a little disappointed in that it didn’t live up to the distant memory I had of it from when the UK’s Channel Four showed it when I was but a nipper. That said, this is still an engrossing mystery/ghost story that has achieved both classic and cult status over the years. Ray Milland’s character might be a little too chipper and bright, often breaking the atmosphere the film tries so hard to achieve, but otherwise this is one of the best ghost stories of the 1940s.

The Innocents (1961)

Another film I remember watching when I was younger, and one that is still totally entrancing today. Jack Clayton’s direction provides a spooky atmosphere from the opening credits and never lets up throughout the entire film. Based on Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw, arguments still continue as to whether the narrative is a straightforward ghost story or the delusions of the governess. In the end it doesn’t matter, for the film delivers no matter which reading you happen to favour. The film is actually based on the stage adaptation of the novel with the same name (The Innocents), the 1950s production of which starred British child actor Jeremy Spenser (It’s Great to Be Young, Ferry to Hong Kong) as Miles.

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

One of the best entries in Roger Corman’s series of horror films based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Like most of the other films, Poe’s story is used as the third act of the film, with the rest of the narrative built around it. Others might favour others in the series as better films, and they might be right, but nothing beats the brilliant, disturbing climax of this film.

The Changeling (1980)

One of the great unsung horror classics, this stars George C Scott as a recently-bereaved composer who finds that the house he has moved into is haunted. This is stunning stuff, with Scott in great form, and the atmosphere built-up superbly throughout the film. One of the few horror films I saw as a teenager and still find as unnerving now as I did then – and a good example of how atmosphere is what makes a horror film scary, not buckets of blood!

A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors (1987)

Perhaps an unlikely choice, but I still feel that this is the best of the wonderful Nightmare on Elm Street series. It sees the return of Heather Langenkamp as Nancy, the main character of the first film. By this point she has become a dream therapist and joins a hospital where some kids are being treated for their nightmares (of Freddy Kreuger, of course). For once, the kids are all likeable (who didn’t fall in love with Rodney Eastman as Joey? I know I did), Langenkamp finally shows signs that she might be learning how to act, and there are some brilliant set pieces. Sadly it was mostly downhill for the series after this one.

Idle Hands (1999)

I feel sorry for Idle Hands. It’s one of those films that came along at the worst possible time: a fun, irreverent horror comedy about a kid who unwillingly goes on a killing spree when his “idle hands” are taken over by an evil spirit or demon or…something. And released ten days after the Columbine shootings. It’s actually a fun teen horror comedy, with great performances from Devon Sawa and Seth Green, but this was not what American audiences were clamouring to see at that point in time.

Dead Silence (2007)

Ok, I admit it. I was possibly the only person in the world who saw Dead Silence and really liked it. It’s an old-fashioned horror film with ghosts, spooky ventriloquist’s dummies and a ridiculously good looking leading man. But what I really liked about it was that it showed there was life in the horror genre beyond the torture porn which had almost taken over the market over the previous few years. Dead Silence might not have been seen by many at the cinema, but it is good entertainment and helped to pave the way for the return of the traditional horror movie which has blossomed over the last few years with Dark Skies, Sinister, The Conjuring and Insidious.

Honourable mentions:

The Old Dark House

The Seventh Victim

The Haunting

Ghost Story

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:15 pm

Nice, PMP! Great choices.

Two of my favorite horror films:

Carnival of Souls

This is an extremely low-budget independent horror film made in 1962 and it is really, really creepy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_of_Souls

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Carrie

This 1976 classic thriller is still frightening to watch; it's SO creepy! Carrie's evangelical mother and cruel schoolmates are terrifying.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_(1976_film)

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Last edited by InheritTheWind on Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:19 am

This is part one of the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life. I was traumatized. Forever. I was never the same. (I swear it! Sheer terror!)

Fear No Evil

A TV Movie, no less.

In the last decade, I have finally been able to have mirrors in the bedroom. Seriously. I begged for them all to be taken out of my room, that night. I was a little hysterical, I guess. I was just a little kid! But they were removed. I was frantic.

