Battle for Horror Supremecy Week 4

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It is the stretch drive, and neither one of us seem to be running out of steam. In fact, both Justine and I seem to be gaining momentum, and this shaping up to be our closest contest yet.

As far as films I saw, it was probably the best week yet. I saw 9 films this past week, and it started with Lemora: A Child’s Tale of The Supernatural. It is a rather bizarre, borderline exploitation film that is an Alice in Wonderland-esque metaphor for a girl discovering her sexuality. It’s a little slow, but quite pretty, and somewhat disturbing.

I followed Lemora up with another somewhat obscure horror, staring a young Bill Shatner, and Earnest Borgnine in The Devil’s Rain. There is nothing very impressive about the film, but watching Shatner and Borgnine out-ham each other is hilarious fun.

Next was Lucio Fulci’s disappointing House by The Cemetery, which is a real mess. Where I found a film like The City of The Dead charming in it’s irreverence, I found to being just a lack of focus and attention to detail in House by The Cemetery. Luckily I rebounded with what has now become my all time favorite horror comedy, Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers. I loved this film from the opening frame. It combines carefree slapstick, with witty subtlety to perfection.

Next came 1955’s Les Diaboliques. I don’t want to go on a rant, but this film was spoiled for me four years ago when I watched the terrible show on Bravo, The Scariest Moments in Movie History. For some reason I watched it without realizing that every film they featured was being spoiled. Because of that, I had trouble enjoying was seems to be a fine film.

I still look at Clive Barker’s Hellraiser to be ‘the little horror movie that could’. By exploring very basic human emotions and urges, Barker creates a visceral experience using very little. This was followed by 1997’s The Cube which has a really cool concept, wrapped in a terribly unoriginal premise, wrapped in a terrible script, wrapped in very flat direction.

Rounding out the week were two classics starting with F.W. Murnau’s original silent Nosferatu. Though I prefer Werner Herzog’s remake, Murnau’s film has some very creepy and irresistibly iconic moments. The next classic was Stanly Kubrick’s The Shining, a film that I find to be more brilliant every time I watch it. Every beautifully shot scene feels like it is caving in on you in it’s depiction of suffocating claustrophobia.

Less than a week to go, and I’m feeling confident.

-James

Festival du Nouveau Cinema really took away time I could have been watching and writing about horror, I feel as though my pace has been completely disruptive and I am far more behind then I’d like to be. Most of my viewings were rewatches of old favourites, sometimes those are the easiest to get through when you feel wholly burned out on horror.
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Psycho. Somehow it never gets old, and always manages to get under my skin. It is a film that has a well earned reputation, and is still a marvel of mood and dread. This time around it struck me that of Hitchcock’s two “true” horrors, both seem to invoke very heavily and obviously bird imagery. I can’t quite wrap my head around the connection, but it is worth pondering.

When I was in grade school I was obsessed with the trailer for The Craft. This was way before youtube though, so I had to watch a lot of tv just to catch a glimpse of these oh-so-cool girls walking in slow-mo to some of the best songs of the 90s. This was my first viewing, and though somewhat disappointing, it is still a lot of fun. I am sure if I had seen it as a teen, it would have easily been a favourite. Strangely enough, I was doing some research in the library today and read a comparison between this and Ginger Snaps… it was a surprisingly compelling argument.

I think Tales from Gimli Hospital is my first Maddin feature. Not as good as my favoruite shorts, I still think it’s a lot of fun and surprisingly eerie. The film has a deliciously iconoclastic sense of humour, and is really unlike anything you’ll ever see – especially if you are not familiar with Maddin’s work.

Rewatched some early 1930s favourites: Mystery of the Wax Museum and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Wax Museum is far superior to the Price remake, and is one of the most underrated films of its era. It is to date the only two-strip Technicolor film I’ve seen, and if you’ve never seen a film shot in this primitive colour process I highly recommend giving it a go. It is eerie, and enchantingly beautiful… totally unlike anything you’ll see from other classic horror films. What I love most about this film is it’s sense of humour, in many ways it’s like a really primitive His Girl Friday…. But with wax figure. Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one my all time favourite films. It is deliriously innovative, one of the most beautiful films you will ever watch. The wonderful use of practical effects, roving cameras and incredible POV shots make for a unique experience. The adaptation also adds compelling sexual undertones to Dr. Jekyll’s transformations.
Not too much to say about The Church. The acting and storyline are at times, jarringly bad, but some of the visuals are really spectacular.

I was a huge fan of Paranormal Activity last year, and I think its sequel lives up to its predecessor. The premise is more or less the same, but a lot of the kinks of the original are improved upon, and the storyline is richer. I love the use of the wide shots; they disorient the viewer, not allowing them to properly focus on any particular aspect of the shot. Auditory clues are used to tremendous effect, and both techniques make for an incredibly anxious experience. If you liked the first entry, I don’t see how you couldn’t like Paranormal Activity 2.

Best film of the week goes to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. I’ve seen the film before, but it somehow gets better each time. It also happens to be my favoruite Lynch film, and quite possibly his most upsetting. This is quite a feat for a man responsible for Inland Empire… I can never properly review this film, and all my thoughts on it usually denigrate to senseless babble about deep and dark feelings. I won’t subject you to that right now, maybe one day I will be able to straighten out my thoughts and properly articulate what exactly I feel about this film.

-Justine

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