I took a quiz challenge here in MoviePilot, and based on my answers, I am a huge TV fan, and it challenged me to write something about the Horror genre.
They've guessed correctly. I've always wanted to write something about this genre, in fact back in December I was compiling lists of Horror stories from my grandmother who came back from Nigeria.
Horror movies and the genre itself are only as great and terrifying if you believe in it. And most horror movies, as they classify themselves, aren't even scary. My idea of horror is not purely gore. It should be something that will rattle and shake you from deep within. Maybe something that will rattle your soul, give you nightmares and goosebumps, and even challenge your belief of the unknown.
The movies that I've listed here are the movies that totally gave me the creeps and stayed with me since the moment after I finished watching it.
Sure they are "dark fantasy" in genre, but isn't this a type of horror? Well, for me, and probably most kids who watched this before the age of 14, say, 4 onwards, some of these movie gave us creeps, goosebumps, and gave the visual warning of what could happen to you, if you dare disrespect the warnings and entities in folklores told by elders.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
Who wouldn't remember Chihiro? This movie was probably not the first animated film I've seen as a child, but it definitely stayed with me. Just a recap, they are going to move much to Chihihiro's dismay, and her father takes a wrong turn so they ended up in a lonely lane, with a dead-end tunnel. They explore the place, and her parents found a restaurant with great smelling food and no staff, they reason that they can pay later. And then, when Chihiro got back from her explorations, her parents have turned into pigs. Now it's up to her to save her parents and go back to her world before the spell remains forever.
Yes, it is dark fantasy, I am well aware of that, but I am writing from my childhood perspective, and up to my perspective now, and why I consider it borderline fantasy and horror.
It's not really horror per se, but the horror factor is, finding out your parents turned into pigs, you are in another world or dimension filled with all sorts of nasty and unknown creatures, you are going to be a slave in a bath house by an evil witch, you don't know whether it is a dream or not, but it seems so real that you have to do something about it.
And why did it make me believe that ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD IS POSSIBLE? Well, not really well-researched here, and writing based on hearsays and not experience (I wouldn't want that anyway), my grandmothers and grandaunts always tell us to be careful, be respectful, say "excuse me" when passing strange places (even trees) because there are creatures living there that may take offense in what you do. In most cases nasty things happen to those who show disrespect. You know, like enlargement of body parts, boils, scratches, sickness. And these stuff can't be healed or explained by most doctors. In extreme cases, it could just lead to mysterious deaths, or disappearances.
An example is the 'mysterious death' of Julie Vega, a Filipina actress who sadly passed away at a tender age of 16.
Not long after, Julie's health deteriorated which lead to broncho-pneumonia causing her death. The people deeply grieved on the sudden death of the young actress (who was then 16 years old) whom they love greatly as she touched many lives as an actress and singer.
This tragedy did not escaped controversies of the rumored death, not merely caused by weakened health, but by elements not of this world. People believed that she and her family was influenced by other forces they can't control.
It was rumored that Julie's health degenerated after filming the movie "Lovingly Yours, Helen." It is a Sunday afternoon program aired on GMA-7 from 1980 to 1996, which then turned into an anthology movie on 1984 because of its popularity.
Julie has been sick since last year but this was a well-guarded secret. "Mga sadista kasi ang ibang press people at konti lang ang nagmamahal sa kanya," her father said in grief.
- The Times Journal
In the first movie episode of "Lovingly Yours, Helen," Julie Vega starred as a girl possessed by an evil entity. The film was done in an old house in Mt. Manalmon, located in the town of San Miguel, province of Bulacan. They say that Julie used to be very lively and active, until the time they were filming the horror film. They believed that the spirits felt they were disturbed and disrespected by the people doing the film. The spirits or Engkanto's might have taken a liking to the pretty star which causes the illness that seemingly struck the actress unexpectedly.
One of the accounts, said that when Julie and the crew were filming the movie, Julie saw a child with beards several times in the temporary comfort room that the staff built. They even sacrificed a chicken to appease the being and to show respect to the place.
The Albularyo's (folk healer or medicine men) strongly believed that Julie Vega's body just appears to be dead but actually is not. They say that the Engkantos (Enchanted Ones) have taken Julie Vega's soul to go with them but the body is still alive. They said they could have performed a certain ritual so Julie Vega could go back to her earthly body, but it was too late already. And of course, most of the people won't believe such things.
Still, some say that Julie Vega now resides with the Engkanto, dancing with them around the woods of Mt. Manalmon.
While this is the belief of the townfolk, others believed that the family have faced several unlucky events after Julie purchased their house.
People at the chapel who condoled with the family recalled that the Postigos weren't lucky in the house they had bought with Julie's earnings in 1982. Less that a hundred days after the purchase, second son Jeffrey was stabbed to death inside a car.
- The Times Journal
Read more about it here.
2. Labyrinth (1986)
Fifteen-year-old Sarah accidentally wishes her baby half-brother, Toby, away to the Goblin King Jareth who will keep Toby if Sarah does not complete his Labyrinth in thirteen hours.
I was around 8 years old when I saw this film, and needless to say, it stayed with me. The Goblins were too ew and ugly for my 8-year-old-self to handle, but I was hooked in watching it. It felt too real. I feel like I was Sarah, racing against time trying to find a way out of the Labyrinth and rescue my baby brother.
