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RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results

 
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RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:13:30 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
24. Scream



Director: Wes Craven
1996
Film

Last Year's Position: 80

Revitalizing the slasher genre during the mid-90's, Scream started a run of similar style of teens-being-stalked films (Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, the latter also written by Scream writer Kevin Williamson). The thing that made Scream stand out from the crowd was the self-referential way the characters had all seen the classic, and not so, horrors films of by-gone years (Halloween, Friday the 13th). They talked about the errors in judgement the characters in those films made (never say "I'll be right back), but still made the same mistakes themselves.

Starring a cast of beautiful folk better known for they TV work, meant everybody was fair game for the killer, especially after the best known cast member (Drew Barrymore) was finished off in the first 15 minutes.

Managing to be smart and funny whilst staying scary, Scream brought the slasher back to the mainstream taking the survivors on to two sequels. With a rumoured fourth in the pipeline we might soon see the return of Ghostface.

- BenmHarper

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 361
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:13:47 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
23. Let the Right One In



Director: Tomas Alfredson
2008
Film

Last Year's Position: 34

If Twilight is for teens, then this is for adults, people who really want to see a bitter sweet love story between boy and girl, a modern fairytale full of horror and tears. Damn even Buffy did not do it this good! Directed by Tomas Alfredson but with the style of a Del Toro, this is a lavish tale of a young 12 year old boy who discovers his first love in a shape of a young girl who just happens to be a Vampire. The film is full of many subplots and again it never insults the audience as it lets us use our imagination. The film also carries out one of the first scenes that I can remember about the myth of what would happen if a Vampire enters your room without being invited. The results are brutal!!!! An old tale given a breath of freshness, it really is a work of art, showing that films can be just as scary, without the need to fill the screen full of shock and gore. Yet another modern classic this decade as given us.

- HughesRoss

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 362
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:14:14 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
22. Poltergeist



Director: Tobe Hooper
1982
Film

Last Year's Position: 35

I first saw Poltergeist when I was ten years old, huddled up against the sofa with my parents (not watching through the crack in the door like with so many other early horror experiences). I was terrified and transfixed but I was putting on a brave face for my parents who were threatening to turn it off at the first glimpse of my discomfort. But I was mostly ‘fine’. Until I crept upstairs on my own in the dark, until I was laying in my bed with the covers gripped in both hands, peering into the shadows and glancing apprehensively towards that creaky cupboard door…that was when the true power of what I had just witnessed took effect. I was astonished at how scared I was…and at how something as simple as a ‘movie’ could have had such a powerful effect on me. Poltergeist ignited not only the horror fan in me…but the film fan in me.

The story revolves around the Freeling family who live in cookie-cutter suburban America and the weird goings-on that begin to plague their house, progressing from subtle yet creepy phenomena to full-blown supernatural mayhem when the youngest daughter Carol Anne is abducted into limbo, communicating with her family only through the TV once the signals switch off for the night. This is the analogue world here. Digital telly just doesn’t seem as foreboding these days.

The film works as an interesting hybrid, with typical Speilbergian sensibilities about the family and middle-class America inverted and ripped apart by director Tobe Hooper’s eccentric perspective on the horrors that lurk behind the veneer of everyday life. Indeed the issue of just which one of these men was really directing the film has been much debated; I think it’s fair to say that both their distinctive inputs are evident and in my opinion compliment each-other brilliantly. And the place where they meet and work best is in the representation of simple childhood and even adult fears, from the prosaic (fear of the dark, fear of storms) to the more insidious (fear of death, fear of domestic bereavement, fear of things beyond one’s own control both inside and outside the domain of the family unit). These fears are explored with such ingenious simplicity that even as a 34 year-old man this film still has the power to chill me to the bone, not least because the kid in me still recoils in fear from the thought of the things that lurk in the dark, but also now that as a parent myself the notion of losing a child has injected a new kind of visceral terror in my experience of watching the film. Add to that stellar performances from an excellent cast, a seemingly old-fashioned yet still relevant sense of allegory involving foreign invasion and the dismemberment of the ideal family unit, a healthy dose of sly humour, chilling sound-design and startling visuals, and an amazingly effective and underrated score by Jerry Goldsmith that is quite simply one of the creepiest I have ever heard.

Hardcore gore hounds may probably scoff, and in the years since that initial viewing I have probably been more disturbed, more disgusted, more affronted by various other horrors and nasties. But I have never been as simply more scared by anything else. Rose-tinted (or dark-tinted) nostalgia aside the film also carries an aura of myth and mystery about it that seems to lend it more gravitas; it’s so hard trying to find interviews or articles or documentaries about the making of the film. Was the cast cursed? Was Hooper really rendered unable to work properly because of drugs (allegedly) or was he simply being under-mined by a Speilberg who didn’t really want to give up the creative reins on his own story?

Were those real skeletons in that pool?

I don’t know and I don’t want to know. All I know is that whenever I watch it and I hear the first few bars of that Star-Spangled Banner my flesh is already creeping out the door on its own accord. Add to that spooky clown-dolls, disembodied voices and footsteps, non-musical chairs, possessed demon-trees, self-exhuming coffins (not to mention The Beast itself) and the terrified kid in me is trying to take comfort behind the adult he eventually grew up to be. Trouble is that adult is just as scared shitless, if not more so.

Especially of the idea of a re-make.

- Dancing Clown


Aside from the urban legend 'Curse of Poltergeist' story, one of the main pleasures from the film about a suburban American family terrified by a malovelent supernatural presence in their house that kidnaps the youngest daughter, Carol-Anne (Heather O'Rourke), is trying to work out who actually directed it. Sure, Hooper's name is large on the credits, but the constant rumours of Spielberg taking more than a producing credit seem to be well-founded, based on the film itself. With its sunny opening of kids playing in the streets, ball games on the TV and the Freeling household having the same cluttered feel of most of Spielberg's films in a similar environment, it's hard not to feel that this is Spielberg in all but name. It's like the home scenes of ET and Close Encounters have been thrown into a blender and all it needs is a John Williams theme on top (he deserves credit, however, for the notion of the spirits coming through the TV. The scenes of the channel finishing and rooms being lit by the flickering static and hiss of the channels is pretty unnerving). This intriguing tension at the heart of the film between Hooper and Spielberg, between utter horror and a simple haunted house ride, simmers right through to the end. As rotten corpses burst through the floorboards of the house, still encased in their coffins, we get the sense that while this is horrific, it's downplayed somewhat. It becomes the slightly goofy horror that we see in the Indiana Jones films, rather than the nerve-shredding intensity from the guy behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is not to say that Spielberg gets all his own way, however. The mom and pop of the household, Diane and Steve (JoBeth Williams and Craig T Nelson) are an intriguing set of parents. Happily rolling spliffs and getting stoned while their children sleep at night, they're also extremely young - it's pretty explicit that Diane would have only been 16 when they had their eldest child, Dana (the tragically-fated Dominique Dunne). None of this is vitally important, of course, but it does flag up that it isn't quite the Spielbergian cosy suburbia he would have set it in. And there are certainly moments where it is clear that Hooper's hand was on the camera and no-one else. Starting off with small disquieting steps like spookily rearranged furniture, he builds the film up to a finely-tuned frenzy of terror as the big oak tree in the garden tries to eat the children, uncooked steaks crawl across the kitchen floor by themselves before rotting into a pile of maggots, a doll clown comes to homicidial life (still the most terrifying portion of the film), Diane is practically raped by the poltergeist (no way would Spielberg have directed that...) and Carol-Anne's bedroom transforms into a hideous maw going straight to hell. On one hand, it's a special effects bonanza, but on the other, Hooper never lets it overwhelm the story and the tension. Some of them have dated badly, but it's mostly a shocker of a ride, alternating between thrills and genuine horror. Scenes build up remorselessly out of silence, where even the soundtrack is dropped out and it works as well today as it did back then. Nelson and in particular Williams are both great in their roles, giving a strong emotional heart to the film and there's excellent support from Zelda Rubenstein as a midget exorcist, who arrives to cleanse the house. Her whispered speech of Carrie-Anne being in the company of "the Beast" disguised as a child is terrifying - "It lies to her..." (8.5/10)

- Matty_b

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Post #: 363
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:17:02 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
21. The Blair Witch Project



Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
1999
Film

Three students go into the woods looking to record a documentary about the fabled Blair Witch, then they disappear. It's really that simple. But many of the best ghost stories are. Odd as it may seem to those who weren't swept up in the hype, The Blair Witch Project was a genuine cultural phenomenon. It was also one of the most divisive films of its era, with the film attracting a lot of outright hatred. But those of us who loved the film did so because we were shaken by the small moments and eerie imagery, then utterly destroyed but that oppressive final sequence. I've never felt so claustrophobic in a cinema in my life. I saw it in a small Cardiff cinema on opening night, when I got out of the screening people were already lining up for the next showing. I've never had a film induce a panic attack in me before Blair Witch. It's easy to see the influences on the film. Found footage films like Cannibal Holocaust inspired its look, and the story was clearly influenced by Karl Edward Wagner's masterful short, Sticks (especially those creepy bundles), but it's mostly an urban legend, just one with an amazing pr department pushing its story.

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Post #: 364
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:18:24 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
20. Se7en



Director: David Fincher
1995
Film

Last Year's Position: 28

After the relentless rain came the sun and with it a chase that finally would bring the end of the game of Sin. "John Doe" ran through the abandoned warehouse with the two detectives Mills and Somerset chasing, with no way out, Doe in his wisdom uncovers a manhole and jumps down into the Labyrinth maze of sewer tunnels in which brings upon yet another bout of running and chasing across the dark shadows. Its this that the "shock" ending occurs, Mills catches up with the deranged killer but is overpowered by the serial killer and killed right in front of the eyes of his partner Somerset who then shoots dead the fiend that as played the most perfect of game. This would have been the ending to Seven if the studio won the power battle. Thanks to the determination of Pitt who refused to do any promotional work if this was carried out, we the viewers managed to get the version that everyone wanted. A climax that was not the run of the mill serial killer trend-what we got was something different-something new-something bold!

