It’s that time of year again boys and girls! After an entire year of watching dramas, comedies, and Hollywood action movies – It’s time to step to the dark alleys of cinema, set our eyes upon the bloody and the gory, the scary and the disturbing, the suspenseful and the tense! Tales of werewolves, ghouls, clowns, vampires and all the creatures of the night are approaching! Be warned, some of these titles might not be for the faint of heart, so better grab a friend or two to keep you safe, warm that popcorn and get ready for some bloody fun!
Jennifer Hills drives up to her isolated forest-home in order to find some peace of mind. She’s in the midst of writing her book, and the quiet should do wonders for her focus. Alas, some local men notice Jennifer and decide to “pay her a visit”. Unfortunately, Jennifer gets horribly abused, but the men’s mistake was not making sure she’s dead, cause she’s coming for them, with a raging vengeance. This is a remake of a 1978 movie of the same name, though this one is much more rough, and merciless.
We proceed with yet another remake this time for the 1981 movie of the same name, which was actually developed into trilogy of sorts. Five friends drive up to an isolated cabin in the woods to try and get their friend Mia to quit drugs cold-turkey, since she almost OD’d. While in the cabin, they stumble upon the “Book of the Dead” which awakens a powerful evil force that corrupts all of them slowly, turning them against each other.
The remakes keep on coming! Although we wrote about the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre last year, I felt it was important to mention the new version since it was a surprising box office hit in theatres, which instantly got a green light for a sequel. Heather Miller inherits her grandmother’s mansion in Texas. Little does she know that once she’ll get there, she will encounter the notorious Leatherface and his chainsaw.
This chilling ghost movie is based on a short film of the same name, and take it from someone who watched it fellas – In it’s most fearsome moments, it’s so tense and scary that as much as you want to look away, you just can’t, as if the ghost has a hold of you aswell. That is the sign of a great horror film. The story revolves around 2 little girls that are found in the forest and are adopted. In trying to readjust to everyday life, the ghost of their mother is not having it, much to the distress of the girls and their new adoptive family.
That being said, “Carrie” is a remake of a’76 film of the same name, which revolves around a young girl that has telekinetic powers. Despite being so special, all that Carrie wants is to be normal like everybody else. However, getting bullied 24/7 can only be tolerated for so long before you break.
This foreign monster film from Korea revolves around a middle-aged man who runs a snack shop on the banks of the Han river in Seoul. Park Gang-Doo houses his family with him as well. One innocent day a sea-monster emerges from the Han river and abducts his little girl. When the family realizes that she’s not dead, they are determined to save her as fast as possible. This film is notorious for being highly tense while still managing to stay humorous throughout. Incredibly original and highly recommended.
One of THE most popular TV shows currently running. Notoriously known for bringing ‘slow-zombies’ back into popularity, and also creating a bleak and chaotic post-apocalyptic world that actually feels real. It’s uncompromising approach towards it’s characters is one of the more chilling aspects of this series that tells the story of ex-sheriff Rick Grimes who tries his best to keep it together after waking up into the zombie apocalypse.
This recent Israeli horror was praised by Quentin Tarantino as one of 2013’s best films. “Big Bad Wolf” tells the story of a series of brutal child murders, and focuses on one parent that recently lost his daughter to one of those murders. That same parent heads out on an obsessive revenge quest to find his child’s killer and exact justice on him in a most brutal way.
“Dead Set” comes from the creator of the technophobic mini-series “Black Mirror” and tells us the tale of a zombie outbreak which happens no less than in the middle of the ‘Big Brother’ reality show. This mini-series takes itself very seriously. It is gory, scary, suspenseful and original to top it off. Like I mentioned earlier, It’s not often that you get to see something different.
I’d like to finish with an oldie that is fast approaching with a remake of it’s own. “Hellraiser” tells the story of a man who inadvertently opens up a gate to hell, and in doing so, loses his earthly body to a trio of demons known as the Cenobites. His mistress finds a way to bring him back to life by bringing human sacrifices to her house. Only by killing the victims, the man can gain a little more body essence to reclaim his body.
It is apparent that 2013 on it’s own had an incredible amount of horror remakes. It’s not much of a surprise either since horror plots are usually very much the same; It’s either a serial killer, zombie outbreak, group of promiscuous kids looking around where they shouldn’t, eventually leading to everyone getting sliced, bitten, infected, and horribly tortured in one way or another. People get bored from seeing the same thing over and over, so the logical thing would be to give a visual upgrade of sorts with the advancement of technology in visual effects and create a more realistic feeling to the gore.