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rjm
P.S. -- On the other hand, I enjoyed Carrie! Never scared me one bit. In fact, I must admit I got a kick out of her getting them some Karma. I suppose that makes me a bad person. What can I do? I dug it; it's just the truth. And it's only a movie!

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:45 am

Here's one classic that should be in the top 5.....


The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson

Image

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:44 am

I have to say carnival of Souls never really creeped me out - although that may have been that the print I saw was so bad you had to concentrate to much on working out what blurred face belonged to who. The Shining I just found tedious. I realise it's viewed as a classic and Kubrick is viewed as a genius, but I just don't get it - to be fair, I didn't really like the book much either. It appears Stephen King didn't approve of the film, so I'm in good company.

Stephen King books rarely translate well to the screen for one reason or another. I quite liked the original Salem's Lot mini-series, as well as the adaptation of "It" from the 1980s - although I've always found that a very sad watch since the suicide of Jonathan Brandis who played Richard Thomas's character as a boy. A fine actor (particularly in It), and a suicide that may well not have occurred if we all talked about mental health a little more. There is a remake of "It" on the cards, which will be interesting if it ever gets off the ground. It's one of the best books of the twentieth century in my opinion and certainly worthy of a remake - the adults performances in the original were often lacking, although the kids were great. I'm also hoping that the recently published non-horror "Joyland" gets the film treatment too - it's King's best book in years and his non-horror books have a much better cinematic track record.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:02 am

poormadpeter wrote:I have to say carnival of Souls never really creeped me out - although that may have been that the print I saw was so bad you had to concentrate to much on working out what blurred face belonged to who. The Shining I just found tedious. I realise it's viewed as a classic and Kubrick is viewed as a genius, but I just don't get it - to be fair, I didn't really like the book much either. It appears Stephen King didn't approve of the film, so I'm in good company.


A low-budget film like Carnival of Souls would really suffer with a poor print.

I completely agree with you about The Shining. I never understood why so many people love this movie. I, too, find it tedious and also irritating. Jack Nicholson's performance was way too over-the-top for me to take it very seriously. It has some nice visuals but overall it's not really that good. And the movie is one of those adaptations that didn't follow the book very well. I have a feeling that we're in the minority on this one!

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:07 am

poormadpeter wrote:Stephen King books rarely translate well to the screen for one reason or another.


His books are too long! It's very hard to condense a 700-page book into a 2 hour movie.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:34 am

As a child, I was always afraid of The Amityville Horror. From the creepy music in the beginning, the eye windows on the house, to the whole story of a family being killed and then demonic occurrences, it made a huge impression on me.

As I got older and read books on it, I totally dismissed the issues with the house, but the music still creeps me out. Unfortunately, the family being murdered in the house was true.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:18 pm

ranskal wrote:As a child, I was always afraid of The Amityville Horror. From the creepy music in the beginning, the eye windows on the house, to the whole story of a family being killed and then demonic occurrences, it made a huge impression on me.

As I got older and read books on it, I totally dismissed the issues with the house, but the music still creeps me out. Unfortunately, the family being murdered in the house was true.


The real Amityville story:

http://www.franksreelreviews.com/shorttakes/amityville.htm

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:54 pm

THE EXORCIST- was a film that i had never seen until recently. I never really cared for horror films that have a story line that involved a lot of religious themes (never seemed right to me). I borrowed the blu ray from someone, watched it with full 5.1 surround, big screen treatment, then, went to bed and lost a lot of sleep that night. C R E E P Y ! And I'm watching it in 2013 so i can just imagine what audiences thought of the film back in the day when it first played theaters.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)-saw this in the summer of '74 when it was first released. This movie is creepy from the get go with the grave robbing sequence being seen only in small flashes of light, then opening credits with bizarro music and on to the decomposed corpse wired to a cemetary monument like a bizarre work of art. For those who didn't see this back in 1974, i will tell you this: this movie was so different from every other horror film out there at the time, that audiences were gasping and screaming during the Leatherface/Sally chase sequences through the woods and found it hard to wrap their mind around everything else that was going on in the film. What also creeped me out, was that every member of this lunatic family had a different kind of psychotic personality that was totally different from each other, even though they all belonged to the same family. The poor lighting in the film and the documentary style filming techniques added extra authenticity to the goings on and made it even creepier than it really should have been.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:56 pm

I don't like the ones that are super horror so here are mine.

