homersimpson_esq -> The Haunted House of Fame - Horror Special - Round One (26/8/2011 4:10:21 PM)
FIRST ROUND DEADLINE: 18 OCTOBER At the time of writing this, I have no knowledge of any other films entered for this round, which is unusual for me. That said, previous HOFs indicate that this is likely to be very diverse, with a mix of different sub-genres. One of these sub-genres is represented by this film, and the genre is giallo. Giallo means yellow in Italian, and the genre/movement is named after pulp fiction novels with trademark yellow covers. So what can we expect from such films? Usually, there's murder and intrigue, and sometimes sex. Deep Red is no exception, but Argento's focus is on atmosphere rather than plot, and in many ways the film is a re-imagining of Argento's own The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, though the whodunnit element is also superbly executed, with great visual clues. This focus on atmosphere was later honed by the director to the point of abstraction in Suspiria. The murders are ingenious and beautiful setpieces, complemented by one of the best film scores I've heard. I can't say I'm an expert on horror, but I can say that this is one of the best I've ever seen, and it deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.
[image]http://img508.imageshack.us/img508/5365/hhofexorcist.jpg[/image] I first watched The Exorcist (1973), aged 16. I was underage, still influenced by a deeply religious upbringing, the film was still banned, it was late, it was dark, and it was just me and my brother watching it. It affected me hugely. My brother paused it at one point to make a coffee because, as he put it, I was "white as a sheet”. It was the first of only a very small number of films to have truly and absolutely scared me. (I'd watched Alien  eight years beforehand, and been fine…) When it was given a certification, along with several other previously-banned films, around the turn of the millennium, I picked it up on DVD and watched the extended cut. It still unnerved me.
In 1970s Georgetown, Washington, live an affluent actress (Ellen Burstyn) and her young daughter (Linda Blair). But, inexplicably, the daughter, Reagan, begins to exhibit strange behaviour which defies medical explanation. Eventually, the titular exorcist is called. Watching the film for the first time in probably ten years two things immediately struck me. Firstly, the film has an holistic atmosphere that whether through memory recall, or through a well-judged sense of dread (or both) still has the power to unnerve me. Secondly, it's a surprisingly slow burn: The strange occurrences do not start immediately, but instead the film is imbued by a powerful sense of the other-worldly. The music, and sound design as a whole, is remarkably proficient: pitch perfect tuning to unsettle the viewer. The opening Iraq-set dig is curiously irrelevant to the film, story-wise, save for introducing us to the exorcist himself (Max Von Sydow). But what it does is provide the atmospheric edge: it puts the viewer ill at ease, with the unexplained phenomena, discordant music, and unfamiliar landscape. The discomfort, then, continues into leafy suburbia. Tubular Bells may try to create a sense of devil-may-care, but it is increasingly apparent that the devil really does care.
The film also goes to lengths to discredit the idea of exorcism as a real thing. It does not embrace demonic possession as an actual thing, but as a psychological affair. The skill of the film is in having the evidence our own eyes see, be at odds with what we are being told. If this is all in her head, we surmise, then how can she do x, or y? Religious belief is, ultimately, irrelevant to the effectiveness of the film. Looking at the film through the eyes of a sceptical militant atheist, it's still going to be seen as a chillingly effective story of something effectively chilling. Beliefs or not, the events of this film are portrayed in a way that inhibits scepticism by acknowledging it up front.
Vote for The Exorcist to be entered into the Hall of Fame. The power of Christ compels you.
[image]http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/1096/hhoffly.jpg[/image] Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is an eccentric scientist who is just putting the finishing touches to his latest project, 2 pods which can transport any matter across space simultaneously. In order to try and impress journalist Quaife (Geena Davis), Brundle tries to rush through his final tests on the machine and decides to go through himself to prove that it works, when disaster strikes as a fly enters the pod.
From looking at the plot synopsis, it can be very easy to see the influence the original had on this film. The basic concept is still there of the fly and the human going into the machine and merging, the strain this has on the life of the human and within his relationship.