Seven breaks the taboo of most Hollywood films. Good does not triumph over evil all the time, and the sense of brooding tension filters throughout this film, there is an impending doom coming and we, like the Detectives do not know what it is! From the constant rain that hangs over the city, to the grim set imagery that makes the film look murky, Seven may if not be the greatest serial killer film of all time.

Having already done the full review on my thread and having gone through at least thirty pages trying to find it and then giving up (have I really wrote so much!) I just try to remember what I wrote before. The one thing I did not say was how this film was originally ruined for me. Walking towards the cinema in high spirits, looking forward to seeing a film that everyone talked about, some bastard! and I am sorry to swear but he was a complete and utter shit head! shouted out what happens at the end! It was like the mirror image of that Simpsons episode in which Homer comes out and reveals the true identity of a certain masked asthma affected evil Jedi. Now I sat in that cinema totally hoping he was wrong -not Homer-but that mouthy shit head and when I discovered what he shouted was right, my blood boiled. I had missed out on that feeling that comes when you see something special. I scanned in the room and saw the lucky ones who did not know, gasp and left with their mouth open. Yes it was a special moment and if by any chance he is reading this (I doubt it, he probably reads Dantes) then you are a complete and utter prick of a person an..........calm down......right now that I have got that off my chest lets return to the review....

Seven rips apart the genre. There is no typical scene when the Detective spots a clue that he as missed and it all comes together. In this the Killer is in charge and the cops can only sit back and watch! Its at times an uncomfortable watch but such is the intrigue that your eyes can not stop but look. Even the soundtrack is all full of banging beats from either the rain outside to any other everyday noise that just seems so damn creepy when given in this light!

Pitt as an angry but ambitious young Detective is simply great as Mills in what would have been his most remembered role if it was not for Fight Club, but its Morgan Freeman who steals the show. Experienced and of calm composure, a good man in a city full of evil and madness. No spoilers here about a certain other person! Even the killer's name is not in the pre credits, a genius idea as it makes the arrival even more shocking and memorable.

Somerset utters a line "There isn't going to be a Happy Ending!" he was right and for any newcomers, then you have been warned.

There is whispers that a film starring John Cusack due out later this year is supposed to borrow many elements from this film and at the same time even manages to better what is on offer here. We as Horror fans can only hope!

- HughesRoss

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Post #: 365
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:22:01 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
19. Frankenstein



Director: James Whale
1931
Film

Last Year's Position: 13

Frankenstein is a film where all of the elements work. The performances, the direction, the set, the make-up, everything is perfect. The word 'iconic' could have been invented for this film. Mention Frankenstein to anyone and the first image in the minds of most people will be that of the monster rather than the doctor, but it's a safe bet most of them will think of Karloff in Jack Pierce's make-up. The film is about Henry Frankenstein, a scientist who becomes obsessed with reanimating dead tissue and creating new life. Henry and his assistant Fritz steal body parts and piece together a human, but an error occurs where the wrong brain is placed in the body. The monster seems innocent until his frightened reaction to fire scares the humans. Thinking the Monster is dangerous, they lock it up and Fritz takes pleasure in taunting it. The Monster strangles him in retaliation and escapes to the outside world. The Monster's innocence of the world leads to tragedy when a game he plays with a young girl goes horribly wrong. Feeling lost in a hostile world, the Monster decides to look for revenge on the creator who abandoned him. The success of Frankenstein helped Universal launch their legendary horror series, and helped Karloff become a legend and Universal's number one star. His Monster was filled with a mixture childlike innocence and spurned rage. Karloff's pantomime of rage, fear and innocence was wonderful.

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Post #: 366
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:25:48 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
18. The Omen



Director: Richard Donner
1976
Film

Last Year's Position: 14

American ambassador Robert Thorn and his lovingly dedicated wife are expecting a child. But when the infant is stillborn a mysterious Italian priest convinces the diplomat to clandestinely adopt another of the hospital’s newborn children. Thorn takes the priest’s advice without telling his wife about their loss. After five short happy years together, things start to go wrong: the family’s au pair commits suicide, Father Brennan warns Robert about the child’s strange nature, and an archaeologist tries to convince ambassador Thorn that the boy is the anti-Christ incarnate.

Influenced by the success of The Exorcist,director Richard Donner got a great script from David Seltzer,who has quotes from Revelations at every turn and comes up with very some original ideas to kill people off.The set killings feel more like a Splatter movie,yet this is far more than that,and this is due to the late great Gregory Peck who just grounds the movie in reality.Donner hit gold here and handled with precise skill this film,that grabs its audience and does not let go until the shocking finale.It is also well acted by the superb cast of Gregory Peck as ambassador Thorn,a man who refuse’s to face the truth,the horrifying news his son is the Anti Christ.Lee Remick as his beautiful and tragic wife,and doomed mother of the devils son,that only she could play this well forget about the remake,this is true acting skill.Then there’s David Warner as the doomed reporter/photographer Jennings,and again he too is at his best in this movie,a subtle but well acted part .Also Patrick Troughton (‘Dr Who’ #2) as the priest who knows the truth about the Thorn’s son,and let’s not forget Harvey Stephen as Damien, well he nearly stole the show,what a find,but for me top marks go to Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock,she oozed evil in her role, and was genuinely frightening.From the moment she appears she takes over the screen in every scene she is in,a great power house performance.Then there’s Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar winning score that took the film to a level,that many horror films generally never attained in the 1970s,a trully chilling score that on it’s own would give you a restless night.
It starts off more thriller that horror,and combines an intriguing mystery with a great plot,of a child adopted into the corridors of power, whose destiny is to destroy the world.But as those have seen this know there are periodic eruptions of bloody violence and well choreographed gore,like the priest being impaled by a church spire to a reporter being decapitated by a pane of glass.This scene of the head being lopped off and rolling across a street in slow-motion,is really chilling and bizarre,a stand out moment in horror that Argento would be proud of.Another stand out scene takes place in an old Italian cemetery,it reminded me of the opening scene in Frankenstein 1931,that full on Gothic feel very few modern horrors touch on now.And this is where Thorn finally meets the truth of what has been done,and the horror of this awaking is matched by the vicious attack of the rabid dogs.The Omen is gloomy, disturbing, chilling,and the fairly slow pace may be boring to the action/thriller,popcorn film/game fans of today, but by the film’s final disturbing climax and simple, superbly creepy final image,your left in no doubt this is a true classic. 9/10

- Evil Bill

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 367
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:26:06 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
17. Shaun of the Dead



Director: Edgar Wright
2004
Film

Last Year's Position: 57

I came a little late to the Wright/Pegg/Frost party. I didn’t watch Spaced when it aired and I only saw Shaun of The Dead when it was released on DVD on the recommendation of a friend. Fair to say I loved it and was quickly back to my local (sadly missed) MVC to pick up the series for which I also found a space in my geeky heart.

Shaun of The Dead has a simple enough concept at heart – what if the living dead turn up in a quiet London suburb, somewhere familiar that we can all relate to? What would an ordinary even slightly pathetic bloke (again easily relatable) do in such circumstances?

In this case Shaun decides to round up his best mate, his girlfriend, her friends, his mum and her stepdad and hole up in the local pub.

It would be easy to dismiss the film as a spoof ( I know because I did) but the comedy comes mainly from the characters and their dynamics. Example

Liz: You hang out with my friends? Sorry, a failed actress and a twat?
Shaun: Well, that's a bit harsh.
Liz: Your words!
Shaun: I did NOT call Dianne a failed actress!

The relationships are all 100% believable, from Shaun’s friendship with hanger on and general weight around his neck Ed to David’s pining after Liz. There are plenty of laughs to be had from the set pieces though. The garden showdown. “Batman soundtrack?” “Throw it!”, the zombie acting masterclass from Dianne, the pub smackdown perfectly timed to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. There’s more than enough funny here.

Where the film really excels and surprises though is that it is doesn’t treat the unded threat lightly The racking up of tension once the gang is holed up in the pub is brilliantly handled. As their situation becomes ever more bleak and desperate Shaun faces some awful choices and they really feel awful and so you feel for him. Suddenly things just aren’t that funny anymore, they’re actually terrifying. Much credit to Edgar Wright for the making the shift in tone work.

Shaun... is a film made by fans for fans. There’s plenty of in jokes – Foree’s Electricals, Fulci’s restaurant, “We’re coming to get you Barbara!” yet it never alienates the audience. You don’t have to have seen any of Romero’s outings to enjoy this one.

The performances are great throughout. Pegg and Frost bring their easy real life rapport in spades and you can believe they’re best friends simply because they are. Kate Ashfield is convincing as the somewhat pissed off Liz, whilst Lucy Davies is likeable as Dianne and Dylan Moran elicits sympathy despite being a bit of a git.

The film was recently described in Fangoria as “Almost indisputably the best zombie film ever made by someone not named George” High praise and indeed hard to argue with.

