Darkest Hour by Jay Seaver
Shape of Water, The by Jay Seaver
I, Tonya by Rob Gonsalves
Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves
Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver
Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver
Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski
Explosion by Jay Seaver
Lucky (2017) by Rob Gonsalves
Breadwinner, The by Jay Seaver
Endless, The by Jay Seaver
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Rob Gonsalves
Roman J. Israel, Esq. by Peter Sobczynski
Coco (2017) by Peter Sobczynski
Prey (2017) by Jay Seaver
Lu Over the Wall by Jay Seaver
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by alejandroariera
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Peter Sobczynski
Justice League by Peter Sobczynski
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|The Seasonal HBS: Halloween Treats
by EFC/HBS Staff
We're the Razor Blade in your Apple.
Ah, October, that time of year when a young boy’s fancy turns to decaps and gruesome violations…
As a group with a wide range of tastes, coupled with not a little knowledge of the horror genre, our staff would like to share a few of our more eclectic horror favorites that might not make the cut of a “classic”, but nevertheless have found appreciation amongst our legion of reviewers, any of which we would easily recommend you exhume for a happy Halloween. STAY TUNED--Our writers will continue to update this article with their picks right up till All Saints Day!
WARLOCK (1989): A fun gem from the tail end of the 80's featuring Julian Sands and Richard Grant, playing a down and dirty game of witch and witch hunter, torn from the 1600's to the 1980's via spell. A reverse-Terminator meets abridged Highlander with some welcome horror-schlock thrown in by director Steve Miner, the movie manages to differentiate itself from both of these time-travel cousins, blurring the line between hunter and hunted, as Warlock and Witch-Hunter constantly wrestle for advantage- Grant's Puritan having the physical strength and folk charms to best his foe and Sands' witch viciously countering with grisly spellcraft which targets those Grant strives to protect, slowing the pilgrim's progress. Lori Singer gives an uneven but ultimately satisfactory performance as Grant's guide to this strange modern world in which his Puritan character finds himself- allowing for some humor and romance thrown in the mix which never slows the tense atmosphere. Lose the sequels, but give this baby a try- a surprisingly effective supernatural adventure.
DRACULA (1979) - A mash-up of Stoker's tale (adapted from the Broadway play- you will immediately notice a few changes in character relationships that serve to draw the principals together quickly), it packs more visceral punch than Coppola's more contemplative love story via acid trip, and climaxes in one of the best, most shocking good versus evil face offs I've witnessed onscreen. Detractors have huffed and puffed over Sir Lawrence Olivier's over-the-top antics as Van Helsing (matched with a Dutch accent that had me thinking the guy was a nice Jewish uncle most of the time)- but goddam it, its Olivier, he's still the fucking man (c'mon, at least its not The Jazz Singer), and as an eight year old's first horror film experience, it came through with flying colors and still entertains to this day. A no-frills, straight out horror experience, Frank Langella's charismatic, sexual, vulpine Count matches Lugosi or Lee any day of the week, creating a palpable animus between the King Vampire and Van Helsing, whilst providing more smouldering chemistry between himself and Kate Nelligan (Lucy) than Gary Oldman and Wynona Ryder could muster on a film that hinged on their relationship. There is also a scene underneath a graveyard where Van Helsing confronts the risen Mina that positively chills. Bonus: An inspired John Williams score ices off this very tasty treat from director John Badham.
EXORCIST III: LEGION
Not only a worthy successor to the original film, but an inexplicably underrated horror masterpiece directed and written by Exorcist author William Peter Blatty himself. A scary film so much smarter than most offerings of the past eighteen years brimming with pithy dialogue, genuinely frightening atmosphere, a bravura performance from George C. Scott, Brad Douriff dialed up to eleven (which is alternately derided as one of the film’s shortcomings), and of course, the most unbelievably potent shit-your-pants scene ever. Don’t believe me? Just take some friendly advice and don’t wear any undergarments you’ll miss. On the other hand, it’s a perfectly appropriate moment to dive into your date’s crotch as you try to hide from the image. Trust me on that. Great ice-breaker.