It is however within the way the fly and the human merge that the difference in tone of the films become apparent. In the original, there are of course the limitations of the technology of the time, which would have only allowed a couple of creature models to have been created and then used during the film. For the original we follow the like of the human/fly after the experiment where the creature is essentially a human with the head of a fly, and finally a version of a fly with a human head. Cronenberg however has given the remake a much more uncomfortable feel as he is able and willing to show the slow deterioration of the human as the body is gradually taken over by the fly. Cronenberg then couples this deterioration with the relationship Brundle and Quaife builds over the film, to show the heat ache of Quaife losing the man she loves, while Brundle loses mental control of the new being.
As far as body horrors go, this has to be right up there among the best. Apart from Cronenberg's obvious talent in filming the change, there is the incredibly lifelike looking make up of the Brundlefly design along with Goldblum's finest performance to date. Perhaps the greatest achievement is that it will never be able to be looked at as being a product of a certain era as the original does, as not only are its themes still current now, but its look and feel dont seem like a product of their time.
[image]http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/3779/hhoffog.jpg[/image] The Fog rarely gets the classic status it deserves, sandwiched as it is between Halloween and Escape From New York in Carpenter`s filmography, with The Thing following shortly after. In this company it does get regarded as something of a lesser effort, but The Fog stands alone as one of the best ghost stories ever put to film, and in terms of actually being scary, surpasses The Thing and is on an even footing with Halloween.
The best way to describe The Fog is thus: if MR James and HP Lovecraft teamed up and wrote a film script, The Fog would be the result. It has MR James`s common theme of past wrongs being avenged, Lovecraft`s moodiness, and from both a measured pace and unparalleled atmosphere. The one way it differs from more or less anything the two wrote is that it`s an ensemble piece, replacing the usual sole protagonist or final girl with a mix of people, all of whom stand an equal chance of dying. This makes the film tenser than Carpenter`s more lauded work, as we KNOW there`s no way Kurt Russell`s life (for example) is going to be seriously threatened until the third act.
The film is also comfortable establishing characters and making them into more than the usual stereotypes before unleashing the fog amongst them, which is more than the vast majority of horror films have the patience to do. Despite this, it never loses tension, establishing the backstory early by way of a children`s campfire story and the fog at the same time, meaning the threat of it looms over the entire film. Also to its credit, while the film establishes what the occupants of the fog are, it never explains how they`ve come back; the explanation would have inevitably been somewhat hokey, so the film chooses instead to leave it to the viewer`s imagination, rendering the fog all the scarier.
The actors are all great, the script is fantastic, but this is a film where the atmosphere is king, and (Controversial statement incoming!) its atmosphere and pure fear factor betters anything else Carpenter ever did.
The 1999 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic ghost story The Haunting of Hill House would rightly hold a place in a list of the worst films of all time. But this early 60s adaptation is one of the most unsettling horror films ever made. When Robert Wise wasn't directing dreary musicals he displayed an incredibly sympathetic eye for the outsider, through work like The Curse of the Cat People, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and this classic.
The Haunting focuses on four characters who decide to explore the remote gothic mansion known as Hill House. Led by parapsychologist, Dr. Markaway, they are there to try and explore psychic phenomena and prove that ghosts actually exist. Joining Dr. Markaway are Luke, the nephew of the current owner of the house, and Eleanor and Theodora. Theo is sophisticated, catty and clairvoyant. Eleanor is on the edge of a nervous breakdown, so brittle you feel she could shatter at a touch.
Eleanor is the heart of the film, having spent most of her life in isolation, caring for her ill and demanding mother, Eleanor's past paranormal experience appears to have been the only time she's ever felt alive. She jumps at the chance of exploring the house, believing that the people she meets there will become her first real friends and be able to save her from her own life.
