Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Favorite Horror Films

It seems like I've not written a blog for a long time. The truth is, I haven't published a blog in a long time. I've written about 15 about Black Lives Matter, Trump, our allies in the world, the demise of penguins, the demise of bees, the divide between rural and urban populations blogs. I've researched and written and just generally get depressed about the state of the world and give up.

One thing we've been doing lately that I've really enjoyed is instead of having a book club with friends, we've started a film club. Every 3-4 weeks, Sallie, a couple of our friends, and I nominate films we think other people should see. It's been a nice reason to put the phone down for two hours, turn out the lights, and really pay attention to a film.

I love horror films. Unfortunately, my compatriots do not.

Well, the spirit of October is in the air, and even though my three other companions are wusses when it comes to horror movies, they've picked my scary films twice. We've watched The Thing and Halloween and they've been hits. Sooooo, trying to blog about something lighter, I present to you, my top 10 favorite horror films.

28 Days Later (2002)

The zombie genre was a favorite of mine since a video game in 1995 ignited my love. They were always the slow, meandering zombies which are scary in their own right. Meant to swarm you with vast numbers, ripping your flesh from your bones.

And then Danny Boyle thought of something a little different... what if the zombies were fast?

Some of the most successful horror movies are the ones where the monsters aren't the scary part and 28 Days Later does this perfectly. The humans are the ones that really made you feel uncomfortable. Constantly being stressed and stalked by these fast moving monsters, the humans in the film crack and start acting like animals.

The Thing (1982)

We watched this in film club recently and I forgot how good it is. The mid-to-late 80s was when it started getting harder to build a horror film where you were actually cut off from help. Technology was advancing, some early cell phones were on the market, every house had multiple cordless phones. So how do you give that sense of dread that no help is coming.

You trap a bunch of scientists on an Antarctic base, with very few weapons, and have an alien that can take the form of any of your comrades. The wet 80's practical effects still hold up.

Halloween (1978)

I watched this movie on Halloween by myself for the first time ever. Brothers were gone, parents were gone, I was alone in a giant dark house and I scared the crap out of me.

I remember the film ended and I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but I was too scared and sat on the couch uncomfortable for almost 90 minutes until people started coming home.

This isn't a slasher film, it's a film about voyeurism. And that person that is watching you, is the paranormal embodiment of evil.

VHS (2012)

I watched this while I worked one day and it disturbed me. I can't even really tell you what it's about and have been too unsettled to go back and watch it again.

A group of people are hired to go steal a VHS tape from this old run down house. They watch the tape and find some cryptic and disturbing things happening on them.

I need to go back to this at some point, just to see if it actually lives up to my hype, but I've just not had the energy to do it. Maybe I need to talk other people into watching it with me so I can't back out.

Scream (1996)

The opening scene to Scream is one of the greatest in horror film history. We find our young teenage girl making popcorn and calls start coming to the house. Someone is messing with her. The tension builds for nearly 20 minutes until we finally see the opening credits.

Scream is one of those films that is incredibly smart. It pokes fun at horror tropes while making them scary in new and refreshing ways.

I wore my VHS copy of Scream out. I can probably still quote every line.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist succeeds in making the paranormal feel real. Your brain runs through all of the things you would do in Regan's family's place and you realize there is nothing you can do. We are helpless in the face of real evil.

The Exorcist slowly builds tension to creepy payoffs several times through the film. There's a reason why it's a classic.

Exorcism of Emily Rose (2006)

Unlike the Exorcist, the Exorcism of Emily Rose puts you in a real life situation. One most of us can relate to. Young adult, living away from parents for the first time, and un-natural things start happening to your body. You start blacking out for periods of time. Your spin contorts in ways you didn't think physically possible.

OK, well maybe we can't relate to everything, but if the ending was a little better, this would be the first exorcism film in decades to be a classic.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

"They're coming for your Barbara..." I first saw this on channel 11 in the middle of the day. I often just sort of played action figures while I let films run one after another on channel 11. This is probably why I'm so into film.

I watched as the car pulled into the rural cemetery as the guy playfully made fun of Barbara and then "BAM! Zombies."

Stuck in a farmhouse over night, Night of the Living Dead subtlety captures racism in America in a way many films have tried and failed.  Now that I think about it, maybe this film is the reason why I always feel so unsettled the further from a city I get.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

The supernatural both is an incredible curiosity of mine and terror. Films that are able to scare you with the unseen after often the best.

Usually where these films go wrong is they try to explain the haunting. Usually it's something lame like witches or a voodoo curse. Paranormal Activity only hints at the reason why and let's your brain fill in the rest.

Frankenstein (1931)

We're lead to believe that Frankenstein's monster is actually the horror of this film, but it's people. It's always people.

Imagine if you will, that you were born 8 feet tall, with the strength of 10 men, but with the mind of a child. You don't know how to control your power or what the rules of the world are. And as you're learning, humans fear you, attack you, and scare you.

It's a problem humans have had since the beginning. When we fear something we don't understand, we make irrational choices from deep within our monkey brains.