- Scruffybobby

SPOILERS I was initially sceptical when I went in to see Shaun of the Dead for the first time, as I'd never seen an episode of Spaced and was slightly suspicious that the rave reviews were merely fanboy gushings with little perspective. The casting, that seemed like a basic role call of British sitcom actors with the obligatory semi-Hollywood name in there, also seemed to indicate a blown-up sitcom episode stretched beyond its natural length. Well, rarely has a film proved me more wrong, as Shaun of the Dead is gloriously cinematic, brilliantly funny and fizzes with life and invention. The titular Shaun (Simon Pegg) is best friend to the slacker, Ed (Nick Frost) and most recently, ex-boyfriend to Liz (Kate Ashfield). Waking up hungover one morning he finds his resolve to win back the affections of Liz is not only tested by the numerous fuck-up's he's performed during their relationship, but also by the fact that London is now under attack from a rapidly-growing horde of zombies. Together, Shaun and Ed vow to save Liz, Shaun's mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), Liz's flatmates (Dylan Moran and Lucy Davis), take shelter in the local pub, The Winchester and wait for it all to blow over. It's a daunting task for writer/director Edgar Wright, but he demonstrates that he has a natural cinematic flair and an eye for striking visuals. Wright composes his shots superbly, even making simple conversation scenes more interesting than they have any right to be; and he finds invention in every shot possible whether it be a bird's eye view through a hole in a zombie's stomach, or his clever transition from night to day when Shaun has passed out drunk in his kitchen, or his long tracking shot of Shaun walking to the corner shop and back, hungover and oblivious to the zombie carnage all around him. In one respect, it's the best-directed film of the decade, in that Wright makes it every shot count and it's a film alive with the energy of a director who knows this may be the last and first film he ever makes and has planned out every little detail in his head as to how the film should look. This is why the film can switch tones so effectively. The funny bits are really funny, the horror bits are appropriately gruesome and by the end, as the zombies besiege the Winchester, it works up a genuine dramatic force and tension. The zombies themselves look superb and are never played for laughs and Wright also pulls of some emotional moments as Shaun is forced to kill the recently-bitten Barbara and then abandon Ed in the beer cellar to his fate after he too is bitten. There is not an ounce of fat on the film and as well as superb performances from every single cast member (Pegg and Frost take to the big screen like naturals with one of the best-realised portrayals of friendship between 30-something men ever seen) it truly deserves to be ranked alongside the likes of An American Werewolf in London. Just like that film it has a genuine love and respect for the genre it exists in (references to other zombie films abound, but not so much that they alienate the unknowing) and a script brimming with great jokes and cleverly-crafted details. It'll take you a few viewings to appreciate how many lines of dialogue are repeated three times, with greater intensity each time ("Leave him alone!") or how Shaun and Ed's conversation in the pub after Liz has dumped him spells out everything that is to come in the film ("We'll start off with a Bloody Mary in the garden...and then finish with shots at the bar"). Maybe it's because you're laughing too much at the vast array of memorable lines, or the superbly staged slapstick (such as the dart in the head or Shaun's increasingly truncated plan in his head to rescue everyone as he narrows down the possibilities), or maybe the perfectly-judged final shot will leave you with too much of a smile in the face to appreciate the intricate structure of the script. Or maybe the expertly staged action sequences leave you impressed that this is actually a British film you're watching. But of all films this decade, it is this one that I find myself rewatching the most and picking out new and clever little touches each and every time.

- Matty_b

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 368
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:26:22 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
16. 28 Days Later



Director: Danny Boyle
2002
Film

Last Year's Position: 25

One of the most enjoyable horror films of recent years, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later harks back to the classic Day of the Triffids as Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes from a coma to a deserted hospital and, in some of the film's most stunning scenes, an apparently deserted London. Encountering 2 other survivors just in time after he runs into the reason for the desolation – an infection spread almost instantaneously through blood that has resulted in the quarantining of the whole of Great Britain by the outside world. Joining up with a father and daughter, who had been holed up in a tower block, they head off to find the source of a military transmission seeming to promise a cure.

The key to the scares in the film is the speed of the infected, brilliantly shot by Dod Mantle as if they were some rabid, surging, unstoppable tide (oddly a description of the speed of cholera), seen to particular effect in the tunnel on the way out of London. That and the vicious (and sometimes dreamlike) scenes in the mansion as Jim goes all primitive simply look stunning. With the scenes of the deserted city mentioned earlier, it's arguable that 28 Days Later is one of the best shot of all horror films.

And for a horror the film features some impressive acting talent. Naomie Harris spent quite some time as the 'next big thing' and is solid as the tough survivor Jim encounters first. Across town taxi driver Brendan Gleeson is living to protect his daughter and the supposed military saviours are led by Christopher Eccleston, with Murphy strong in the lead.

It's not a zombie movie though.

- Elab49

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 369
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:26:42 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
15. A Nightmare on Elm Street



Director: Wes Craven
1984
Film

Last Year's Position: 20

In the early 1980′s, a psychopath named Freddy Krueger – known as the Springwood Slasher – murdered several children with a glove outfitted with straight razor blades attached to the fingers. When a foolish decision by a judge sets him free, Krueger is burned alive in the boiler room where he worked by an angry mob of the parents whose children he terrorized & murdered. Years after his death, the children whose parents were responsible for Krueger’s death – including Nancy Thompson, daughter of the police officer who arrested Krueger – are experiencing terrifying nightmares involving a burned man wearing a glove with razor blades on the fingers. The ghost of Freddy Krueger is haunting their dreams, and when Nancy’s best friend Tina dies in her sleep violently during a dream confrontation with Krueger, Nancy realizes she must find a way to stop the evil psychopath’s reign of terror – or never sleep again.

By 1984, the slasher film had already been done to death, but Craven added a fresh take, so original, realistic,gory, and overall terrifying that it is easy to overlook the film’s few shortcomings.Robert Englund is truly frightening as Freddy Krueger, a dark figure whose only purpose is to kill all the siblings of his killers. The knife-styled finger glove has become a trademark of this amazing character who was created by writer-director Wes Craven.Who had read a story about a child killer some years earlier,who had been killed by the parents.He’d also read a science journal on people dieing from heart-attacks,caused by recurring nightmares.This mix of two ideas,makes Freddy truly terrifying, and an inspired invention on Craven’s part,is he succeeds by preying on archetypal fears and imagery – the myth of the bogeyman, the power of the unconscious conjuring up the worst horrors imaginable.And that he exists not in the real world but in the shadowy realm of dreams,where we all are helpless.This cult classic horror film goes for suspense, drama, and gore and delivers by the bucket load.There’s the mind twisting scene where we see a victim pulled down into the bed,then an eruption of blood that soaks the entire room.Another scene that reminded me of Shivers,where Freddy’s razor hand appears in the bath between Tinas legs awakens. The only real weakness is none of the characters are developed very well, but most do not live to see the end of the film so it really does not matter. A great horror film that still delivers today,even on re watches.Ignore the endless sequels, they each detract from this truly original and interesting film.And keep a lookout for a young Johnny Depp in his first movie role,as one of the unlucky teens

- Evil Bill

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Post #: 370
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:27:05 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
14. Jaws



Director: Steven Spielberg
1975
Film

Last Year's Position: 18

What is this bullshit? The shark doesn't look real? Oh, it does too! This has been my personal belief ever since I first saw Jaws. I even went as far as writing a Tarantino-like dialogue scene in some unfinished movie script where gangsters put up well-reasoned arguments that the shark does indeed look real. When your movie aspires to such meaningless debate, you know you have made something close to iconic. Sure, it created the summer blockbuster, but based on the many summer blockbusters from this year I'd say that the directors of those films ought to sit down and watch Steven Spielberg's masterpiece once more, because they have not understood what makes a great thrill-ride. Then again, could anyone top this classic? Did Die Hard make us afraid of skyscrapers? Did Speed make us afraid of buses? I think not. What I do know, is that I can never be really safe when swimming in the ocean after having watched Jaws. Sure, the chances of sharks appearing in Norwegian seas are as low as me marrying Angelina Jolie, but there's still that hunch. "What if?", you know. I mean, even just once would be too much.

In ways, the shark in Jaws is sort of like a modern Harry Lime. It is rarely seen, but when it finally arrives, the audience's attention is fixed like a sniper-aim towards it. It has become a mythical creature, and is just as famous for its background story and how it barely worked on set. But unlike many of the movie world's monsters, it is a very real creature, which adds to the suspense. But this is so much more than a "shark-film", and Spielberg knew this. The only sub-text the film offers may be the one the audience provides for itself, but there is still a to ponder about. Why, for example, are the the islanders so eager not to shut down the beaches? Yes, we know that they make a living out of it, but they woudn't have a living if their customers were offed as soon as they stepped into the water, would they? To understand this question, we must look at the scene where the mayor (Murray Hamilton) finally caves in to Brody's (Roy Scheider) demand. That the mayor had to wait until his own kids were in danger to act may seem preposterous, but sadly, this is the state of the world we are living in, and if you thought people chasing money always put human lives first, well, then you may very well be an alien.

Analysis of the human condition aside, there's no denying that the power of Jaws is that it's simply so much fun to watch. That being said, Spielberg was no slouch when he made the film, something clearly seen in the "that's some bad hat, Harry"-scene, which sees him raking up a multitude of false alarms before finally injecting the needle in one of the goriest climaxes in PG-13 cinema (how it got that rating to begin with is beyond me). The Vertigo-zoom may seem like a cliche now, but Spielberg uses it to an effect that is equally (if perhaps not more) as effective as when Hitchcock used it. The film also demonstrates that the 2-act structure doesn't need to be the failure it was in Full Metal Jacket. One might think that spending the first half of the movie building up the second half would be suicide, but Spielberg pulls it off with bravura. Just don't make me choose between them. Yes, the second half has the Indianapolis-monologue, but what about the Ben Gardner-scene in the first half? Then, there's the ending and its appropriate final lines, which has its comic counterpart in Ellen Brody's (Lorraine Gary) unintentionally funny reaction when she opens up the shark-book and realizes just how dangerous these creatures are. I could go on forever, but you already know how excellent Jaws is, don't you?

