PDA

View Full Version : The state of horror films



seun
01-04-2008, 05:06 PM
After recently watching The Crazies, I've been thinking about current horror films. I honestly can't think of the last non-Asian horror film that gave me the creeps. At the risk of generalising, American horror has been crap for a long time. Entertaining, maybe, but actually horrifying...no. There were scenes in The Crazies I found disturbing and have had them stuck in my head for a few days. To me, that's the sign of a good horror film.

So, has something happened to American horror in the last few years, leaving it to wallow in sequel after sequel and attempts to be as gross as possible? Or is this just a blip and we can look forward to mature, frightening horror films in the near future?

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 05:49 PM
As long as people will pay enough to keep it profitable, the mainstreaming of grindhouse torture-porn will continue. It's tragic, but the last time I was genuinely scared in a theatre was Shyamalan's "Signs".

Perks
01-04-2008, 06:00 PM
Making a horror film is trickier than any other sort, as I see it. Fear is such an immediate and fleeting cocktail; one shot of misstep sours the whole thing. Humans are skittish. We jump all the time at shadows and noises and creations of our own dozy brains, but most of the time we're quickly assured that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. And then the poison clears the veins and it takes forever to set it all up again.

If a horror film maker allows that to happen with stupid plot turns, bad acting, bad effects, or a poor grasp of subtlety, the fizz goes out of the soda, as it were. And it's almost impossible to get the piece back on track.

I can't think of another genre that depends so entirely on getting every little thing right. In a comedy, one flat-ish joke doesn't ruin the whole film. Drama's usually got the whole 'reality' thing going for it and sometimes, life just doesn't make any sense, so it gets a wide margin. Etc...

Anyway, I hold out hope for good American horror, but that's 'cause I'm a glass-half-full kinda girl when it comes to things I love. As it is, I haven't seen a good horror film that wasn't British in some time.

ETA - As much as I love horror, I have yet to find one with sub-titles that doesn't kill the mood with all that eyes-darting-to-the-bottom-of-the-screen-to-know-what-the-hell-is-going-on thing.

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 06:34 PM
Horror also gets ruined by sequel-itis, even more so than comedy. Horror begins with a scary idea, and by the third or fourth sequel it descends into self-parody.

Perks, if you want to see a Asian film that will scare you despite the subtitles, check out Kurosawa's "Kairo", and forget all about Wes Craven's "Pulse" hatchet job on it.

Perks
01-04-2008, 06:36 PM
Horror also gets ruined by sequel-itis, even more so than comedy. Horror begins with a scary idea, and by the third or fourth sequel it descends into self-parody.

How true is that? Sequels drive me nuts. Nobody does that more than Hollywood. It's shameful.

And thanks for the recommendation - I'll check it out!

Calla Lily
01-04-2008, 07:04 PM
Pulse was a remake? Argh, where are the original films?! :headdesk: Altho the effects in Pulse weren't bad, it wa a seriously lame movie overall.

I sort of want to see One Missed Call, but I'd rather see the original, Chakushin Ari.

Bmwhtly
01-04-2008, 07:09 PM
Not entirely offtopic:

Seun mentioned Romero's The Crazies. Aren't they remaking that?

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 07:14 PM
Pulse was a remake? Argh, where are the original films?! :headdesk: Altho the effects in Pulse weren't bad, it wa a seriously lame movie overall.

I sort of want to see One Missed Call, but I'd rather see the original, Chakushin Ari.

When I first heard about the writer's strike, I thought "Holy crap! With the kind of movies and TV we're getting lately, haven't they been on strike for years?"

Anyway, after "Pulse" I swore I'd never watch another Hollywood remake of Asian horror.

Perks
01-04-2008, 07:17 PM
I thought The Ring was terrifying. The subtitles of Ringu put it out of my horror-grasp.

I like subtitles just fine in dramas and thrillers. I just haven't seemed to be able to hurdle it for out and out scares. Can't get lost in it like I need to.

seun
01-04-2008, 07:22 PM
Not entirely offtopic:

Seun mentioned Romero's The Crazies. Aren't they remaking that?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455407/

I'd be willing to bet my life it will be nothing compared to the original.

Calla Lily
01-04-2008, 07:23 PM
I must be odd. (Everyone stop laughing!) Subtitles don't bother me. I saw Ringu and Ju-On and got properly horrified by both. Especially that "holy s**t!" scene at the end of Ringu. That's one of the few times in the last 20 years a movie made me jump. the American version did it very well, too. The scene where the creepy little kid and the girl-with-the-hair are at opposite ends of the MC's ben in Ju-On was top-notch.

Not entirely OT either: The subtitles in Mel's Passion of the Christ helped me to distance myself from the unrelenting horror of it all. I could read something to distract myself, rather than puke.

Will Lavender
01-04-2008, 07:34 PM
Something strange:

If you go into a Blockbuster, I bet the shelves are stocked 65-70% with horror films.

And the genre is as poor artistically as it's ever been.

I think there's a connection there.

Filmmakers see that they are going to have trouble getting their work into the studios, so they go indie, craft these schlocky little horror films, make a decent profit, and then make another one. No one is swinging for the fences in the genre; no one is trying to rewrite the old scripts; no one is trying to change the rules. The same basic concept -- half-naked teenage girls get chased and slashed as their frat boy boyfriends plot revenge -- is being redone over and over and over, and until someone can wrest control of the genre from the twentysomething videogamers, it's never going to get better.

Shadow_Ferret
01-04-2008, 07:34 PM
I'm really wimpy when it comes to horror movies. The only thing that doesn't scare me are the old Universal and Hammer flicks, and that's probably only because I've seen them a hunnerd times.

Otherwise pretty much anything that comes out now scares the bejeesuz out of me.

ChunkyC
01-04-2008, 07:51 PM
I thought The Ring was terrifying.
It certainly was better than the garbage that usually gets passed off as horror lately.

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 07:58 PM
Changing the rules is what made "Ringu"/"The Ring" so terrifying. The traditional ghost story ends with the ghost getting justice, instead here's a little bitch that just wants an excuse to kill and keep on killing. Brilliant, and disturbing.

seun
01-04-2008, 08:11 PM
The Ring did nothing for me at all. Ringu, however, was very creepy.

maxmordon
01-04-2008, 08:47 PM
I think is because they try to make the monster scarier and scarier and the scenes gorier and gorier forgetting the difference between shocking and scary

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 09:41 PM
I think is because they try to make the monster scarier and scarier and the scenes gorier and gorier forgetting the difference between shocking and scary

That was my reaction to John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing", the effects and gore were so over-the-top that it overwhelmed a potentially good story. But that's always been my problem with Carpenter's work - I get the impression that I'm being invited to laugh at inappropriate times.

Calla Lily
01-04-2008, 10:32 PM
Although Carpenter's The Thing kept closer to the original story ("Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell) I agree that it was over the top. I prefer the Kenneth Tobey 1950s version. Terrific in every possible way, IMO.

I do enjoy Carpenter's [I]Prince of Darkness, a shlocky 80s attempt to jump on the Evil Dead bandwagon. "Liquid Satan gets released" is the hook. Nubile teenagers, gore, zombies, gooey body innards, the usual Carpenter fare. But it's relieved by some humor and one very neat trick: Throughout the film, the MC has a recurring dream that looks like a snowy TV signal. The staticky voice over says "This is not a dream. We're sending you this fro the future so you prevent what's about to happen" etc., and it shows the doorway of the decrepit church the movie takes place in. Quite eeriie, possibly (especially?) because the bits are very short. The best part? No, it's not Alice Cooper as Head Zombie, LOL. As the movie progresses, the dream from the future alters to fit what's happening in the present. That's what gave me a good shiver.

DaddyCat
01-04-2008, 11:06 PM
Although Carpenter's The Thing kept closer to the original story ("Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell) I agree that it was over the top. I prefer the Kenneth Tobey 1950s version. Terrific in every possible way, IMO.