The house is a character in its own right, dark and foreboding, playing games with its inhabitants, Hill House has a bleak history, especially when it comes to women dying there. The house is claustrophobic, menacing and atmospheric. It throws the viewer so off-balance that you find yourself watching the shadows and the edges of the screen for the slightest movement, because you accept that the house is haunted and you're just waiting for the next manifestation.
But what is the house haunted by? It has a history, but is it just ill-luck, or does something really walk there? One of cinema's other great ghost stories, The Innocents, could be read as a ghost story, or as the sexual repression of the lead character. Some critics have tried to claim the same of The Haunting. I don't think that's ever an issue here. From the beginning the viewer feels that this house IS haunted. But does the haunting exist before they walk through the door or has Hill House spent all of its time waiting just for them?
Vote it into the Hall of Fame. It deserves it.
It is the late 60's and Ingmar Bergman was a very busy man, making a film trilogy of (unconnected) films with Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman. Two of these films were the flawed but great Shame, dealing with a couple living during a civil war happening in an alternate reality Sweden and the yet-unseen The Passion of Anna. The most bonkers of the three though, is without a doubt his only foray into horror, Hour of the Wolf. Something of a companion piece to Persona, a haunted tortured artist and his wife go to live in isolation on an island. There they meet a bunch of aristocrats (who are also demons) who proceed to torture and humiliate the artist with the wife being unable to help her husband. The eerie atmosphere, the creepy and unforgettable imagery, Bergman's excellent camerawork and stunning performances help to elevate the film beyond its flaws (it's clear that Bergman late in the creation of the film wanted to focus more on Ullman's wife rather than Sydow's artist). It's a chilling affair, with the demons themselves being capable of being both odd and chilling, Max von Sydow doing what he does best (going insane) and the Gothic and surreal visuals towards the end just compliment to the mood. Bergman's films with their themes of existential angst and misery always had an element of horror in them-even in something as light as Wild Strawberries- so watching Bergman finally do an all out terror was something that was both apt and perfect, with the biggest shame being that Hour of the Wolf turned out to be Bergman's only venture in horror.
The 30s and 40s saw Universal Studios make numerous horror films, creating an iconic gallery of characters in films that are now considered classics and, often, definitive takes of the stories - Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom Of The Opera. As good as these are, none can quite compare to the astounding 1933 version of The Invisible Man.
James Whale, with Frankenstein and The Old Dark House already under his belt, was the perfect choice to bring H.G. Wells' supreme science fiction tale to the screen, taking the science fiction concept and turning it into a truly atmospheric and creepy horror film. Perhaps though, the most important thing Whales brought to the film was Claude Rains, the director's first and only choice. With just one film 13 years earlier to his credit, Rains was a fantastic choice. You see his face for barely half a minute, yet he towers over everyone in this film. His wonderfully distinctive, charismatic voice is compelling to hear, and you are never less than 100 percent sure of his intentions. He creates a wonderfully charismatic, yet undeniably maniacal, lead character, and gave cinema one of its finest performances.
The other truly remarkable aspect of the film is the ground-breaking special effects. They may seem dated now but I defy anyone to watch sequences such as the unveiling and not be in awe. Coupled with Rains' performance and the sense that Whales had for eliciting terror, the effects help make this film a masterpiece of horror.
Overall it's compelling take of insanity and obsession, with one of the most persuasive central performances ever seen (or not, as it turns out). Filled with a wonderful atmosphere and a sense of dread, it comes from a time when horror was so much more than just blood, guts, gore and bursts of music. It must be close to 25 years ago since I first saw this film and it absolutely terrified me. It no longer gives me the creeps as it once did, but it's easy to see why it affected me so. It's quite possibly the finest horror film ever made.
[image]http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/359/hhofmylittleeye.jpg[/image] Five American adults agree to live six in an isolated mansion as part of a Big Brother style web cast. The rules are fairly straight forward: spend six months in a mansion and win a share of a million dollar prize. If someone leaves, everyone loses. However, with just one week to go before the end of the web cast, things start to go very wrong...