That being said, I have no idea what that shooting star over Brody is. Good timing, special effect or just a gaffe? -- Dantes Inferno.

- DantesInferno

Jaws came out many, many years before Steven Spielberg decided to turn serious with Schindler’s List in 1993, and it is always good to return to the times when Spielberg just did movies to entertain. That’s not to say that films like Schindler’s List and Amistad aren’t impressive or ground-break, but returning to a time when the mighty beard dealt with villains that were completely fantastical and, if you excuse the pun, out of the blue, like a giant shark instead of real-life dictators and enslavers, it’s a lot easier to enjoy your time in front of the screen. And that’s what cinema is about, isn’t it?

Everybody remembers the plot for Jaws. Amity Island is under threat from a giant man-eater of the Selachimorpha variety, but only marine biologist and general shark know-it-all Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfruss) and Police captain Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) realize the full extent of the impending doom. Of course, worry and terror grips the small island and the natives go out into the blue with the hope of bringing home the shark and, in true movie fashion, the large reward fee. Several sharks are slaughtered, but Hooper and Scheider don’t believe it’s big enough.

Of course, they refuse to believe the story that the shark-worries should be over, but the town mayor refuses to close the beaches because the town’s attraction to tourists may diminish (someone should have told him that deaths by shark also seem to have that effect). However, after yet more attacks, the duo are commissioned to go out and capture the shark with the help of the mysterious and quite strange ‘Quint’ (Robert Shaw).

The film’s true power is in its suspense. We don’t see the shark for the first three quarters of the film, and although this was a genuine accident (Spielberg later admitted this was because they couldn’t get the mechanical shark to work), it works to the film’s advantage. The foreboding, and now iconic, tones of the film’s theme tune adding to the suspense as they slowly and gently build up to the explosive finale. There’s no scarier moment in film than when we first see the shark, except, maybe, when we first here that music.

The characters are, however, thinly characterized and somewhat two-dimensional. Brody’s only defining feature or attribute is his ironic fear of water and Hooper doesn’t seem to have anything about him at all. Quint is the film’s key character; both interesting and mysterious. As we learn more about the slow-talking, husky-voiced fisherman he only gains in interestingness. Without Quint, the film would drift slowly into a monster-movie where the monster is the only interesting thing about it, and the fisherman’s speech about a real-life shark attack still remains as one of the best movie monologue of all-time.

Jaws is truly one of the greats for the simple reason that it’s entertaining to people of all ages. Whether you’re ten years old and experiencing the revelation of the shark for the first time, or forty and witnessing it for the hundredth, it’s still as thrilling and frightening as ever. It has, and surely will for many years to come, survived time and repeated viewings. If you don’t like Jaws, you are either an elitist who’s forgotten what an entertaining movie is, or an orange. Simply a must see.

- Piles

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Post #: 371
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:30:38 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
13. An American Werewolf in London



Director: John Landis
1981
Film

Last Year's Position: 12

Two American friends David and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are travelling through Europe. In Yorkshire they find themselves forced out of a village pub into the deep dark night. Despite being told to stick to the roads, they find themselves crossing the moors where they meet a very nasty doggie. Jack is killed and David seriously injured. He wakes up several days later in a London hospital. He comes to wish though that he would have died too.

This may not be the first horror film that I ever saw but it’s the first one I can remember seeing. I would have been about ten and watching on video – probably taped off TV. It scared the bejeesus out of me and continued to do so for many years to come. Even now the dream sequence in which our cursed hero David (David Naughton) lies in a hospital bed in the woods asleep suddenly waking with a pale, yellow eyed, fanged face puts the wind up me.

There’s so much to love about this film, from the opening in the least welcoming pub in the world, through visits to porno cinemas with the undead to mayhem in Picadilly circus. It’s alive with invention, wit and humour. John Landis insists that American Werewolf isn’t a comedy yet it’s very, very funny and clearly owes a debt to the British TV comedy of which Landis is a self confessed fan. Inspector Villiers and Segeant McManus make for a great comedy double act and there’s a lot of fun to be had in incidental characters such as the young couple killed by David who remain irrepressibly cheerful and polite despite their recent slaughter.

.It is however also really very scary. The scene in which the yuppie is stalked on the underground is a wonderful use of camera and sound, with the beast only very briefly glimpsed. Then there’s the surreal horrors of the dream sequences including the one mentioned above. The naked deer hunting and of course the Zombie/Demon nazi massacre double-shock number

Key to any werewolf movie is the transformation and Rick Baker’s work is second to none and 30 years on - yes it’s really been that long - is yet to be bettered. Rob Bottin’s work on The Howling (itself great) beat it to cinemas and used some of the same techniques but still doesn’t hold a candle to what we see here. Shot in bright light and long takes it looks like a horrific agonising experience. It hurts just to watch it.

The casting is great. Naughton and Dunne have great rapport and you really believe they’re friends. Even dead and decomposing Dunne is funny and charming, Jenny Agutter exudes sex appeal as Nurse Alex Price but also shows humour and warmth in her scenes with David and with the mischievous Benjamin – all together now “NO!” -John Woodvine as the doctor turned detective is solid value. It also has great parts for Brian Glover, David Schofield and Rik Mayall

The soundtrack is also fun – squeezing in just about any song with “moon” in the title Landis can think of, including three different versions of Blue Moon

It all gets a little silly towards the end but the final scenes are still a blast full of short, sharp bursts of nastiness. The final scene is brutal and abrupt and all the more powerful for it.

There was a sequel of sorts in 1997 (…In Paris) which was pretty awful and there will be an inevitable remake soon enough. It may well be good but there’s no way it will ever be as good as this

There are some holes to be picked in the plot though. Would Alex really fall for David so easily? How does the wolfy David get into the Zoo in the first place? Why would he be taken to London when surely there’s plenty of hospitals far more local to the place of his attack? Well in answer to the last one An American Werewolf in Leeds just doesn’t have the same ring does it?

- Scruffybobby

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Post #: 372
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:31:01 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
12. Night of the Living Dead



Director: George Romero
1968
Film

Last Year's Position: 9

A young woman Barbara (Judith O’Dea) visiting her father’s grave takes refuge in a nearby farmhouse,after her brother is attacked by a zombie.She is met by a man called Ben (Duane Jones) in the house who protects her and barricades them both inside as more of the dead rise. They discover a family with a sick little girl and a young couple in the basement of the house and they all get to work barricading themselves in and preparing weapons and other defenses.Their only hope rests on getting some gasoline from a nearby pump into a truck that is running on empty, but this requires braving the hordes of ravenous walking corpses outside. When they finally put their plans into action, panic and personal tensions only add to the terror as they try to survive.

George Romero’s remarkably assured debut,a landmark 1968 horror-shocker,made on a shoestring budget,with a simple idea, and some dedicated and talented participants,is awesome.Filmed in B&W due to the tight budget,and on the whole well acted,it grabs your attention from the very beginning to the very end.The horror of this film is, unlike a lot of its recent descendants, less a matter of blood and gore than a matter of the real active horror of realistically depicted scenes of murder, death and cannibalism.Though the black and white footage is extremely stark and effective,and the film has a documentary like quality to it as well, thanks to the ongoing commentary from radio and TV news crews,this all adds to the realism.Scenes involving blood and gore is certainly also very effective,and disturbing,but there may not be quite enough of it for today’s average gore hound.The photographic techniques of this film are innovative and powerful showing just enough of the sheer hideousness of the film’s basic concepts to disturb viewers, but not enough to allow them to detach from the film’s protagonists.The opening attack in the cemetery still packs a punch,and helps unnerve the viewer right from the off,a truly well shot and executed piece of filming.

This is a movie that dared to break so many taboos,like no otter movie before,it dropped the old Gothic horror,that was in earlier zombie flicks and brought it into the real world.Also it dared to show cannibalism, incest, necrophilia,and having a Black man as the hero handing out the orders,being the voice of reason and calm,was to some at the time worse than incest.It’s not just a zombie flick,it’s a probing, subversive and socially aware movie,with a racial subtext,with a truly harrowing ending that reveals the dangers of misdirected fear and prejudice.And yet it’s basic premise is the dead are resurrected and begin killing human beings in order to eat their flesh,which is pure outright horror at it’s best.It was detested by a lot of critics in its day for several scenes of unsettling gruesomeness,and those taboos it broke.Though in the gore department it has to be said that Herschell Gordon Lewis’ gore films earlier in the 1960s beat him to the punch for true stomach-turning blood soaked horror.But it not just gore that set’s Romero’s classic film up as a milestone in cinema history, its the relentless, logical approach, and uncompromising assault at every angle. What Romero and his co-scenarist John Russo did(who by the way took partial inspiration for this film from Richard Matheson’s classic 1954 end of the world vampire novel I Am Legend,and Hammers old Zombie flick),is built tension up by the way the characters, especially the ones portrayed by Duane Jones and the film’s co-producer Karl Hardman character Harry is quite compelling with his combative and argumentative stance on just about everything,while the horror engulfs them.There in fighting is just as frightening as the zombie horde outside,and this was a reflection of the breakdown of the nulcear family,the civil unrest and racism of the 60′s.There’s the fear of the mob reflected in the zombies and Armageddon all primeval fears,a movie that shows good does not always triumph.It really is a bleak disturbing ride with no humor except of the darkest kind,so depressing at it’s unrelenting stab at mankind’s weakness and hate of fellow humans.

