RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (Full Version)

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rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (28/10/2012 2:39:32 PM)

204. Who Fears the Devil?


by Manly Wade Wellman
Short Story Collection

Who Fears the Devil collects all of the short stories featuring Wellman's most famous creation - John the Balladeer. John was a country boy who wandered America, fighting evil with his silver stringed guitar. Wellman used folk stories and myths as the backdrop for many of his tales, so much so that they often feel like a written record of the oral tradition of storytelling.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (28/10/2012 2:54:42 PM)

203. Fancies and Goodnights


by John Collier
Short Story Collection

A collection of twisted little tales from Collier, some have a more supernatural element to them, but many are the kind of dark psychological stories that shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents loved to adapt. Collier's work is witty, biting and macabre. He's capable of taking the mundane and transforming it into something dark and shadowy, so that a child's imaginary friend, a cellar or a department store can become objects of great terror.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (28/10/2012 2:59:33 PM)

202. Mulholland Drive


Director: David Lynch

Major spoilers

Let's start off by saying Mulholland Dr. is not as complicated as some will have you believe. The problem with playing too much on the narrative trickery is that it gives critics of the film ammunition to say that it's not that complicated. And it isn't. Let's look at the plot. The story is told in non-linear order. A dark-haired woman (Harring) is involved in a car accident following an attempt on her life on Mulholland Drive. In a state of shock, she loses her memory and stumbles into an apartment soon to be taken over by Betty (Naomi Watts), a naive girl just arrived in Hollywood with hopes of becoming a star. She adopts the name of Rita, taken from a poster for Gilda. Betty is surprisingly accommodating to this amnesiac stranger and together Rita and Betty try to discover Rita's true identity, falling in love with each other along the way. Another plot strand follows a Hollywood director, Adam (Justin Theroux). He's being pressured to cast an unknown actress, Camilla Rhodes in his new film. When he refuses he is threatened by producers, mobsters and he is even thrown out of his house (By Billy Ray Cyrus, no less) Meanwhile, in a diner called Winkies, a man describes a nightmare about a horrific, evil figure who lurks behind the diner. Rita remembers a name, Diane Selwyn, and they try to track her down. They discover a dead body in her apartment. They go to a theatre called Club Silencio to try and finally find the answers they need. After an emotional performance they arrive home and Rita opens a mysterious blue box, then things flip on us. Naomi Watts is now playing Diane, a failed and depressed actress in love with Camilla Rhodes (Now played by Harring) who humiliates and rejects her. In revenge, Diane pays a hitman to kill Camilla before committing suicide herself.

Now let's put it in linear order. A young actress, Diane wins a dance competition. She comes to Hollywood, dreaming of stardom, and finds herself used by Camilla, a beautiful actress. She is then dumped by her for a man and in revenge she hires a hitman to kill her. That night she has a dream. In her dream she is a naive young thing named Betty and she meets Camilla's double, a beautiful and friendly woman who's lost her memory in an accident. Betty gets to look after Camilla and she is dependent on her for once. For the first time, Betty has all the power in the relationship. But the real world intrudes on the dream The evil thing behind Winkies is symbolic of the fact that Winkies is the diner where the hit is ordered. The film director in the dream is pressured from all sides to hire Camilla Rhodes rather than Betty, explaining why Diane didn't get the film role. In her dream Diane is not a bitter stalker, she's a sweet young thing whose dream woman loves her in return and the only reason she doesn't get a dream job is mysterious forces that work in opposition against her. In the dream, Betty and Rita visit the eerie Club Silencio. In the Club the real world intrudes more than ever, we are shown that everything is artificial and that there is a deeper truth that needs to be seen. Diane wakes again and sees a sign from the hitman that the murder has happened. In despair over her actions and of the direction of her life, Diane breaks down and is driven to suicide.

Far too much is made of the change between identities, Lynch has been accused of deliberately obscuring a simple plot line, of pretentiousness and of pretty much everything else you can imagine. What those criticisms ignore is that Lynch is presenting us with a film about the nature of dreams and nightmares. From the beginning of his career Lynch appears to have viewed cinema as representing a dream state, and he's not far wrong. Cinema presents us with dreams and with nightmares. We are sold an illusion presented as reality and we have to believe in that illusion for any film to work. We know that cinema's very nature plays on duality and presenting an alternative representation of an object or a person, we are manipulated by the directors and writers, the dream-makers, and Lynch seems fascinated by that.

