Tomorrow is Halloween! For the final horror post this month, let's look at some recent horror films, and also a selection from past decades. As always, my ratings are what I think the films should be rated on IMDb.
The Orphanage (2007)
Spanish horror film. Cool opening titles with the wall paper getting ripped away to reveal names.
A film to see at night time, I liked the visual style. Beautiful house, the location, the light house, and with characters I cared about.
There are scenes that take you back to childhood wonder, when things were less complicated.
It has an eeriness, which runs throughout the film, which I liked. We are never 100% sure what is going on, and what to believe.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Horror/comedy. It does rely on stupidity a couple of times, and the number of “accidents” in the movie are excessive and unrealistic, but you tolerate that, because it’s so entertaining and funny. Also it has characters you actually root for, which for me lifts the film above average.
One of my favorite discoveries during the marathon, thanks for the recommendation Jaina and Eric(in comment thread)
Kill List (2011)
From what I can tell, regarded as Ben Wheatley’s best film. The story was more cohesive than Wheatley’s A Field In England (which I reviewed here)
You don’t know where Kill List is going, especially the first half.
The scary thing is we are not given any explanation for the violence. The middle part of the film felt a bit repetitive, but it does go in an unexpected direction near the end.
Most of the praise for me goes to the sound effects, which are unlike any I’ve heard of late, and add to the creepy atmosphere, especially in that last section.
Watching the trailer kind of spoiled the movie for me, which is a shame.
It does raise interesting questions, do you lose it because you are disturbed, or because of others neglect? If you are lonely, how far will you go to find companions. What are you willing to do in order to be accepted?
At first, May isn’t that weird, but the people who she meets encourage her to act weird. I guess everyone has a breaking point, and unfortunately hers came with a cost. A film that lingers in the mind. You sympathize with someone who does cruel things.
Thanks to The Vern for the recommendation.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
Belgian satire. A film you could write a long review about.
The main character’s serial killer tendencies and racist remarks are despicable. But he isn’t stupid, and has a point about relationships, that you can’t always tell if you’ve reached the right time for a baby, or if you should get the hell out of the relationship. I found myself agreeing with him on the ugly architecture, and low quality brick work, yet also hating how offensive he is towards groups of people.
The mood of the film is odd, both humorous and violent, which will divide audiences. It kind of reminded me of controversial American Psycho or Clockwork Orange.
Who is he really? Is it an act for the mockumentary? The film is lifted by the performance of Benoît Poelvoorde, who looks like Robert de Niro’s brother.
There’s a murder in a bathroom, where he admits to the inspiration of a kill from a movie, which perhaps shows the movie is condemning his actions, rather than merely revealing them.
To me, the aim is to make us feel uncomfortable about enjoying violent movies. Although I'm sure people have different interpretations.
Dead Ringers (1988)
Directed by David Cronenberg. A drama with a few body horror elements. The story is still quite radical, even today. It was moderately entertaining, and I wondered how it would all end, but it didn’t have me glued to the screen. Not as great as I thought it would be. The two twins played by Jeremy Irons are convincing, and many thought he should have won the oscar that year. Irons did win Best Acor Academy Award for Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Made back in the day when Stephen King was perhaps at the height of his popularity, and lots of adaptations of his work were getting produced. Scanning down a list, it’s remarkable how many King stories have been translated for TV and cinema.
Pet Sematary had promise early on, but what derailed it for me is the bad acting, which makes it unintentionally funny, and took me out of the moment. It feels like a tv-movie, which is a pity, because there are several scares, and a decent story by Stephen King.
With an $11,5 million budget, you would think filmmakers could afford a better actor for the husband in the lead role, his acting was dreadful.
Maybe it works when you are a kid.
Dead Calm (1989)
Not exactly a horror film, more of a horror thriller. It managed to hold my attention all the way through. Stars Sam Neil and Nicole Kidman, who deliver typically assured performances. Billy Zane plays the character they meet at sea.
The beginning I was expecting to tie up with the ending, but that wasn’t the case. I liked how hesitant the story is to give up its mysteries.
If you enjoy thrillers, this is worth seeing.
The Hitcher (1986)
Maybe I should start watching more thrillers, because this is another horror thriller that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
Rutger Hauer is the creepy villain with no apparent motive, he doesn’t have much screen time, but when he does turn up, he’s very menacing.