But can we all just take a moment to appreciate this scene? Toby was kidnapped, Sarah is racing against time to rescue him, and Jareth The Goblin King sings this beautiful song.
For an imaginative, narcissistic child, well this is pretty much a fantasy/adventure movie that can pretty much scar you.
Well, for one, you think before you speak the words "I wish", or for your baby brother to disappear, 'cause he just might. Imagine how many children were terrified of remembering those Goblins urging them to say the magic words, and could have sworn they're there out of the corner of their eyes!
3. Coraline (2009)
Aah, Coraline. This movie, well, this is the real horror in this list. I first saw it on a rainy, stormy day. Needless to say, the nightmare I had that night was composed buttons, storms, and never-ending rabbit hole. And I do recommend to watch this movie on a stormy weather, it adds to the effect of the movie as a whole.
I suppose, it's still kind of fantasy and adventure, but so are some horror movies.
First it would be all happy-sappy in your fantasy world, and before you know it, you're the next target!
The feel when you're watching Coraline, this isn't like the Labyrinth because that one is the epitome of "be careful what you wish for" i.e. Toby.
Coraline is even creepier to discuss in detail, not over-analyzing its themes, just plainly discussing tell me not, that this is one of the creepiest thing you've ever seen in a children's movie.
EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING in this movie is weird. And terrifying. And shocking. Really. It's such a fascinating movie, and really creepy as well. Who would keep a doll found by a neighbor, that looks exactly like you?!
The experience of watching Coraline is bizarre, and surreal, it's almost dream-like, much like in Coraline's case, but it's real. No matter what others would think or say, to Coraline, the other world is real. And THAT is one of the reasons why kids find this exciting, and yet frightening. The experience is very real; it captures our attention from the beginning, and never failed to distract us (except for maybe the shopping part..)
And when I couldn't stop talking about this movie, it didn't help that my uncle told me that it depicts that for every house, there is another one, a mirror of itself, and for how many people there are in your real house, it's the same number for the alternate one.
Although now I'm pretty sure he was just explaining the theory of a parallel universe in the scariest and most intriguing way possible, my 10 year-old self did not know that.
Shit gets real when she got inside there, had fun with the Other Mother, went to bed, and still woke up in that place. And when she finally managed to come out, she had to get back to rescue her parents!
As a kid, it did taught me several things, never enter strange little doors, if it's too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true, Never trust anyone who says they are someone you know.
And lastly, CATS ARE IMPORTANT.
4. The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Of all the movies in this list, this one is probably the one closer to reality, and very informative.
The film opens with Arthur Spiderwick walking hurriedly into his study. The room is shelved with bugs and odd creatures in jars. He begins to frantically put together a book, and when he binds it and stamps his mark onto the cover, a strange beastly sound is heard outside, creatures of all sorts groaning.
Peculiar things start to happen the moment the Grace family (Jared, his twin brother Simon, sister Mallory and their mom) leave New York and move into the secluded old house owned by their great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Unable to explain the strange disappearances and accidents that seem to be happening on a daily basis, the family blames Jared. When he, Simon and Mallory investigate what's really going on, they uncover the fantastic truth of the Spiderwick estate and the creatures that inhabit it.
This movie isn't horror at all, to me, but I feel like it must be included in this list. Like what I've said before, there are still beliefs of the unknown in most cultures. They're not entirely unknown, more like the unseen. They are believed to exist before us, (maybe not, but they are ancient) and this film, although it is fantasy, gives us its promised : "The world is closer than you think".
Hearsay time again, my great-grandmother also experienced talking to these "little people" when she was around six or seven years old (probably in the late 1920s). She described them to be really beautiful people, who appears to have a society of their own, and wears colonial era clothing.
Back to Spiderwick, when Jared met Thimbletack, he explains that magical creatures are normally invisible, but can reveal themselves at will.
Though most are skeptical about people who can "see" things, it is indeed true. Ever heard of "third eyes"? Like, people who see ghosts, can talk to ghosts, sees other magical creatures? It is downright creepy, but, well, it depends on the person.
Mulgarath and The Goblin Attacks are always the terrifying parts of this movie, but all in all, it is truly enchanted.
And when I say informative, this, is one of those:
if we believe spirits are literal, the salty tradition has even more impact, since the entire body of tradition is based on literal interpretation and doctrine. Either way, salt is anecdotally effective as a protection against spirits in nearly every tradition. Other protections—such as Holy (or Blessed) water, fire, iron (note these ancient protections are all elements)—might work with some types of spirits or some religious traditions, but salt seems to universally work.
Windows and thresholds lined with salt are usually enough to seal the home, and mirrors are also warded. Salts are used in ancient times to purify and yes, to ward off and discourage evil spirits. To learn more about the usage of salts against unwanted spirits, click here
Traditions and other-worldly beings and their stories are passed on from generations. Others have evolved into folklores, legends, and others are just made-up stories to make sure children will behave. What ever the case is, we just cannot disregard that there are things we can't see-- that there are beings in this world that lived before we did, and that there are most definitely incidents and creatures unidentified, and unexplained by Science. Well, Science probably can, but vague.
These fantasy movies can be just entirely a fabric of the most magnificent imaginations, based in legends and fairytales, or experience (perhaps? what do we know?)
but as what my elders tell me, faith in Him is essential to ward off any unwanted beings coming to you.
After all, the horrors of childhood are always the fear of the unknown.