As well as being scary as fuck, My Little Eye is a razor-sharp critique of society's obsession with reality TV shows such as Big Brother ("I'm here for the money, what's your excuse?" says one character to the webcast's viewers "What, you've got no life of your own?").
Showing all the events of the film through the web cams dotted around the house, director Marc Evans conjures up an uncomfortable feeling of insidious dread and paranoia that will have you squirming in your seat long before the sudden bursts of graphic violence.
In lesser hands it could have been a brainless bit of found footage bandwagon jumping fluff, but My Little Eye is a truly one of those films that lodges in the brain long after you have seen it. Hell, even the Blair Witch would be shitting bricks after watching this one.
[image]http://img638.imageshack.us/img638/8940/hhofpossession.jpg[/image] In what may be the most divisive film of this round, Possession follows the relationship breakdown between Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill, in the same year he played that jerk Damien in the Omen III), after Anna confesses she has been having an affair. After this reveal, the rest of the film is essentially a visualisation of emotions which have been repressed for years. Mark, after having been emotionally distant and just generally acting like an idiot, focuses on his own insecurities and 'creates' Anna's lover in his mind, who is superior in every way. He also sees Helen (also played by Adjani), his fantasy of Anna, who is emotionally the polar opposite of Anna at that point – stable, calm and, seemingly, asexual.
Anna, however, sees the damage the break-up is doing to their son and has her hatred towards her husband turned in on herself, and her self-loathing would, inevitably, lead her to have sex with a tentacle creature.
Anyway, to say any more of the plot would be to spoil the surprise and pleasant, calm experience of watching this film. Also, the fact that Possession is set in Berlin in the early 1980s is a clear indication of Zulawski's intentions when discussing division.
Something that is always brought up when Possession is mentioned is the performances – especially Adjani's. One scene in particular, a lengthy one in the subway, will linger long in the memory of anybody who watches it. Of course, Sam Neill's performance
Comfortably one of the most surreal and intense films I've ever seen, Possession is completely unique and more than deserves to be in the hall of fame.
[image]http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/6451/hhofsession9.jpg[/image] I was asked to nominate a film for the HOF Horror Round and there was so many I could have picked. Halloween?, Behind The Mask?, Frailty to even an old classic like Bay Of Blood, but instead my eyes were transfixed on the 2001 classic Session 9, a film that has become one of the most best unheard horrors in recent times, a film that many call a true classic in an age where re-makes and sequels are all the rage.
Session 9 arrived with no fanfare but quickly the news spread among all die hard horror fans at how good this film is. Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist), this delightful little tale is centred around a group of Asbestos removal crew who are clearing out an old abandoned Metal Asylum The Danvers State Hospital has been empty since 1985 and the crew led by Mike (Stephen Gevedon) and Phil (David Caruso) go about their duty the best they can, but horror hides deep in the dark corridors of the Asylum, where secrets emerge from the past to the present to a terrifying effect. What was a simple job takes the workers into a psychologically and deeply unsettling journey where their lives will never be the same again.
I picked Session 9 because its different to what is out there. Its a thinking man's horror where suspense and thrills more than makes up for the lack of gore. Just listening to the voices of the old patients on audio tapes left behind to gather dust is more scary than any man in a mask holding a kitchen knife, and while the film is unknown to many, the fans of this film will tell you its nothing but a chilling tale and one of the greatest horrors of the noughties.
Even if you do not agree after watching this film, I have done my job in bringing this film to other fans of the horror genre, and even if I get at least one member of this HOF to fall in love with this film, then win the Horror Round or not, at least I have the satisfaction I have made one person fall in love with the beauty that is Session 9!
