Fight for Horror Supremacy Week 1

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For the horror buff, Fall is the best time of the year. The air is crisp, the leaves are falling and a feeling of death hangs on the air. Here at Sound on Sight we have some of the biggest horror fans you can find. We are continually showcasing the best of genre cinema, so we’ve decided to put our horror knowledge and passion to the test in a horror watching contest. Each week in October, Ricky D, James Merolla and Justine Smith will post a list of the horror films they have watched. By the end of the month, the person who has seen the most films wins. Prize TBD.

RICKY D – 14 Viewings

Purchase

The Exorcist

Directed by William Friedkin

One of the few horror films that really gets under my skin. Essential viewing for any cinephile.

The Exorcist 3

Directed by William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, directed this creepy, deliberately-paced thriller based on his novel Legion. Thankfully he ignores the events of John Boorman’s disappointing Exorcist II: The Heretic. It isn’t quite as great as the first film, but thanks to some powerful performances by Brad Dourif and George C. Scott, The Exorcist 3 is just as scary and ranks as one of the best sequels ever made.

Vampyr

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

A masterpiece! Vampyr ranks in many circles as one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Black Sunday

Directed by Mario Bava

Mario Bava’s directorial debut still stands as one of the most influential and important genre films ever made, and he would never again match the success of this venture.

The Prowler

Directed by Joseph Zito

One of the most overlooked and best slasher films of the 80’s.

Feast

Directed by John Gulager

Feast your eyes on this blood-splattered, gore soaked, horror/comedy. A total blast from start to finish.

Rental

Sleepy Hollow

Directed by Tim Burton

This film isn’t as bad as many have claimed it to be. Tim Burton takes inspiration from Hammer horror movies made in England during the 1950s and 1960s, creating a visually stunning film in which every frame looks like a gothic painting.

Horror Of Dracula

Directed by Terrence Fisher

I must admit that I am not a huge fan of Hammer horror films, but Horror Of Dracula ranks as one of the studio’s very best, and rightfully deserves to be included in the pantheon of genre classics, while not really being a great film in its own right.

Devil

Directed by : Andrzej Zulawski

I’m not quite sure I’d recommend purchasing the film, simply based on the two hour running time, but regardless if you view this as a historical drama or a horror film, The Devil is worth a watch.

John Carpenter’s Vampires

Directed by John Carpenter

John Carpenter directed this horror-western, adapted from the novel Vampires by John Steakley. James Woods is great as the vampire hunter Jack Crow, and fans of such films as Rio Bravo should take interest.

Skip It

Exorcist The Beginning

Directed by Renny Harlin

This is what an Exorcist film directed by Michael Bay would look like. The power of shit compels you, Bay! Waste of time.

Summer Of Fear

Directed by Wes Craven

Made for TV and made to bore an audience and put them to sleep. Linda Blair might have had it rough starring in The Exorcist, but this must have been the film that drove her insane.

Reeker

Directed by David Payne

There is a blind dude… He is cute… but that is all this film has going for it.

Salem’s Lot

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Hopper shouldn’t direct for the small screen. There are some great ideas present here, a pretty solid cast, and a decent script but the director is forced to hold back on any of the scares, making this dull as doornails.

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JAMES MEROLLA – 11 Horror Viewings

 

 

Essential Horror Viewing

Requiem for A Vampire (Rollin, 1973) – If you love low budget camp, super-charged with sexuality, than you must watch this. The cinematography is also impressive if you’ll notice.

Cat O’ Nine Tails (Argento, 1971) – Early Argento calls to mind the very best elements of one of his key inspirations, Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a little messy, but there is great suspense, and a surprising amount of humor.

Cronos (Del Toro, 1993) – Though I’ve been at odds with nearly every horror movie Del Toro’s name is even loosely attached too, this film seems to hit all of its marks. At its core is a wonderfully dark fairytale.

The Seventh Victim (Robson, 1943) – A Noir thriller that has some strange jumps in logic, but the underlying horror of it all is brilliant.

 

 

Meh

The Fallen (Hoblit, 1998) – You’ll get to see Denzel do his thing, if you’re into that, and the film does toy with a fun idea, but ultimately gets a bit too ham fisted.

Night of The Hunted (Rollin, 1980) – Rollin tries his best to create another one of his sexually charged thrillers, but it winds up ringing rather hollow.

The Funhouse (Hooper, 1981) – This is a near miss. Hooper does a great job of creating an uneasy and foreign world in the fairground, but falls flat at creating any real horror.

The Keep (Mann, 1983) – This film is to Michael Mann, what Dune is to David Lynch, a high concept flop, with little resemblance to what makes many of his other films great.

Raw Meat (Sherman, 1973) – Worth seeing for the impeccably nuanced performance by Donald Pleasence, but not much more.

All The Colors of The Dark (Martino, 1972) – This film quickly lays the groundwork for what could have been taught look at sexuality and emotionality but it deflates under the weight of a forced mystery.

 

Skip It

Audrey Rose (Wise, 1977) – Never in my life have I seen a film with a more ridiculous premise take itself more seriously. This film is infuriating in its refusal to admit what it is.

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Justine Smith – 14 Viewings

 

Purchase

Valerie and her Week of Wonders
Directed by Jaromile Jires

So heavy with sexual symbolism that the weight of suggestion becomes a source of anxiety. A sexual coming of age story, we weave in and out of nightmares. Few films evoke the world of nightmares and dreams so wonderfully, and each aspect of the film’s aesthetic is engaged in creating an ambiguous mirror of reality.

The Woods
Directed by Lucky McKee

A film about the agony of being a teenage girl, The Woods explores femininity in unique and progressive ways. Progressive is a touchy word, though, and horror is an inherently conservative genre. It is a genre of emotion and fear, where the fear of being an outcast and BEING the monster overrules thought, reason or evolution. McKee taps into a female mind-set though, and avoids typical tropes of the male gaze while being genuinely shocking and horrifying.