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Roman Polanski is a controversial director and person. Some of his films are known to have inspired really great directors such as the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson and David Fincher . Although celebrating his 80th birthday, he only has 20 full length fiction movies under his belt. Filmmakers today tend to create a movie every 2-3 years. In that sense, Roman belongs to a group of distinguished filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrik, who always strive to have a well-written, well made all around film, which in return, is always highly anticipated by critics and audience alike.
Here are some of his great works:
Clearly a horror milestone, and considered a cinematic masterpiece – “Rosemary’s Baby” is a story of a couple of newlyweds that move to a new apartment in an urban setting. Already upon scouting the apartment, several details about it strike them as odd. Shortly after moving in, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the pregnancy does not go as planned. A stream of paranoia and hysteria overtakes Rosemary which creates a scary and suspenseful thriller that never stops shocking you until the very end.
This movie is also considered a masterpiece on it’s own regard and garnered unanimous critical acclaim. Renown for it’s noir style that was almost gone at the time the movie was made, it tells the story of Jake Gittes, a private detective who specializes in marital problems. When he’s hired by Evelyn Mulwray to spy on her husband, he’s plunged into a complex web of deception that involves murder whilst all being connected to the city’s poisoned water supply.
Notice a pattern here? Roman just makes GREAT movies! We march on with another essential piece of art. Roman actually plays the main character in this movie, showing pretty great acting skills. His name is Trelkovsky, and he moves into a Parisian apartment after the former tenant committed suicide. But similarly to Rosemary’s Baby, soon after moving in, it appears that the ghost of the former young woman starts taking over parts of Trelkovsky’s personality, engaging him in a psychological conflict.
Back to the days before Rosemary’s Baby’s breakthrough, we have “Repulsion”. The first English speaking movie of Polanski revolves around Carol – a manicurist that is left alone in her flat when her sister is going on vacation. While she’s alone, Carol slowly starts to lose her mind. One of the great things about old movies like this, is that they use impressive composition to describe the disturbing mental state of it’s character, and being in B&W directly correlates the visual aspect to German expressionism.
Now that we’ve been through the majority of his horror and thriller movies it’s time to show the lighter side of Roman. For starters, this was the movie in which Roman met his wife Sharon Tate, so it’s no wonder this is an actual comedy coming out from him. But don’t worry, he didn’t completely give up on the dark side, so this one is a parody on vampire films. An eccentric professor who studies bats, travels to Transylvania in search of a vampire plague that takes over a small village. Filled with many slapstick and silly humor, it’s simply a must addition into the Polanski repertoire.
A big jump forward, to a captivating, twisted, cynical, couple-relations tale. This movie follows Hugh Grant – in an untypical role (still uptight though) – and his wife on a cruise towards Istanbul where they meet a beautiful French femme fatale named Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s third and current wife, and his favorite actress), and her husband. During the cruise the husband lays out the story of their destructive relationship ever since they met in Paris, and his obsession towards her, to the brink of madness. Soon enough, Hugh himself falls prey to a dangerous attraction to Mimi.
On a seemingly peaceful holiday in Paris, Richard and Sondra’s suitcase gets mixed up in the airport, and soon thereafter Sondra disappears. Richard approaches the authorities in the region, but no one seems to be particularly interested in helping him, so he starts his own investigation that leads him through drug smuggling and the criminal underworld. This Hitchcockian tribute is the first collaboration of Polanski and Seigner, a year before their marriage.
On with an additional thriller, in which Ewan McGregor plays a writer who is hired to write the biography of former UK prime minister Adam Lang. At first it seems like a great opportunity for Ewan, but as he delves deeper into writing the memoirs, the more he realizes that Adam Lang made some dark choices that might have not been in the interest of his country. On top of that, he starts to suspect that his predecessor was murdered.
Deviating further from Horror or thrillers, but not from mind and soul, Carnage deals with matters of parenthood when two couples’ sons get into a fight with one another, and one of them is injured. After the incident, both parents decide to meet and solve the issue in a sensible and civil manner. Quick enough though, we realize the characteristics of each of them is so extremely different that the tension starts to build, creating a great deal of cynicism and biting attitude.