[image]http://img683.imageshack.us/img683/7365/hhofsuspiria.jpg[/image] Why is this the greatest Horror movie of them all,a film that so much deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame,well it is the master of horror Dario Argento's masterpiece of horror.Suspiria 1977 is an extravagantly stylized Danse Macabre with its assault of garish colors, booming soundtrack and horrifically dreamlike set pieces.It is the cinematic equivalent of a scary fun house,a nightmare journey into the deepest fears that hunt are dreams,it is set out that way from the very start,and is like no other horror film before or after.Cut to various lengths due to it's violent content, the film's original full running time is 100 minutes full uncut release in Italy,not 98 minutes US release 1977as some seem to believe.Hard to believe but Argento got the idea for this movie from a story his then wife Daria Nicolodi told him about her Grandmother who told the story of a school run by witches.Also his love of Disney s Snow White which had scared him as a child,but now he saw it's dark visuals as an inspiration. Also not surprising was Edgar Allen Poe,which he so much wanted to put to film in his own way,but after the after the huge success of DEEP RED he also knew he had to deliver something new.He also turned to a book Confessions Of An Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey,which had a section on Three Mothers,Of Sighs,Darkness and Tears,so the trilogy was born.Daria Nicolodi gives an important contribution in co writing the screenplay with Argento,which as in truth has a very thin plot.It's about a young, impressionable American dancer Susan (Jessica Harper)who travels abroad in order to study at a prestigious European ballet academy,run by Madame Blanic and Miss Tanner.From the first day, however, she begins to realize that frightening things are afoot at the hallowed institution.Enduring a rain of maggots, poisoned food and other unpleasant occurrences.Then a series of bizarre and horrific crimes, turn the academy into a living nightmare, Suzy must escape before the true nature of the sinister organization that runs the school is revealed,a secret convening place for an ages-old witches' coven.
To give the movie it's lush look and dazzling lighting effects,he used an outmoded Technicolor film stock,which Luciano Tovoli his Cinematographer used to great effect.Dario showed him Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs before filming began,so he could illustrate the vivid psychedelic quality he wanted on film.Also his use of the tracking shot in this is far more powerful,it had been a Bava inspired technique that he made his own trademark,and this would be used by other great directors like De Palma,Scorsese and Rami,but Argento took this from Bava his hero and improved it.This movie set a new benchmark in horror,that even Kubrick would follow,as in The Shining with it's over use of the colour Red,and nightmare feel to it,also Sam Rami with Evil Dead that dark fariy tale feel once again to name but a few.Imagine if any of these three had made Snow White??? it would have been a censors nightmare come true.To this mix the Italian rock music band Goblin did there finest score here for this classic,which has been reused in several Hong Kong movies.The main theme has been sampled on the Raekwon and Ghostface Killah song, Legal Coke off of the R.A.G.U. mixtape. Also sampled by RJD2 for the song, Weather People off Cage's Album,and was named one of the best song of 1977??
The opening shot's of this movie set the tone with full use of primary colours,ear crashing sound and of course great camera work.It's a tinge of the giallo genre with a Susan arriving at the airport and picked up by a taxi to go to the school,all in the pouring rain,in the dim yet bright light.Then the double murder sequence which is one of the most bloody scenes in modern horror films,and retains its shock value after all these years.A girl is stabbed in the heart(ye old black glove with large knife,is Argentos own hand) then hung and pushed thought a stained glass roof,only for her screaming friend below to be impaled with the falling glass.This one sequence makes any murder scene in a teen horror film today look tame,with it's full on violence,that still shocks the unwary.The only murder sequence from an Argento film to match this in its brutality is the arm removal scene in Tenebre(1982).The first twenty minutes is pure shock horror at it's most bizarre and gruesome,and in truth noting after comes as close in the film,but it still has plenty of chills to come.