Changeling
The Lost boys
Misery
Interview with the Vampire
The Others
Frailty
1408
Frozen

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:18 am

brian wrote:I don't like the ones that are super horror so here are mine.

Changeling
The Lost boys
Misery
Interview with the Vampire
The Others
Frailty
1408
Frozen


Frailty's a great film that seemed to slip out unnoticed.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:23 am

The Exorcist (1973)

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

The Sentinel (1977)

The Shining (1980)
Last edited by yaso on Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:09 am, edited 4 times in total.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:23 am

InheritTheWind wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:Stephen King books rarely translate well to the screen for one reason or another.


His books are too long! It's very hard to condense a 700-page book into a 2 hour movie.


I don't think this is the problem necessarily. King's books are at their best when they concentrate on character rather than horror - the recent Joyland and Under the Dome novels are good examples, although many of his books benefit from the same thing. The problem with many of the adaptations is that they concentrate more on horror than character. The first episode of the TV miniseries of "It" is so much better than the second half not only because of the great acting from the kids, but also because it's a character study - the second episode is pure horror story and just falls flat - I don't view King as a great horror novelist necessarily but as a novelist who is great at bringing people and characters to life, and that's gets totally lost in most adaptations.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:31 am

yaso wrote:Rosemary's Baby (1968)


Great movie! One of my all-time favorites.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:50 am

poormadpeter wrote:
InheritTheWind wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:Stephen King books rarely translate well to the screen for one reason or another.


His books are too long! It's very hard to condense a 700-page book into a 2 hour movie.


I don't think this is the problem necessarily. King's books are at their best when they concentrate on character rather than horror - the recent Joyland and Under the Dome novels are good examples, although many of his books benefit from the same thing. The problem with many of the adaptations is that they concentrate more on horror than character. The first episode of the TV miniseries of "It" is so much better than the second half not only because of the great acting from the kids, but also because it's a character study - the second episode is pure horror story and just falls flat - I don't view King as a great horror novelist necessarily but as a novelist who is great at bringing people and characters to life, and that's gets totally lost in most adaptations.


Although not horror genre, King's novellas The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption worked really well for film (Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.)

poormadpeter wrote:King's books are at their best when they concentrate on character rather than horror...


That's probably why Misery was one of the better adaptations of his novels.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:52 am

Top Ten (chronological)

Frankenstein (1931)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein_(1931_film)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Jekyll_and_Mr._Hyde_(1931_film)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_of_Frankenstein

The Wolf Man (1941)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolf_Man_(1941_film)

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein_Meets_the_Wolf_Man

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_and_Costello_Meet_Frankenstein

House of Wax (1953)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Wax_(1953_film)

Indestructible Man (1956)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indestructible_Man

Carnival of Souls (1962)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_of_Souls

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Living_Dead


Runner-Ups (chronological)

Psycho (1960)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho_(1960_film)

Magic (1978)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_(1978_film)

Alien (1979)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_(film)

Christine (1983)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_(1983_film)

The Lost Boys (1987)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Boys

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:18 am

I know a lot of people will talk about Stephen King adaptations not being all that good except for a few but I've liked most of them.

I thought Firestarter, Dead Zone and Silver Bullet were pretty good movies.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:57 pm

Phew! Ten "favourite" is pretty hard right now to think of. Not even sure if some of them can be considered as "horror". But right now it will look like this, in no particular order:

- Psycho (1960)
- The Birds (1963)
- Evil Dead (2013)
- The Evil Dead (1981)
- Evil Dead II - Dead By Dawn (1987)
- Alien (1979)
- Braindead (1992)
- Bad Taste (1987)
- Poltergeist (1982)
- A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors (1987)

Honorable mentions:

- Frankenstein (1931)
- Horror Of Dracula (1958)
- Tremors (1990)
- Return Of The Living Dead III (1993)
- The Thing (1982)
- Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
- Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
- See No Evil (2006)
- The Fly (1986)