It's telling that Mulholland Dr is a story of Hollywood. Hollywood is sold as the dream capital of cinema, people go there to become stars but more of them end up with their dreams crushed than those who become stars. Hollywood tears apart dreams, just like it does to Diane. It's notable that the characters have doubles, representing both the way actors portray characters and the way we often see people in dreams. Identity is often fluid in Lynch's films, they often make me think of a dream where a person is present and you know they're supposed to be a specific person but they look completely different. The creation of another identity is also a trait of Hollywood and the way actors portray characters. Even Rita herself is a Hollywood creation, she lifts her identity straight from a picture of Rita Hayworth in a classic film. This sense of duality is vital, Watts is both helpful and happy and a sick stalker, Harring is helpless and loving and also heartless and destructive, nobody is what they first seem because we're not at first aware of the true story, we only see the illusion.

Lynch is basically just giving us an exploration of the dangers of love, of the difference between our dream and waking states and a negative portrayal of L.A. as the city of manufactured dreams that only just manage to hide the darkest nightmares. So at heart this is basically a simple morality tale, so why does Lynch present it in a non-linear fashion? Because it's one way of evoking a dream state, that place where identity, place and events are all in constant motion. So if this is just a simple tale told in a confusing manner, doesn't that mean it shouldn't hold up to repeat viewings? Of course not. That would only be true if the heart of the film was based in the narrative twists, it isn't. The heart of the film is in the relationships and in the way we care for the dream Betty and pity the real Diane. It's a film with excellent direction, a superb screenplay and some masterful performances, including a career best Naomi Watts and all of those things ensure that Mulholland Dr. is a film that's destined to withstand repeat viewings and become regarded as one of Hollywood's finest examinations of its own nature.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (28/10/2012 3:11:21 PM)

201. Martin


Director: George Romero

Martin (Amplas) has just arrived in Pittsburgh to stay with his uncle, Cuda. His uncle believes the superstitions of the old country, and he thinks that the teenage Martin is really an 84 year old vampire. Martin insists he doesn't believe in any of the old superstitions, even though he spends his time drugging women and drinking their blood.

Romero dismisses all of the mythological connotations of vampirism. Martin has no supernatural powers, he can go out in the daytime, he doesn't have that overpowering seductive quality of other vampires. Martin is weak and pitiable, more in the tradition of a pathetic psycho killer than a seductive vampire. Romero shows Martin's insecurity by having him call a late night radio talk show to discuss his vampiric tendancies. Romero further subverts the genre by having a religious extremist as the vampire hunter, someone misguided and unable to let go of the old ways.

Romero juxtaposes vampiric cliches with the reality of Martin's modern day setting. Martin stalks his uncle, dressed as a traditional vampire, for a prank. It uses black & white period scenes, possibly as Martin's flashbacks, possibly as his fantasies of being a traditional vampire. They're used to evoke classic vampire films, but they're contrasted with scenes of Martin drugging his victims and extracting their blood with a razor.

Much is left ambiguous in the film. We're never really sure if Martin actually is a vampire. Could he just be a man with a sexual fixation on blood, is that all vampires really are? Or is Martin convinced he is one because of the superstitious nature of his family? Is he just insane? Or is he really a vampire, adapting to fit a modern setting?

As always, Romero uses his films to create social criticism. Here he uses a teen who thinks he's a vampire to comment on addiction, on urban decay, on the move away from religious faith and on the lost state that can accompany youth.

impqueen -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (28/10/2012 3:55:48 PM)

Hell House and Cool Air are both very good; Iím particularly fond of Hell House.

I revisited The Flypaper before reading that and yep it is a brilliant slice of television.

BWP Ė Successful re-watch a few weeks ago.

Thatís a fantastic write-up for Mulholland Dr, really good read and it is an exceptional film.

MovieAddict247 -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (29/10/2012 11:08:56 AM)

Yep, agreed with Imp, great write up for Mulholland Dr.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (29/10/2012 8:42:16 PM)


ORIGINAL: impqueen

Thatís a fantastic write-up for Mulholland Dr, really good read and it is an exceptional film.


Yep, agreed with Imp, great write up for Mulholland Dr.

Thanks. [:)]

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (30/10/2012 12:48:48 AM)

200. The Jar

by Ray Bradbury
Short Story

Bradbury is one of the masters of carnival horror stories, he manages to capture the gaudy other-worldly nature of them perfectly. The Jar sees our hero, Charlie, buying the strange container from a travelling carnival. He takes the jar home and puts it on display, where soon everyone in the neighbourhood is coming to view it, with debates soon kicking off about the strange thing it contains, with everybody sensing something different. A story that holds as many mysteries as the jar itself, it indulges some of Bradbury's more ghoulish tendencies without any of the nostalgia present in much of his work. One of his nastiest tales.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (30/10/2012 10:53:10 AM)