Later there is the death of Daniel, the blind piano player which is a great set piece and full of suspense. The scene takes an unexpected turn when he is attacked by his own dog,because the scene at its opening points to him being killed by a witch. Dario Argento along with cameraman Luciano Tovoli uses complex camera movement to make this scene work. This scene must have impressed Lucio Fulci that much,when he saw the film,for he would play homage to it in The Beyond(1981).Another great scene is a girl falling from a window above a door,as she is chased by some unknown force, into a room full of barred wire,where she struggles to escape in vain.But it's the use of colour and sound that is like nothing seen before, a full on European Gothic stylistic movie.Instead of going for dark, moody colours or the more modern technique of filtering a sickly green or sepia or blue colour to enhance elements of dread, instead of utilizing a dark-ambient theme with the occasional crashing violin, Argento decides to flood the scene in an orgy of color, rapid editing, and its unsettling, feverish Goblin score reminiscent of "Tubular Bells"(The Exorcist) with more primeval howls and drums, which escalate until they're practically reverberating all over the film.The audiovisual shocks are outstanding and come close to being unbearable, as they are both brutal and shocking.Even in it's smallest gestures as when a malevolent dance instructor pours water straight into Susy's mouth,the heavy glass pitcher rattling against her teeth,you feel the chills run up your spine.The flickering of light off Crystal,the strange shadows at night, shock cuts, coloured lights, and peculiar camera angles all add to the surreal nightmare feel of this movie.There are plenty of thrills and spills,and are so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were young,the stuff of nightmares.
The film score itself is a master work of terror, by the rock group Golbin, bringing an overpowering, heart pounding freakishness to the film.The sound of this movie alone could drive fear through your heart,with screaming grating sound effects,and the visuals just pure beauty put to film. Even in its quite slow moments it has a chilling atmosphere which never lets up.It has become part one of The Three Mothers trilogy,with INFERNO part two and the final instalment MOTHER OF TEARS a decent if flawed movie.But SUSPIRIA is a totally complete movie,a totally dark fairy tale of witches, murder and graphic death which holds you right till the end.It's a true horror movie,with no let up and devoid of humour(except for some very dark moments).A surrealist demented fairytale, and one of very few films that occupies the no-man's-land between art house and gore-hound slaughterhouse.This is a stunning beautiful horror fable gone to the extreme perverse, technique over substance taken to its maximum level.
A true classic Dario Argento masterpiece one of the greatest horror movie's of them all and a truly weird and surreal experience that only David Lynch could come close to doing,with his movie Inland Empire 2006.Of course we have had Black Swan 2010 by Darren Aronofsky which again is very much inspired by Argento's classic,and also of interest is that the star Natalie Portman has been linked to the remake of Susipira,as star but also as producer,as it is her company that has got the rights,but there are so many rumours now it's hard to get the truth about it.But one things for sure noting can ever match the nightmare world that Dario's classic takes us into,and no remake or re boot will ever match or beat this true classic of horror cinema,in fact no one should dare even try,not even if they are the new kings of Horror,in fact they should know better.
[image]http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/3382/hhofthing.jpg[/image] The Thing is one of the very few films that has me rooted right through to the final end credit. It's partly down to Morricone's ominous and dread-inspiring music, partly down to the stark simplicity of the white lettering on jet-black of the end credits, but mostly I think it's because The Thing has a captivating bleakness to it quite unlike any other. You don't watch The Thing, you survive it... Carpenter's update of the 1950s Howard Hawks classic takes the basic plot - an American scientific research base based in the Antarctic dig up an alien frozen in the ice for hundreds of years and it's none-too-happy about it - but transforms it into a paranoid, tightly-wound masterpiece, drenched in blood and utter, shrieking terror. Carpenter's camera prowls around the isolated, dark base, trundling down the constricted corridors, letting us get a true sense of how these 12 men (all superbly cast by the way, with Carpenter fave, Kurt Russell, never more moody and fearsome than he is here) are all piled on top of each other and how ready the base is to explode in horror and fear. It's a film that manages to have its cake and eat it, too, Carpenter expertly balancing clammy scenes of tension as the men try to guess just who the shape-shifting alien has disguised itself as, with the unforgettable make-up effects of Rob Bottin, a hideous delight that never overpowers the central tension at the heart of the film. It was buried in 1982 at the box office by ET and critics tend to take Alien over it, too - yet critical opinion has slowly started to appreciate the genius of the film lately and there could be no more fitting accolade than a place in the Empire Hall Of Fame.