Some more that just came to my mind:

- Repulsion (1965)
- Funny Games (1997)
- M (1931)
- Es geschah am hellichten Tag (1958)
- Rosemary's Baby (1968)
- The Tenant (1977)
- Eraserhead (1977)
- Suspiria (1977)

There are some original horror classics I've still yet to watch like "The Golem" (1920), "Nosferatu" (1922) or "Les diaboliques" (1955). I just watched "The Night Of The Hunter" (1955) and thought it was unintentionally funny. What a weird movie.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:23 pm

brian wrote:I know a lot of people will talk about Stephen King adaptations not being all that good except for a few but I've liked most of them.

I thought Firestarter, Dead Zone and Silver Bullet were pretty good movies.


I liked Silver Bullet too - I also thought Christine was very good, especially in its longer form.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:08 pm

Some films not previously mentioned that I highly recommend are Horror Hotel (AKA The City Of The Dead); Night Of The Demon (AKA Curse Of The Demon); The Woman In Black (1989 version).

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:30 pm

Mine in no particular order: -

- Audrey Rose (1977)
I still find this very unsettling.

- Dawn of The Dead (1978)
Back when you could sit down and have a picnic before a zombie could catch you.

- The Thing (1982)
The ultimate in paranoia and hysterically funny if it's not happening to you.

- Demons (1985)
They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.

- Unholy Women (2006)
Japanese short film with Rattle Rattle being my personal favourite of the three.

- Halloween (1978)
The creepy atmospheric theme is one of my ringtones.

- 30 Days of Night (2007)
Love the graphic novel and film.

- Arachnophobia (1990)
I can't stand spiders.

- Creepshow (1982)
Still makes me laugh.

- Evil Dead (1981)
They're not gonna let us leave Ash.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:12 pm

Pete Dube wrote:Some films not previously mentioned that I highly recommend are Horror Hotel (AKA The City Of The Dead); Night Of The Demon (AKA Curse Of The Demon); The Woman In Black (1989 version).


Night of the Demon is an odd film - it works so well until we see the demon itself and then it all falls to pieces and just becomes laughable. My understanding is that the demon itself was added after principal filming at the behest of the producer - and without the agreement of director Jacques Tourneur. It's a great shame, because it commits the sin that is avoided in Tourneur's films for Lewton and helped make them great - it shows the monster and, like the giant spider-thingy in the second episode of "It", there is no way to do that without making it look a bit daft.

I think the 1989 version of The Woman In Black is better than the recent remake - and is possibly made spookier because of its lower budget. That said, I think Daniel Radcliffe put in a good performance - I just felt the film should have been edited more in places, it just seems to drag on in the middle without getting anywhere fast.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:37 pm

poormadpeter wrote:
Night of the Demon is an odd film - it works so well until we see the demon itself and then it all falls to pieces and just becomes laughable. My understanding is that the demon itself was added after principal filming at the behest of the producer - and without the agreement of director Jacques Tourneur. It's a great shame, because it commits the sin that is avoided in Tourneur's films for Lewton and helped make them great - it shows the monster and, like the giant spider-thingy in the second episode of "It", there is no way to do that without making it look a bit daft.


I don't mind the look of the demon, but they should've only showed it at the end. To see it at the beginning dilutes the re-appearance at the end.

poormadpeter wrote:I think the 1989 version of The Woman In Black is better than the recent remake - and is possibly made spookier because of its lower budget. That said, I think Daniel Radcliffe put in a good performance - I just felt the film should have been edited more in places, it just seems to drag on in the middle without getting anywhere fast.


I liked the remake, but the original film's less-is-more approach works better.

Re: Ten favourite Horror Films

Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:28 pm

jak wrote:I think Fredric March gave one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen in Jekyll.He was incredible and that will always be my favorite adaptation of the film.
I cant believe I have never heard of the Indestructible Man.I will seek that one out ASAP.


Grab your popcorn, pull up a chair, here 'tis:



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"Indestructible Man" (Allied Artists, March 1956)
Directed by: Jack Pollexfen


Indestructible Man_1956.JPG
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