199. The House at World's End

by Steven Sheridan
Radio Play

M.R. James is one of the most imitated horror writers of all time. There's his contemporaries who wrote in his style, like E.G. Swain, or those who came after him who owe him a debt (think how often something like Casting the Runes has been rewritten), but there's even been a sub-genre of people not only writing in his style, but using him as the main character for their stories. The most famous of these is Sheila Hodgson, whose Fellow Travellers collection only just missed out on the list, but writers like Steven Sheridan also used James as a character several times for the radio. The House at World's End sees the familiar setting of James telling a ghost story to friends and students at Christmas, but this time it's a personal tale. Taking place when he was just a young student, he spends Christmas with a friend at his family home, and finds himself thrown into a mystery surrounding a certain text in the library of the house. With plenty of nods to some of James' actual tales, House is a homage that would do the master proud.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (30/10/2012 11:12:24 AM)

198. Tales from the Crypt


Director: Freddie Francis

A group of people are taking a tour of some catacombs and find themselves lost in a hidden chamber. There they meet a crypt keeper who tells them the story of the impending deaths. This has some of the most memorable segments in all of Amicus' work, containing no less than three stone-cold classics. Brit horror icon (even if she couldn't really act) Joan Collins murders her husband on Christmas Eve, when she finds out there's a psychopath on the loose in the area, dressed as Santa, she sees the perfect opportunity to blame the murder on the psycho, but she doesn't realise just how close to the house this psycho santa really is. Peter Cushing stars as a lonely old man whose only friends are his dogs and the neighbourhood children who visit him. But some rich and hateful neighbours think his house is dirty and lowering the property values and try to get him out, by any means. It's a heartbreaking performance by Cushing. The final story, Blind Alleys sees Patrick Magee leading the residents of a home for the blind in a rebellion against cruel and neglectful new manager Nigel Patrick. It's one of the most astonishing revenge horrors I've ever seen, with a truly ingenious finale. It packs in some great performances (especially from Magee, Cushing and Ralph Richardson, having great fun as the Crypt Keeper), some chilling little tales, and an uneasy, unsettling atmosphere.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (30/10/2012 11:55:09 PM)

197. He Cometh and He Passeth By

by H.R. Wakefield
Short Story

Speaking earlier about people being influenced by M.R. James, Wakefield's story is one of the most obvious rewrites of Casting the Runes, it's also one of the best. Like Casting the Runes, He Cometh... sees our hero, Edward, locked in a battle with a dark magician, again one clearly based on Crowley. The magician this time is Oscar Clinton, a rum sort of chap who has been sponging off Philip, a wealthy friend of Edward's. When he's cut off (and barred from an exclusive society) he takes his revenge by using a mystical technique involving a scrap of paper to send a demon to take out Philip. Unable to protect his friend, Edward swears revenge, but first he has to befriend the dastardly Clinton. Ok, so in places it's so close that it could be outright plagiarism, but Wakefield's tale takes us into depravities, some only hinted, others slightly bizarre by modern standards, that James' (admittedly far superior offering) doesn't, and that gives the whole story a seedy, sordid atmosphere.

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (31/10/2012 5:31:46 AM)

Not sure if I've ever seen Tales From the Crypt. I like The Vault Of Horror a lot though.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (31/10/2012 12:21:32 PM)

Then you should definitely check out Tales.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (1/11/2012 11:59:52 AM)

196. Straight On Till Morning


Director: Peter Collinson

In the 60s, Hammer started to make a move into psycho-thriller territory, often with mixed results. But when they got it right, such as with the greatly underrated Paranoiac, or here, they made something really special. Straight on Till Morning stars new wave icon Rita Tushingham as Brenda Thompson, a plain young woman who moves away from her home in Liverpool to try and find a life in 'Swinging London'. Brenda desperately wants life to be like a fairytale (the film's title is a quote from Peter Pan) but all fairy tales need a Prince Charming, and Brenda cooks up the plan to find one. Attracted to her neighbour, Peter (Shane Briant) she kidnaps his dog and returns him in the hope of striking up a relationship, this being a film it works and the two are soon living together. Trouble is that Peter is a psychopath who had the urge to kill everything he finds beautiful. Luckily Brenda is plain. Tushingham and Briant are both exceptional, making the film believable and compelling. It's a downbeat film and an incredibly effective one. Those expecting a typical psycho-thriller may be disappointed, this is Hammer doing kitchen-sink psycho, it's unpredictable, unsettling and absolutely brilliant.

matty_b -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (1/11/2012 12:43:08 PM)

Brilliant film.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (1/11/2012 9:02:43 PM)

