Going into the final day of the competition, I was trailing by two films. Things didn’t bode well for me, because time just was not on my side. Though I’ve taken every year by a landslide, I am more than satisfied with the results here. I may not have won, but my record is still in-tact. Three years running and I’ve yet to lose, that is more than I can say for James.
Started the week with some mediocre horror, an obvious cash-in on the sex and violence that comes with vampire cinema, The Forsaken is a film that I own for reasons mysterious even to myself. Suffice to say it’s incredibly generic, and has few, if any original ideas. There are maybe one or two interesting visual concoctions, but they lack any real emotional depth, effectively rendering them meaningless
That aside, I only saw two other films for the first time this week. First being the Changeling, the 1980 Canadian ghost drama starring George C. Scott. Though somewhat underwhelming, the film is still one of the only decent examples of the “ghost with a message” type films out there. I tend to prefer my ghosts without conscious or specific needs to “set things right”. This one is saved because the flashbacks are really quite scary and George C. Scott is in it. The other film sorta fits the same descriptor, except it really sucks and it’s Asian. The Eye, which was remade starring Jessica Alba, is about a young woman who has a groundbreaking eye transplant, but her new eyes seem to have magical powers and now she can see ghosts. It’s way more dumb than even the premise promises, and isn’t even funny. If I hadn’t been in this to win, I would have turned it off somewhere near the twenty minute mark.
Predictably, most of the rest of my viewings were some all time favourites. Black Christmas, Ginger Snaps and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre are absolutely perfect films in my eyes, and they all rank in my ten favourite horror films. They are all very different, though I think they all share an overwhelming sense of dread. I think what most people who dismiss horror associate it with empty jump scares, when really, the best of the best will get under your skin and completely haunt you. You aren’t screaming or jumping in your seat, you are slowly recoiling in disgust and even self-pity as you witness moments of utter despair.
I also watched one of my favourite silent horrors, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I will never get over how incredible the sets are, andthe whole twist is perfectly executed. It is brimming with political and social energy, and does not feel like a simple narrative contrivance.
I am a huge Vincent Price fans, but his Corman films aside, I find most of his horrors kinda dull. House of Wax is no exception, and it feels like a children’s film with horror characteristics. It definitely pales in comparison to the original film. It is interesting though, that both were used as early “tries” at new technology. The first being an early example of two-tier Technolocolor and the 1953, one of the first attempts at 3-D filmmaking.
Finally, my last film of the contest, was Tony Scott’s The Hunger. I have a soft spot for it, mainly for it’s incredible opening sequence which uses Bauhaus’ song Bela Lugosi is Dead. It also doesn’t hurt that the cast is incredibly sexy.
Going into this competition, I don’t think it ever really occurred to us that there was a real possibility that we would tie. Somehow, we never really decided what we’d do in this situation, and if there would be a tie-breaker or not. We are open to suggestion if you may have some, but more than likely, I think it’s only fair that we both do some kind of penance for not-winning. It has yet to be decided exactly what, but look out for it!
Before I even get started, I can’t mask my disappointment at the outcome of this contest. I had Justine on the ropes, and she fought back for a tie. A tie? Yes, for the first time in the three year history of our contest it finished in a tie. Unable to think of a feasible tiebreaker we settled on the result as is.
Nonetheless, the final week was probably the strongest overall week in terms of quality. I was able to see 11 films, starting with Dracula 2000. The only thing interesting about this film is getting to see a younger Gerard Butler before his career took off. That was followed up by the abysmal made for TV film 1973’s The Norliss Tapes, which felt like an extended episode of the 70’s Incredible Hulk TV series.
Things took a turn for the better when I watched one of my favorites The Exorcist. It was the first time I had seen the extended director’s cut, and other than a few additional scenes, there isn’t much difference. In fact, I prefer the original cut. Unfortunately, this was followed up by one of the worst films I have seen in a long time, Terror Train. The worst three movies I saw in this contest were of the ‘slasher’ sub-genre. After seeing Terror Train I have vowed never to watch another.
Thankfully, there are films like George Romero’s Night of The Living Dead to make us feel good about the horror genre. I have more love for the sequel, but Night is still one of the great horror films of all time. Then came the hammy piece of nostalgia Witchboard, which feels a lot like a soap opera rather than a horror movie, but it is so wonderfully cheesy, it is hard not to have fun with it.
The Fly 2 pales in comparison to its predecessor, but until the final half hour it is at the very least somewhat respectable. Then it pukes all over itself, both literally and figuratively. Up next was the subtly stylish film 2008’s The Strangers. The set up is great, it looks fantastic, but it does make the mistake of claiming to be inspired by a true story, robbing the film of some tension and suspense.
Michael Powell’s classic Peeping Tom didn’t feel classic, but it does have some its strong points. I was particularly fond of the scene involving the iconic Moira Shearer. Speaking of classics, 1925’s silent gem The Phantom of The Opera was a great surprise. Very few horror films are as grand as this film. I recommend it to all film fans, not just horror fans.
Finally, the film I had planned to close out my viewing with from the beginning, possibly my favorite horror film, Suspiria. It may be the most visually stimulating horror film ever made as it spins on a violent tilt-a-whirl, with beautiful blinking lights, screams, and a soundtrack that seems to breed anxiety. This film should always be watched on the biggest screen you can find, with the volume all the way up.
It was a great contest. I discovered some brilliant films, and had a lot of fun, which makes the end result not quite so bad. I tip my hat to my opponent, and look forward to next year.
But I am still very disappointed with the result.