Familiar with Polanski’s work, critics and fans probably never expected this kind of deviation from his usual themes and moods. “The Pianist” follows the incredible moving story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a highly successful polish piano player who loses his innocence when the Nazis start rounding up all the Jewish people to concentration camps. In order to survive, he moves from one abandoned house to another. Polanski – a Polish man who grew up in the years of the Nazi occupation – received numerous awards and critical acclaim for this movie, including an Oscar for best direction.
Roman Polanski as a person and as a filmmaker might be shocking to some, but better to have your dark passenger show in your movies rather in real life. I tend to be drawn to the more disturbing, psychological and bleak aspects of his work, and I’m thankful he lets it all out and shoves it in our faces to try and deal with it. It creates an interesting cinematic experience that is difficult to find in other works. So happy birthday Roman – we hope you’ll continue to share your talent with us, beyond the upcoming Venus in Fur.
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It’s that time of the year again, when people dress up as their favorite monster or villain and try to give everyone a scare! And it’s that time of year when movie screens are flooded with horror tales, trying to do the exact same thing, because Halloween is the trademark of fear, gore, terror and horror.
It is the only genre that flourishes on precise plot-lines and twists. Lovable notions such as premarital sex that usually lead to systematically and creatively killing off characters one by one with lots of blood and gore. And all that is combined with a slasher-killer that never seems to die when he’s supposed to (or that simply is immortal). Horror is also an iconic genre for the male audience, who seek it rigorously.
And so, it’s time to reflect and compare how well classic horror films work in light of the modern ones. Let’s start the chainsaw!
We can’t start this post without naming one of the movies that started it all! And just as important, it’s the movie that introduced Jamie Lee-Curtis to the big screen. I can personally say that despite the fact that this movie is not up to par with modernized scares, it still is highly suspenseful and impressive with it’s storyline and with the legendary Michael Myers that will always be notoriously known for killing his own sister.
The AFI calls this the scariest movie of all time, and this humble writer thinks it’s for a good reason. For a movie that was made so long ago, the makeup is just unbelievable and I think nothing beats running down the stairs upside-down to give you a really good fright. This movie takes a great use of excessive profanity and the innocence of a young child to shake you off your seat.
A group of teenagers drive to the middle of nowhere only to find a bunch of inbred cannibals who terrorize their lives to the brink of sanity – sounds familiar? Of course it does! Since this is the movie that started the group-slaughter trend. Nothing says massacre better than a good chainsaw to slice people in half multiple times. Leatherface haunts his victims for several more sequels and remakes.
It’s become widely known in the horror genre that whenever you have sex it means you are probably going to die. This is the movie that started that common idea. A tragedy ensues in Crystal Lake when a kid drowns in the middle of summer camp. During the attempt to re-open the camp, the workers are terrorized by an unknown assailant. Another horror cult classic which in its merit we owe all the “Friday the 13’s” for being completely dedicated to horror.
Undoubtedly one of the most original concepts for a horror movie. It’s the pioneer of psychological horror: the murderer is in your dreams making it impossible to run or hide anywhere, which triples the scare-meter for audiences. Kids resort to coffee to stay awake and sing frightening songs to keep the famous Freddie Kruger away from their dreams. For if they fail, it will turn into a nightmare that they will never wake up from.
Since “classic horror” set the bar for the “conventional horror,” it was hard for modern horror to create films that aren’t predictable and corny. They had to resort to clever storylines, unconventional photography and even humor in order to throw the audience off-balance.
Just when audiences thought Horror was completely dead, Wes Craven came along and re-invented it. He reflected the horror genre within itself, pointed out all the clichés and broke them with a great many twists and turns in this small town-serial killer flick that spawned 3 more sequels. I remember seeing this in the cinema and until this day I’ll never forget the startles and scares that this movie gave me.
One of the trendiest sub-genres today is the Fake Documentary, which was born through this magnificent film. It was so well-marketed that it was believed the actors in this movie were actually missing. Three film-making students travel to the woods of Maryland to investigate the mystery of the Blair Witch. When they get there, they get caught up in all sorts of trouble. This movie is also the highest earning movie in history. It was made with only 60 thousand dollars and earned 250 million in return.
A movie that became just as big a franchise as Jason Voorhees or Freddie Kruger, this movie brought the definition of Torture-Porn into the movie vernacular. “Saw” revolves around a serial killer that plays mind games on his victims in order to psychologically force them out of their everyday depression and lack of purpose, although along the way there is a great deal of suffering, trauma and very often – you guessed it – death in a most disturbing ways.
