The moon is full and red, the nights are becoming darker and the sounds are becoming more eerie by the moment. It must be Halloween!
Well, we have plenty of treats without tricks, and this time it comes in filmic form with some recommendations. So, are you in the mood to have a cuddle and a scare? Then please, allow us to entertain you with those recommendations.
There are a lot of options for my favourite horror movie. Alien , The Thing , Braindead , Scream , Poltergeist , the Evil Dead series – hell, even Shaun of the Dead is up there. It would be very hard to choose. But, the thing is, I don’t have to choose – I can pick all of those films at once!
Cabin in the Woods is every horror movie ever made. Or, more accurately, every horror movie is actually Cabin in the Woods in disguise. The rules and structure of these films are always the same, even as the characters and monsters change, and Cabin is an exploration of that structure and a blueprint for those rules. It’s the Rosetta Stone of horror.
But, for all its theory and critique, this isn’t some musty old think-piece – it’s also a rip-roaring horror movie in its own right. Five unwitting teens travel to a remote shack in the forest (or something similar) and accidentally awaken evil forces that proceed to murder them all. But this time something goes wrong – the characters refuse to follow the rules – and the entire horror genre implodes around them in spectacularly gory fashion.
Because the truth is, as much as I’ve talked about the brainier aspects of this film, the real appeal for me is the insane bloodbath it eventually becomes. I may have trouble narrowing it down to one film, but I have no trouble picking a favourite type of horror: I’m a splatter guy – I’m all about the gore and guts and blood – and Cabin in the Woods provides that like no other film I’ve ever seen. The fact that it playfully tears down every other horror movie in the process is just icing on the corpse!
Once upon a time, John Carpenter was the master of horror, so I knew straight away that I would be picking one of his films this month. His holy trinity of horror films – Assault on Precinct 13 , Halloween and The Thing – are all dripping with so much buttock-clenching terror and nerve-shredding tension that they’re almost impossible to watch at times. It was tough to pick between these three films, as each one is a masterpiece in its own right, but eventually I decided to go for The Thing .
Set in an American research station in the Antarctic, the film follows the station’s crew as they are slowly assimilated by the titular thing. Filled with shots of silent and eerie corridors and stark and isolated landscapes, and aided by a score reminiscent of Jaws , Carpenter’s film is a master class in building suspense. It’s a pressure cooker of paranoia and tension, slowly creating an unbearable sense of hopelessness and dread that creeps not only into the main characters, but into the audience as well.
And if the oppressive and claustrophobic mood wasn’t bad enough, The Thing also features quite possibly the most horrific, most disgusting (and most impressive) body horror ever committed to celluloid. When it arrives on screen, the thing itself, a true marvel of practical effects, is both breathtaking and gut-wrenching, looking like both everything and nothing and filled with primeval and sadistic fury. Whenever it appears, the film bursts into sheer heart-thumping terror as the crew try to battle it, before allowing the paranoid and taut atmosphere to settle back over the film and the characters.
The Thing was the last truly great horror film that John Carpenter made, and even now, over thirty years since it was released, it has lost none of the tension and grisliness that made it so undeniably brilliant in the first place.
What if you could no longer trust your family, friends, neighbours… Entire town? The 2010 remake of The Crazies manages to add a level of sophistication that wasn’t there in George A. Romero ‘s 1973 film. And for me, it’s the better film. The build up to realising the full scale of what’s happening is just right: nasty stuff starts happening from early on, but it the more manic parts of the film take a while to appear.
More so than most zombie films, The Crazies looks at the expendability of civilians in the face of not just disease outbreaks, but government embarrassment. There’s a chilling logic behind the scenes of the film, which leads to a scorched earth policy that the audience knows won’t be enough to help, due to the source of the outbreak.
Yes, there’s plenty of gory scenes while the residents of the small town at the centre of the film are infected and set about destroying their families and neighbours. But if that’s all you want from a film, then you might as well watch a heavy dose of zombie apocalypse. Otherwise: watch The Crazies this Halloween and try to figure out who the real monsters are.
The thing about Final Destination as that the killer is not someone you can retaliate against. It’s something that stalks you all the same and no weapons can protect you when it comes.
I remember first watching Final Destination . Even now when the plane goes explodes in the sky and you get the delays reaction before the shockwave hits the airport still gives me goosebumps. It’s almost like you’ve witnessed first hand a phenomenon that would haunt you. And it does.
While the first film was fairly wrapped up, and could be its own thing, the remarkable thing about its sequels is that it both keeps up with the bizarre massacres, but also links it somehow with the original – and its something that still works. Just not the numbering system apparently.
Its an unusual one because you see the setup of how people will be eliminated, small things that align to make something surprisingly deadly. It’ll keep you about thinking health and safety for everything for a few days afterwards.
Pretty much having no relation to the Stephen King novel (even had his name removed from the title). The Lawnmower Man shows what happens when you get on the bad end of someone who has some mental health issues and drug him up to make him become someone who can pull you apart with is mind.
The film has your typical corporation that is experimenting on chimpanzees, for a drug to improve soliders, unfortunately the experiment goes awry and it get’s shut down.
Dr Lawrence Angelo the head scientist of the experiment finds young man Jobe Smith who has an intellectual disability who finds it very hard to defend himself from those who bully him due to his disability.
But Dr Angelo manages to help Jobe by using a new version of his drug which helps Jobe shift from being helpless to learning Latin.
However when the Organization Angelo works for becomes aware of Jobe they begin to tamper with things they shouldn’t which results in Jobe gaining weird powers and also becoming more aggressive.
And what happens to anyone who may well have been bullied and abused? Well for Jobe he can tamper with people’s molecules doing strange things to them and even turn their brains into mulch. Getting a bit of a God complex he now wants to spread his gift through the web and become a horrific digital monster.
You don’t find that many films these day that involve technology going bad, the cgi scenes can be quite terrifying at times but also surreal.
The time I watched Alien for the first time it was a night that my older sister had been left in charge of myself and younger brother. Yes she was babysitting her younger brothers and thankfully was far less strict with what time we could stay up and watch on TV. Now up until that point(a year in the early 80’s) the idea of a horror movie had been shaped by a selection of rented B-movies from the local newsagent. These were movies filled with obvious fake blood and laughable scares but both my brother and I knew that Alien contained a scene that had everyone rethinking what to have for breakfast.
The appreciation I have for the movie has changed over the years. Thinking back to my very first time Alien was then more about the controversy and how well the actually alien had been done. Now my feelings are more centric to how clever and unseen was it to have a strong female lead character in not only a sci-fi but horror movie. Sigourney Weaver probably produced the best performance of her career portraying Ellen Ripley. Her adaptability and toughness of will sees her survive. These traits are usually bestowed upon the male character if we think of any of the genres within fiction be it on TV or movies, at that time. And not only that, the whole cast seemed ready-made for their roles and are directed effortlessly by Ridley Scott.
How many times have I revisited Alien ? It’s hard to put a number to it but from just that first watch I began to understand just how good a movie experience could be. From the characters, set design, sound, casting and story, every inch of Alien rings with an ageless quality. It’s no wonder that after 35 years since the initial release, Alien still goes a long way in shaping the survival horror genre within movies and gaming. Even if we now see a much more diluted level of skill working within the modern movie horror setting.