To say this movie is a landmark,is just not enough,it re invented the horror movie,and breathed new life into zombie films,it is the beginning of the zombie genre as we know it.The beginning of the concept of being besieged that make up many modern horrors and sci/fi’s to many to list. While there is a debate raging in the farmhouse of what to do,who is leader etc, the zombies know what they want and they all want it bad. And while they aren’t a team they do not fight amongst themselves they have one goal,and noting will stop them,no amount of praying,they cannot be reasoned with.This concept has been passed on to numerous movies since like Aliens,Ghosts of Mars,Dog Soldiers etc,it also paved the way for modern low budget shockers like Halloween,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,Blair Witch etc etc,and it’s influence just keeps on going.Romero might at the time not know what he was about to do,but he sure knows now,he is rightly regarded as the man who turned horror around.It was always seen as a cult thing if you like,with noting but ghoulish entertainment in mind,but after this it was excepted by the masses.And has led to some of the most brilliant thought provoking movies ever made,that are not afraid to push the boundaries of what is acceptable.For these reasons alone it is a five star film,but it stands up on it’s own as one true great horror movie that works in both scares,and endless tension,with a total fuck me ending.

- Evil Bill

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Post #: 373
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:33:45 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
11. Psycho



Director: Alfred Hitchcock
1960
Film

Last Year's Position: 5

Lovers Marion Crane and Sam Loomis want to marry, but can't because of Sam's debts. When her boss asks her to take care of a $40,000 deposit at work, she takes the chance and steals the money. Marion drives through the night to see Sam, sleeping on the side of the road. After being approached by a police officer, she decides to use a motel to avoid arousing further suspicion. She arrives at the Bates Motel, an off the beaten track place that has no other guests. The owner, Norman, explains that there's been a business slump of late and that he looks after his mother who lives in the sinister house near the motel. Norman and Marion eat dinner together, they have a brief spat over Norman's controlling mother, with Norman admitting that he feels trapped. Later Norman watches her undress through a peephole in his office wall. Marion resolves to return the money and then decides to take a shower, and we all know what happens then.

The film's been analysed to death, possibly to the extent that it makes difficult to appreciate it for what it is anymore. Everyone is aware of the iconic elements, the shower scene, the music, Norman Bates, the Bates Motel itself, at times it feels like they're so often accepted as great that we lose sight of why they're great in the first place. Let's start with how daring it actually was, opening the film with such an overt display of sexuality as Janet Leigh, post-sex, lying on a bed with her lover, wearing only a black bra, was not only incredibly brave for a mainstream film to attempt at the time, it already forces the audience into the position of voyeur, something Hitchcock was keen to exploit for Psycho. By the time Norman is watching Marion getting changed through a peephole, we're in no position to judge him for his action because Hitchcock's opening shot has already put us in that very position. Hitchcock pushed this daring streak even further with the shower scene. It's difficult to imagine cinema without the Psycho shower scene, a masterpiece of editing and audience manipulation, it's one of the big cinema moments. Is there anyone even vaguely familiar with film that isn't aware of it? It's become so overly familiar that people often forget what a jaw-dropping moment it must have been in 1960. The heroine is murdered roughly halfway into the running time, that's not just brave that's practically throwing the rulebook out of the window when it comes to mainstream cinema. Especially when we're left with the rather odd Norman as our audience identification figure. And speaking of Norman, could you imagine a better match of performer and character as Perkins and Bates? Perkins gives a subtle, nuanced performance that catches audience sympathy even when we're never quite certain of him or his motivations.

With Psycho, Hitchcock went some way to introducing a new revolution in horror, like Powell's Peeping Tom (released the same year) the roots of the slasher movie were laid down (Although some would argue you can trace that back even further), something that would be picked up by the Italian Giallo sub-genre and eventually lead into Black Christmas/Halloween and the slasher boom of the 80s. Hitchcock presented us with a blackly comic horror movie, a stunning exercise in paranoia, voyeurism and perverse psychology and in doing so he created his most famous work. Madness has never seemed as enticing

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Post #: 374
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:34:26 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
10. The Evil Dead II



Director: Sam Raimi
1987
Film

Last Year's Position: 19

85 minutes. That's all it takes to watch one of the most perfect films ever devised. 85 minutes. In a blink of an eye you've witnessed a film that turns the rules of the horror genre on it's head, is way more post-modern than anything Wes Craven's created and, most importantly, has left you enthralled and highly entertained. With Sam Raimi swinging camera's enigmatically into Bruce Campbell's face and spraying shitload's of blood over everyone's favourite idiotic hero, there's much to be admired. Flying eyeballs, headless-chainsaw wielding corpses, blunt shovel decapitation, an unseen force crashing through doors (in a visually awesome chase sequence), three stooges slapstick, hose-pipe bloodbaths, worksheds, boomsticks, a decapitated head with a nasty bite and the greatest scene of self mutilation ever filmed all add up to unbelievable audience satisfaction. Campbell's now iconic tooling up for the final confrontation with a soul-sucking deadite and the fantastic way that he continually has his arse kicked by the evil spirits, is not only "groovy” it has also entered the halls of movie lore, so important they are to Evil Dead 2's success. And it all ends with one final kick in the balls to our hero, much to our delighted pleasure. 85 minutes of your time isn't much to ask for, plus you get two films for the price of one seeing as Evil Dead 2 is one of the few films that has adjudged the balance between horror and comedy so perfectly. And if you didn't hear me before – this film features a flying fucking eyeball! No excuses, go and watch it again, before you finish reading the rest of the poll… the power of the chin compels you!

- Clownfoot

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Post #: 375
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:34:49 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
9. The Evil Dead



Director: Sam Raimi
1981
Film

Last Year's Position: 10

It was Evil Dead 2 that really turned the series, and lead actor Bruce Campbell, into cult icons, but the story begins here. The Evil Dead focuses on a group of friends who take a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods, while searching the basement they discover The Book of the Dead, an ancient text bound in human flesh, and a tape recorder. That night they play the recorder and hear the voice of a man claiming to have discovered some demonic forces in the woods outside the cabin, playing the recording unwittingly leads to the resurrection of these forces and soon the friends find themselves cutr off from the outside world and the cabin under assault from these unseen demons.

The plot of The Evil Dead probably makes it sound like B-movie schlock, far more suited to my trash classics list than my favourites list. And in truth it is B-movie schlock, but what's wrong with that? It's also frightening, thrilling, tense. The script and the acting may not be wonderful and it may not have the same 'quality' feel of a Val Lewton horror (for example) but it doesn't need to. What a film like The Evil Dead needs to do is provoke terror, to provide an adrenalin rush and it does exactly that.

The obvious inspiration for the film would be Romero's Dead films. Night Of The Living Dead had been at the forefront of a new wave of American horrors and the basic set-up (a group of people isolated in a house while being attacked by supernatural forces) is repeated in The Evil Dead. And many mistake the demonic forces in The Evil Dead for zombies. But I think Living Dead was only a superficial influence, much like The Hills Have Eyes was. Two far more direct inspirations were E.C. Comics and the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The film shares the love of gore and ghoulish humour that the various E.C. comics like Tales From The Crypt indulged in. Indeed, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine The Evil Dead in one of their issues. The Lovecraft influence is the strongest though, the Book Of The Dead itself, the Necronomicon, was actually an invention of Lovecraft, an ancient text that contained the secrets of the Great Old Ones and something that recurred in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

The film went through an interesting creation process. It found its first incarnation as a short film, Within The Woods. It shared many of the same qualities of The Evil Dead (Except it went down the 'ancient Indian burial ground' route) and Bruce Campbell played a character who was the prototype for Ash. When Raimi was able to scrape together a small budget, he took his amateur cast into the Tennesse woods and filming took place over a period of two years. Despite (or maybe because of) its shoe-string budget, The Evil Dead is an incredibly inventive film, even though many of the effects are obviously homemade, they have a raw power that works perfectly within the context of the film. The most impressive aspect is the camera work, Raimi created a steadicam by fixing the camera to a plank of wood and used this to help create the p.o.v of the evil forces in the film. In fact, Raimi's rushing camera provides more genuine scares than any of the more grotesque moments in the film.

It's a testament to the power of such a low-budget film that The Evil Dead was criticised for being too extreme, and in truth the 'rape by tree' does wander right over the line of good taste. But, IMO, for the most part the criticisms aren't that valid. I was scared by the film but never really shocked, I treated it as more of a thrill ride, the film lives by the sheer force of energy that the cast and the crew managed to create. The Evil Dead is a demented fairground ride, a mixture of the rollercoaster and the ghost train and it's best appreciated if you just sit back and enjoy it.

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Post #: 376
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:35:06 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
8. The Exorcist



Director: William Friedkin
1973
Film

Last Year's Position: 2

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 [1979] 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.

- HomerSimpson_esq

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Post #: 377
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:35:20 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
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7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre



Director: Tobe Hooper
1974
Film

Last Year's Position: 6

After hearing reports of grave-robbing near their parents old house, teenagers Sally and Franklin Hardesty and a group of their friends decide to drive out and inspect the damage, stopping along the way to check on their old family property. Despite being warned off by the gas station owner, and a disturbing encounter with a hitch-hiker, the teens carry on to the house, and that's when they discover Leatherface is waiting for them. Hooper saw the perverseness in the society around him and channelled that into his film, creating a slasher that feels like a documentary. Like many American horror films of its time, it was working out feelings about Vietnam. Taking inspiration from what Hooper saw as the callousness and graphic nature of news reports about a war that saw the government willing to let its teenagers be treated as completely disposable. This was mixed in with stories about the serial killer Ed Gein and a mocking approach to the notion of the traditional male-dominated family unit to create a dark and perverse film that relies more on atmosphere than jump scares or gore. It's a raw experience, unrelenting and gruelling, Hooper managed to create something that set new standards for intensity in horror cinema and it's that intensity that feeds into the claustrophobic atmosphere, continually building to the point where even the moments of outright violence aren't a cathartic release, they're just more pressure. It's the ultimate backwoods horror film.