I do enjoy Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, a shlocky 80s attempt to jump on the [I]Evil Dead bandwagon. "Liquid Satan gets released" is the hook. Nubile teenagers, gore, zombies, gooey body innards, the usual Carpenter fare. But it's relieved by some humor and one very neat trick: Throughout the film, the MC has a recurring dream that looks like a snowy TV signal. The staticky voice over says "This is not a dream. We're sending you this fro the future so you prevent what's about to happen" etc., and it shows the doorway of the decrepit church the movie takes place in. Quite eeriie, possibly (especially?) because the bits are very short. The best part? No, it's not Alice Cooper as Head Zombie, LOL. As the movie progresses, the dream from the future alters to fit what's happening in the present. That's what gave me a good shiver.

I loved the idea behind Prince of Darkness, it's on my very short list of movies I wouldn't mind seeing remade (by someone else!) The only Carpenter horror movie I liked was In the Mouth of Madness. A cross between H. P. Lovecraft and the urban legend about 'the manuscript that drives you insane after you read it.'

Tiger
01-04-2008, 11:42 PM
I did enjoy The Ring and The Sixth Sense--which wasn't horrifying but which still fits the genre, I think. Before that, the only American horror film that fascinated me was Angel Heart, from the 80s.

Shadow_Ferret
01-04-2008, 11:56 PM
That was my reaction to John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing", the effects and gore were so over-the-top that it overwhelmed a potentially good story. But that's always been my problem with Carpenter's work - I get the impression that I'm being invited to laugh at inappropriate times.
That wasn't how I viewed it. That movie just scared the crap out of me when I saw it when it came out. I didn't feel it was over-the-top, I felt it was just right startling scary. The head becoming a spider-thing was just too freaky.

I'd say the same thing about Polterguist with the guy ripping his face apart in the mirror. I think that just horrified everyone in the theater (now it looks so incredibly hokey).

DaddyCat
01-05-2008, 12:33 AM
That wasn't how I viewed it. That movie just scared the crap out of me when I saw it when it came out. I didn't feel it was over-the-top, I felt it was just right startling scary. The head becoming a spider-thing was just too freaky.

I'd say the same thing about Polterguist with the guy ripping his face apart in the mirror. I think that just horrified everyone in the theater (now it looks so incredibly hokey).

I think we're getting at the difference between horror as 'what is the Bear going to do to my body' as opposed to 'what does the Bear mean to my existence as a person or the security of my beliefs'. Carpenter's movie had elements of the original story's shapeshifting alien and subsequent paranoia, but to me that got lost among all the flailing tentacles, spider-heads and arm-biting-off torsos. Sure, there's a shock while you're seeing it, but the kind of horror I'm talking about is something that extends beyond the physical and will stick with you long after we come to laugh at the primitive visuals.

Satan is actually an alien puddle of goo in a church basement, now he's waking up and infecting everyone? That's scary. Ghosts are coming through our electronics and depopulating the world by inducing suicidal despair? That's scary. A famous horror writer is in league with the Great Old Ones and writes a novel that drives the whole world to homicidal madness? Scary.

Calla Lily
01-05-2008, 12:45 AM
A famous horror writer is in league with the Great Old Ones and writes a novel that drives the whole world to homicidal madness? Scary.

Plus I got to watch 2 hours of Sam Neill (yum) as he drove us all to madness. I enjoyed that ride. :D

Speaking of horror with yummy stars--Event Horizon. Scared the crap out of me the first time I saw it. Showed it to my teenage son and he announced he was going to go detox with mindless cartoons before he even thought about closing his eyes.

zahra
01-05-2008, 01:06 AM
I'm tired of going to horror movies and reacting with 'meh'. I'm tired of being grateful when they aren't complete crud. Last time I was genuinely scared? 'The Ring', I guess. 'The Descent' and 'Severance' were quite nail-biting, but it was suspense rather than horror that sustained those films, for me. Little shocks and moments of a sense of peril in some other films, but we're used to too much that horror films rely on.

Writing horror, I've dreamed up a few set-pieces which I haven't seen used in any other movie, but it's not easy to be completely fresh.

I hate the teens-in-peril thing. I like eerieness. That's hard to get right, whereas running and blood and screaming isn't.

Also, one of the things I think modern horror is missing is good, creepy dialogue. Yeah, shocker, I know, it's show-not-tell, but for me, a line like, 'If the woman in the window is Norman Bates's mother, who's that old lady buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?' creeps up the spine in a way that a lot of tired visual cues don't manage.

But it's a sad thing when I'm digging out 'The Uninvited', circa 1940s, as an antidote to some godawful piece of crap I've just wasted 5 on.

childeroland
01-05-2008, 04:46 AM
But occasionally you get so-so stuff like the original Premonition and Gemini. Phone and the original One Missed Call were just OK, IMO, and even at least one of the Pang Bros can nod at times -- Oxide's Ab-normal Beauty certainly was no Eye.

Then again, who wants to bet the Tale of Two Sisters remake isn't a total disaster?

Jcomp
01-05-2008, 05:24 AM
I think much of it has to do with how forgiving many young, ardent horror fans are of horrible, horrible movies. Lots of horror's own supporters from that bracket see "good movie" and "good horror movie" as entirely separate things. So they don't mind if the acting is lousy, and the directing is amateurish, and the story has plotholes so big they threaten to swallow the galaxy. Because the movie is "daring" and "ballsy" and the killers are cool and the killings are creative. Too many of these cats--filmmakers and fans--idolize movies like Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a bit too much, and miss the point that the coolest things about those movies was how they maximized the few resources they had. They weren't AIMING for grungy, low-budget, they just WERE. Too many of these cats today are trying to make their movies look like they were only shot for $25.

By the way, I didn't realize they were remaking A Tale of Two Sisters. My heart gently weeps...

zahra
01-05-2008, 05:34 AM
I think much of it has to do with how forgiving many young, ardent horror fans are of horrible, horrible movies. Lots of horror's own supporters from that bracket see "good movie" and "good horror movie" as entirely separate things. So they don't mind if the acting is lousy, and the directing is amateurish, and the story has plotholes so big they threaten to swallow the galaxy. Because the movie is "daring" and "ballsy" and the killers are cool and the killings are creative. Too many of these cats--filmmakers and fans--idolize movies like Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a bit too much, and miss the point that the coolest things about those movies was how they maximized the few resources they had. They weren't AIMING for grungy, low-budget, they just WERE. Too many of these cats today are trying to make their movies look like they were only shot for $25.



Agreed. Too many horror fans have too much of a sense of humour about their pet genre. They need to get more tight-lipped, in my opinion.:)

gp101
01-05-2008, 03:05 PM
Horror films lately tend to rely too much on the blood and guts, and creative mutilation. Action/Adventure tend to rely too much on CGI, SFX; too much on Action, too little on adventure. Thrillers are stuck on non-stop chase/fight/chase sequences with multiple, rapid-fire jump cuts that give me headaches. It's the state of the studio film these days: Repetition, till something comes along to render the old way of doing things obsolete.

The NFL is a copy-cat league; when one team does something new that works, within weeks, a lot of other teams have adopted that team's offensive or defensive schemes. Hollywood takes this method to madness. They fail to realize that the initial shock, the initial inginuity that made some films successful (say, modern creative mutilation in horror films), gets old after a couple of years full of similar movies biting off each other.

I have to admit a guilty pleasure for the horror flick Turistas. The only horror flick that kept me very interested, was thrilling, but not all that horrifying. Still really liked it.

I'd give anything to see the first Friday the 13th for the first time. Or Halloween or Psycho. I'd love to be able to experience those movies fresh again. Watching each of them the first time sincerely scared the crap out of me. Though it probably helped that I was a kid when I saw them all the first time.

childeroland
01-05-2008, 08:49 PM
Subtler American stuff like May and The Wood (both by Lucky McKee) can't catch a break in the U.S., and so far Mandy Lane still hasn't found a release date.

ChaosTitan
01-05-2008, 10:10 PM
There were scenes in The Crazies I found disturbing and have had them stuck in my head for a few days. To me, that's the sign of a good horror film.

Interesting. I bought a copy of this film for fifty cents at a flea market last summer. I made it about twenty minutes in and had to shut it off. The movie went right into the Resell box. I found it quite boring, and perhaps I missed some disturbing stuff, but a film needs to hold my interest from the start.

