We have to talk horror movies.
Have I done this already? I dunno. I lose track. But it’s worth doing again regardless. (Heck, it’s worth doing once a week, and I know I haven’t written about scary flicks in the last few days.)
I actually got my start in journalism writing reviews for a magazine called Rue Morgue: http://www.rue-morgue.com. I was working in PR at the time, finding myself jealous of the person on the other end of the phone every time I called a journalist (“I want your job!” I’d think to myself). So when a buddy who was writing for Rue Morgue suggested I do the same, I went for it. We wrote for free, to start, but published clips started to amass, with RM and others. In fairly short order I landed a full time gig at a magazine.
But while my passion for horror was never as full-blown as some of the other contributors to Rue Morgue, it’s always been there, lurking in a dark corner of my heart. So with Halloween approaching, I thought it would be fun to revisit some old favourites…
…beginning with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs3981DoINw
I saw this one late, actually, after I started at Rue Morgue, but it immediately made an impression on me. I saw it on the big screen. I was blown away by how good it was. Its age did nothing to diminish its power.
I saw Aliens for the first time when it was released to theatres. I was in my teens. It staggered me with its combination of startling frights and nonstop blazing action. And overall, it’s been a good franchise. The original Alien is terrific, and I’m not as critical of Alien 3 as some people. The Predator mash-ups are weaker (although the original Predator was solid), but Prometheus had some very strong moments.
I was a fan of Evil Dead the first time I saw it at a Halloween party in Grade 8. It was gory, obscene and violent and downright creepy. The recently released Cabin in the Woods played homage to it, of course, and was entertaining, too, albeit a bit too campy for my tastes.
Speaking of being in the woods, the Blair Witch Project was flat out great. I know, it’s cool to not like it, but when BWP came out, it was groundbreaking. And even its biggest critics would have to acknowledge that on the “dollars-spent to scares-created scale,” no other movie has done so much with so little.
Zombies are great, and they were great long before The Walking Dead became a media darling. The original Dawn of the Dead was a favourite, and the remake was very good, too. 28 Days Later, only nominally a zombie movie, was hair-raising. And who could forget Night of the Living Dead, the original black and white Romero flick. Solid film.
I never went in for slasher movies. Jason did nothing for me, and while the Halloween movies had that jump-out scare factor – not my favourite because being shocked sucks – they weren’t creepy enough. The Elm Street movies never grabbed me – again, because their horror seemed to be based only on things jumping out at you, not on generating atmosphere.
The Thing, though, well, that’s a favourite – perhaps THE favourite. It took itself seriously and pulled it off. The music, the location, the cast, the dialogue and the thing – it was just a tight, taut piece of filmmaking. Unlike most critics, I actually enjoyed the remake, too, and the original from the 50s is surprisingly entertaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5xcVxkTZzM
This is the kind of list that could go on forever, of course – The Crazies, The Descent, Jaws, The Mist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Ring – but maybe I’ll put the ball in your court: What are your favourite horror films and why?