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Post #: 378
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:35:46 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
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6. The Shining



Director: Stanley Kubrick
1980
Film

Last Year's Position: 8

Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s overlong, bloated, but popular novel tells the story of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), husband to Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall), and father to Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd). When Torrance arrives at the Overlook Hotel to fulfil his duty as the winter caretaker things take a turn for the strange, and he begins to go stark raving mad, threatening the lives of his wife and child. Although Kubrick’s film may be rather shallow, there’s no denying the genuine suspense that he builds up. From our initial arrival at the Overlook, where words are spoken sparsely and the family fails to truly connect, we just know that something is up, and Kubrick relishes in stretching it out. And, when Jack finally does get pushed over the edge, we don’t get fireworks. Instead, we get a slow, deliberated attack on a fearful, defenceless family, which is much scarier than any of the emphatic, gory murders in "Saw" or "Hostel". It also looks the part, creating a visually distinct hotel and some iconic, sharp images. Who can forget the blood pouring down the hallway? Or the twins standing, inanimate, and whispering come-ons to Danny? Kubrick certainly has an eye for the visual, and this is perhaps his most vivid film. The performances are also top notch, with Jack Nicholson putting in the turn of his career. It’s reminiscent of James Cagney at his maddest, and his slow decay into insanity is heartbreaking, terrifying, and – most importantly – realistic. Shelly DuVall is equally good, portraying her decay into madness equally well. It’s well documented how Kubrick tortured her mentally during the filming, which, I think, helps present a better display of anxiety, paranoia, and ultimately insanity. Danny Lloyd, in one of his two screen credits, is unnaturally good for a child actor. It’s a surprise and a shame that he didn’t go on to do more, and it’s quite ridiculous how he just withdrew into obscurity. Kubrick, shooting in a style that really amplifies the terror (low, swift tracking shots are in particularly frightful), and his score makes it just as imposing as it is frightening. Up there with the very best of his work.

- Piles

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Post #: 379
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:36:11 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
5. The Wicker Man



Director: Robin Hardy
1973
Film

Last Year's Position:4

"The Wicker Man" is the story of an island called Summerisle, and a missing person investigation conducted by Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward). A young girl named Rowan (Gerry Cowper) has been missing for weeks, but the locals claim she never existed. Whether this is a horror film or not escapes me, because the scares (or rather chills) stem from something much deeper than the gore that many of today’s films resort too. It’s more a suspense thriller with a creepy set of characters, headed up by Christopher Lee’s wonderfully eccentric yet devilishly devious Lord Summerisle. Rituals are held on the island that have stemmed from pagan ones, and the townspeople have come to believe that their healthy crops are a gift from God. It handles the religion thing much better than something like "the Exorcist", and that’s because it never lets religion overwhelm the battle between the two leading characters, Woodward’s Howie and Lee’s Summerisle. Instead, religion is only the source of the dispute, and the battle between these two men is what’s on display here. Summerisle is about to lose the faith of the townspeople, and although they don’t realize that, he already has. And Howie is the deciding factor. If Summerisle can complete his plot, the people will support him for another year. If not, Howie will convert the people back to a more socially acceptable – yet equally ridiculous – religion. All of this, capped off with the wonderfully realized and haunting finale, and what you have is a horror classic.

- Piles.

On the Western Isles of Scotland lies Summerisle, a small island soon to be visited by a mainland police officer, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) Howie has received a letter claiming that a 12 year old girl is due to be sacrificed in a Pagan fertility rite by the islanders. He flies to the island to find the missing girl, Rowan, only to find the community deny all knowledge of her existence. The community is led by Lord Summerisle (Lee), a witty and charming man who just happens to be represent everything Howie despises. He has rejected Christianity in favour of the old ways and he encourages his islanders to follow his example. The clash of beliefs between Howie and Summerisle provides one of the key themes of The Wicker Man, the idea that any religion can be dangerous when taken to extremes. Howie finds his aircraft damaged and he is stuck on the island, caught in a mystery he can't comprehend with people he won't even try to understand.

The islanders believe in open sexuality, something that greatly offends Howie. The inn-keeper's daughter, Willow (Britt Ekland) is sexually available, initiating a teenage boy into sex, revelling in a bawdy song 'The Landlord's Daughter' that the men of the village sing for her. She even tries to seduce Howie in one of the film's most memorable scenes, where she dances naked, thrusting her body against the wall that separates them while singing the haunting 'Willow's Song'. Howie refuses because his religion forbids pre-marital sex. The school teacher devotes lessons to phallic symbols, people have sex in the open and young virgins leap naked through flames as part of a fertility dance.

Howie finds the islanders beliefs an insult to his Christian background and his disdain towards them leads him deeper into trouble. Howie is priggish and unsympathetic, but he's on the side of right, at least as far as trying to help a girl who may be in danger. He's both devout Christian and sexually repressed virgin and he thinks the practices of the island are Paganistic, causing him to look down on the islanders, he makes his disgust evident at every turn. Forgetting that while he may be the police, he is also the outsider. He isolates himself through religious attitude, social attitude, sexual repression and his own arrogance. One of the most memorable aspects of The Wicker Man is the way it blurs the lines between good and evil and turns the usual code of horror morality on its head. Here the person who refuses to have promiscuous sex is punished for doing so. In the world of The Wicker Man, virginity is not a virtue.

Anthony Shaffer's Chinese Box of a puzzle script mixes a mystery with Pagan rituals and a sense of creeping dread to create one of the most accomplished horror films of all time. For a long time The Wicker Man was an overlooked cult film, but in recent years it's started to get rehabilitated and accepted as a classic but the mainstream. Of course this has led to people who look down on horror rushing to tell you this isn't a horror film, it's a thriller or a 'gothic mystery'. Ignore them. It's horror through and through.

The Wicker Man has an incredible location, fantastic Celtic music, a superb ensemble cast that includes career-best performances from both Lee and Woodward and it's an intelligent and frightening piece of cinema. It also has the greatest and bleakest ending of all time. Most people with even the slightest familiarity with the film are aware of the ending and as such it could lose its power for some, but for me it still has a crushing, heartbreaking inevitability and it's a perfect example of the kind of power that cinema is capable of when it's at its very best.

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Post #: 380
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:36:33 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
4. Dawn of the Dead



Director: George Romero
1978
Film

Last Year's Position: 7

The recently deceased are returning to life and the stability of the United States is under threat. Four people-Fran a worker in a TV station which is giving out wrong information, her boyfriend Stephen a helicopter pilot, and two SWAT troopers Roger and Peter who have just escaped from a bloody battle in a tenement building, decide to escape in Stephen’s helicopter. When they find a large shopping mall, they decide to hole up inside it for a while, even though the mall is full of shambling zombies who as people spent a great part of their lives there and are half remembering their human lives………

George Romero’s masterpiece Dawn Of The Dead is in my opinion the greatest of zombie films and one of the greatest post-apocalpytic films too, so I imagine this review will be longer than than those of the other Dead series. It was the first one I saw and in the mid 80s I couldn’t get enough of it’s mixture of hair-raising action, bloody horror, nail-biting suspense, social satire and character drama where I actually really liked the characters and I had really got to know them. Although Night Of The Living Dead had been a big success, Romero and his crew had never made much money from it and his other films, whilst often interesting [such as Martin] had not done well at all, so he decided to revisit zombies. He wrote the script in Italy with help from Dario Argento and the resulting film was produced by both Romero’s and Argento’s companies, with Argento retaining final cut for the Italian version. Though a ‘bigger’ film than the previous Dead opus, it was still a very cheap production and corners had to be cut constantly, with for example almost all the stunts done by two people, Tom Savini the effects person and his buddy. Filmed at the Monroeville Mall at night time, it was released in the US without a rating because, although it was too graphic for an R rating, an X rating at the time was synonimous with explicit sex. Unsurprisingly, in the UK it lost almost four minutes-in the 80s I remember being really frustrated by the fact that a book on horror films I had, had two stills from the film depicting shots, one of a head exploding and one of a machete cleaving a head in two, that weren’t in the video I owned. [Also Romero's next zombie opus Day Of The Dead didn't have much of it's gruesome delights cut at all when it came out in 1985, but the BBFC were so inconsistent with horror films around then]. Of course it’s uncut now, but for a budding horror fan in the 80s there was nothing more exciting than obtaining an uncut bootleg video copy of a censored or banned horror movie, and it wasn’t long I got to see Dawn Of The Dead with all of it’s flesh ripping and blood spraying intact!

Like it’s predecessor, Dawn Of The Dead gets underway immediately, with chaos in a TV station and SWAT troopers blowing refugees away and then finding zombies in a basement. We are quickly introduced to our four main characters with brief but very clever scriptwriting that tells us what they are like and differentiates their characters without the need for lengthy dialogue scenes. Once they reach the mall, we are treated to a thrilling series of action scenes in and around the mall, as our protagonists get supplies and strengthen their position. When these end, the pace becomes quite slow, but far from becoming boring, the montages and scenes of them just sitting around work brilliantly, not only as a respite from the last hour or so but in really giving us a sense of what their life is like and also in developing character, as each person reacts to their environment in a different way. I find really touching a scene where Peter cooks and serves Fran and Stephen a romantic dinner and Peter proposes, only for Fran to refuse Peter’s ring saying “it wouldn’t be real”. Importantly, the tension never really goes away, and then we are treated to a really crazy climax, a kind of three way battle between our heroes, the zombies and a motorbike gang. This brilliant sequence dares to be very humorous at first, but soon blood gags and pies in faces turn into intestine pulling and flesh eating. SPOILERS Dawn Of The Dead was originally supposed to end in as bleak a way as Night Of The Living Dead, with Peter shooting himself and Fran decapitating herself by helicopter rota blades, but Christine Forrest, Romero’s wife talked the director into allowing them to escape.SPOILERS END Considering that, in contrast with the first film’s realistic feel, this one was more comic book like and satirical, it was the right decision.