And I know it was very low budget, but couldn't they afford at least one friggin' light? I couldn't see anyone!


I thought The Ring was terrifying. The subtitles of Ringu put it out of my horror-grasp.

I thought The Ring was okay. Yes, the ghost was creepy, but something just didn't click with me on the scary factor. Same thing with The Grudge. I didn't get it. And it doesn't inspire me to watch the originals.

The funny thing is, I appreciated Pulse for what it was. Not a great horror film, but I loved the concept. Even moreso, I loved that the world didn't go back to normal at the end. It stayed a creepy, ghost-infested place, and I'm very curious about the planned sequel.

Thinking about the horror films I've bought and the ones I gravitate towards, I am very much a fan of the "slasher-hack-em-up-high-body-count" film. I grew up watching A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequels. I was ten years old when my dad let me rent (of my own chosing) Slaughter High. I know they aren't real. They never gave me nightmares (in fact, the only film I recall giving me nightmares was Superman 3 when that woman was turned into a robot). I don't watch horror films to be scared; I watch them to see the characters get scared.

Looking at my DVD collection, some of the titles that pop out for me are: Feast, Silent Hill, Turistas, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake and the Beginning), Pulse, House of Wax (remake), Mindhunters (not quite horror, but definitely suspense with a high body count), A Nightmare on Elm Street series (all but 6, because that was just plain comedy), Freddy v. Jason, Urban Legends (all three), Final Destination (all three), Saw II & III, Jason X, House of the Dead, 13 Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill (remake), The Hitcher (remake), Darkness Falls, Ghost Ship.

I would only qualify two or three of those as great horror films, each of the others has some quality that I loved as a horror fan. Maybe it was just one scene, one image, or a line, but it was something. It's too bad someone can't take all of those somethings and create one really awesome horror movie. Because I can't remember the last time I was blown away by a truly scary horror film.

slcboston
01-05-2008, 10:22 PM
A famous horror writer is in league with the Great Old Ones and writes a novel that drives the whole world to homicidal madness? Scary.

If you're going to give little snippets like this, please, PLEASE identify the movie. :)

Otherwise, this happens:

*reading post*

Hey, that sounds familiar...

*reads next post*

Yeah, yeah, that Sam Neil thingy! I saw that, sort of.... Now what was it CALLED?

*proceeds to go crazy for the rest of the day trying to remember the title*

(And before you get on me about IMDB, do you have ANY idea how prolific Sam Neil has been? :D )

Shadow_Ferret
01-05-2008, 10:23 PM
Satan is actually an alien puddle of goo in a church basement, now he's waking up and infecting everyone? That's scary. Ghosts are coming through our electronics and depopulating the world by inducing suicidal despair? That's scary. A famous horror writer is in league with the Great Old Ones and writes a novel that drives the whole world to homicidal madness? Scary.But as concepts, none of those are scary at all, just interesting. You need to add elements of suspense, shock, and things like that to make those scary.

slcboston
01-05-2008, 10:28 PM
And to add to the topic: I think a lot of it has to do with the resurgence in the slasher genre, which is essentially what the torture-porn is. (I don't know that it really qualifies as porn, but I read the term in the NYTimes and LOVED it, so I'm working it into the discussion. :) ) For a while there, horror was all about jason and freddy and Mikey... and then it cycled and became more suspense-driven. It will likely cycle back, and so a lot of the complaints are just a measure of what particular brand of horror you like.

The rest of it is a lot of the newer directors not really taking the time to appreciate the art, and going for shock and schlock rather than real dread and terror (again a genre thing). The important thing to remember though is that horror is almost never taken seriously as a genre in film, and so it's really rare for the top notch talent to get involved.

Event Horizon is one of my favorite films, but I'll be the first to admit that without Fishburne and Neil in the leads, the movie would lose a lot. Those two characters needed the gravity and the pathos that both actors brought to their characters, otherwise it was going to be another B film. Which, essentially it was, but with better acting. :)

ChaosTitan
01-05-2008, 10:47 PM
And to add to the topic: I think a lot of it has to do with the resurgence in the slasher genre, which is essentially what the torture-porn is. (I don't know that it really qualifies as porn, but I read the term in the NYTimes and LOVED it, so I'm working it into the discussion. :) ) For a while there, horror was all about jason and freddy and Mikey... and then it cycled and became more suspense-driven. It will likely cycle back, and so a lot of the complaints are just a measure of what particular brand of horror you like.

I watched a retrospective on Starz a few weeks back, and it followed the life of the slasher film. From the mid-70's and Halloween, through the bloodbath 80's era, where the films fell into self-parody (teens, a killer, blood, death, one chick lives, etc...). They ran out of ideas, the movies stopped making money, and that particular genre dried up in the 90's.

It was actually Scream that brought it back into the mainstream and made slasher films cool again. Before that film, movie characters weren't conscious of the world they inhabited. The awesome thing about the characters in Scream was that they were students of the very film they were in. They grew up watching those slasher films, referenced them and their rules (Don't do drugs or drink, don't have sex, don't say "I'll be right back."), knew what was going on.

Most recently, films like Hostel and Saw have taken horror on yet another cycle, into what the media calls "torture porn," but that looks to be tapering off again (at least, in regards to theater release). Horror of all sort will continue to exist in direct-to-DVD releases, but mainstream theatrical-release torture porn isn't making the money it was even just a year ago.

I'm curious to see what's next.

Will Lavender
01-05-2008, 11:05 PM
I watched a retrospective on Starz a few weeks back, and it followed the life of the slasher film. From the mid-70's and Halloween, through the bloodbath 80's era, where the films fell into self-parody (teens, a killer, blood, death, one chick lives, etc...). They ran out of ideas, the movies stopped making money, and that particular genre dried up in the 90's.

It was actually Scream that brought it back into the mainstream and made slasher films cool again. Before that film, movie characters weren't conscious of the world they inhabited. The awesome thing about the characters in Scream was that they were students of the very film they were in. They grew up watching those slasher films, referenced them and their rules (Don't do drugs or drink, don't have sex, don't say "I'll be right back."), knew what was going on.

Most recently, films like Hostel and Saw have taken horror on yet another cycle, into what the media calls "torture porn," but that looks to be tapering off again (at least, in regards to theater release). Horror of all sort will continue to exist in direct-to-DVD releases, but mainstream theatrical-release torture porn isn't making the money it was even just a year ago.

I'm curious to see what's next.

Good post. Really wish I would have seen that retrospective. I LOVE stuff like that.

I'm interested to see what's next as well. In literature, the thriller has dominated horror in the last decade to the point that horror almost does not exist any longer as a genre except way out in the margins. In film, horror has pretty much resigned itself to the fact that it's going to be a teenager's genre. To get it back into the mainstream, there has to be a writer or a filmmaker who is willing to do new and interesting things with old horror tropes. The best and most memorable artists do not want to kill their genre; they write to expand (and, in this case, to resuscitate) the genre.

I think we may see a return to Victorian-style ghost stories soon. Ghosts have been dead (pun there) for a suspiciously long time. I'm serious.

dgiharris
01-05-2008, 11:10 PM
Hello all,

I love the horror film genre and it is the sadest thing in the world that it has suffered from severe creative neglect over the last decade.

IMO (in my opinion), it stims from a lack of respect by both the artists (writers, actors, and directors) and the fans.

When someone is writing a drama or comedy, I feel that goal of making the 'best' film possible is (for the most part) a driving force. But when it comes to horror, since it's not a "serious" genre, any old crap slapped together will do. The art and soul of creating a good horror film has been replaced with the novelty of special effects and shock value camera work (similar to the action genre).

In order for the genre to recover it's got to go back to its roots--an honest attempt to scare the shit out of the audience.

Back in the day (especially when things had never been done) it was 'easier' to scare the audience. But now, those same old tricks don't work. Horror needs to evolve (like the other arts have done) and find new ways to scare us.

But like those other genres, the themes remain the same, it is all in the execution. For an audience to be "scared" they have to feel that the movie, characters, and overall situations are 'real'. And the truth is, most horror movies don't accomplish that. The characters are flat and like JComp says, the plot holes are big enough to swallow a galaxy.