This is one of those films that works its way into one’s heart through repetition, and back in the day it seemed as though HBO would only show this, Kramer Vs. Kramer, and a stage production of Bus Stop. Guess which one imprinted on me. This is a straightforward nature’s revenge tale with nature portrayed by aggressive (and badly blue-screened) vampire bats crawling with bubonic plague. Adapted from the novel by Martin Cruz Smith and directed with a touch of flair by Arthur Hiller, who provides some eerie tone, if not outright scares, utilizing the heat-blasted starkness of the desert augmented with outstanding performances by Nick Mancuso, David Warner, Kathryn Harrold and Stephen Macht, a smarter than average subplot of Native American exploitation, and a haunted, mesmerizing score by Henry Mancini (perhaps the film’s most memorable feature). This is the little “Jaws” knock-off that could, a film that shouldn't work, but does anyway, Hiller carefully blending mysticism with science (okay, pseudo-science) and allowing the audience to draw its own conclusions. In a world where the Sci-Fi channel diarrhetically squirts out 50 CGI man versus beast “original” movies a month, it’s worth taking a look at a film where all involved try to do it right, and succeed as far as I’m concerned.
BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW
People usually associate British horror films with Hammer Horror, and fair enough. A company that brought us both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing can't be all bad. But there are other British horror films from the 60s and 70s, and Blood on Satan's Claw is absolutely deserving of your attention. Set in a 17th century village, it revolves around a strange artifact of unknown origins (is it organic matter? Skeletal remains? A new form of mineral?) that is unearthed in a field, and soon begins to affect the local children in bizarre and horrifying ways, as the village explodes in an orgy of sex and violence. Sounds like a schlocky skin fest, but it's insidiously creepy and crawls under your skin like a nightmare in the middle of the night. What's scariest of all is that there no answers, merely suggestions. Brief flickers of body parts turned into something inhuman, fleeting glimpses of beastly figures creeping through the woods are all Piers Haggard needs to ensure a horror film with a uniquely freaky atmosphere. Topped with a wonderful score from Mark Wilkinson, this is one not to be forgotten.
CURSE OF THE DEMON (Alternatively known as Night of the Demon)
A 50s classic, this is still the best exploration of witchcraft and the suggestive power behind it that American cinema has attempted. Yes, the glimpse of the titular demon shouldn't have been forced into the first five minutes (at the producers behest, flying over Jacques Tourneur's head, a decision that everyone else treat with contempt), and the less said about a scrap with a magically conjured cougar the better, but they are but tiny flaws. Instead, it works best with the power of suggestion and intimation. Sceptical professor Dana Andrews becomes increasingly convinced he's being stalked by a demon and Cat People director Tourneur twists the tension up beautifully. Seances, eerie escapoes through moonlit woods are one thing, but best of all, is an innocent kid's party turned into something much more sinister. Topped off with a deliciously evil performance by Niall McGinnis as the sinister warlock behind the witchcraft, this is one that definitely goes bump in the night.
ALONE IN THE DARK (1982) - "He’s very deeply into his own space just now,” says psychiatrist Donald Pleasence about one of his patients, whom he calls “voyagers.” Pleasence’s sly flower-child inversion of his implacable gun-toting shrink in Halloween is just one of many surprises in this offbeat horror movie, which features two future Best Supporting Actors as psychos who escape from the institution during a power outage. Maybe Jack Palance and Martin Landau later wanted to leave this off their resumés, but they’re entertaining in it; Landau, who has that alarming grin going for him anyway, delivers his lines with sick conviction. (Spotting a mailman on a bike, Landau hisses, “I want his hat ...”) The psychos (rounded out by massive Erland van Lidth de Jeude, from Stir Crazy) terrorize rookie shrink Dwight Schultz (The A-Team) and his family. The usual stalk-and-slash stuff follows, but the movie’s tongue-in-bloody-cheek satire of psychobabble sets it apart. Pinch-hitter Tom Savini came in and contributed one make-up job, seen in the film’s best seat-jumper. This was the directorial debut of Jack Sholder, a former editor (The Burning) and award-winning filmmaker for PBS, and one of the genre’s more interesting (if not especially prolific) directors of the ’80s; his next was A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2.