Has enough twists and turns to keep it entertaining. The only stupid thing about the story is that the cops don’t shoot out the tires of the car they are chasing.
The Cremator (1969)
A horror /drama from the Czech New Wave.
I loved the pre-credits scene at the zoo, the extreme close-ups and eerie soundtrack immediately made me feel uneasy. The opening credits are also really interesting, and cast a spell on you, so that you want to get to the bottom of all this. The first 5 minutes I would give 10/10. The rest of the film is pretty good too. Several stand-out scenes, when he’s showing the new guy the ropes at the crematory was creepy, as was the “puppet” show, and of course the ending, which I won't reveal.
Superb performance by Rudolf Hrusinsky, as the cremator, his voice is remarkably chilling. Even his wife is scared of him, so I kind of felt sorry for the poor guy, because it seems he was creepy all the time. Then there was a twist I wasn't expecting, which changed my perception of the characters.
As Bonjour Tristesse wrote in his review: “someone you are compelled to watch, but would never want to be alone in a room with.”
Favorite quote: “I am sure you love music, Mr. Strauss. Sensitive people do. The poor pitiful souls, who die without knowing Schubert, Liszt.”
Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Not a traditional horror. Bergman’s film could be about many things. For me is about social phobia and insomnia, the horror of social interactions for an introvert.
If you like Bergman, you will get what you expect. The melancholic style is similar to his other work, with slight differences. Many of the same actors return who have starred in his other films.
The creepiest moment could be the sex scene, when they stand around and laugh.
It seemed random characters turned up out of thin air, the flirtatious blonde woman when he is painting by the sea, and the little boy whom he has a fight with while he’s fishing. Both times Max von Sydow character is alone, so perhaps they are dreams, or he is haunted by demons from his past.
Everything is not what it seems, as a man at one point walks up a wall onto the ceiling, someone pulls his face off and his eyes are placed in a glass of water. Also a man suddenly has wings.
The ending was an interesting twist of events.
The Body Snatcher (1945)
I was quite skeptical, because Robert Wise also directed The Haunting (1963), which I was underwhelmed by.
What The Body Snatcher has going for it is the material, based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Also, perhaps Boris Karloff’s finest performance I've seen(outside of Frankenstein), as the sinister Cabman John Gray.
I prefer it over The Haunting.
A decent adaptation of Bram Stoker’s story, but a bit tame and rather dull, compared to the 1992 film. The characters talk about red mist and thousands of rats, but it isn’t showed(watch 1979's Nosferatu the Vampyre for that).
What stayed with me was Bela Lugosi’s intense stare, but not as interesting as Todd Browning’s other film Freaks (1932).
Favorite quote: “The strength of the vampire is, that people will not believe in him”
The Unknown (1927)
Silent horror from Todd Browning, the man who brought us Freaks (1932).
At an hour, it’s quite short, but still, I got into the story quickly, and cared about the characters. Isn’t aiming for scary, Browning is going for an unsettled feeling. Great performances too.
The Man Who Laughs (1928) played on the scenario of a blind woman who loves a man with a constant grin.
The Unknown (1927) plays out the sensitive-to-touch female (Joan Crawford), who loves a circus man without arms.
Of the two films, I prefer The Unknown, which I found more entertaining and emotionally involving.
Atmospheric, visually stunning retelling of, directed by F.W. Murnau. Faust is Goethe's most famous work, and considered to be one of the greatest works of German literature.
Faust is a character who preaches good and is tempted by evil.
The village with a giant man turning the sky black with his dark cloak was an amazing visual. I was especially impressed by the visuals during the first hour.
Emil Jannings who plays the messenger of the devil delivers an incredibly creepy performance. The second half of the film is not quite as brilliant, but still pretty good.
I haven’t read the book, but it has encouraged me to look up Goethe. Maybe I’ll go with The Sorrows of Young Werther, recommended by Mette at Lime Reviews, which is only 96 pages.
I’ve heard in this review by Lisa Thatcher that Sokurov’s 2011 adaptation of Faust (in colour) is worth seeing.
A ranking of all the horror I've watched January-October (link)
Agree or disagree? Have you watched any of these? Which horror films did you see this October? I think I've watched enough horror to last me until Halloween next year :)