Archives for posts with tag: horror

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“Groovy.”

In the sort of sequel to Evil Dead, Sam Raimi creates a more interesting cult horror than the previous incarnation which is super violent, fun and most of all, silly! Raimi originally intended for previous Evil Dead to also be a horror comedy and as much as I find the hyperbolic gore and dialogue in the first film to be kind of hilarious, it is nowhere near as good as this beautiful masterpiece of horror! The film sort of picks up where the first film left of (I will warn there’s lots of continuity errors in this beautiful franchise) following the hero of the trilogy, Ash (the man, the myth, the legend – Bruce Campbell) who discovers the ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’ (The Book of the Dead) and accidentally releases an evil demonic force. Now Ash must use his courage to battle against evil, with very funny results!

The brilliance in this film is the pacing. The first film took a good, but understandable while in developing the discovery of the book. This film however, only takes a few minutes. The iconic POV sped up shot of the evil kicks in, removing a plot build up but still keeping the suspense and excitement in what Ash will face. It’s just so simple, removing a little bits of horror development for the love of cheesy dialogue, alright acting (sorry Bruce, you’re an awesome dude because of your acting don’t worry!) and of course…GORE! The violence is what you’d expect if you’ve seen the first film, but it’s all the more funny because of clumsy Ash as he faces flying limbs, blood fountains and even his sanity! The special effects such as stop motion are also top notch and definitely beat all the over the top CGI you’d see from a current spoon feeding “horror”. Raimi use of makeup once again is also amazing, the detail on the demons faces for a modern audience looks old but it really works a lot better than nowadays such as CGI being used for Freddy Kruger for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). 

It’s understandable why this film is a cult classic, it’s Sam Raimi and Bruce ‘Chin’ Campbell at their finest hour (how were they involved in Spider-Man?). It’s a perfect film for any horror fan who wants a scare and a righteous laugh out loud. Evil Dead II is a low budget B movie classic that captures so much entertainment in 90 minutes that it deserves to be the best out of all the trilogy with its comical acting, amazing effects, camp script and all round sense of entertainment. It’s quite simply…*intense Ash voice* groovy.

5/5

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“This is not a horror film.”

Immediately after watching Berberian Sound Studio, I thought “this is something special from any other psychological thriller I’ve seen”. Indeed, Peter Strickland’s second film is a beautifully made triumph and a strange tribute to giallo horror!

The film is set in the 1970s and follows British sound technician Gilderoy (Toby Jones) being sent to Italy to work on a horror film called The Equestrian Vortex which we as the audience, never see, instead, we witness the grueling tasks of Gilderoy having to create the sounds of anguish and suffering through your average shopping basket such as melons being hacked to bits, cabbages being stabbed, blending tomato juice..you get the idea I hope! From then on, things get very out of hand with Gilderoy’s shift in his line of work as he becomes lost in a world of sound.

The film is without question, astonishing. I have to agree with Peter Bradshaw that this film definitely has a Lynchian feel to it with it’s unique dream sequences and explicit fear through not only Gilderoy, but also through Veronica (Susanna Cappellaro), a voice actress constantly under pressure and treated “like a whore” by the crew, who use various unorthodox methods to create the perfect, painful, frightening scream.

The music by the electronic group Broadcast provides a gorgeous representation of anxiety, not only through linking with the giallo film as Gilderoy does his magic; but also expresses his feelings on this dramatic change in contrast to working on softer works in his native land. Along with that, Jones delivers a spellbinding performance, presenting a timid man who has the magic to create any sound, including a very intimate scene creating UFO noises with a light bulb, all through candlelight! The cinematography by Nicholas D. Knowland is beyond interesting, offering close knit shots of fear through Gilderoy and Veronica and of course, the precious items to destroy! All of this is seen whilst edited by Chris Dickens to give an almost exploitative like feeling to this very dark film. This is certainly a very unusual thriller but alluring and left me in shock and awe to it’s originality! Weird, immersive and original. Berberian Sound Studio is something else, and something else worth I would highly recommend seeing. A top class piece of madness!

5/5

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“Spirits surround us on every side… they have driven me from hearth and home, from wife and child.”

A classic which existed before Nosferatu and Metropolis, this is horror which is truly influential and very special.

