It is October again, the time of the year that everyone associates with Halloween. When I think of Halloween, I think of trick or treating, carving out jack-o'-lanterns and watching some classic horror movies in the pleasant company of friends and popcorn.
I can still recall the thrill of going down to the local video rental store to dive into endless piles of horror flicks to select what you were going to watch on All Hallow's Eve. It was a tough choice, given the fact that dozens of horror films are produced yearly. (not counting all the straight-to-VHS releases) It is the cheapest genre to make, requiring few actors, simple locations and if successful, can prove to be a very good investment. But most of the time low-budget, terrible acting and ridiculous plot-holes ensue.
I'm starting this series to help you select quality horror films to watch this Halloween. The guide will focus on the great classics of the genre, titles that stand out, unaffected by time, shining as true milestones of terror. Each volume will feature three films with a brief review, to give the reader a general idea about the movie, and highlight the aspects that make it a must-watch.
This week we are going to focus on a few of the greatest monsters to ever grace the screen. They are the meanest, the scariest and the most dangerous of cinema. Creatures that surpassed their movies and went on to become icons of modern pop culture.
The Thing (1982)
The Thing is John Carpenter's first feature film in collaboration with Universal Pictures, starring Kurt Russell who permanently established himself as the badass action hero of Hollywood with this role, about an extraterrestrial entity that terrifies an antarctic base and its residents.
With a budget of 14 million, Carpenter was able to visualise his ideas better than ever before. The detailed practical effects of the film might appear cheesy by today's standards but they make an integral part of the classic horror vibe, which is very sought after these days. That, and the stereotypical characters that show no progress throughout the movie, which might seem like a bad thing but it's actually a must for the B category style of Carpenter. Adding to the atmosphere is Ennio Morricone's unsettling moody score. When you first hear it in the opening scene, you already know that something very strange is about to happen.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is arguably a timeless classic. It inspired countless other movies and paved the way for multiple sequels and remakes to come through the years. Some of which were pretty decent, but one thing is for sure: none of them could beat the original.
The acting is not one of the strong points of the film, Nancy doesn't really give a memorable or awe-inspiring performance and neither does the young Johnny Depp. While his untapped talent is unquestionably visible, he fails to break out of the cliché character. But with it's clever story, surprise ending and one of cinema's greatest monsters lurking in it's scenes, it manages to outshine its flaws and take its place as a cult classic. The film builds on the primal fears of our subconscious ,achieving to induce fear in viewers even to this day. Although it must be noted that certain scenes appear quite comical now, more than 30 years later. Like that telephone scene. You know what I'm talking about...I mean come on!
Needless to say, this mixture of comedy, retro vibe and terror ensures a memorable ride. A Nightmare on Elm Street is not as great as it is often claimed to be but for horror buffs it is a must-see and for non-horror-buffs there is a fair amount of other elements to sustain one's interest.
Alien is a movie that everyone knows. Go ask somebody. Anybody. They will have at least heard about it. No other film in the history of Horror spawned so many sequels, spin-offs, video-games and comic books as this early creation from Ridley Scott.
From the set designs through the practical effects to the lighting, everything was carefully made with attention to the tiniest bits of detail. Ridley Scott creates a dark and gritty universe where you can feel the uneasiness in the air. Alien gives you goosebumps from the very first moment the film reel start to spin, even before the infamous monster steps onto the big screen. By the time we see the first face-hugger, we are already sitting on the edge of our seat, expecting something utterly terrifying and gory, and the film delivers...
With its superb acting, directing and the unforgettable Xenomorph, Alien stands out both as a sci-fi and as a horror flick. Cult following immediately started after the theatrical release, and it wasn't long before Xenos were made into action figures, and were featured on posters and t-shirts.
In today's filmmaking where the CGI, and digital effects allow filmmakers to show us everything that was impossible before the digital age, destroying the mystique of the unseen. We wish they would take note from Alien and it's less is more principle. There isn't a single scene in Alien which shows the creature in it's complete form, thus making it especially scary, since what men fear the most is the unknown.
These were our three flicks for this week. If you liked the post don't forget to leave a comment, and tune in for more by hitting that follow button. Cheers!