CHERRY FALLS (2000) - A nasty, funny horror-comedy that puts the subtext (have sex and die) of the slasher genre right up front and reverses it (have sex or die). In the placid town of Cherry Falls, three teenagers are carved up; the link between them is that they’re all virgins. So of course every teen in town is eager to go to the big Pop Your Cherry party. Brittany Murphy stars as the virginal daughter of the town sheriff (Michael Biehn and Candy Clark are her parents) who gets to the bottom of the killer’s mysterious identity ... which doesn’t have a lot to do with the film’s “virgins die” conceit. Still, this is a refreshing retro throwback to the days when teen horror movies had balls; it’s worth any ten Valentines, even though back in the ’80s the climactic massacre-at-the-orgy would’ve afforded a lot more T & A and gore than we get here.
THE DRILLER KILLER (1978) - Notorious maverick Abel Ferrara made his feature debut with this strange, grimy art-horror film about a painter (Ferrara himself, acting under the name “Jimmy Laine”) who shares a cruddy New York apartment with two lesbians (Carolyn Manz and Baybi Day) and can’t make ends meet because he’s taking too long on his latest work. He goes steadily crazy when a band in the apartment below keeps practicing loudly night and day. Eventually he goes out and kills a few derelicts with a power drill. There are stretches when the fast-forward button beckons, and the movie’s point seems to be pointlessness, with artsy red-screen fade-outs and feints at a cinema verite tone. And the two female leads aren’t given much to do besides lick each other in a long, steamy shower scene. But the movie does shine in random moments, and Ferrara appears to have more on his mind than slasher-flick exploitation. It’s of a piece with his other work; its portrait of New York as a squalid, menacing place where the mentally ill are dumped onto the streets is more disturbing than the gory drill-killings. Worthwhile for admirers of Ferrara’s overall portfolio, probably too slow and odd for those hoping for shallow splatter.
MARTIN (1976) - "See it with someone you’re sure of,” went the ads. Nobody has heard of this incredible film except hardcore horror fans and hardcore George Romero fans. That’s a shame, as it’s hands down Romero’s best work. It twists the vampire legend inside out, refines it, and redefines it. John Amplas is Martin, a screwed-up, sexually unsure young man who believes he’s a vampire. He goes to live with his old-country cousin (Lincoln Maazel), who takes Martin’s word for it and plays Fearless Vampire Killer with garlic and crucifixes, hissing “Nosferatu!” But Martin just laughs at his cousin’s superstition and continues to slit the wrists of the lonely, fortyish women he tries (unsuccessfully) to sleep with. (He uses razor blades and syringes to get the blood he craves, aided by Tom Savini’s wince-inducing make-up effects.) Martin finds solace (and a mini-following) in a radio hot-line, which he calls anonymously to discuss his troubles. Martin wasn’t nearly as successful financially as Romero’s Dead films — or as popular among his fans, many of whom just wanted more zombies — probably because of its intensity and thoroughly downbeat ending. But it’s just those qualities, plus a strong personal vision seldom matched in Romero’s subsequent work, that make this the one vampire movie you don’t want to miss.
PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1986) - The video box makes it look chintzy, and even the usually reliable Phantom of the Movies pooh-poohed it, but this tongue-in-bloody-cheek spoof is actually pretty funny. Carmine Copobianco (who also cowrote the script, composed the score, and worked on the special effects) is Joe, a bartender who “kills women at random” for fun. Debi Thibeault (who also served as assistant editor and worked on the costumes) is Kate, a manicurist who “kills men at random” for fun. They meet, fall in love, and kill together. The movie is gory enough to merit inclusion in the video shop’s horror section, but most of the humor derives from the way Joe and Kate carry on a casual love life in the midst of carnage. Sometimes the jokes get a little too meta (Thibeault slaps a boom mike away; later, the camera pans over to the effects crew pumping blood), and there’s gratuitous nudity far past the point of parody; it seems as though the filmmakers are padding the movie out by throwing in a strip-tease every other scene. Still, this is by far one of the best slasher goofs in a genre that hasn’t produced very many good ones. With lots of strategically-placed Pepsi and lots of dialogue about it.
A great, neglected horror-satire that probes the real difference between rich people and regular people. Billy Warlock, a pampered but disturbed high-school jock, feels alienated from his rich parents, his kewpie-doll sister, and his snobbish schoolmates. And he has every reason to, because they’re all depraved, incestuous mutants who hold elaborate rituals in which they capture lower-class victims and “shunt” them by drooling slime onto them and reducing their flesh to soft putty, which they then suck up. Definitely not for every taste (and not for the squeamish), but an extremely vivid illustration of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s statement “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” Screaming Mad George’s Dali-esque, surreal make-up and effects are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1991)
Stuart Gordon’s loose take on the Poe story may be his finest work since The Re-Animator. While not as gonzo, it’s extremely brutal and has flashes of pitch-black humor. Dressed in ceremonial robes so that only his gaunt bald head and long hands are visible, Lance Henriksen has the role of his life as Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor who mutilates heretics for God and apparently gets off on mutilating himself. He even has a little pendulum on his writing table; it’s like an executive desk toy for sadists. Henriksen makes Torquemada a sexually repressed sick puppy who’s all too recognizably human. He falls in love, or what passes for it, with the lovely Maria (Rona De Ricci), a compassionate peasant woman who may or may not be a witch. Henriksen and De Ricci swap some of the best acting you’ll see anywhere. There’s some comic relief in a trio of bungling torturers who keep killing suspected witches by accident, but most of the movie can’t quite be laughed off. It’s very strong stuff, and it’s clear that Paramount had no idea what to do with it (the film was never properly released and is an elusive item on video). It certainly deserves to be seen, as it’s one of the finest horror movies in recent memory.
DEEP RISING (1998) and THE FACULTY (1998) - One's an Aliens knock-off set on a cruise ship, the other's a Body Snatchers riff set in high school, and they're both pretty much pieces of junk. But they're fun pieces of junk, full of gore and gallows humor, passable effects and bearable performances, not to mention the hip young cast of yester-decade (Josh Hartnett! Famke Janssen! Jon Stewart! Treat Williams! Harry Knowles! Kevin J. O'Connor! Bebe Neuwirth!). Rising follows its 'picked off one by one' action/sci-fi/horror hybrid formula to a T, and while Faculty ends up doing the same, at least it's laced with positive messages for today's teenagers, like encouraging them to do drugs and kill their teachers. You want to know where my bar for modern B-movie crap is set? Hell, you don't even want to know how old I was when these puppies came out, but it felt right then, and from time to time, it still does.
MAY -- It's about a lonely young woman who reaches a breaking point and then sets out to build herself a perfect friend by hacking off all the best features of her acquaintances. It's also one of the slyest, smartest, and most strangely insightful Frankenstein / Carrie amalgam you'll ever see. Lead actress Angela Bettis has never been better, and she's given fine support from Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris, James Duval, and the stunning Nichole Hiltz.
SESSION 9 -- A group of asbestos-removal guys descend upon a massive, horrific, and abandoned mental hospital ... and discover that there are some unfriendly spirits left behind. A stellar ensemble, a smart screenplay, and a visual approach that actually managed to creep me out ... I've watched it about five times and I love it more each time.