You didn’t really think I’d forget Zombies, did you? This remake revolves around a plague that inflicts human beings worldwide and turning them into flesh-eating zombies. A small group of survivors try to make a stand in a local shopping mall. It is one of the most visually stylized, suspenseful, and rough zombie movies of the 21st century coming from visually-emphasized director Zack Snyder.
And we wrap up this modern fare with director Joss Whedon who is widely known for suspenseful and clever films that always keep the audience guessing. Despite this film following all the regular conventions of horror movies, it still manages to keep surprising you the whole way through. Unlike regular horror movies, it is more fast-paced and has a humorous side (take it from me, I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire movie.)
So let’s review: The classic horror movies have spawned 31 sequels combined, whilst the modern horror spawned only 13 (including 1 as a remake.)
Despite the classic film’s victory, it is this humble writer’s opinion that all of these movies are winners. None can exist without the other. Modern horror would never have been as clever and witty today without it’s predecessors to set up the groundwork. Yet they find ways to look better and feel scarier, and to me it’s always something to be thankful for. Have a Happy Halloween! And don’t let the Zombies get ya!
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Technorati Tags: Halloween, Horror, Jamie Lee-Curtis, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Blair Witch Project, Saw, Dawn of the Dead, Torture-Porn, Zack Snyder, Cabin in the Woods, Zombies, Wes Craven, Joss Whedon, Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kruger
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Stephen King turns 65 tomorrow. Is it rude to wish someone a happy birthday the day before? I don’t know. (Happy birthday anyway Steve? Can I call you Steve? Thanks.) What I do know is that while Stephen King is most recognized with the horror genre, he has probably written every genre there is during his prolific career (which seems far from over). Under his belt you can find novels, short stories, scripts, comics, directions to his house and even grocery lists. His work has been adapted into feature films, TV films, mini-series, comics, theatrical plays and even video art installations (not really). It seems that every Stephen King novel automatically comes to a screen near you, as if there’s a machine that turns his written words into moving images. As such, you’re bound to have your hits and misses; and hey, that’s what we’re here for today: to celebrate the good and the bad of this great popular writer. I chose to leave out the obvious hits, like The Shining, The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption, in favor of making things a bit more interesting. So let’s see the best and worst titles based on books or short stories by King, divided into arbitrary categories:
Best: The Running Man (1987)
Not only did Battle Royale beat The Hunger Games to the same idea, King wrote this book in 1982. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars here as a reluctant contestant in a futuristic TV show on which convicts are pitted against one another to see who survives. While it’s not as good or disturbing as the Japanese film, this sci-fi thriller’s campy look, Arnie’s one-liners, and fast pace will entertain you for sure.
Worst: The Stand (1994)
I wasted six hours of my life on this mini-series. Most of the time you see people walking in a post-apocalyptic world preparing for the ultimate showdown between good and evil. I am not opposed to slow films, don’t get me wrong, and I thought I would be compensated for my patience at the end, but the so-called ultimate battle was an utter disappointment. So do yourselves a favor, avoid this shocker.
Best: Misery (1990)
One of King’s best adaptations, without a doubt. Kathy Bates stars as a mentally unstable fan, who rescues her favorite writer (James Caan), after he’s involved in a car crash. Caan goes from being thankful to being held captive by a psychotic woman that can’t deal with the fact that her idol has killed off the heroine of her favorite novels. Bates’ performance of a lifetime (Oscar winning), the great tension build-up, and the minimalistic production all make for a very scary film.
Worst: Secret Window (2004)
I guess Stephen should have stopped writing about writers after Misery, but I also guess he couldn’t help himself. Starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro, one would think this film has a chance to be somewhat watchable, but the story is so predictable and recycled, that you find yourself just waiting for it to be over. It’s kind of the opposite of Rob Reiner’s modern classic.
Objects Come to Life
Best: Christine (1983)
The story behind this film doesn’t sound like much: A vintage car possesses the young man that bought it (Keith Gordon), changing his character from an insecure geek to a dark and arrogant youngster. Strangely, this is a very compelling horror thriller, with great atmosphere, that will make you wanna get in your car and drive.
Worst: Maximum Overdrive (1986)
He shouldn’t have super-sized from cars to trucks. King even directed this silly horror sci-fi about trucks trying to kill some guys at a diner in North Carolina. While this is a bad movie in every aspect, there are some unintentional comic elements that are perhaps worth an ironic viewing. Perhaps.