Calvaire
Directed by Fabrice Du Welz

Calvaire could just be an incredibly suggestive formal experiment, one that alludes to cleverly to interpretation that it actually means nothing at all. On the other hand, the absurd premise of a man’s van crashing in the woods and him being mistaken for a man’s promiscuous wife is altogether something else. The man who crashes his van is a performer with a strange allure. He seems to inexplicably draw people to him, even in the film’s opening sequence where he performs a song and dance routine in a senior’s home. It is not overtly alluded to, but is somewhat off-putting… perhaps because the actor, though very much suited to the role, is also so understated that he fails to even be particularly charismatic. This film teases the audience with a secret, one that you desperately want to let in on. For this reason it lingers on the viewer’s mind and doesn’t let go.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Directed by David Lynch

To call this a prequel does a disservice to it’s intertextual commentary on the television media, and the meta criticism of our own fixation on death. The question of who KILLED Laura Palmer is the media’s horrible obsession with the assassin. A man shoots up a pharmacy, he kills 7 people, injures 4 and we want to know who he is. We fool ourselves into believing it is our desire for answers, a mode of protection. It is not. It is a mechanization of fear, a perpetuation of horror. A social error, a human one perhaps. Where is Laura Palmer? A far more pertinent question, one that no one bothered to ask. Why does a dead girl’s eyes gleam with the tears of a girl lost in the woods, tired and hungry? Evil bounces through the electrical wires, even deep in the woods they are connected by the buzz of white noise. The wires overhead screaming and whistling: teasing. The television roars with senseless chatter, beaming a blue light that blinds. Look away or be transformed into a dime-novel bombshell. The world will eat you up and smile.

Frankenstein
Directed by James Whale

This creature has not experience, no love, no purpose… and yet he has been awarded the body of a man stronger than any mortal. Just imagine a young child, two or three (let’s not forget that this monster is far more nascent then even that!), who not only had the strength of ten men but was derided, tortured and outcasted. Would they have enough understanding of life and death to know that murder was wrong? Could they control a strength they do not know they had? This monster expresses longing, loneliness and regret. The film is undoubtedly sympathetic to his plight. The fear of the monster comes not from his mind, it is his body. His disfigured face and towering body, we can also imagine his stench assembled from the bodies of many. On their wedding day, Elizabeth (May Clarke) expresses concern over the wherabouts of her future husband’s teacher, she worries and whines but no one takes her head. In the arms of her fiancee, his only possible responsible, “How beautiful you look”. Her eyes dart worriedly and fear comes alive.

 


 

Rental

The Blob
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Surprisingly enjoyable, aside from special effects this film has not aged in a bad way. Even the artificial qualities of the blob creation are endearing rather than outright silly, and the filmic techniques that surround it are surprisingly effective. Steve McQueen is a not a credible teenager, but his performance is energetic and physical.

Village of the Damned
Directed by Wolf Rilla

A film that works best when it relies on implied horror rather than what is presented, the film has some pointed moments of unease but is ultimately lacklustre and dated.

Idle Hands
Directed by Rodman Flender

The film never reaches the height of either “horror” or “comedy” genius, but when it shifts focus onto the absurd physical performance of Devon Sawa, it begins to exude energy and passion. It is somewhat effective as a mock-moral story, and is a breath of fresh air compared to the putrid teen horror flicks of the 1990s. At the very least, there are titties.

Rose of Iron
Directed by Jean Rollin

Jean Rollin brings to horror a distinctly European aesthetic: he is detached, undramatic and his performers are free and ambiguous. Rose of Iron presents a simple premise: a boy asks out a girl. He brings her to a cemetery, they get busy getting busy, and before they know it, they’re locked in for the night. As with most of Rollin’s films, sex and death are drawn closely together.

Eraserhead
Directed by David Lynch
A rare Lynch film that failed to grab me. There is no particular moment or feeling that stands out for me, with small exception of the dancing of the Radiator Lady. Generally “gritty” as exemplified aesthetically here holds little interest for me, and what I generally love in Lynch’s work is not enough to sway me. I am disappointed that I didn’t like this film more, but those are the breaks.

Freaks

Directed by Tod Browning

This film is obviously problematic and is often guilty of exploitation, but on a whole paints a wholly sympathetic portrait of these so called “freaks”. The most iconic scene is also the most interesting. It is tinged with a very deep sense of social rejection, but in that there is also a strong sense of community and loyalty. The issue at hand is not that Cleopatra must usher in her new husband into her community, into the “cult of beauty”. On the contrary, she has to be accepted into their world. This differientation is crucial to the film’s tone and is one of the reasons why it endures in spite of its technical clumsiness.

 

 

Skip-it

Teeth
Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein

Teeth attempts to be some kind of moral equalizer for the rampant sexism present in horror cinema, and fails. I don’t think this has to do with the premise, and in some ways, the executions is a no holds-barred gore fest that will leave the audience squirming in the most delightful way. The film’s failure to play on any kind of psychological or social nuance is where it falls apart. Its attempts to be subversive fall completely flat.

Vacancy

Directed by Nimrod Antal

A totally generic home-invasion style film that has no rhythm or energy.

American Psycho II: All American Girl
Directed by Morgan J. Freeman

I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy this film just a little bit, that doesn’t mean it is in any way good. One of the most offensive adaptations of a piece of literature (spin-off or not), I am still in awe at the fact that this film even got made. Not only is it a completely bastardization of the social and inner conflict of the original novel/film, but an attempted commentary on the cut-throat educational system quickly descends into a college student throwing a hissy fit.

 Check out the results from week 2

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