FRAILTY -- Bill Paxton directs and stars in this absolutely fantastic film noir / whodunnit / horror flick that feels like a great mixture between John Dahl and Roman Polanski. It's about a father of two young sons who becomes convinced that he's a "demon-killer," and the "demons" look like normal people to everyone but him. This is a dark, fascinating, and wonderfully challenging piece of genre filmmaking. Plus you can get this miniature masterpiece from your local Walmart's $5 bin.
INSIDE -- Much has been written about the graphic violence found in this ferocious French import, but even if you lessened the gore by 50%, I'd still call this a brazen little ball-buster of a horror film. It's about a very pregnant girl who spends one night under siege from a very insane woman. Delivers one of the most creepily satisfying final shots of the last ten years.
HOLD THAT GHOST (1941). Before they met Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello met Joan Davis, Shemp Howard, Ted Lewis, and the Andrews Sisters (!) in “Hold That Ghost,” which ranks as one of their very best films. The plot bounces around like mad, leading our boys from waiters to gas station attendants to dumb-luck recipients of a gangster’s fortune, and along the way, there’s the matter of being stranded in a rundown resort that just might be haunted. It’s a send-up of the “old dark house” genre, with Bud and Lou offering an early version of their brilliant “moving candle” routine (and it’s even funnier here). Costello and Davis’ “Blue Danube” dance number is a masterpiece of slapstick.
THE HALLOWEEN TREE (1993). Ray Bradbury narrates this animated adaptation of his book of the same name, with wondrous results. Four children embark on a wild, weird adventure when they attempt to rescue the spirit of their friend from the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud (Leonard Nimoy). The strange man leads them on a journey through time, where they learn the origin of Halloween’s fondest traditions. Only Bradbury could capture the spirit of childhood so well, and only Bradbury would dare turn nostalgic notions of youth and friendship into a history lesson. Sadly, this brilliant cartoon – arguably the finest Halloween TV special ever broadcast, and yes, I’m counting that one about the Great Pumpkin – remains unavailable on DVD.
TARGETS (1968). Out with the old, in with the new. Peter Bogdanovich lucked out when he got Boris Karloff to star as a thinly veiled version of himself: the aging horror star “Byron Orlok,” who laments the impending end of his career and the rise of an era of openly violent thrillers. Meanwhile, an all-American youth (Tim Kelly) puts his sniper know-how to work in the form of a cold-blooded killing spree. The ultimate collision of these two storylines is just one of the many chilling themes on display in what I’ve long considered the scariest movie ever made. Kelly is terrifying in his casual, calm approach to the murders, and Karloff hands in his finest performance, in which he not only ruminates on a lengthy career, but also pauses the film to do what he does best: tell an old fashioned ghost story. The rumination on horror movies as entertainment and real life violence in modern society remains relevant, thoughtful, and completely unsettling.
THEM! (1954). Nothing says classic sci-fi like giant bugs and an exclamation point in the title. “Them!” features mammoth radioactive ants whose trail of carnage leads them to Los Angeles. Director Gordon Douglas starts off with quiet chills (the little girl lost, the strange sounds in the desert) and builds to bold adventure (the U.S. Army storming the tunnels beneath the city), and it’s all such great big fun. It’s worth noting that the film often breaks from science-will-kill-us-all genre convention, making this one of the few 50s sci-fi flicks to make scientists as heroic as the soldiers.