One of the reason's the Ring scared me was that the character's and situation felt 'real'. The character's actions and reactions were believable, the plot holes were taken care of, and the danger was presented in a way that I believed 'could work'.

If the audience can't empathize with the character's, then the audience can't connect.

anyways, those are my two cents

Mel...

.

Calla Lily
01-05-2008, 11:15 PM
slcboston, that particular Sam Neill movie is In the Mouth of Madness. :)

zahra
01-05-2008, 11:18 PM
I don't watch horror films to be scared; I watch them to see the characters get scared.

Because I can't remember the last time I was blown away by a truly scary horror film.

Interesting. And contradictory?:) I always watch a film in the hope that whatever emotion is going on amongst the characters will affect me, too. I can't imagine being emotionally 'caught' by any film if I DON'T get affected.


If you're going to give little snippets like this, please, PLEASE identify the movie. :)
I second that!


quote]

[quote=slcboston;1936477]

The rest of it is a lot of the newer directors not really taking the time to appreciate the art, and going for shock and schlock rather than real dread and terror (again a genre thing).
Yup. Actually, I'd have to say the scariest film of recent times, which for me stacked up the dread and terror and paid it off brilliantly, was 'The Others'. It's massively underrated, IMO, and I can't think why. (Though I'm sure loads of you will tell me!)

Perks
01-05-2008, 11:21 PM
Yup. Actually, I'd have to say the scariest film of recent times, which for me stacked up the dread and terror and paid it off brilliantly, was 'The Others'. It's massively underrated, IMO, and I can't think why. (Though I'm sure loads of you will tell me!)The Others was the best cinematic ghost story I've ever seen. Atmospheric fear, rather than a dozen instances of a cat jumping out of a dark hidey hole. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Will Lavender
01-05-2008, 11:38 PM
Yup. Actually, I'd have to say the scariest film of recent times, which for me stacked up the dread and terror and paid it off brilliantly, was 'The Others'. It's massively underrated, IMO, and I can't think why. (Though I'm sure loads of you will tell me!)

I don't think it's underrated by people who know horror. It was a critical success when it was released.

I showed The Others to a class of high schoolers I was teaching. I asked them to write an essay on which they liked better: the "torture porn" of Saw-type films, or more plaintive, atompsheric films like The Others.

Only two in a class of twenty-five liked The Others more.

Sadly, this is a microcosm of why horror is struggling in an artistic sense. In the last decade the genre has fallen behind by fifty years. Its makers and promoters seem content to give the entire genre the patina of the back end of a double feature.

ChaosTitan
01-06-2008, 01:57 AM
Interesting. And contradictory?:) I always watch a film in the hope that whatever emotion is going on amongst the characters will affect me, too. I can't imagine being emotionally 'caught' by any film if I DON'T get affected.


Of course, I want to be affected by the film I'm watching. But I don't necessarily watch a horror film to be scared.

For me, films fall into two categories: comedy and not-comedy.

I watch comedy to laugh and be amused. But that is the point of a comedy: to make the audience laugh. If it isn't funny, it isn't a comedy.

Non-comedy is everything else. Drama, suspense, action/adventure, SF, fantasy, western, horror, etc... Yes, all of these movie types have humor. But all of the wisecracking still doesn't make Serenity a comedy; it is still action/SF. I go into these films wanting to be caught up emotionally by the characters and their situations, to be affected. I wouldn't spend my money otherwise. Maybe the problem for me, as I've stated previously, is that I've yet to run across a truly scary, affecting horror movie. So I've stopped watching horror films with any expectation of being scared.

Suggestions? :)

ETA: The Others is an awesome movie.

Calla Lily
01-06-2008, 02:13 AM
The original The Wicker Man (Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee).

You will NOT be disappointed. First time I watched it as a teenager, I kept saying to myself, "They're not going to end it like that." And they did. No one--no one--in a crowded theater applauded. Everyone was stunned.

When I watched it with my teen (yes, we zapped through the Britt Ekland nude scene) he refused to go to bed afterwards.

ChaosTitan
01-06-2008, 02:18 AM
The original The Wicker Man (Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee).

You will NOT be disappointed.

Hmm. I think this one us currently available on OnDemand. :D Thanks!

childeroland
01-06-2008, 07:45 AM
The original Carnival of Souls has to be one of the scariest films ever made.

Suspiria is great if the relentless soundtrack doesn't bother you too much.







... Suggestions? :)

ETA: The Others is an awesome movie.

DaddyCat
01-06-2008, 05:15 PM
But as concepts, none of those are scary at all, just interesting. You need to add elements of suspense, shock, and things like that to make those scary.

Ed, I'll just have to chalk this up to difference in taste. I find those ideas scary, the scariness of the resulting movie will depend on what the scriptwriter, director, etc. does with them.

DaddyCat
01-06-2008, 05:20 PM
If you're going to give little snippets like this, please, PLEASE identify the movie. :)


Sorry, I guess it would only be clear in the context of previous posts. The three movies I referenced, in order, were Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, Kurosawa's Kairo (remade, sort of, as Craven's Pulse) and Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness.

Jcomp
01-06-2008, 08:31 PM
I showed The Others to a class of high schoolers I was teaching. I asked them to write an essay on which they liked better: the "torture porn" of Saw-type films, or more plaintive, atompsheric films like The Others.

Only two in a class of twenty-five liked The Others more.



I think therein lies a major problem. A driving force in horror is the teenage audience, who just don't have the patience for plaintive, atmospheric films. Many, more mature moviegoers don't take "horror" seriously enough as a film genre to even be bothered with it (and a lot of them also aren't patient enough to appreciate an atmospheric film more so than a "torture porn" flick), so the studios make movies for the people paying to support the movies.

Will Lavender
01-07-2008, 02:03 AM
I think therein lies a major problem. A driving force in horror is the teenage audience, who just don't have the patience for plaintive, atmospheric films. Many, more mature moviegoers don't take "horror" seriously enough as a film genre to even be bothered with it (and a lot of them also aren't patient enough to appreciate an atmospheric film more so than a "torture porn" flick), so the studios make movies for the people paying to support the movies.

Interesting point, and I agree.

Really, if you look back even thirty years, the genre has always been associated with youth and rebellion and angst. Going back to the days of early Wes Craven, and then Carpenter, and now the torture porn subgenre.

But there have been filmmakers who are ballsy and talented enough artists to throw nods toward the teenage stuff and yet make movies that are worth their salt film-wise. Carpenter was one, Craven was certainly one, Ridley Scott. We're waiting on the next savior, I guess...

Bmwhtly
01-07-2008, 01:24 PM
So I've stopped watching horror films with any expectation of being scared.Me too.
In the main, I like the escapism of horror films. "If that was me, I'd..." kinda thinking.
That's easier in horror than in anything else, since most good horror has an 'everyman' mc.

However, I have found one film that actually properly scared me. To the point that I could only watch it if there was a butcher knife within reach. But whenever I tell people what it is, they laugh. So I won't.


Oh, and just to pick up on the The Thing discussion earlier; I think it's superb. Because it does have incredibly freaky effects (with the goo and the tentacles and all), you know what they're afraid of.
So when, for example, they're doing the blood test, the tension and claustrophobia comes across really well because you KNOW what they're facing if it goes wrong.

Suggestions? :)*flicks through dvd collection*
The Descent? I know I seem to recommend that a lot but it really is very very good.

George Romero of course needs no plugging from me, but if you only watch one zombie film, watch Day of the Dead (Although I'd avoid the recent remake like the plague).

Well, unless you qualify 28 days later as a zombie film (but the sequel's kinda meh).

Oh, and since I've mentioned Romero but not Vampires, I'll throw Martin into the mix too. It looks really dated now, but it's a good concept.

seun
01-07-2008, 02:40 PM
Interesting. I bought a copy of this film for fifty cents at a flea market last summer. I made it about twenty minutes in and had to shut it off. The movie went right into the Resell box. I found it quite boring, and perhaps I missed some disturbing stuff, but a film needs to hold my interest from the start.