195. A View from a Hill

by M.R. James
Short Story

Mr. Fanshawe is spending a country holiday with his new friend, Squire Richards. He explores the surrounding countryside, borrowing a pair of Richards' field glasses, but when looking at a place called Gallow's Hill, the glasses reveal more than Fanshawe expected. Both Fanshawe and the Squire soon discover that the glasses have a bloody history. Like many a great ghost story, the plotting could be described as slight. But a great ghost story shouldn't be about the plotting, or the explanation. They work because of the quality of the writing and the shiver achieved through the distortion of the ordinary, and A View from a Hill gets that shiver like few others.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (1/11/2012 9:19:06 PM)

194. Kill List


Director: Ben Wheatley

Jay (Neil Maskell), a former army sniper turned hitman, is forced back to work by his wife, Shel (Myanna Buring) when they run out of money. Following the dinner party from hell, that perfectly sets up the fractured relationships between Jay, Shel, and his best friend/partner, Gal (That mad bastard in security, Michael Smiley), the two go back to work. Jay and Gal take a meeting with a mysterious businessman and start working their way through their new kill list. But each new kill leads Jay further into insanity, and the victims all seem to know more than he does, they're even thanking him for killing them. By the time we get to the final victim on the list, the film has tipped full-blown into the horror genre. The genre shift seems to outrage many a viewer, but tonally it works perfectly. We get our first big tip-off that we're watching a horror film less than 20 minutes in, and the change from dark indie drama to horror isn't just dropped into the film in the final act (as some critics claim). Each new victim on the kill list represents a step further into hell, and the odd and unsettling imagery is drip-fed to the audience along the way. The refusal to explain the ending also drew outrage, but personally I like how little exposition there is. According to the commentary track, there originally was a lot more dialogue explaining the final scenes, but do we really need it? It works perfectly as it is, and I think that that a definitive explanation would actually take away some of the raw power.

It's brilliantly performed, especially by Smiley's more world-weary Gal, and the script really captures the idea of Gal and Jay as two very old friends who can be at each other's throats one minute and sitting drinking together the next. It also nails their own warped morality, where they may be murdering scum, but they don't see themselves as low as the people they execute. The arguments between Jay and Shel also feel all too real (probably helped by the fact that the scriptwriters were Wheatley and his real-life wife), and there's a little comment by Shel after the dinner party fight that's perfect in its pettiness.

Kill List feels like the best British horror of the 60s/70s, but it also manages to seem like a fresh take on the rural horror sub-genre. Wheatley creates an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere that lingers with you long after the final scene. The murders themselves involve some of the most brutal scenes in cinema from the last year (One scene rivals I Saw the Devil in making you want to run for some Anadin) and the tunnel sequence has to be one of the highlights of the year. A modern folk-horror masterpiece.

matty_b -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 1:22:16 PM)

Great film.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 3:35:24 PM)

That it is. It prompted a long piece on rural/folk horror that I never managed to finish. [:D]

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 3:35:46 PM)

193. The Girl with the Hungry Eyes

by Fritz Leiber
Short Story

Possibly Leiber's most famous short story is this tale of psychic vampirism. The titular girl is a model who has become a cultural phenomenon, a strange girl appearing on billboards and magazines all across America. Yet nobody knows anything about her past, she just walks into a photographer's studio one day with absolutely no experience and becomes a star. She refuses to work with anyone other than one photographer, managing to both attract and unsettle him, eventually he realises the hold she has over the public, and what she takes in return. The Girl becomes one of horror's greatest vampires, and the reason she's so memorable is because of everything Leiber holds back.

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 3:56:34 PM)

I went to the library today in search of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? I was not successful. I could have got just about any of her novels but not one book that seemed to contain short stories.

matty_b -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 3:59:24 PM)

Read it here, Gimli.

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 4:01:52 PM)

Never thought of googling it [:D]

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 4:07:54 PM)


rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (2/11/2012 4:09:28 PM)

192. Thriller: 'Pigeons from Hell'


T.V. Series Episode

For years regarded as possibly the scariest thing ever to air on American television, Pigeons from Hell adapts Robert E. Howard's classic short story for this Karloff hosted anthology series. Two brothers break down somewhere near a Louisiana mansion. With the place seemingly deserted, apart from a large flock of pigeons, they decide to spend the night, only to discover the mansion has some dark secrets. An atmospheric adaptation of one of the truly great horror stories.

rawlinson -> RE: Favourite 250 Horrors (10/11/2012 12:33:01 PM)

191. Some of Your Blood

by Theodore Sturgeon

George Smith is an American soldier, placed in a psychiatric clinic under the care of Doctor Outerbridge. We learn about Smith's early years of poverty and trouble and about his therapy sessions. We also discover exactly why Outerbridge is so scared of Smith, a man he believes to be a human vampire. Masterfully written, and Smith is one of horror's unsung great characters.

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