The way the zombies are handled is very interesting. First of all, in the tenement building they are extremely dangerous, but after one poor undead has his scalp sliced off when he walks into spinning rota blades, they start to be seen in a more humorous light. The comment on consumerism, as the zombies are drawn to the shopping mall and behave not unlike us, is about as subtle as a brick, but we almost start to feel pity for these cannibalistic monsters. In one scene we see a zombie woman being mugged by humans for her jewellery! It’s also notable that, apart from the first and last fifteen or twenty minutes, most of the gore is of the zombies. The violence in the movie, whilst usually graphic, also changes. During the opening tenement battle, it hits us in the head as troopers blow heads apart, a woman greets her undead husband and has skin ripped from her neck and arm in return, and in one really gruesome scene, a basement is full of zombies chewing on arms and legs and Roger and Peter dispose of them all. Afterwards though, it gets more comic book like and even blackly humorous. Zombies are used as target practice. An undead handyman gets a screwdriver rammed up his ear. Romero even gets away with zombies receiving pies in the face, but things return to get nasty in the climax. The zombie cannibalism, which utilised cow intestines, was the goriest yet seen [though Romero topped it with Day Of The Dead] and Tom Savini’s homemade effects remain pretty convincing, with the camera not dwelling on them for too long to show any weaknesses. Savini actually wasn’t much pleased with the slightly fluorescent looking blood and offered to redo many scenes, but Romero said it suited the comic book feel he was going for. The blue tone of many of the zombie’s faces doesn’t work so well, but it was originally grey and just didn’t photograph very well. Although this doesn’t very often try to be scary, unlike the proceeding film, there is the odd shivery moment, such as when a corpse comes to life under a blanket, with the camera remaining in one position from a fair distance away as we observe something beneath the blanket stirring. As it sits up and the blanket starts to slide off the zombie, we cut to a close up of a really creepy zombie face.

The acting by all four leads in this movie is remarkable considering they were unknowns and there are no other major roles in the film. Scott H.Reiniger is especially good when his character Roger is going a little gung-ho crazy and Gaylen Ross successfully differentiates Fran from Night Of The Living Dead’s Barbara even though she’s very similarly written. Generally the writing is superb and often very subtle is showing character. One shot of Stephen and Fran in bed, Stephen lying down trying to be relaxed, Fran sitting up looking very apprehensive, tells you all you need to know about their relationship at this stage in the film. The music of Dawn Of The Dead is a combination of throbbing tracks by Argento’s favourite group Goblin and library music, but works surprisingly well, with the library tracks very diverse, ranging from deliberately irritating shopping mall muzak to atonal suspense cues. I noticed, on this viewing, one track near the end also turned up in Monty Python and The Holy Grail and it kind of took me out of the film for a minute! The only time the music doesn’t work that well is where a cheesy heroic anthem is played over Peter’s dash for freedom-it just doesn’t work. Considering that the film has almost wall to wall music and comes from a variety of sources, it’s rarely really intrusive.

Dawn Of The Dead exists in three versions, this review is mostly based on a viewing of the 139 minute extended version which is my favourite, due to the added scenes featuring Fran, Stephen, Roger and Peter carrying out their life in the mall, but the other two versions are just as noteworthy and I happily enjoy them too. The original cut was almost three hours, from which Romero and Argento edited their separate versions. The 139 minute cut was Romero’s first attempt but he subsequently created the 126 minute version from it for general release and is his preferred edit. The 120 minute Argento version, which is called Zombie, has a soundtrack entirely consisting of music from Goblin, has a slightly different feel from the other two versions, it removes most of the humour and feels a bit more like a straight action movie, but I love it all the same as an alternative version. Both the Argento cut and the extended cut have bits and pieces that the other one doesn’t have, and fans have supposedly cut together so-called ‘full’ versions lasting 156 and 154 minutes, but considering the bewildering amount of editorial and musical differences any editor would have to consider, I reckon they would be a nightmare to attempt.

Few films are perfect and Dawn Of The Dead is weakened a little by being overly repetitive at times [I mean , how many zombie heads are shot?] and as said before by social comment that is obvious to the point of being childlike. In any version though, it remains a classic, a glorious vision of an America consumed by it’s own appetites. It success was especially strong in Italy, where it inspired a wave of gory zombie flicks ranging from good [Zombie, which was released as Zombie 2 in Italy to pretend it was a sequel to Romero's movie] to pretty dreadful [Zombie Creeping Flesh], and in 2004 there was a rather good remake which many people believe bettered the original. To me, though, I think it’s doubtful there will ever be a better zombie picture than the original Dawn Of The Dead. 9.5/10

- Dr Lenera

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Post #: 381
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:36:58 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
3. Halloween



Director: John Carpenter
1978
Film

Last Year's Position: 1

We start with a perfect score. A haunting theme in which we are greeted to a lit pumpkin that stands proud in front of a black background! Its an eerie set-piece, a credit sequence that sums up the entire mood of the film. As the big yellow words appear on screen, the camera slowly strolls towards the pumpkin, until we get to the final moments and we reach the left eye and then the light goes out and its all dark! Its a sequence that perfectly sets up the mood of the film, a sense of dread and fear in which it goes from light to dark, something is coming, something evil, and no one is going to stop it.

The Success of Suspira and everything Giallo had Irwin Yablan desperate to make a horror movie that would be talked about for years. He came up with a concept that had babysitters being targeted by a killer and with Financer Moustapha Akkad in tow, they went to the Milan Film Festival to promote a certain film called Assault On Precinct 13, directed by an up coming director by the name of John Carpenter. There, Yablan met a man named Michael Myers whom on watching Assault, fell in love with the film and agreed to put the film into film festivals all over Europe! During this time, Yablan, had a crazy idea, one he could not shake, about babysitters being stalked and killed by this unknown force of evil. To be called The Babysitter Murder, it was an idea that did not stretch to much, and even though he suggested the notion to Carpenter, it seemed to lack a bite, something was missing and Carpenter went on to film a TV movie. It was the ending of that directing gig, when Carpenter had the call that would change his life! Yablan just could not forget about this horror and one night it just struck him, holding the phone and speaking to Carpenter, he suggested that they should set the film on the night of Halloween, and even call the film that! A rocket of explosions went off in the head of the young director, that lack of something had just been added, and the greatest horror franchise of all time had just been born!!!!

Made for a partly £300,000, in which Carpenter took a deal for ten percent of the film profits, in which he also wrote the film score, the idea from the off was not to make a film soaked in bloodbath. What they wanted was to create a film that would scare the audience, there was no need for the gore that the later many imitators would introduce, there was a need to soak the film full of tension and dread, there was this evil that this town tried to keep secret, but now that secret was out and was returning home. The town in question was Haddonfield, the name taken from an actual town in New Jersey. Carpenter and his then girlfriend Debra Hill who produced the film, were told by Yablan that "less was better" and that it was required that the audience did not see anything, it is as I quote "It should be what they thought they saw that frightens them!"

Ann Lockhart was Carpenter's original choice to play the film's scream queen Laurie, but was persuaded to cast a then unknown Jamie Lee Curtis with the added bonus that she would bring a much needed boast of publicity because of her mother Janet Leigh the woman who forever be in horror folklore as the woman who checked into Bates Motel. Other casting came in the form of Donald Pleasence who became Dr Sam Loomis (the name a nod to a character on Psycho), after both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee rejected the role ( a move that Lee later regretted) while Nick Castle was signed on to play The Shape, a figure that would terror the horror circles thirty years later.

Halloween was shot in mere 21 days in the Spring of 1978, even though the film was supposed to be set in Autumn. The common mistake of Halloween is that when the film tracks down a long street, we see leaves scattered all over the floor (they were put there) while the trees themselves are full and green, its only a minor point, but now knowing that information you can not help but notice on each watch. When it was released, it started off slowly, Carpenter went off to direct Elvis, and no-one expected much, maybe a moderate hit, but nothing special or big. They were wrong, word of mouth began to develop and soon the film went big, raking
over £60 Million from a budget of £300,000 and making it the most successful independent film of all time, only to be beaten twenty one years later by a certain witch in the woods that went by the name of Blair!

Right from the off we are treated to a POV shot of a mad man at work. Like a Peeping Tom we see a person watching a young couple make out on a sofa before running upstairs to make love, a scene by the way that is the only part that makes me cringe. I would love to meet John Carpenter and ask him just one question, "Was the Sex scene an in-joke!". We see the young couple run upstairs but we stay with this person who slowly enters the house, reaches for a very sharp kitchen knife and then go to the bottom of the stairs where we then see the boyfriend (David Kyle) do up his shirt and leave through the backdoor. I counted about 55 seconds from when they ran upstairs and for this person to reach the staircase. It honestly must be the quickest sex ever put to film. Anyway, we keep with the POV shot and watch this person slowly walk up the stairs, it really seems like one long uncut sequence when it fact it is, there are two official cuts, and suggestions of a third in which Carpenter does not deny or confirm. We see a hand reach out for a clown mask on the floor in which the boyfriend was originally wearing and we are then greeted to a shot like this:

, the words "Michael!" ring out from Judith (Samdy Johnson) as the knife begins to go to work in what seems like another homage to Psycho. But its not just a normal killing. If you look closer, while the knife is going in, the killer is looking around, we see the messy bed that suggests the quick bonk, and then a quick look at the knife itself, its like the person is shocked at what they are doing but also fascinated. With Judith dead, the killer flees, we see the front door opening and a young couple walk up to this person, we hear the name again "Michael" and the clown mask is taken off to reveal the shocking image of a young six year old boy holding the knife. It seems on a cold Halloween Night in 1963, six year old Michael Audrey Myers murdered his sister Judith Margaret Myers and was later sentenced to the Smith's Grove Warrem Country Sanatorium where be locked away for fifteen years!

