Last week, I finally bit the bullet and watched Halloween. It's taken me almost 25 years, but I can finally call myself a horror enthusiast! I started out compulsively reading every "Scariest Horror Movies Ever Made" list I could get my hands on, and made a point to try and see each movie that'd made everyone's #1 choice.
The Exorcist was the clear pick for most lists, so I watched that first. IT. WAS. AWESOME. Super creepy, extremely unsettling, but not really scary. (Contextualizing scary for me is something that sticks with me after I've seen it, or bleeds into my real life despite most things in the movie being literally impossible.) Normally, my imagination is way worse than anything the screen can show me, but The Exorcist did not disappoint. I had a blast watching it.
The Shining made the top pick on a lot of lists as well. I was really excited to watch it because a lot of people found it terrifying, and it also has a great point of state pride because of Timberline Lodge being used for the exteriors. The lack of linear plot, or clear subtextual meaning behind a lot of what was going on detracted from the overall scariness for me. (Namely the photograph in the very last shot, and everything having to do with the people who may or may not have actually been there.) What really stuck with me about this movie was the introduction of the steadicam. F$%K THE CINEMATOGRAPHY WAS GORGEOUS. It was so smooth. I was in heaven.
Had this as my desktop for a bit around Halloween this year ♥
Suspiria was probably the movie I was most excited about. I had little notion of what I was getting myself into, but I was so delighted watching it that I didn't really have time to feel anything...negative. There is a long scene involving maggots that's fairly unpleasant; but the rest of the movie is so good I wouldn't even worry about it. Suspiria was in almost everyone's top 5 "scariest" lists. The ending was totally shocking, but in the BEST possible way. Also, it would be a total rookie mistake not to mention the gorgeous art direction. Dario Argento is so precise with creating this atmospheric ambiance of general unrest that's completely stunning. I had stars in my eyes the entire movie *-*
I took a side-step after that and watched Carrie because I have a huge crush on Sissy Spacek. I could happy rant forever about that movie. I loved EVERY SECOND of it. It's very sad, and I almost wouldn't label it horror at all. Save for the last ten or so minutes, it's just an insight into this girl's very sheltered existence, how she deals with her day-to-day struggles, and learning to control her telekinesis. Sissy was brilliant, as always. If you haven't seen this, and you're a bit of a horror lightweight (or perhaps just a gore lightweight) I'd definitely recommend a watch.
True life: Carrie was the best movie I saw in 2013, so I went as her for Halloween this year.
There was only one list who had Halloween at the top. I figured I should give it a shot, because I'd read that Halloween II takes place primarily in a hospital which is something I love. I sat down, had zero idea what to expect other than: white masked dude who moves slow as molasses murders a bunch of horny teenagers on Halloween. ...and young Jamie Lee Curtis. (Who is a colossal babe.)
Before I started the movie, I was kind of like this:
Halfway through the movie, body count:1, having figured out who was going to bite the weenie but not quite how, I was like this:
Having gone to college specifically for screenwriting, a lot of movies are boring to me because I'm able to figure out the plot pretty easily. Halloween kept me guessing until the credits rolled! I was MUCHO impressed. (...and also about to shit my pants, heh.)
I totally had my hands over my face leaving a little space for my eyes three quarters of the movie. The score was creepy as hell, Michael's kills were totally unpredictable, and every time he showed up my muscles tightened (as did the grip on my blanket). The fact that I had really no freaking clue what was going to happen was such a delight, it was insane. After the credits started rolling I clapped so loud I probably woke up a few of my housemates. I was completely and totally stunned by Halloween, but what I wasn't expecting was to be just as completely and totally terrified by it. The next morning, I went to the bathroom and pulled back the shower curtain ~just in case. I haven't been that disturbed by a movie for so long. I was almost excited that I was actually afraid Michael Myers could have been just chillaxing in my shower. It was totally rad! For whatever reason, John Carpenter was able to convince me that something utterly impossible (movie monster invading my house) was at least, maybe, in some strange way plausible. SO COOL. I remain mucho impressed.
After Halloween ended, I scrolled through the imdb trivia. I had absolutely zero knowledge of its legendary indie status. As a person with her sights on evading a lot of hollywood red tape, I was so delighted to read up on everything that happened to get that film made.
Admittedly I had such a gaffing boner for the entire movie. This shot in particular is lit SO WELL.
I then decided because it was only 3am that...I should totally watch the second movie.
Made two years after the original Halloween, Halloween II picks up exactly where the first movie left off. (Literally. The first five minutes could have used a "Previously in Haddonfield..." because they were just the last five minutes of Halloween.)
Halloween is arguably the first true slasher film. True in the sense that it invented tropes that have been used in everysinglef%^kingmoviesince. With its critical and financial successes, the slasher movie skyrocketed in popularity. This meant that the bar had to be raised in -some- way, and apparently American cinema is pretty blood thirsty because the gore factor went from just enough to be effective to completely out of control.
When Halloween II came out in 1981, Friday the 13th had already sealed the deal on more intense on-screen violence. (I have yet to watch F13th, so this information is just from what I've read.) HII tries to capitalize on that formula as opposed to what made the original so captivating: a slow build, unpredictability, and meaningful violence. I felt for Laurie, but she didn't really seem like a protagonist anymore to me. The set up was more like, "Ooh, here are these people now Michael can kill them all. Sweet!" As opposed to her making proactive decisions that weren't -strictly- based on evasion.
This isn't to say that HII didn't scare the crap out of me-- oh it totally did. I also have a strange boner for hospitals being the primary settings of movies, so that was fun to watch. Maybe could have done without the woman getting her face burnt off in the soaking tub, but that's life, right?
In any case, I loved HII the same way I loved The Shining. It was really pretty! I'll probably watch it again with the sound off, because some basic feasibility problems really took me out of the mood. (Like Michael levitating a nurse so high that her shoes fall off with just a scalpel? No.)
For my next trick, pick a card!
Also, real talk: Jamie Lee curtis is gorgeous. That was the main reason I was like, "yeah sure, whatever, I don't have work tomorrow why not watch three hours of horror genius." It was heartbreaking, but also...kind of adorable to watch her hobble around the unbelievably empty hospital away from a crazed maniac who's just happens to be her brother. (Spoiler alert!)
I totally love the damsel in distress rescues herself thing, that was rad.
The fact that she was also in serious pain was a big plus.
Sorry if this post is a bit rambly-- I haven't been this excited (or genuinely terrified!) about a horror movie before.
Halloween was such an inspiring experience for me, both as a viewer, and a person who desires to make/write successful low budget content.
Next on my horror to-watch list is Rosemary's Baby. MIA FARROW IS CUTE is enough of a reason to watch a movie, right?
Have you had any great cinema experiences lately?
Happy horror everything~!