And I know it was very low budget, but couldn't they afford at least one friggin' light? I couldn't see anyone!


Being honest, I found the beginning a little irritating (simply because everyone shouted all the time), but once I got past that and things began to happen, I found it disturbing. If you ever give it another go, let me know what you thought.

Writer2011
01-07-2008, 10:12 PM
Here's my take on it:

Horror movies have been around for quite some time--beginning with the Universal Classics...then Hammer films came along--they were slapped together and distributed like wildfire.

By the 1970's..horror movies were, well changing. How so? Well you had movies like The Fury, The Omen--they were more or less psychological than scary as such... In 1980 though, that mold was shattered with Friday The 13th and thus the slasher film was born. Of course you can't forget The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

All through the 1980's you had slasher film after slasher film. It seemed that horror movies were the norm---people grew tired of them.

In the 90's...there weren't as many...that I can remember.

But then you have movies like Saw going more for shock value than anything. And it seems that's all is out there.. I myself like the shock value stuff more than psychological...I like the Halloween movies and Devil's Rejects.. But the return of the traditional horror movie could be around the corner.

Shadow_Ferret
01-07-2008, 10:30 PM
I think the whole thing is a natural progression. With each generation, something in the horror field has to be ramped up to produce a scare. What scared the previous generation doesn't scare the current generation and won't scare the next generation.

For instance, Lon Cheney's Phantom of the Opera. When he unmasked his face in that, people fainted. It was so horrifying compared to what they'd seen before.

In the 30s and 40s we had the Universal films And they were scaring people.

Then in the 50s, Hammer.

Then Hitchcock introduced the first "slasher" flick with Psycho. And The Birds had a few scenes that at the time might be considered gruesome.

Then George Romero entered the scene with "Night of the Living Dead" and scared the bejeesuz out of me with people eating other people.

Then "Texas Chainsaw Masacre" and "The Exorcist" and "Jaws" to name a few 70s films that stepped things up.

Then "Halloween," "The Thing," "Evil Dead," and so on ramped it up more.

Its a general progression. Some people like the more gore aspect. Others don't. But the point I'm trying to make is there's a reason why things are at the state they're at. It's a basic evolution of what scares us.

At least that's my theory. You might have your own.

Bmwhtly
01-07-2008, 10:45 PM
I think the whole thing is a natural progression. With each generation, something in the horror field has to be ramped up to produce a scare.That is a point, but it's not the whole story. As almost everyone else has said, that's what led to 'torture porn' films like the Saws and such.

Then George Romero entered the scene with "Night of the Living Dead" and scared the bejeesuz out of me with people eating other people.
It's just nice to see someone recognising Mr Romero as the visionary that he is.

Then "Texas Chainsaw Masacre" and "The Exorcist" and "Jaws" to name a few 70s films that stepped things up.
There are those who'd say that the 70's were the 'golden age' of horror because of films like these.
Certainly Jaws is Absolutely Superb. What do y'all think? Was there a Golden Age?

Then "Halloween," "The Thing," "Evil Dead," and so on ramped it up more.I'm rather pleased to note that two out of three of those are Mr Carpenter's work.

I'll also admit, since someone else mentioned it, that "Evil Dead" is the only film that really terrified me.

ChaosTitan
01-08-2008, 09:23 AM
The Descent? I know I seem to recommend that a lot but it really is very very good.

I liked that one. It was different, had a good cast. Oddly, I found the claustrophia of those tunnels scarier than the nasty critters lurking in the shadows.


George Romero of course needs no plugging from me, but if you only watch one zombie film, watch Day of the Dead (Although I'd avoid the recent remake like the plague).

Day or Dawn of the Dead (cuz I don't think they've remade Day yet)? I do like both versions of Dawn, for vastly different reasons. Can't stand Day. Just something about teaching a zombie to talk that hit my giggle-button every single time... Land of the Dead...meh...


Well, unless you qualify 28 days later as a zombie film (but the sequel's kinda meh).

Those films are on my list. Haven't seen them yet, but have gotten some good recommendations. I'll add those to the queue with The Wicker Man (original, not remake ;) ).

seun
01-08-2008, 02:05 PM
The remake of Day is on its way (that wasn't supposed to rhyme). How long till Night is remade...again?

Bmwhtly
01-08-2008, 03:27 PM
How long till Night is remade...again?
I'd say twice is enough.

Shadow_Ferret
01-08-2008, 05:07 PM
Ug, The Descent. I loathed that movie. The women were loud, obnoxious, totally unlikable, and I had absolutely no sympathy for them. I was actually cheering when the trouble started.

That one and The Cave, which came out the same year, didn't do anything for me and I have claustrophobia.

Perks
01-08-2008, 06:15 PM
I'll also admit, since someone else mentioned it, that "Evil Dead" is the only film that really terrified me.Lol! Did it really?

I do love Army of Darkness, but Bruce Campbell could never be scary to me. He can't not ham it up.

And I loved The Descent.

Bmwhtly
01-08-2008, 06:17 PM
Lol! Did it really?

I do love Army of Darkness, but Bruce Campbell could never be scary to me. He can't not ham it up.Well not Army of Darkness. And not really Evil Dead 2.
But the first one? Yeah.

Perks
01-08-2008, 06:20 PM
I've heard it before, so you're not the only one. Anyway, I watched them out of order and was too old for it once I saw Evil Dead. For me, it was funny like AoD without anything like a decent script.

Sometimes you have to see films at the right time in your life for them to be effective.

Bmwhtly
01-08-2008, 06:39 PM
Anyway, I watched them out of order and was too old for it once I saw Evil Dead. For me, it was funny like AoD without anything like a decent script.
Really?

I'd have thought Sam Raimi's camera direction alone would have been enough to turn your stomach :)

Perks
01-08-2008, 06:41 PM
I like the arrow-cam, hatchet-cam, bullet-cam - it's hilarious.

seun
01-08-2008, 07:11 PM
Evil Dead does suffer from being made on a budget of about three quid but even now, it has some creepy moments. If nothing else, it's just so bloody relentless.

Shadow_Ferret
01-08-2008, 07:23 PM
At the time it came out, yeah, Evil Dead was very scary. But I can see how, viewed today it might not seem all that special. Just as Night of the Living Dead is probably tame by today's standards. But that one gave me nightmares for weeks. In fact, I was unable to rewatch it until recently.

As I'm sure The Exorcist was very scary in its day. I never got to see it because I was too young and my mom wouldn't take me to it, so I didn't see it until recently and I thought it was more funny than scary. I had lost context.

seun
01-08-2008, 07:25 PM
Just as Night of the Living Dead is probably tame by today's standards.

I will not stand for such slander against the greatest film in the world.

Man, I love me some black and white zombies. :D

Perks
01-08-2008, 07:28 PM
As I'm sure The Exorcist was very scary in its day. I never got to see it because I was too young and my mom wouldn't take me to it, so I didn't see it until recently and I thought it was more funny than scary. I had lost context.Oooh, I still think The Exorcist is one of the preeminent horror films of all time. And outside one or two special effects that have been outpaced by technology, I think it more than holds its own - it still sets standards for atmospheric tension and psychological and visceral shocks.

I also think The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror (original, not that god-awful remake) and Halloween were the films that established musical score as a brilliant way to define tone in a horror film.

Shadow_Ferret
01-08-2008, 07:29 PM
I will not stand for such slander against the greatest film in the world.



Man, I love me some black and white zombies.

It still gives me the creeps and I appreciate it as the zombie movie that essentially created that whole genre, but I was talking about all these jaded young kids today with their fancy CGI and bloodbags and gore.

But you knew that.


Oooh, I still think The Exorcist is one of the preeminent horror films of all time. And outside one or two special effects that have been outpaced by technology, I think it more than holds its own - it still sets standards for atmospheric tension and psychological and visceral shocks.



I also think The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror (original, not that god-awful remake) and Halloween were the films that established musical score as a brilliant way to define tone in a horror film.

