janradder: (psychos in love)
There's a scene in the movie Exorcist III where a nurse on night duty routinely walks over to a room to check on it. As she goes inside, the security guard just outside in the hallway leaves, comes back, and then leaves again. When he does, the nurse steps back out of the room, locks the door, then turns and walks away. And that's the door opens behind her and a man carrying a large pair of shears quickly hurries behind her. Then the movie cuts away from the scene. It's a shocking moment in the film, partly because the buildup was so slow that the fright is unexpected. The rest of Exorcist III is rather dull, but this scene always stood out to me. Paranormal Activity is an entire movie's worth of those moments.

It's about a young couple, Katie and Micah. Ever since Katie was eight, something has been visiting her room at night. To find out what it is, Micah -- who is doubtful that it's anything more than kids peeping in their windows -- buys a video camera to document the nocturnal events. Suffice to say, it's not kids. Like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, the movie is made up entirely of the footage they shot, and that adds to the creepiness because it helps make everything seem a bit more realistic (it's being compared to Blair Witch because of this, but believe me -- it's a hell of a lot better).

Here's a trailer (film quality of the actual movie is much better):


The movie is extremely low budget (shot for $15,000 in 2006) but the filmmakers do well with the little resources they have. I have to say, it scared the crap out of me when I got home to our dark house (and most of the people leaving the theater left with a bit of a dazed/freaked look on their faces) Right now, it's playing at midnight showings this weekend only in just a few select cities. If you like horror movies and have a chance to see it, it's worth the money (and the sleep deprivation).
janradder: (Default)
When I was a kid, this opening used to scare the crap out of me. It was the beginning to the movie show Chiller Theater that used to be on Channel 11 out of New York and played every Saturday night. Lots of times, the opening was scarier than the movie that followed. It seems like I always watched it when my parents visited their friends in Litchfield, CT. The house where they lived was an old one and kind of creeped me out. I have no idea if it actually was haunted but if it wasn't, it should have been. That place haunted my dreams for years. When we'd visit, the grown-ups would sit in the kitchen socializing and while they played cards, drank beer and smoked pot, I'd be sit in the spooky old living room watching that hand emerge from it's bloody swamp, too terrified to move or speak. God, how I loved it.

janradder: (axe man)
When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, I used to spend my summers with my grandparents. Aside from enjoying my time with them, one of the perks was that they had cable and, because they had cable, we could watch the independent New York stations like Channels 11 and 9. Now, Channel 11 had the great cartoons and old TV shows during the afternoon but at night, Channel 9 was the one to watch because they used to show a ton of old Hammer horror films.

On one Wednesday night, when I was maybe nine or ten, I was sitting in the living room with my grandparents and we had the TV tuned to Channel 9. At eight, on came a Hammer film I hadn't seen before, which was rare because usually they just showed one of the Dracula series. It was called Vampire Circus. I loved the Hammer films because they were a lot more gruesome and dark than the typical fare shown on television, but they didn't usually frighten me -- not like nightmare-inducing frighten or running-through-the-hall-at-night-because-the-monster-was right-behind-you frighten -- they just kind of creeped me out or gave me the chills. Vampire Circus, for some reason, was different. Right from the beginning there was something horribly sinister about the film, even the idea -- that a circus of traveling vampires comes to town and kills off the villagers -- terrified me. My grandparents weren't usually the type to monitor what I or my sister watch -- we saw plenty of movies that were probably a little too old for us -- but for some reason, this one bothered them and they switched it off. It never did any good to argue with them -- their word was always final and arguing or pleading only made things worse -- so I sat and watched whatever show or movie they put on and just wondered what might be happening in Vampire Circus, wishing I could flip the TV back.

For years, I've searched for that film -- I'd scour the TV listings, look for it at video stores, ask friends if they'd ever seen it -- but I never had any luck. Tonight, though, for whatever reason, I was thinking about Vampire Circus again and it occurred to me that I'd never checked YouTube. Why not? I thought. YouTube always seems to have stuff like that. Lo and behold, a Hammer horror film fan from the UK had kindly posted the entire movie! This is even more exciting than when I finally found the Dr. Strange TV pilot -- I am in Horror Geek Heaven!
janradder: (scared)
Do you remember what it was like to race down the hallway at night, terrified because you knew that something was lurking in one of those darkened doorways?  How about lying so still under the covers because the monster from under your bed or inside the closet (or maybe it came through the window) was out there (or holding your breath so that it couldn't hear you breathe) beause you knew it was waiting to pounce the moment you twitched a muscle?  That's kind of what The Strangers is like.  There's not a whole lot of blood, there's not a whole lot of violence but the suspense'll kill you.  Seriously.  It was pretty damn scary (and had some damn creepy masks plus an eerie soundtrack as well -- a group of teenage girls actually ran down the aisle and out of the theater about a third of the way in, unable to watch any more).

(As an aside, why do some people actually applaud and laugh during deeply disturbing moments in films?  People who do that disturb me more than anything I've ever seen in a movie.  If you're so upset or scared by what you're seeing that you have to laugh or make some big macho scene clapping about it , don't go to see horror movies.  And if you're doing it because you genuinely find it humorous, please keep your distance from me and all other people -- you really creep the hell out of me, and not at all in a good way.)
janradder: (axe man)
There's certainly nothing frightening about this.

I mean, wouldn't you get all warm and happy if you saw him dancing in your backyard?

The Mist

Nov. 29th, 2007 07:03 pm
janradder: (Default)
The Mist is one of those horror films that leaves you thinking after you've seen it.  It stays with you for a few days as your mind comes back to it, remembering different events and characters as you try to process what you've seen.  As you think about the movie, you tend to imagine yourself in those situations, thinking about what you would do or how you would react.  Horror films don't get enough credit for being good movies because of all the garbage that gets spewed out but there are films which transcend that reputation and The Mist is one of them.

After a storm has knocked out the power to a small Maine town people flood a local grocery store to stock up on supplies.  While doing so an eerie mist floods over the parking lot surrounding everyone inside just moments after a local resident rushes in bloody and yelling that there's something in the mist.

The movie does what most horror films attempt or should attempt to aspire to -- withhold the actual monsters as long as possible.  And Frank Darabont does this.  He gives glimpses of monsters like tentacles (after seeing them, one of the characters asks "what could those tentacles even be attached to?") and noises heard through the mist.  When we finally do see some of the monsters we are shown overgrown insects and dinosaur like flying creatures but we are led to believe that these really aren't the worst or the biggest of what's out there.  We get glimpses and insights into what those larger more terrifying creatures might be but we never actual see them which allows you're mind to imagine something far worse than any CGI creation could be.

On the surface, The Mist is a simple monster movie in the vein of 1950's science gone bad films like Them! or Godzilla.  It's much more than that.  As the story inside the supermarket unfolds, people take sides, adopt theories and eventually turn on each other.  The movie is about society and the way we treat each other (or should treat each other).  It's about fear and how people can react to it, opting for the simplest solutions, looking for those to blame, and singling out those who are different or weak or seen as dangerous.  You could really see it, in many ways, as an allegory about the aftermath of 9/11.

The ending was the most shocking.  I don't think I have ever started to cry at the end of a horror film but this really did bring tears to my eyes.  I really don't want to give anything away about it but it was quite chilling and upsetting.

Good horror films are so hard to find, ones that truly do horrify but at the same time leave you with something, make you think, wonder.  The best horror films really aren't about death and blood and gore but about life and people and what happens when they are faced with something terrible.  This was one of them.

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janradder

March 2012

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