October 30, 1978

Is the Night he came home. Escaping when due to be transferred for a court date in the middle of the night, a now older Michael returns to Haddonfield, where he targets two babysitters, Laurie and Annie, while a third Lynda is nearby planning to have sex with her boyfriend. As the day goes to dark, unknown to them, they are being watched, in the shadows, from the outside, a thirst to kill again strong in this force of evil and their only hope is Dr Loomis, Michael's childhood psychiatrist who is on his way back to the town, convinced that Michael has returned to the place he calls home, and for the residents of the town, life would never be the same again.

There is no argument that if it was not for Michael there would be no Jason or Freddy. Halloween set the template that others would follow and virtually gave birth to the slash genre that was a major selling point for horror throughout the eighties. Amazingly while this is credited for being the most influential horror film ever, its roots were displayed a couple of years before in the underrated Black Christmas which shares many of its themes and sequences. John Carpenter denies ever seeing that film before he started this movie, but the link is uncanny when you watch them back to back. No matter what though, Halloween is the better film. What Carpenter succeeds in doing is making a horror that is actually frightening. He showed that there was no need to get a high body count to achieve the needs of the horror circles and while this spawned many copies, nearly all including the Friday 13th series, ignored this notion. In fact apart from the death scene in the beginning, there are no killings of note until the final half hour, more modern audience bought up on Saw will shake their head and demand the gore, but Halloween creates a never beaten sense of dread and fear. Watching this masked fiend, stalking these three, brings more terror than the usual dumb blonde killing, and raises the film up to a high quality level.
Michael always appeared from behind, one scene that emphasizes the style is when Annie is on the phone to Laurie while we see Michael looking from the outside. the fear it generates is amazing and when Annie gets trapped in the Laundry room, we see him from behind, and his all purpose slow walk, will send all horror fans in a frenzy. Off course there are death scenes, but they are not cheap sequences that would later dilute the franchise. All are brutal examples of a mad man at work, the killing of Bob is the most memorable of them all, his stabbing feet high from the floor in which Michael just stands there, his held tilting hints again that this is a child with no emotion and special praise must go towards Nick Castle who somehow brings out a personality in this killer with no use of words. He was and always will be the perfect portrayal of The Shape, he makes Michael seem sort of Supernatural, and aided by a creepy score that was created by Carpenter himself, it is a combination of supreme scares that again makes Halloween so hard to beat, and its hard to imagine that Castle could direct something so family and gentle with The Boy Could Fly when he came across so evil here.

Everything that is classified as horror cliches was born here. We see sequences like forgotten keys, locked doors, all play a part in the suspense but even now they still have an uncanny way of working to full effect. By the time we get to the final battle between the virgin Laurie and her nemeses, the film is in full swing, a massive battle commences
that brings knitting needles, and hiding in wardrobes together for a massive sense of adrenalin Seriously if you not hooked by now, then you clearly do not love your horror. But just when you think Carpenter can not offer any more. He created a setpiece that actually had people running out of the cinema in tears. The
shape rising from Laurie has gone down in horror cinema as one of the greatest moments. It really is wonderfully directed by Carpenter who manages to give one last scare to the audience. The cliff hanger final shot was not meant to offer a sequel or for a franchise to be born. It was meant for the audience to go home wondering if Michael could be there, in the shadows while they sleep. Of course, despite the protests of Carpenter the film made too much money for there not to be a sequel, and of course a storyline was created to fit the "why Laurie?" question. But while its hard not to watch this film not knowing why he is after her, its nice to know that in 1978, horror fans had a film that had a killer in which no motive was offered. Just a killing machine on a fun game of mayhem, before family issues became a focal point of the series. But that is a discussion for another thread because for now, I take time out to remember a film that is not just a horror film, but a masterpiece of all cinema genres

- Hughes Ross

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Post #: 382
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:37:17 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
2. Alien



Director: Ridley Scott
1979
Film

Last Year's Position: 11

The crew of the commercial towing ship the Nostromo is unexpectedly awakened long before arrival back on earth. Detecting a signal from a nearby planet a team head down to find the source. Kane gets a little too close to the cause of the problem and, with the science officer's help, gets it back on the ship.

Where its sequel Aliens is one of the greatest SF actioners ever made, Alien is a horror-thriller that presents a living, breathing blue collar working environment and one of the tensest, most atmospheric, most amazingly designed horrors ever made. The brilliance of the film is anchored by a pretty eclectic cast – how often do you see a slasher where there is no dead weight on the screen? In Alien we have the heavyweight presence of two of Britain's best actors – Ian Holm and John Hurt. Cult superstar Harry Dean Stanton and the wonderful Yaphet Kotto. And Sigourney Weaver, soon to pave the way for award credibility for women in action roles.

Alien created the world that Aliens later expanded parts of – here we have the hint of the dystopian earth back home, controlled by corporations, as the company sends them down to the signal and Ash acts solely in their interests, irrespective of the safety of the crew. The opportunity for new product is more important than that. And this future is not the utopian leisure ideal – Brett and Parker are clearly at the bottom of the pile on the ship and their sole interest is getting their deserved share from anything that's found on the planet below, while bitching about their contractual terms for the current load.

Any review of Alien has to comment on Giger's stunning and oft-referenced and imitated design work. The director's cut gave us more of the alien ship and the 'gothic cathedrals' the aliens crafted to host and breed their young, but the alien design, so winningly expanded upon by Winston in the sequel, is a masterpiece in the monster genre. Both inside and out, Giger gave Scott the ultimate killing machine. And Scott, always great with visuals, took full advantage of that. We, the audience, knew it had changed from the chest buster (bits and pieces of sloughed off skin) but were as much in the dark of what it was becoming as the characters were and Scott, filming it in shadow and avoiding what is often the full on money-shot, used that to heighten the audience's adrenaline levels sky high (if you don't get a jolt when Dallas goes after it in the air ducts, you're dead!). He was also handed, rather unusually for him, a great script – O'Bannon acknowledged a wide range of sources for the ideas they brought together but the dialogue should also get a nod, particularly the interactions with Brett and Parker and the general and very authentic work/group chat.

The greatest anecdote from Alien is that they didn't tell the other actors what was going to happen to Kane during the meal, with several consistent reports that Cartwright's rather hysterical reaction as she got the full blunt of the exploding blood was genuine.

Alien scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. I still remember hiding behind a paper the first time I saw the chest bursting scene and even with years of ever gorier horrors since then the film has the same impact now because the world it creates – that claustrophobic ship and those quarrelling co-workers – gives a more convincing and terrifying depth to the story being told than any other film in the genre made since. Alien is a masterpiece of visceral excitement (that still finds time to worry about the ship cat).

- Elab49

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Post #: 383
RE: The Empire Top 400 Horrors: Results - 27/11/2012 3:37:32 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
1. The Thing



Director: John Carpenter
1982
Film

Last Year's Position: 3

Often classed as a remake of The Thing From Another World, this is actually another adaption of the John W. Campbell short story, 'Who Goes There?'. If anything, Carpenter's film has much more in common with its source text than the original ever did. Both are fine films, but The Thing is the one that works best for me. Like so many of Carpenter's early films, so much of it is a homage to Howard Hawks, which is especially fitting as Hawks is often stated to be the uncredited director of the 51 film. But the references to Hawks' Rio Bravo, a film Carpenter had already turned to many times, are still strong in The Thing.

The film focuses on a research group in the Antarctic. The team encounter a dog being chased by a helicopter. The pilot is shooting at the dog and hits one of the crew. The pilot is Norwegian and unable to explain his actions to the team, and he is dead before he's even able to try. When the team decide to check out the Norwegian's camp, they find it in ruins. They also find the burnt remains of a mutant and an ice block that once contained something sinister. Meanwhile, the dog settles into his new home. The dog is placed with the rest of the camp dogs where it transforms into a spider-like monster and attacks them. Soon the team realise that the dog was some sort of alien shape-shifter, and now it could be any one of them.

I think this is Carpenter's most accomplished film. It lacks the ragged charm of his earlier work, but this is where it really all came together for this talented man. The pacing is often slow, but deliberate, and it adds to the tense and claustrophobic feel of the material. Many claim that the special effects overwhelm the drama. Rubbish. Carpenter looks at a group of people under pressure rather than focus on the effects. The characters are unpleasant and unsympathetic. But they're real and they're honest. And that makes it easy to identify with them. Just think of it as a sci-fi/horror take on Glengarry Glen Ross. Both films give us a very male world where people are thrown together by work rather than by choice, and any form of respect goes out of the window the moment suspicion falls upon them. The cast are incredibly effective, working together to make it more of an ensemble piece. The special effects are incredible, but the truth is you could still have made this a superb film without the effects. Who Goes There? made a wonderful radio drama, and I've often wondered how this material could work as a play. Strip down all of the outside effects and focus solely on the descent into paranoia. Those who focus in on the effects miss seeing that this is is one of cinema's best studies of paranoia, using its isolated Arctic setting to add to that feeling of unease, and the film is never more chilling than when that paranoia and isolation kicks in.

The bottom line is that The Thing, for all of its genre trappings, is a creepy and nihilistic ensemble drama about how quickly people can turn against each other. Read the alien as a metaphor for communism, aids, anything you please. It's the reaction of humanity that's most important, and by the standards of this film, humanity is doomed.

- Rawlinson

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