In SVB Halloween Theater, we asked various musicians and fellow bloggers to talk about some of their favorite horror films.
I have a very love/hate relationship with horror movies. I love horror but I hate most of them. I hate over used jump scares, tasteless cgi and fake outs. Im not interested in the whole PG-13, date night thrills at the theater. I want horror movies that have something to say and use fear and scary imagery to drive home their point artistically. I like horror movie that make you feel like a piece of shit after viewing them. Humanity is evil and horror helps you cope with that by vicariously viewing just a fraction of what we are capable of. Misanthropic? yes but if you want to have fun by getting scared and facing fears, go hard or go home! In no particular order:
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
Most horror fans will take the original over the sequel. However, I go back to the 2nd one way more often than the first. Though I love Frank Cotton’s story in the first movie, pinhead has way more layers to peel. This movie’s vivid and creative interpretation of hell definitely leaves a lasting impression with a budget (for the time) to do so. This movie expands on the whole pleasure and pain line that Hellraiser one eludes to but Hellbound exposes it. I get really creeped when really horrific shit happens to people and they enjoy it such as the doctor, Julia or Frank Cotton. With Kruger being campy, Leatherface, Vorhees and Myers being quiet, Pinhead’s dialog is brilliant. If a slasher icon were to speak, pinhead would be what to expect. “It is not hands that summon us. It is desire” Down right terrifying.
28 Weeks Later
Again, most horror fans will favor the original but I enjoy the sequel way more. This movie retains the guerrilla violence of the first but adds an ethereal tone at the same time. Music is a very important element in horror and 28 weeks later has a brilliant, soundscapey soundtrack that ices the cake. 28 Weeks does a great job of evoking the feeling of what characters are experience on screen. The words frantic and exhausting come to mind when writing about this movie and thats perfect when talking about a zombie movie. Within the first 10 minutes you are running for your life and then running some more. The attempts to save people in this movie are just so heart wrenching and futile. Without spoilers, the husband and wife ethics that run throughout this movie really push the whole ’till death do us part’ to a new meaning. I dare any family man not to question the means and limits they would go to to save their loved ones after viewing this.
I love the new wave of French horror films. I don’t watch ‘torture porn’ films all the time but I like their giant middle finger to superficial and cheap horror movies (cheap as in intent, not budget.) Inside has some merit on top of being the most real and fucked up home invasion movie, ever. The story of Inside starts with a bad situation and perpetuates to the very bitter end. It never lets up the hopelessness until it’s finally put out of its misery. It does all this while beautifully balancing the tension without blue balling the audience. When it climaxes, it will show you more than you’re prepared for. The antagonist is actress Béatrice Dalle who steals the show. Her character is not dead, she has no monstrous powers, she’s purely driven to get inside; physically, mentally and biologically.
A movie about being trapped in a cave with only one way to go; deeper into the unknown. Light is running out and monsters are closing in. The view you are losing slowly see becomes less rock and more blood. This movie is wet, red, and dark in all the right places. There’s many times I could not sit still because of how claustrophobic this movie gets. Like most horror movies I enjoy, it didn’t have a happy ending. If it did you watched the wrong version.
Bram Stroker’s Dracula
Every element of this movie has a timeless quality to it that no one can deny. You can find stellar craftsmanship in everything from the costumes, soundtrack, props, matte paintings, forced perspectives, practical and antiquated special effects. With every viewing theres something else to notice and appreciate. Besides all that it’s based on one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. You get the best of both worlds with use of the source material while letting Francis Ford Coppola’s artistic direction shine. The story is there while simultaneously writing a love letter to 100 years of vampire films without the camp. On top of being a gruesome and scary horror it doubles as a quality romance movie. A true gothic masterpiece. Something that goes right over the heads of all goggles and purple dreadlocked. All the Twilight fans can suck a big, sophisticated Dracula dick.
The Silence of the Lambs
I saw The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 when it was released on VHS. I was about 12 years old at the time, and up until that point I’d never been scared by a movie, and haven’t since…but there was something about it that had me looking over my shoulder as I watched it. I had never been grossed out by gore, in fact in my younger years, even Dead Alive wasn’t gory enough for my tastes…but there was something about it that made me squirm. It made an incredible impact on me as a youngster, and through the years, I’ve only grown to appreciate it more and more.
The tension that Jonathan Demme builds from the start is incredible, and it just gets ratcheted up tighter and tighter and tighter throughout the duration of the movie. Everything about it is done so well; the pacing, suspense, storyline, acting, cinematography and special effects are designed for maximum impact. There’s no fluff or padding, nothing sticks out as overwrought or unnecessary. Everything drives straight to the climax of the movie: a confrontation with a serial killer by an inexperienced FBI officer in a pitch black basement. With no backup. And he’s wearing night vision goggles. Pointing a gun at her head at point blank range. Toying with her.
Not being a rabid fan of horror, I’m definitely not well versed enough to know how many horror movies could be considered great movies regardless of genre, but The Silence of the Lambs is certainly one of them. It’s not an out-and-out gorefest like so many horror movies seem to aspire to be these days, but it can create a sense of dread and terror like very few movies can.