I'll agree with you on the musical score. I also agree that The Exorcist was an original, but for me I guess because I'd read so much about it, and because I'd seen so many parodies of it, that it simply didn't deliver the horror I was expecting. It was still a good movie, but those FX you mentioned did make me giggle. The turning of the head, and the pea soup.

ChunkyC
01-08-2008, 10:48 PM
As I'm sure The Exorcist was very scary in its day. I never got to see it because I was too young and my mom wouldn't take me to it, so I didn't see it until recently and I thought it was more funny than scary. I had lost context.
I saw it in the theatre when it originally ran and was completely creeped out by it, as I was by the original Amityville Horror.

One of the horror films that freaked me out the most when it first came to the theatre was Theatre of Blood. It was the first movie I ever went to where they did ancilliary stuff like have an ambulance outside and a nurse with a gurney in the lobby for all the people who were 'expected' to faint and have heart attacks, etc.

I miss Vincent Price.

Celia Cyanide
01-09-2008, 12:07 AM
I think therein lies a major problem. A driving force in horror is the teenage audience, who just don't have the patience for plaintive, atmospheric films.

Or perhaps they just don't find them scary or fun. That's really what horror is about. I thought The Others was a good movie, but I don't find it scary. I appreciated it as a drama, but not as a horror movie.

Will Lavender
01-09-2008, 12:21 AM
Ug, The Descent. I loathed that movie. The women were loud, obnoxious, totally unlikable, and I had absolutely no sympathy for them. I was actually cheering when the trouble started.

That one and The Cave, which came out the same year, didn't do anything for me and I have claustrophobia.

I think The Descent is one of the finest horror movies of the last decade. (I'm not really surprised you didn't like it, though. You and I have, I've found, such different tastes that we might as well not even be inhabiting the same planet. 'Tis okay, though.)

But yes, the characters are a bit unlikeable -- I think this was intended. There is the main character who is struggling with the death of her daughter and husband, but other than that you have a bunch of complicated people who have self-serving interests for going into the cave.

It isn't a stylized film except for the monster tropes. A lot of people are (gasp) unlikeable in the real world. I don't think it's necessary for a good film to have characters that one can totally relate to, especially not in the horror genre, which is driven by its villains moreso than its heroes.

Shadow_Ferret
01-09-2008, 12:33 AM
I disagree though. In a movie, television show, or novel, if I don't like the people then I can't empathize with their situation and I'll be walking out, changing the channel, or closing the book unfinished.

Will Lavender
01-09-2008, 12:39 AM
I disagree though. If in a movie, television show, or novel, if I don't like the people then I can't empathize with their situation and I'll be walking out, changing the channel, or closing the book unfinished.

I think in most cases this is true, but this was an unusual film in that it tried to portray people who were real. There was the character struggling with the death of her daughter, the maverick character who led them in the cave who may have been sleeping with the MC's husband, the daredevil who just wanted to thrill-seek, etc. I think they were pretty believable, and I think that's what the director was probably looking to achieve: believeability. (And I'm not sure I even agree that these people were not likeable. Apart from the girl who gets them into trouble, and the maybe over-the-top masculinity of a couple of characters, I wasn't really put off by any of them.)

Anyway, the concept was what got me. A group of women in a cave? I can't recall anything quite like it in the history of horror filmmaking.

Tiger
01-09-2008, 01:16 AM
Or perhaps they just don't find them scary or fun. That's really what horror is about. I thought The Others was a good movie, but I don't find it scary. I appreciated it as a drama, but not as a horror movie.

I agree. I would have placed The Others in the same genre box as "Identity." Great suspense with a train-stopping twist at the end.

maestrowork
01-09-2008, 01:20 AM
Horror films are dead.


Then they come back as zombies and eat every other genre.

childeroland
01-09-2008, 04:02 AM
Horror's never really dead as long as people like Kim Ji-Woon and Miike are around -- the genre's still in pretty good hands.


Horror films are dead.


Then they come back as zombies and eat every other genre.

BarbaraKE
01-09-2008, 04:46 AM
Oooh, I still think The Exorcist is one of the preeminent horror films of all time. And outside one or two special effects that have been outpaced by technology, I think it more than holds its own - it still sets standards for atmospheric tension and psychological and visceral shocks.

I also think The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror (original, not that god-awful remake) and Halloween were the films that established musical score as a brilliant way to define tone in a horror film.

I have to agree with this. I saw it when I was about 15/16 and I'd never seen a horror movie before. (This was in the mid-70's - I lived in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. We had only two television channels and neither came in very well because we were in a valley. Anyway...)

I saw this movie with my boyfriend and another couple. I made it through the whole movie (I was rather proud of myself). Then, when I was just relaxing because I thought it was over, that arm came out of the ground. I think I went catonic briefly. Luckily no one noticed because the other girl went into hysterics. Real screaming, crying hysterics. So no one noticed me. :)

I didn't watch another horror movie for over 20 years.

ChaosTitan
01-09-2008, 04:59 AM
Oooh, I still think The Exorcist is one of the preeminent horror films of all time.

It's odd. I was thinking about this film earlier today, and realized it is probably the only movie that has truly terrified me. I watched it once when I was about thirteen. Yikes. Watched it again a few years ago. Still get the uber-creeps during the last twenty minutes. That single shot of Regan, reaching up to the ceiling, backlit and surrounded by fog...it just sticks in my head.


I disagree though. In a movie, television show, or novel, if I don't like the people then I can't empathize with their situation and I'll be walking out, changing the channel, or closing the book unfinished.

I don't have to like a character in order to empathize with them or be interested in their plight. Reservoir Dogs is a great example (for me). I don't like any of those characters, and yet their story rivets me. It helps for a character to be likeable and sympathetic, but isn't necessary.

ChaosTitan
01-09-2008, 05:01 AM
I have to agree with this. I saw it when I was about 15/16 and I'd never seen a horror movie before. (This was in the mid-70's - I lived in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. We had only two television channels and neither came in very well because we were in a valley. Anyway...)

I saw this movie with my boyfriend and another couple. I made it through the whole movie (I was rather proud of myself). Then, when I was just relaxing because I thought it was over, that arm came out of the ground. I think I went catonic briefly.

Um, do you mean Carrie? :Huh:

seun
01-09-2008, 02:53 PM
I don't have to like a character in order to empathize with them or be interested in their plight. Reservoir Dogs is a great example (for me). I don't like any of those characters, and yet their story rivets me. It helps for a character to be likeable and sympathetic, but isn't necessary.

Agreed. If I found every character in a film likeable, that would be very boring very quickly. Quite often, the bad guys are more interesting than the good guys. As long as all the characters are interesting, I don't much care whether I like them.

maestrowork
01-09-2008, 02:55 PM
Still, if none of the main characters has any redeeming values, I find it difficult to empathize, and when I can't empathize, I begin to not care about what happen to them.

seun
01-09-2008, 02:59 PM
Still, if none of the main characters has any redeeming values, I find it difficult to empathize, and when I can't empathize, I begin to not care about what happen to them.

Interesting point. What about, for example, Hannibal Lector? Does he have any redeeming values other than being one hell of a cook? :D
He's an intelligent, urbane and cultured doctor but there's no getting away from what he likes for his dinner. Do the first points redeem the fact that he's a cannibal?

Celia Cyanide
01-09-2008, 09:23 PM
Interesting point. What about, for example, Hannibal Lector? Does he have any redeeming values other than being one hell of a cook? :D
He's an intelligent, urbane and cultured doctor but there's no getting away from what he likes for his dinner. Do the first points redeem the fact that he's a cannibal?

But Hannibal is different, because he IS the horror, even when he is the main character. It doesn't really matter if you like him, only that is interesting.

Some people can't really be that horrified when someone they don't empathize with gets whacked. Some people can.

Perks
01-09-2008, 09:34 PM
But Hannibal is different, because he IS the horror, even when he is the main character. It doesn't really matter if you like him, only that is interesting.
And 'interesting' always sparks a like in me, whether I want it to or not.

maestrowork
01-09-2008, 09:45 PM
Interesting point. What about, for example, Hannibal Lector? Does he have any redeeming values other than being one hell of a cook? :D
He's an intelligent, urbane and cultured doctor but there's no getting away from what he likes for his dinner. Do the first points redeem the fact that he's a cannibal?