Directed by Robert Wiene, the narrative of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari concerns a mysterious showman (Werner Krauss) who arrives in a small town during their annual fair. He amazes the crowd with his Somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt) who sees the future. However, Caligari has more savage plans outside of his act.

There are various reasons why this film is very unusual and distinctive for a silent film. Firstly, the expressionism is astonishing through the use of a distorted film set. The characters live in a town full of sharp angles, trees with spikey leaves and diagonal stars. For an audience back in the early 20th century, when cinema was still developing, it must have been very disturbing to have seen something like this in contrast to typical light hearted comedies and historical dramas. The title cards are even stylised, something which I didn’t really except for a very old silent film and yet it really helped add a sinister nature of despair for audiences. Many scenes are also tinted in sepia, blue and green, almost giving the film a nightmarish appearance throughout as the investigations of the murders develop even more. The cinematography by Willy Hameister is also composed interestingly, there’s frequent use of close ups of characters such as Francis (Friedrich Feher) expressing constant dread due to the series of mysterious murders which includes his best friend as a victim. The close ups are also used on Caligari who expresses an obvious sense of fierce pleasure for horror whilst Cesare doesn’t really express, he merely awakens, foreshadows death and despair and sleeps again.

Krauss gives a fantastic performance as the sinister Caligari, portraying him as mad man wanting to cause grief for the local community whilst showing unconditional care for Cesare. Veidt also portrays the dangerous Cesare beautifully as a dark, shady and submitting character controlled by Caligari’s hypnotic methods. The music of Giuseppe Becce is also composed tremendously with frequent use of crescendos and fortissimos to add more thrills and chills. This is certainly one of the best silent films I’ve seen in a while and not only is a film with creative expression, style and beauty, but arguably the first horror film and most certainly the first film with a brilliant twist ending. If you are reading this and not a fan of silent cinema…just watch this. A film which I found very frightening at times that I even jumped out of my seat at one point! Thrilling, deceitful and striking!

5/5

Image“He came home!”

Here’s the film which became a huge success for John Carpenter. Here’s the film which launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis. Here’s the film which made the slasher genre a success. Here is one of the greatest horror films ever made!

The narrative is very simple. It tells the tale of Michael Myers, who on Halloween night in 1963 at a mere age of six, murdered his older sister with a kitchen knife. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a psychiatric hospital and returns home, stalking teenager Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her friends. Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) suspects his intentions and follows him home to try prevent him from killing.

This is a very special film made with pure ambition and passion with a budget of $320,000 and ended up grossing $70 million worldwide. This is because of it’s originality and style and ended being copied in classics such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, satirised in the Scream series and spoofed in the disastrous Scary Movie franchise. The chilling yet beautiful ‘Halloween Theme’, composed perfectly by Carpenter, sets the eerie mood at the beginning with a glowing jack-o-lantern which leads the audience to share Michael’s perspective when he stalks and kills his sister.

Halloween also introduced the cliqué of the morality play often used in slasher horror films. This means any teenager who is sexually active, smokes or who confidently states the AMAZING *sarcasm intended* “I’ll be right back” is at risk of meeting a very tall disturbing looking geezer wearing a William Shatner mask who breathes very very very heavily!

The cinematography by Dean Cundey is interestingly composed, creating fantastic use of the steadicam to make the camera lens appear as the stalker of the suburbs. The lack of gore is also very effective and instead, Carpenter uses cinematography, lighting and sound to create a frightening atmosphere rather than blood and guts everywhere.

The cast all deliver very naturalistic and charismatic performances. Donald Pleasence brings fear, control and dignity to his role. His character is someone who once cared for Michael but now lacks the ambition because he knows there is no way of getting through to a person who is “purely and simply evil”. Jamie Lee Curtis delivers a fantastic debut as an innocent teenager who tries to escape Michael’s deadly rampage whilst delivering it in a very realistic manner. No wonder why she earned her title and followed her mother’s (Janet Leigh from the classic Psycho) footsteps as a “Scream Queen”

Still frightening as it was 35 years ago, Halloween is a master of suspense, terror and fear in a peaceful appearing yet haunting setting. Simple, intimate and special. This was the film which single-handedly started and helped shape a new genre of horror! Now watch it on Halloween night, I dare you!

5/5