THE BLOB (1958). For starters: the bit where everyone runs like mad from the blob-infested movie theater is one of the greatest things ever. Made on the teeniest of budgets and featuring a pre-stardom “Steven McQueen,” “The Blob” is pure monster movie genius. But more than that, it’s a movie that understands its target audience, making teenagers the heroes; other monster flicks were doing the same, sure, but here, there’s an honest, intelligent portrayal of teen life that finds a relatable middle ground between the caricatures of delinquent hoods and clean-cut teenyboppers filling up screens at the time. Along the way, we get a handful of colorful characters, crisp, effective frights, and one hell of an unstoppable monster, that formless thing from outer space that keeps growing, and growing, and growing…
BLOOD BEACH (1981): In the wake of the mammoth success of “Jaws” in 1975, there was a slew of cheesy rip-offs in which unsuspecting people found themselves under siege from various denizens of the deep--off of the top of my head, I can recall attacks involving an octopus (“Tentacles”), piranha (“Piranha” and “Killer Fish”), barracuda (“Barracuda”), a killer whale (“Orca the Killer Whale”), an alligator (“Alligator”), bigger sharks (“Jaws 2” and “Great White”) and a group of bizarre half-man/half-salmon hybrids hell-bent on spawning with the women of a nearby fishing village. However, the strangest (and probably the cheapest) permutation of this particular subgenre appeared in this low-budget oddity--a strange creature that lurked beneath the sand and yanked unsuspecting people below to their grisly fates. (At one point, if I recall correctly, a rapist is attempting to attack a woman and is pulled underneath via you know what.) Trying to crack the mystery behind these strange disappearances are a pair of cops played by John Saxon (whose presence in this type of film was pretty much a given at the time this was made) and Burt Young (whose character was named Sgt Royko, a choice that definitely resonated to anyone living in Chicago at the time because of its connection with famed local columnist Mike Royko) and they pretty much make a hash of it for a while before discovering the secret of what is lurking beneath the sand. Okay, I will admit that I am not entirely sure if this film is any good or not--I think I saw it once on VHS many years ago and barely remember it--but the trailer was pretty nifty in the way that it effectively sold the fairly outrageous premise in such a way that you felt that you kind of had to see it even though you pretty much new that it was going to suck. Actually, since the film doesn’t appear to have received any formal DVD release at this point, you might be better off going to YouTube and looking up that preview trailer for yourself--my guess is that it is infinitely better than the actual film and at only two minutes, it will leave you with plenty more time to check out some of the other titles on this list. Happy Piper Perabo’s birthday, everyone!
Brian "The Orn of Plenty" Orndorf
THE BEYOND – We all could debate the best of Lucio Fulci cinema until blue in the face, but, for my money, 1981’s haunted house horror film “The Beyond” contained every element that made Fulci the cockeyed master of uncomfortable genre manipulation that we know and love today. A Louisiana-based story of metaphysical monkey business facing a frustrated hotel owner, the vague plot is just an excuse for Fulci to unleash his wild visions of torment: a giant spider attack, dingbat zombies, and the all-powerful menacing creep of…foamy acid blood! Shot with surprising widescreen luster, acted to dubbed perfection by the rightfully bewildered cast (David Warbeck kills here), and filled with the type of ballsy early ‘80’s Italian cinema iconography that remains irresistible even to this day, “The Beyond” is a surreal, demented teacup ride worth a visit.
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH – Hardly obscure, yet criminally overlooked, “Halloween III” was dismissed during its initial theatrical life because it had the nerve to try on a new outfit for the scare season. Ditching the potent weight of The Shape to tinker around with a “Twilight Zone” feel, “Witch” achieves an unnerving apocalyptic tone detailing an evil mastermind’s plot to kill kids on Halloween through distinctly marketed masks. Yeah, KILL KIDS. Perhaps ridiculous to a giggly degree, “Witch” nevertheless goes for the throat, piling on the gore, sex, and tension with unexpected confidence, leading to a shocking ending that exits the film on an unforgettably bleak note. While it features absolutely no Myers mayhem, I consider it to be the best of the “Halloween” sequels. Added bonus: the goddamn Silver Shamrock jingle that’s impossible to flush out of the system once introduced.
DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS – For the past year and change, “Death Bed” was nothing to me but a side-splitting comedic bit from wonderboy Patton Oswalt, who used the film as an effective reminder to never give up on screenwriting. Turns out the picture is real. Who knew? Finally seeing a DVD issue in 2004 after decades of release limbo and widespread bootlegging, George Barry’s B-movie dynamo is everything that should be expected from a picture that posits a concept where a demonic bed digests sex-crazed hippies through a yellow froth. To be fair, the film is incredibly sluggish, with takes that roll on for an eternity and sickly production value better suited for a snuff film. Still, there are bits of inspired madness to help swallow the glaze. My favorite includes one victim unfortunate enough to have the flesh eaten off his hands by the titular troublemaker, which, of course, elicits the most casual reaction possible (in fact, it’s a rather philosophical response). Another scene has the bed eating a bucket of fried chicken, later guzzling a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Goofy, but not quite the level of goofy imagined, “Death Bed” is still worth a peek, if only to bask in the glow of dizzyingly unsound drive-in directorial gumption that just doesn’t exist anymore.[/quote]
Matt "The Other Boston Strangler" Seaver:
Evil Dead 2: All the gruesome fun of the original Evil Dead, except a lot more self-aware. No one can knock the movie that really introduced Bruce Campbell to his shamelessly-dedicated fan base. Raimi also hit a couple visual notes, born out of a poor-man's necessity, that still work their way into his early-summer blockbusters, and they help separate him from the pack.
The Descent: If only for the greatest movie monster reveal that I can think of. This is the movie I threaten my girlfriend with when she insists she wants to watch something "really scary."
Shadow of the Vampire (and Nosferatu by extension): Much less a horror movie than the film it spotlights, the film takes a what-if approach to some of the rumors that swirled around the production of the original. It, aided in no small part by a fantastic Willem Dafoe, adds a touch of realism to the story that at times makes this one more unnerving than Murnau's original.
Slyder "Yeah. That's it. Just "Slyder"- can't do much with that, its one name and he don't wanna give the real one. whaddya want from me?"
The Innocents - Jack Clayton's brilliant 1961 adaptation of Henry James' famous ghost novella "The Turn of the Screw" is about as scary as they come. Whoever said that we need just gore and hacked limbs to scare us off? The story of a naive governess (Deborah Kerr) who gets handed the task of taking care a couple of cute kids (Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens) with some very evil-ish traits, living in a house which looks glorious by day, but downright creepy and chilly by night. As days go by, the governess sanity (and ours) is tested as she wonders if the house is really haunted by the ghosts in form of the former governess and groundskeeper whom met horrible fates long ago or its just some twisted figment of her imagination, which is affecting her repressed sexuality. Masterfully using Black and White cinematography and hard-hitting sound effects to maximum advantage, The Innocents will not only scare you, it will fill your blood vessels full of fear and chill your bones to no end.
The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan is now known as an utter hack extraordinaire thanks to utter drivel like The Village and Lady in the Water, and relying on his trademark surprise ending just to give us a cheap shock that more often than not see it coming anyways. It's unfortunate that Mr. Shyamalan has soiled his reputation this bad that it has therefore affected the reputation of his one great film. Sure, it has several of his trademarks, including the surprise ending that wears off once you've seen it the first time, but what gets overlooked is the brilliant moody set pieces and the phenomenal performance of Haley Joel Osment as the tormented Cole Sear, a nerdy kid who happens to see dead people everywhere he looks and worst of all, they won't leave him alone for one second. His visions and his fears are truly authentic and get transmitted to us with the same amount of chills. Backing him up literally are Tony Colette as Cole's mom Lynn, who strives to understand her son but is unable to do so, and last but not least Bruce Willis as Dr. Malcolm Crowe, the down-and-out pyscholgist who befriends Cole and tries to help him in Cole's on words "not to be scared anymore." Isn't that what we all sometimes wish?
So give ‘em a try, who knows, you might find your next favorite horror film. And if none of these satisfy, feel free to throw us some bones on our forum about a favorite of yours we missed. Incidentally, our own David Cornelius tackled this very same subject, waaaaay back in October 2005, so please do take a moment to check out his Forgotten Video Column for further tricks n’ treats.
Now be a good reader and go egg Uwe Boll’s house.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2603
originally posted: 10/27/08 09:09:07
last updated: 11/01/08 11:53:15