Welcome to the third and final installment of my week in horror. I swear, I’ve seen more people die on screen in the past week then I usually do in an entire year.
Thanks to everyone who read/commented on the first two parts. I pose a question at the end of this post, and I hope you will take part. Happy Halloween!
The Thing (1982)
After live-tweeting my distaste for John Carpenter’s apparent horror classic, people, I found out, love The Thing. Me? I was bored to tears. About 40 minutes into the film, I started keeping track of all the continuity/narrative errors I found, but I soon lost count. This is a sci-fi/horror film, which means in order to enjoy it, you must suspend some (if not all) logic. But the gaffs in this flick were just maddening. All, however, was not lost. The make-up was beyond superb and Kurt Russell was good in that brooding Kurt Russell way. But the film as a whole wasn’t for me. Glad I skipped the new remake.
Body Count: 12
Scariest Scene: Gotta be the first time we see the titular beast, as it protrudes itself from a helpless dog.
Villainous performances don’t often merit an Academy Award, so when they do, you know you’re in for a frightful treat. Kathy Bates is nothing short of terrifying as Annie Wilkes, the manic depressive (and utterly insane) ex nurse who, after rescuing her favorite writer from a car crash, slowly tortures him into what will surely be certain doom.
Let me put it this way, any actor who can make the line, “He didn’t get out of the cock-a-doodie car!” utterly terrifying has seriously got something going for them.
With the exception of Richard Farnsworth’s Sherriff getting needlessly hasty at the end, the film has held up extremely well. “I’m your number one fan...” Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.
Body Count: 2
Scariest Scene: The sledging of the feet is the obvious choice here, but for me, the most brutal moment of Misery is when Annie makes James Caan burn the only copy of his latest manuscript. Every writer can feel the pain of that one.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
I’ve spent many a paragraph bitching about the pointlessness of horror film sequels/prequels/remakes etc. Rarely – and I mean rarely – does a sequel hold a hand to the original. Halloween H20 is the exception.
Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to keep everything from the original Halloween intact. Same cast, same crew, same director, etc. And although she didn’t get everything she wanted (John Carpenter refused to direct), she got damn close.
H20 gets it right in a number of ways. Like its predecessor, the movie isn’t as much about the kill as it is about the suspense. Its narrative is focused and brief (the film is a breezy 86 minutes), and its script is driven and concise. Sure there are plot holes, but with a ferocious Jamie Lee Curtis, a remorseless Michael Myers and an ending that will drop anyone’s jaw, I feel confident in recommending H20 to any fan of the original.
Body Count: 7
Scariest Scene: There’s something supremely badass and uniquely terrifying of the sight of Michael Myers flipping tables over to uncover a scurrying Laurie Strode hiding beneath them.
Red State (2011)
I plan to expand on Red State in full soon, so I’m going to make this review a short one. No one dislikes Kevin Smith more than I do. Aside from two (possibly three) good movies, Kevin Smith is a no-talent hack. Red State, his new, self-financed, self-distributed, religious horror frenzy is, however, nothing short of a schizophrenic wonder. It reminded me a lot of Robert Rodriquez’s violent action films, which, if you’re a Robert Rodriquez fan, should serve as a compliment.
I was expecting to absolutely hate Red State. There’s nothing better than having your premature judgments thrown right in your face.
Body Count: I lost count. BodyCounters.com says 17, but I would guess more like 50.
Scariest Scene: I don’t want to give too much away, but let me say that Red State is the kind of film that does not side with characters or the actors who play them. If you are in the movie, you may be killed at any moment, no matter the status of your celebrity or the size of your paycheck.
Friday the 13th (1980)
After Halloween, slasher films were a dime a dozen. For whatever reason, Friday the 13th made it, and we’ve been reaping the benefits (sarcasm) of the original’s success ever since.
Friday the 13th defines camp horror cinema. The setting is cheap, the blood is too red, the dialogue is laughable, the acting is forced; it’s all so horribly divine. This isn’t a particularly well made film, but the confusion on people’s faces when they discover the film’s killer never fails to amuse.
Body Count: 10
Scariest Scene: Nothing in the film is really scary. But a naked, post-cotial Kevin Bacon having an arrow shoved through his back and then burst out through his chest is as awesome as it gets.
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
The girlfriend wanted to actually see Jason, so we watched Part 2. She was disappointed that Mr. Voorhees didn’t don a hockey mask just yet, but pleasantly amused by the film’s quick runtime and creative death scenes. Which, let's be honest, are about the only things a Jason movie has going for it.
Body Count: 10
Ext. Back Porch of Cabin – Night
Guy in wheelchair rolls onto back porch. He sits idly for a few moments. Out of nowhere, a machete slams into his face. Blood squirts as the chair begins to roll back.
Jump cut: Wheelchair guy is now rolling backwards down a huge set of stairs that is nowhere near the porch he was just on. Freeze frame. Zoom in. Flash fade to white. Cut to a couple sharing orgasms together in bed. Scene continues.
Pure horror movie bliss.
I like Saw. I really do. I find it to be an ingenious concept that lives up to the expectations set by its many awful sequels. And therein lies the oft dismay of rewatching a film you think you like: you see it again, and you wonder why the hell you enjoyed it so much in the first place.
During this most recent viewing, I become increasingly annoyed by its editing (it’s as if the editor was on coke the whole time), its flashback-within-flashback narrative structure, and the awful acting by screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who plays the photographer chained in the bathroom with Cary Elwes.
Saw is still a good horror movie, but just imagine if it never left that shitty bathroom. Forget the subplots on sidetracks, stay where the story is.
Body Count: 6 (and a foot)
Scariest Scene: That final whopper of an ending. You didn’t see it coming, don’t even lie.
I’m often asked what I consider to be the scariest movie of all time. The answer for me is immediate: John Boorman’s 1972 masterpiece, Deliverance. I know people who have not stepped foot in the ocean since watching Jaws. After seeing Deliverance nearly 15 years ago (yeah, I was young), I have not spent one enjoyable night camping in the woods. This is no exaggeration. The film ruined any sense of calm that isolated nature can bring.
Deliverance is primarily known for one horribly gruesome scene. That scene, which I don’t want to fully reveal in fear of ruining the film for fresh viewers, is by long and far the most terrifying sequence I have ever seen in a movie. Every single time Jon Voight and Ned Beatty pull their canoe up to that river bank, I think (hope, pray) that they will talk their way out of what is going to soon happen. They, of course, do not, and the movie is off and running.
As an audience, Deliverance never gives us a moment’s rest. The brilliance of the film is that there is still much more story to be told after the brutalization occurs. Sure, the four city boys accomplished something, but there is more river to be tread. “We’re not out of this yet,” Voight tells Beatty late in the film. No, they certainly are not.
Body Count: 3
Scariest Scene: see above
So my question for you folks is: what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? Just one. Look forward to your answers, thanks to everyone for reading/commenting!