Best: Stand By Me (1986)
Another Rob Reiner film, and another modern classic. I guess he should direct all of Stephen’s adaptations. After all the horrors, suspense and supernatural stuff, King comes to us with a beautiful and touching coming of age story, revolving around a group of young friends who find a dead body (We’re still talking about Stephen King). To this day directors try to recreate its feel, cementing it as a timeless and essential film.
Worst: Carrie (2002)
Not that this movie is that bad, but it is a useless remake that pales so much comparing to the original Brian De Palma classic from 1976, that I had to put it in. This was a made-for-TV movie, that was supposed to be a pilot for a TV series. With an astonishing runtime of 132 minutes, an inferior cast, direction and production, you will not be able to decide whether you’re more bored or more disappointed from this film. (and a shout-out to the original, you should have been here.)
Best: Pet Sematary (1989)
I have only one problem with this film, and one message to viewers: Cats do not behave like this when they’re alive! Stop demonizing them! Aside from that, this is a creepy horror film (as horror films should be), that still holds some scare power. With a memorable role by legendary actor Fred Gwynne, and a great title track by The Ramones, you will not be disappointed.
Worst: Graveyard Shift (1990)
If you’re into guilty pleasure, this might make the cut, but otherwise just leave this one alone. So during a graveyard shift, people discover a deadly creature in the basement. Low budget, shoddy direction and a plain silly plot are the makings of this truly bad film. Brad Dourif’s character as a wacky exterminator is not enough to make it worth watching.
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L.T. Niosi is a Blogger and Associate Editor for EpixHD. She is a film fanatic and avid writer who currently lives and works in New York City. A full collection of her blogs can be found on LTfeatures.
I learned a lot on my recent trip to San Diego’s Comic-Con. I learned that spandex is not a forgiving fabric and unitards are best left to dolphin trainers, I learned that geeks can get feisty (as proved by the pencil-stabbing incident in Hall H), and I learned that horror movies are going to haunt the box office and your psyche for the rest of the summer. It wasn’t until I was boarding the plane heading back to New York that I realized I had been totally duped. Did I really just spend four days at a “comic” fanatics gathering? Had I gotten lost on the way to the convention center and accidentally stumbled into Fright-Fest?
Yes, there were super heroes here and there, but this year’s festivities were also littered with horror films. Scary movies aren’t ideal for a girl who is still terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West… yeah she melted but a quick trip to the freezer and she could be back in fighting shape! To make matters worse, the publicity theme of 2010 was interactive stunts. The new film Buried really captured this insanity; their booth encouraged fans to be buried alive themselves, taped, and then posted their recorded panic to Facebook and Twitter. I was able to avoid that terror by feigning a stomachache, but I wasn’t able to dodge every bullet, or rather, duck every swing of an ax.
I had the great… eh… pleasure of attending a preview screening of the first 8 minutes of Saw 3D and although I was just peeking through my 3D glasses, I reluctantly liked what I saw. There was so much blood and guts in just those first few scenes that it made me wonder if Kevin Greutert, the Director, took any staging tips from the Emergency Room after a ten car collision. It was gory and graphic, but being that this is the final film of the franchise I expected them to go out with a literal bang. By the time my interview with Tobin Bell (Jigsaw himself) and Kevin rolled around I was shaking in my boots. Once I came to my senses and ceased quivering I was able to appreciate the impact that the Saw series has had on films, especially the horror genre. Tobin commented that Jigsaw ultimately wants to expose people’s flaws and force them to change their ways. When you look at it that way, Jigsaw seems less like a murderous psychopath and more like an evil social worker.
I was also able to go to attend The Last Exorcism panel and interview the Director, Daniel Stamm, and Producer, Eli Roth. They are nice guys – really nice guys. So how do they come up with this stuff? Just listening to them speak about the film made me have to silently chant to myself “it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie” while simultaneously smiling and nodding at both of them. The movie looks terrifying but incredible. It is one of those horror movies, like Rosemary’s Baby, that will haunt you for a lifetime but you will kick yourself if you turn away from the screen.
Leaving Comic-Con I exhaled a deep sigh of relief, knowing that the worst was over. Then an enormous Piranha 3D poster rolled by on the flatbed of a truck, (the film was deemed too scary for the convention center and was banished to the streets of San Diego), and I realized that I can never escape the horror films. Now every turning doorknob, every creaky step and every ominous cloud makes me feel like my days are numbered, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
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