I still hold that one of the scariest movies I've ever seen is The Birds. Hitchcock: capable of making cheeping birdies terrifying, even while filming in full daylight.
Here I am a Hitchcock fan and a horror fan, and I still haven't seen The Birds. It's so hard for me to conceive of scary birds that I fear disappointment. I'd probably keep thinking,"Why don't those people just stay indoors all the time, like me?"
See, they TRY the indoors thing, and Bad Shit ensues on all quarters. And the fact that birds are so generally non-scary makes the whole thing that much more unnerving; that this brainless, everyday, ubiquitous presence suddenly goes Bad. Way better than HOLY SHIT ALIENS FROM SPAAAAACE, because you do not see aliens from space hanging around your busstop the next day.
This is why "Shaun of the Dead" is the only zombie movies that still gives me nightmares---the combination of totally convincing, dreary 9-to-5ishness with disarming slacker humor and SHAMBLING CORPSES OF THOSE WE USED TO KNOW just wrecks me.
2006-04-16 06:29 pm (UTC)
Hi, Dave Porta here.
"But the high intensity panic which horror films aim to cultivate is, in real life instances, only momentary. Sustaining that emotion for the better part of 90 minutes is a herculean task!"
I read that, and the first thought I had was, "Hitchcock, fer cryin' out loud."
Naturally, I get to the comments, and the first one beat me to it.
BTW, today is Easter. ~ The Lord is risen!
Horror, panic, suspense...
Payt sez that the first time he saw "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein" when he was a kid, it scared him to death.
Summer 1975, Psych grad student Rich DiNapoli said "Jaws" had a couple of psychologically very effective moments. Zero took me to a moviehouse in Rochester where it was playing, and I saw for myself. When the corpse's bloated face bobs out from under the sunken craft as if out of nowhere, for example. "Jaws" was a monster movie, a horror thriller filled with suspense.
Johnny Williams's minor 2nd theme music for the shark entered popular culture. Bernard Hermann's "ree-ree-ree" for the "Psycho" shower sequence enhanced the shock value.
Imagine a horror thriller without music! Now THERE is cause for Panic!
True 'nuff about the music. The Shining is another good one for that.
And ditto about the corpse-face in Jaws. When I was four that was like the scariest thing I'd ever seen. That, and Margaret Hamilton turning into a witch outside Dorothy's window.
I like horror films, and I don't like them to be half-hearted or campy and ironic, either. I like a good honest attempt to freak me out and fill my body with adrenaline... I guess that's what they call "catharsis." I think your phrase "enough restraint that we remain sensitive to it without looking away" is well-chosen, although there *are* some horror movies where I've had to look away from the screen, or hold my hands over my face, anticipating what was going to happen.
Glad to see you weigh in, J! I welcome any horror movie recommendations you might have.
There was a Lovecraft filmfest here a few months ago, but I missed it. I wasn't sure there were any good flicks on the roster anyway, knowing as little as I do about Lovecraft adaptations.
You probably didn't miss much at the Lovecraft Film Festival, frankly. :/ Most Lovecraft movies tend to be either campy gorefests (i.e. REANIMATOR) or just mediocre low-budget films (although apparently there was a good "1920s-style" adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU filmed recently, operating from the premise that it would only use special effects technology which was actually available when the story was written. (It has KING KONG-esque stop-motion.)
Have you seen many of David Cronenberg's horror movies? I really enjoy most of his stuff.
THE CALL OF CTHULHU sounds interesting.
By Cronenberg, I've seen THE FLY and EXISTENZ. I liked 'em both, though I didn't find them very scary per se.
Cronenberg's best movies, I think, are his early work: THE BROOD, SHIVERS (aka THEY CAME FROM WITHIN) and RABID. All excellent (RABID slightly less so than the other two).
If it's the festival I'm thinking of (I helped host it when it came to Salem, MA a few years ago) it's specifically geared towards independent filmmakers' adaptations. The one in Salem had a few really good films, some ok ones, and a bunch of low budget dreck. Overall positive, I'd say, but then again I'm a huge Lovecraft fan, so I'm biased :)