In SVB Halloween Theater, we asked various musicians and fellow bloggers to talk about some of their favorite horror films.
Autumn is the mightiest season and Halloween or Samhain, as some refer to it, is my favorite holiday, even though you generally don’t get a day off from work. It’s the time of year when the veil between worlds is thinnest, the time of year to celebrate the macabre, the otherworldly. Though horror movies are a regular form of entertainment at my place, I like to step it up a little around Halloween. Below is a list of some of my favorites.
During an era when horror seemed dead, this sci-fi shocker came out and quickly slid into obscurity. Back in 1997, when Event Horizon came out, the Scream franchise was in full swing and along with movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, the genre seemed to be veering off into ironic self-parody. If you like intergalactic spacecraft, trips into Hell and the lurking, claustrophobia of movies like Alien, definitely check this out.
For me at least, there was a lot of anticipation around the release of this movie. I heard that some of the guys at Canadian production company, Astron 6 were making, what looked like to me, a horror film that was heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. Most of their releases, such as The Editor and Manborg, had a lot of humor but this new one looked dark and serious. I saw this in the theater, at a midnight showing and was not disappointing. Of course, there are always haters out there, but I was in from the opening scenes. One of the coolest aspects of this film are the use of practical effects. Darkness and shadow are used effectively and the visual effects are mostly done in-camera. Sure, this film wears its influences on its sleeve; you can see homages to The Thing, Halloween 2, The Beyond, but the movie is tense and has a lot of atmosphere.
The Thing stands as a crowning achievement in the storied career of John Carpenter, a giant in the horror world. Influenced by the 1951 horror film, The Thing from another World, it stands as the first entry into Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy which includes Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. The story of a parasitic alien awakened from centuries of hibernation by a group of Norwegian researchers in Antartica, is tensely compelling and carries a feeling of impending doom and paranoia with ambiguous ending that has propagated hours of speculation by fans for the past three decades. Once again, there is a huge nod to H.P. Lovecraft and special effects master Rob Bottin brought all manners of intergalactic atrocities to life. Additionally you get a great cast that includes Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David delivering stunning performances.
Often associated with the New French Extremism movement of the early part of the twentieth century, Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs, was met with controversy and polarizing critical response. Do not under any circumstances watch the American remake of this movie, it’s a total piece of garbage. Extremely nihilistic in tone, Martyrs incorporates elements of torture films, a genre that I generally dislike and combines it with higher level concepts such as consciousness, existential fear and the eternal question of what lies beyond the void after we die. The film is brutal and leaves a lasting mark on the viewer with an ending that will keeping you thinking about it for days afterward.
You may be familiar with Neill Blomkamp from his films District 9 and Elysium, the South African filmmaker was also in the running to direct an entry into the Alien franchise. His YouTube channel Oats Studio here.
Includes a host of free short films that totally rule and should be made into feature length films. Most notable is the short Firebase, which takes place during the Vietnam War and is about the simple villager transformed into a supernatural killing machine. It’s a must see.
V/H/S 2 – Safe Haven
The V/H/S anthology franchise is generally fun with a few standouts. The Safe Haven segment is my favorite. You have a Satanic death cult in South East Asia and a documentary film crew that are playing an unexpected role in the end of the world.