Friday, 26 October 2012

Seven Slices of Spooky Cinema...

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Hallowe'en is less than a week away, and everyone is getting in the mood for a spooky movie. Originally I had intended to do a big piece for WhatCulture! about alternative Hallowe'en films - films that were never designed as horrors but which are still scary. But due to moving house again and other commitments, I've not had the chance to research the article and put it together.

So instead, I'm going to give you Seven Slices of Spooky Cinema, for your viewing pleasure this Hallowe'en. I've chosen a variety of films, all of which I've reviewed, which should have all the based covered (in blood). So whether you're having a riotous party and want something in the background, or you and a bunch of hardcore horror fans want to sit down and watch a classic, I have something to satisfy.

As a bonus, I'll also do a separate post listing links to all the horror movies I've reviewed on Mumby at the Movies and Three Men on a Blog, along with links to The Movie Hour podcast where appropriate.

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The Exhilarating One:
 Hallowe'en (dir. John Carpenter, 1978)
This is a bit of a vague description, but for pure and simple terror on Hallowe'en, it's hard to do better than with Hallowe'en itself. John Carpenter's film set the template for the slasher wave of the late-1970s and early-1980s, combining brilliant camerawork and great central performances with a commentary on teenage sexuality and the fear of the unknown.The film succeeds because everything is so ruthlessly simple - the score, the direction, even the story. But all the elements come together into something truly terrifying, and neither its many sequels nor the Rob Zombie remake have diminished it.

Three Men on a Blog review - The Movie Hour podcast

Honourable mention: Deliverance (1972). Enjoy the duelling banjos while you can - it's all down river from there. - review - podcast

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The Funny One:
Evil Dead 1 & 2 (dir. Sam Raimi, 1981/ 1987)
I'm cheating a bit here, but to be honest both The Evil Dead & Evil Dead 2 meet the grade for first-class Hallowe'en films. Both are deliciously demented slices of dark humour which re-wrote the book on horror comedy, with Evil Dead 2 being funnier, more focussed and a bigger crowd-pleaser. Bruce Campbell is terrific in his signature role, and whichever of the two you see you're in for a lot of laughs. Getting sexually assaulted by a tree or cutting off your own hand with a chainsaw - take your pick.

Mumby at the Movies review - Mumby at the Movies review

Honourable Mention: An American Werewolf in London (1981). Beware the Moon - and The Famous Balloon Thief. - review - podcast

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The Gruesome One:
Heartless (dir. Philip Ridley, 2010)
Philip Ridley doesn't make films very often, but when a new one comes along you're always in for something special. This gruesome and grotesque retelling of Faust includes several scenes of self-immolation, along with our protagonist Jamie (Jim Sturgess, pictured) wrapping a gigolo in clingfilm and then cutting out his still-beating heart. While ultimately so much more than just another gore-fest, there are more than enough moments in Heartless to make your squirm as well as scream.

Three Men on a Blog review - The Movie Hour podcast

Honourable Mention: The Thing (1982). A masterclass in suspense and special effects. - review - podcast

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The High-Brow One:
A Clockwork Orange (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
Most Kubrick fans would opt for The Shining to convince non-horror fans of the genre's validity, but A Clockwork Orange is just as effective and is ultimately the better film. Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel is nothing short of mesmerising, with Malcolm McDowell putting in a career-best performance as the terrifying and intelligent Alexander de Large.Its multi-layered exploration of morality and the destruction of humanity is unparalled, in Kubrick's canon or in general, and its ideas and imagery are still shocking today.

Mumby at the Movies review - The Movie Hour podcast

Honourable Mention: Alien (1979). It's all about the male fear of pregnancy. No, really.review

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The Sad One:
Let The Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
As much as horror movies can scare you or gross you out, they are also more than capable of breaking your heart. Tomas Alfredson's vampire film follows in the tradition of Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, being primarily about loneliness, alienation and adolescent rage than any kind of sexual desire. The two main child performers are terrific, and Alfredson crafts a truly haunting atmosphere which makes the bloodier moments all the more gut-wrenching. It is the Citizen Kane of modern vampire films - and to hell with the remake.

Three Men on a Blog review 

Honourable Mention: Pan's Labyrinth (2006). Whatever you do, don't eat the Pale Man's grapes. - review

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The Spiritual One:
The Orphanage (dir. Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007)
Ghosts stories are often seen as an antidote to gorier horror - an opinion which I explored in my WhatCulture!  article here. Certainly The Orphanage lives up to this reputation, but there is no much more to this film than retreading old ground. Producer Guillermo del Toro lends the project a fairy-tale sensibility, and the story draws heavily on Peter Pan to explore parental grief and the boundaries between our world and the next. Above all it's a genuinely creepy chiller, with many scenes which are either openly scary or deeply unsettling. 

Three Men on a Blog review

Honourable Mention: Carrie (1976). Think your high school prom was bad? Think again. - review - podcast

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The Strange One:
Eraserhead (dir. David Lynch, 1977)
You could have put any one of Lynch's films in this category, since they're all in some way scary and all are deeply strange. But Eraserhead takes the crown for Hallowe'en viewing, with its extraordinary and disturbing imagery, the meaning of which still baffles audiences today. Whether as a deep and meaningful exploration of the male fear of children, or a high point in visual surrealism, it is a masterpiece of all that is dark, twisted and mesmerising. 

Three Men on a Blog review - The Movie Hour podcast

Honourable Mention: Peeping Tom (1960). The camera never lies - but it can kill. - reviewpodcast

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The links to my other horror reviews will be posted tomorrow. Happy Hallowe'en!

Daniel

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