“What is your favourite scary movie?”
Horror, the classic genre of film that’s life span began nigh on at the birth of cinema. Considered to be founded in the late 1800’s back in the classic silent film era, horror movies have continued to inject fear, excitement, curiosity and even laughs, for more than a century now thanks to the inspiration from classic authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. The mix of supernatural themes, fear, fantasy and thriller are all implemented into the reality of the fictional world of which we’re drawn into for 2 hours. Not my favourite genre of movie, but one of my favourites and certainly the most intriguing.
There are all sorts of Horror movies, classical stories such as Dracula or Frankenstein, slasher, ghosts, demons, zombies, the Devil, haunted houses, supernatural powers, curses, teenage horrors, witchcraft and many more. That’s the beauty of horror, the spectrum of formats it can be presented in. All of the ingredients, blood, guts, gore, decapitations, torture all depicted on screen in situations created from clearly a very wired, imaginative and one hell of a messed up mind of the writer. Yet, despite the questionable sanity of the writers, they attract equally disturbed individuals who like to watch such things with a certain admiration.
I’m a huge fan of the Hammer Film Production company who made their own takes on classic characters such as Dracula and Frankenstein. With such modest budgets, sets and productions which encapsulated the era of which they were trying to portray magnificently, set the foundation for horror movies. The use of lighting, music and of course, actors such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee appearing as the focal characters just blended this bowl of ingredients into one fine dish. And they repeated their success through their sequels to Dracula (1958) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
Alfred Hitchcock, controversial yet renowned for film techniques and direction never used before, creating his own signature for movies. He made a mark on the horror genre with his classic Psycho (1960). The use of camera angles imitating and manipulating your gaze, black and white, sexuality, blood (actually chocolate sauce) all made for an effective scare fest. Just like any classic movie, it contains an eternal and memorable scene, the shower scene.
Horror movies continued to evolve, with advancements in technology, the expansion of production companies resulting in higher budgets, the use of characters both from literature but also imagination. A pivotal horror movie came in the form of The Exorcist (1973). The classic head twisting scene, the green vomit, the masturbation involving a crucifix, it pushed the boundaries to the limit to the point of utter controversy for the time.
The 70’s & 80’s gave birth to such titles as Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween(1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), all great movies for the use of stories surrounding the sinister yet charismatic antagonists of the movie. Characters which continue to inspire fear to this day. Halloween has it’s eerie theme and of course the mask which you wouldn’t want to run into in the dark (yet it’s only a rubber mould of William Shatner’s face gone wrong). Friday the 13th, again for the terrifying Jason Vorhees and his intimidating signature hockey mask. And Nightmare on Elm Street renowned for, of course, Freddy Krueger. Brilliantly played by Robert Englund fashioning the eternal red and black stripy jumper along with his Trilby hat and claw glove. Freddy continues to haunt dreams a while after you’ve encountered him.
The 90’s made way for teen slasher movies as well the found-footage format which Scream (1996) and Blair Witch Project (1999) set the precedent for.
Of course, some filmmakers have trashed the horror genre with toxic waste such as Jason Vorhees terrifying a crew on a space ship and squaring up to Freddy Krueger. The sequels to Halloween made in the 90’s and early Noughties, well, there are no words. If the Halloween franchise was personified in the form of a man, once basking in the glory of a successful life, then a few lousy film directors and producers came along, beat him to a pulp, rubbed soap in his eyes, cut him then rubbed salt in the wounds and finished him off by kicking him right in the balls making his testicles re-enter his body and urinated on him whilst he lay dying from internal bleeding with the collection of Halloween 4(1988), 5(1989), Curse of Michael Myers (6)(1995), Halloween H20 (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection. The only redemption that’s occurred for this franchise came in the form of Rob Zombie’s reboot of the original movie, Halloween (2007).
Halloween doesn’t just give us the opportunity to indulge in this genre of this, a majority of the time, great filmmaking. At the same time it helps us get frustrated at the consistent, stupid mistakes that occur in an excessive amount of horror movies. There’s a serial killer on the loose so yes, I’ll check out that strange noise or why wouldn’t you run upstairs when you know someone is in the house? Why wouldn’t you split up from the rest of your friends where only you alone venture to search out your missing friend? This is just to name a few.
Halloween also adds to the hysteria of watching horror movies. Just like watching a Christmas movie, you don’t feel the same if you watch at any other time of year than Christmas.
Halloween is approaching, a progressively popular time of year for people to apply their creativity in costumes, to go out dressed as scary monsters, slutty vampires and get incredibly drunk. There must be some very interesting one night stands going on that night. What’s funny is I find the morning of 1st November scarier than the night of Halloween. There are some scary sights doing the walk of shame.
So, to my fellow adrenaline junkies who love the rush of being scared, I hope you have a creepy and scary Halloween. To those who fear Horror movies yet sacrifice themselves to the temptation of watching a horror movie, don’t look under your bed, don’t play with Ouija boards, those eyes staring at you in the darkness are not of someone walking in human form, neither is the voice you hear whispering in your ear after watching a classic ghost story. Enjoy your 31st October because I know I’ll be entertained on 1st November.