Here’s the second week.
Suspiria (1977) – Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a terribly acted movie, with bad dialog, a silly story, and a general sense of confusion. It’s also the most visually striking horror film I have ever seen, and has a score (by Argento staple “Goblin”) that is worth owning on its own. The use of color and surreal images of the German dance academy (where the movie is set), along with some of the best horror music ever, invokes a dreamlike state that completely envelops a viewer – until, of course, the shockingly graphic violence that Argento is also known for. This would be a five star movie with no dialog at all. In fact, I wish it had no dialog.
Don’t Look Now (1973) – As you can tell by many of the movies I’ve picked so far, the location and setting of the film mean a lot to me. Done well, it can make a good movie into a great one. And that’s the case with Don’t Look Now, a creepy little movie set in the most unromantic, downtrodden version of Venice you’ve ever seen. There are no gondolas with singing boatsmen here – just a damp, depressing, crumbling city ready to show you the darker elements of life. And that’s about all I’ll tell you (it’s all you really need to know.)
Again, this is more “atmospheric terror” than in-your-face scares – a group of teenagers turning this on while saying “ok, bring on the scary movie” will be disappointed. But that’s ok – these movies are meant to be actually watched and experienced, not half-heartedly texted through.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) – This is likely the most polarizing movie in horror history – you either love it and think it’s brilliantly scary with one of the best/scariest ending scenes ever, or you hate it and say “it was nothing but shaky film and screaming”. And to be honest, it’s both – it’s just the people who love it see something beyond the screaming.
I tend to watch movies without pretense, without pre-formed opinions, etc. I like to watch them start to finish without interruption, and usually become engrossed in them – it’s the only way to watch movies, really (in my opinion anyway). And if you do that with Blair Witch, especially if you are alone, it will scare the @#$% out of you. Especially that ending. I almost don’t see how it can’t.
The Conjuring (2013) – Like I mentioned in the first post, much modern horror doesn’t impress me. Atmosphere is left behind for cheap scares and “screaming” ghosts. This one is a little different, and feels like it could have been made in the 1970’s. The house is haunted, and leaving it doesn’t help. I like that.
La noche del terror ciego (Tombs of the Blind Dead) (1971)– This is a guilty pleasure of mine. Technically, it’s not a “great” horror film, but I can’t resist putting it here. It’s the first in the “Blind Dead” series by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio, and one of the creepiest films around. Like many good movies, it takes a bit to get going, but once everyone gets to the castle where the Blind Dead reside, it becomes everything you want it to be. The best part are the “blind” zombies who slowly shuffle towards their prey, relying on sound. They are ancient corpses, with rotting bone and tattered robes – some of the best looking zombies ever.
One of my favorite DVD sets in my collection is the “Blind Dead” coffin box, seen here.
The Omen (1976) – Satan schemes to have Gregory Peck and Lee Remick raise his son. And little Damien is so cute… why do all these people die around him? Great use of music, too. This was one of those movies where I felt there was no need for a “modern” remake. Skip that one and watch this Gregory Peck version.
The Woman in Black (2012) – I’m not all film snob here. This is a remake of an old British TV Movie that really works. Harry Potter (ok, Daniel Radcliff) is sent to an old house to do some legal work, and the former occupant haunts the living @#$% out of him. It’s definitely worth your time. The original is good too, but I find the remake a lot scarier.
And there you have it – two weeks of excellent horror.
I know many were left out – Dawn/Day of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Salem’s Lot, A Nightmare on Elm Street, probably five Vincent Price films, Willard/Ben, Jaws, The Descent, Race with the Devil…. I could go on and on. Looks like I might have to do this again next year 🙂