Oh there are a lot of redeeming values with Hannibal.

I wouldn't want to be his dinner guest, but I definitely like him.

Shadow_Ferret
01-09-2008, 09:57 PM
I don't have to like a character in order to empathize with them or be interested in their plight. Reservoir Dogs is a great example (for me). I don't like any of those characters, and yet their story rivets me. It helps for a character to be likeable and sympathetic, but isn't necessary.
I do. I haven't seen Reservoir Dogs, but I tried watching Hostel and I just couldn't get myself to like those guys enough to even care what happened to them. The same with Blair Witch Project. I didn't like them so I didn't care.


Interesting point. What about, for example, Hannibal Lector? Does he have any redeeming values other than being one hell of a cook?

He's an intelligent, urbane and cultured doctor but there's no getting away from what he likes for his dinner. Do the first points redeem the fact that he's a cannibal?
Hannible was an interesting character. But as noted, he wasn't the one I was worried about. That would have been the Clarice character. Jody Foster was likable enough that I cared what happened to her.


To me, true horror or suspence isn't about what scares ME, it's about making me care enough about the characters that I care what scares THEM.

scarletpeaches
01-09-2008, 10:17 PM
It's odd. I was thinking about this film earlier today, and realized it is probably the only movie that has truly terrified me. I watched it once when I was about thirteen. Yikes. Watched it again a few years ago. Still get the uber-creeps during the last twenty minutes. That single shot of Regan, reaching up to the ceiling, backlit and surrounded by fog...it just sticks in my head...

I thought The Exorcist was a load of old wank. I've seen scarier episodes of The Tweenies.

dgiharris
01-09-2008, 10:39 PM
Not to get into religious discussions,

but i've found that most people who were scared shitless by the Exorcist, believe in god in some form of the Christian sense.

and that most people who claim that they were not scared by the Exorcist do not have those Christian roots.

Personally, I think that in order for a horror film to truly work, it must speak to your roots and connect on some personal level with you.

If I have no fear of dogs then the movie Cujo will not affect me, But if I have a severe fear of dogs (or a bad incident with one), then Cujo will keep me in a panic for days on in.

just my opinion

Mel...

Will Lavender
01-10-2008, 01:00 AM
The Exorcist is a movie that I don't think dates well.

When it was rereleased three or four years ago, Roger Ebert talked about going to a theater and seeing teenagers laughing in the aisles. He recalled his original review, where he said that the film was one of the most frightening things he'd ever seen. What happened?

I'm not sure, but it could be an issue of ideology, as the poster above says. Or it might just be an issue of special effects. We're not used to seeing somebody do real acting these days in horror films. Now, the lurking terror is usually created on somebody's PC.

I have to say that I do like the above poster's reading of the film. If you don't buy Linda Blair's act, the entire movie is going to fall flat for you. And not just in a small way: her antics are so over the top, so exaggerrated that one MUST buy the original conceit of Satanic possession for the film to work at all.

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 01:11 AM
The Exorcist is a movie that I don't think dates well.

Well, I mentioned somewhere else that when I saw Polterguiest for the first time in the theater, the scene where the one paranormalist starts to peel his face apart in the mirror was absolutely horrifying to watch.

Then I saw the movie again recently and the Special FX seemed so dated, it was so obvious it was a model of a face as to be laughable.

What happened? Sophistication of the audience happened in that case.

The same with John Carpenter's The Thing. That scene with the head descending off the table and turning into a spider horrified me in the theater. I watched it with my son and he was like ho-hum. Nice effect.

In those two examples the state of special FX has progressed so far from those days as to make those films almost laughable. The same as some of the special FX in The Exorcist.

But yeah, societal morality and views on things have changed a heluvalot too.

Jcomp
01-10-2008, 01:45 AM
Or perhaps they just don't find them scary or fun. That's really what horror is about. I thought The Others was a good movie, but I don't find it scary. I appreciated it as a drama, but not as a horror movie.

Fair point, particularly with The Others, which didn't scare me either. That said, I think you can have both. You can be scary and still be thought provoking. In fact, if you combine both effectively, you end up with "haunting," and then the story scares you well after you've stopped watching, and that's about as good as it gets...

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 02:23 AM
Fair point, particularly with The Others, which didn't scare me either. That said, I think you can have both.

Yes, you can have both. But it's not going to be the same for everybody. I thought The Ring was a good story and a scary movie. However I have watched it with several friends who thought it was an interesting movie for the story, but they didn't find it scary. At the time time, I know many people who are genuinely scared by the last scene of The Blair Witch Project, but think the movie is really dumb.

Everybody's different, and I don't even think there's much of a pattern to it. I don't really see why it matters what other people find scary. If a movie scares them, and they like it, I don't really care. There have been a lot of bad horror films for as long as I can remember, and I don't think right now is any different.

Jcomp
01-10-2008, 02:57 AM
Yes, you can have both. But it's not going to be the same for everybody. I thought The Ring was a good story and a scary movie. However I have watched it with several friends who thought it was an interesting movie for the story, but they didn't find it scary. At the time time, I know many people who are genuinely scared by the last scene of The Blair Witch Project, but think the movie is really dumb.

Everybody's different, and I don't even think there's much of a pattern to it. I don't really see why it matters what other people find scary. If a movie scares them, and they like it, I don't really care. There have been a lot of bad horror films for as long as I can remember, and I don't think right now is any different.

True that. Horror is extremely subjective. I think it's probably the most difficult thing to create effectively because you're trying to elicit an emotion from people that is so extreme, in a medium that is so fragile. As someone said in an earlier post, you can lose an audience member in a blink, and with horror, once you've done that, it's practically impossible to get them back.

And I guess, all that said, that's why I think making a good movie is important. It's important to be scary, of course, but just being GOOD has its merits.

scarletpeaches
01-10-2008, 03:00 AM
...and that most people who claim that they were not scared by the Exorcist do not have those Christian roots...

As a point of interest, I was raised a Catholic and converted to another denomination of Christianity when I was 20. I still think The Exorcist is as scary as an episode of Bob the Builder.

Tiger
01-10-2008, 04:35 AM
Stout lass. You don't cringe at the sight of pea soup (but maybe a bad Scottish accent).

dgiharris
01-10-2008, 04:52 AM
True that. Horror is extremely subjective. I think it's probably the most difficult thing to create effectively because you're trying to elicit an emotion from people that is so extreme, in a medium that is so fragile.

I think this is dead on.

Scarlet, in my defense I did say "most" :)
But the heart of my comment really is "that" connection to the film. IMO, in order for horror to work, like all genres, the audience must connect to the film

I feel most horror films fail in this basic regard. The majority of the characters simply are flat, the situations are flat, the stories are flat. It's extremely hard to empathize and connect to that.

But back to the Exorcist. I think my and your reaction to the movie should be studied, because the reactions to the Exorcist are EXTREMELY POLAR.

I find that very few people are luke warm about the Exoricist's scarability. Either you lost sleep over this movie for several days, or you laughed and felt it was as scary as Bob the Builder (as you indicated).

So why? Not to say I'm right and you are wrong. That argument would be akin to me debating that chocolate tastes better than vanilla.

Why aren't audiences willing to suspend their disbelief? Why didn't/couldn't you?

The Sci-Fi / Fantasy genre shares 'some' commonality with Horror. Why are its fans so easily able to immerse themselves in those worlds? How is it that the audience can empathize with a little green Jedi but feel nothing for the plight of a demon possessed little girl?

Is it the director's fault, the writing, the actors? Does horror need special effects in order to be effective?

I think that understanding of these questions is vital to being able to produce good horror.

Well, enough bloviating, have a nice day.

Mel...

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 10:04 AM
I think this is dead on.

Scarlet, in my defense I did say "most" :)
But the heart of my comment really is "that" connection to the film. IMO, in order for horror to work, like all genres, the audience must connect to the film

I feel most horror films fail in this basic regard. The majority of the characters simply are flat, the situations are flat, the stories are flat. It's extremely hard to empathize and connect to that.

I disagree, because most of the films that people here seem to think are "flat" in the way you described are very well loved by the horror audience. That audience does connect to these films. They either find them scary, or just fun. Other audiences might not connect to them, but that doesn't mean they fail as horror films, because their target audience appreciates them. Many are considered classics of the genre, despite those who are not genre fans finding them "flat."

seun
01-10-2008, 01:22 PM
As a point of interest, I was raised a Catholic and converted to another denomination of Christianity when I was 20. I still think The Exorcist is as scary as an episode of Bob the Builder.

I have no religious beliefs at all but I find The Exorcist (book and film) frightening in places. It's dated badly in some respects but I think it still works.

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 05:06 PM
As a point of interest, I was raised a Catholic and converted to another denomination of Christianity when I was 20. I still think The Exorcist is as scary as an episode of Bob the Builder.It's all about context, scarlet. The Exorcist was darned scary in 1973. Just as some people thought Rosemary's Baby back in 1968 was scary. And The Omen later in 1976. Same kinds of themes. Devils, demons, possession. For some reason, maybe because of Nixon, these were terrifying things at the time.

Just as having to sit through another freakin Bob the Builder marathon would scare the bejeezus out of me.

Or worse yet, Dora the Explorer.

*shudders*

maestrowork
01-10-2008, 05:45 PM
Horror is subjective...

That's why I don't usually write horror. Like comedy, it's not easy to make people scare/laugh. That's so subjective. Especially in this modern time when people are so desensitized already. Still, I think the best horror -- past, present or future -- works on the psychological level and touches on universal themes.

Takvah
01-10-2008, 06:16 PM
For horror to truly work, (for me at least) there has to be a psychological element to it. Something needs to find its way deep inside me and gratuitous gore doesn't quite cut it. I've seen people killed onscreen in every way imaginable. It's become laughable. I've seen a man propped up against a dumpster with a hole in his head after taking his own life. I've seen cancer eat a person from the inside out. These are things that truly horrify. Hell, the nightly news is more horrifying than the slasher fare offered at the cinema. In order for horror to work, I need to suspend my disbelief... or I'll chuckle through the whole thing like a schoolgirl... ie Hostel 2 (wife dragged me... I thought the woman had better taste, but then again she married me).

What happened to horror flicks that have a hint of realism? My horror can have a nice garnish of the supernatural, but nothing too over the top. Maybe that's why I dig films like, "The Shining", "The Sixth Sense", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (70s version), "Frailty" and yes, even... I'm almost ashamed to say it... "The Blair Witch Project". All of these movies are SPOOKY. I don't get off on being repulsed, I dig it when the hairs on my neck stand up and a chill runs through me.

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 07:16 PM
That's why I don't usually write horror. Like comedy, it's not easy to make people scare/laugh. That's so subjective. Especially in this modern time when people are so desensitized already. Still, I think the best horror -- past, present or future -- works on the psychological level and touches on universal themes.
Right. What scares me doesn't scare you. So I could write something that absolutely terrifies me, something about claustrophobia, bugs, and the dark and someone else might just find it funny.

I think at one point in our history as a species, horror was fairly universal. We were all afraid of the unknown, things that go bump in the night, of death, things like that. Now? It's like music. In the 60s, radio stations were pretty eclectic. They'd play country, rock, motown, adult contemporary, one right after the other. Now stations are specialized and segmented.

Today, I think creating a horror movie that is universally scary would be near impossible.

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 07:29 PM
Right. What scares me doesn't scare you. So I could write something that absolutely terrifies me, something about claustrophobia, bugs, and the dark and someone else might just find it funny.

Yes. And I guess what I think is weird about this topic is that any time it comes up, people always seem to say, "I find THIS scary! I don't find THAT scary! Why do people make movies like THAT???" Obviously, it's because someone else finds it scary, or enjoys it in some way. What you find scary is not more or less valid than what someone else finds scary.

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 07:33 PM
Right. I can only speak for myself, but that applies to pretty much everything in life. I know what I like, what I don't like, and what I hate, and it's rare to find someone who agrees with you 100% of the time.

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 07:54 PM
Right. I can only speak for myself, but that applies to pretty much everything in life. I know what I like, what I don't like, and what I hate, and it's rare to find someone who agrees with you 100% of the time.

But if you're talking about plot and character development, I think we have a more objective means of measuring that. It's still subjective, but not as subjective is, "does it scare you?"

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 08:08 PM
True. Even though something is a horror movie, it still needs to work as a "movie." It still needs to be well-acted, well-written, well-directed and so on. It has to hold up cinimatically in addition to the horror, which is again why a lot of horror movies fail because the people putting them together forget there has to be a foundation of believability.

To use the 50s to make my point, the atomic age produced many horror and monster movies. The ones that worked, worked well as movies. They had great stories, great acting, and everything about it helped sell the believability factor. It's why THEM! works so well and Deadly Mantis not so much. It's why The Thing From Another World is such a classic and It Conquered the World is a joke.

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 08:19 PM
True. Even though something is a horror movie, it still needs to work as a "movie." It still needs to be well-acted, well-written, well-directed and so on. It has to hold up cinimatically in addition to the horror, which is again why a lot of horror movies fail because the people putting them together forget there has to be a foundation of believability.

Except that they DON'T fail, because plenty of horror movies that you would not consider to be well acted, well written, and well directed, are very well liked by horror fans.

Jcomp
01-10-2008, 09:13 PM
Except that they DON'T fail, because plenty of horror movies that you would not consider to be well acted, well written, and well directed, are very well liked by horror fans.

Well, I think this ties back into my original theory of horror fans being overly forgiving. Which is understandable in terms of whether or not you flat out enjoy the film--hey, I love Swingers and God knows it's not terribly well acted and has moments of straight amateurish direction--and I think everything has its place, but horror is almost DOMINATED by movies where acting and writing and direction are considered unimportant compared to "likability." I think there should be a better balance. It gets a little tiring to constantly hear people defending movies with, "Well, you don't go to see this movie for good acting, etc. You just want to see the kills." That's just my opinion and experience, of course.

Shadow_Ferret
01-10-2008, 09:14 PM
Except that they DON'T fail, because plenty of horror movies that you would not consider to be well acted, well written, and well directed, are very well liked by horror fans.Well, no accounting for taste. Some of the worst dreck has a following simply BECAUSE it is dreck. ;)

Celia Cyanide
01-10-2008, 09:57 PM
I think everything has its place, but horror is almost DOMINATED by movies where acting and writing and direction are considered unimportant compared to "likability."

I think so too, but this is nothing new. Horror films that are legitimately good have always been in the minority.


It gets a little tiring to constantly hear people defending movies with, "Well, you don't go to see this movie for good acting, etc. You just want to see the kills." That's just my opinion and experience, of course.

In my experience, they're not defending the movies. They're defending themselves. People assume they're stupid, because they like a movie like that. But the same people I know who like Jeepers Creepers also enjoy The Shawshank Redemption for the plot and characters. It's not that they don't understand what those things are. It's that that isn't why they're watching the movie.

Will Lavender
01-10-2008, 10:23 PM
Just wanted to step in and say that this has been an excellent thread, y'all.

Jcomp
01-10-2008, 10:55 PM
I think so too, but this is nothing new. Horror films that are legitimately good have always been in the minority.

True. And I don't think that I properly clarified that what I'm saying isn't meant to be one of those "Horror used to be so good but now it's awful" kind of things, more of a "Shouldn't it have progressed to getting better by now?" rant.


In my experience, they're not defending the movies. They're defending themselves. People assume they're stupid, because they like a movie like that. But the same people I know who like Jeepers Creepers also enjoy The Shawshank Redemption for the plot and characters. It's not that they don't understand what those things are. It's that that isn't why they're watching the movie.

And that may be true as well. Certainly there are people that tie film taste--or preference of any type of entertainment--to intelligence, in which case that defense is fine. But I've experienced people defending the movie itself with these lousy arguments of "who cares about acting, plot, etc." And again, there's a place for those types of movies, every genre has its "popcorn" flicks, but the glut of it in horror seems to push out most of anything even attempting to achieve more...