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Tag: Horror

Editorials

#FilmTwitter Gives Their #UnpopularOpinion On Movies – Do You Agree?

November 17, 2020
Simpsons mob against unpopular opinions [Source GQ]

Over the years certain opinions have become dominant in the film community, such as Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made, the Star Wars prequels are bad; Hollywood is out of ideas and it becomes unpopular to disagree. But, today we are going to look at some unpopular film opinions on Twitter, and analyse what makes them unpopular.

1. Star Wars: The Rise of Positivity

The only thing Star Wars fans agree on is that Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back are great. However, from there opinions vary wildly. Some find Return of the Jedi either a fitting end to the original trilogy or a dumbed-down entry for kids. Most people initially didn’t like the Prequels and Disney’s handling of the property has produced mixed critical and fan reactions, to say the least. So perhaps the most controversial thing a Star Wars fan can do currently is resist the pull of the dark side and say, “there are zero bad Star Wars movies”. Well, MoviePreviewShow managed it.

2. My Not so Fair Lady

My Fair Lady was a real winner in its time. It won 8 Oscars including Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Picture. Although, viewed all these years later people like Martin Something-or-other find that My Fair Lady leaves a lot to be desired.

3. Defending Daredevil (2003)

The exact opposite of our last entry. The Ben Affleck Daredevil movie was derided upon its release. However, since then it has gained a cult following. It was also given a director’s cut release which many say makes the film into something special. Because superhero movies are currently taking a break maybe it’s time to revisit Daredevil (2003)? You may find yourself like Retro Gamer.

4. Battle of the Directors

Martin Scorsese is considered one of the best directors of all time. Creating great films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, and Wolf of Wall Street to name only a few. But can he compete with Brian De Palma the director of classics like Carrie (1976), Scarface (1983), The Untouchables, and underappreciated gems like Phantom of the Paradise and Dressed to Kill? Not according to RVD the Dudar.

5. Excellent Adventure Vs Bogus Journey

When most people speak about the Bill and Ted films, they talk about the first entry, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Which is understandable, because it is the highest-rated and highest-grossing film in the franchise. But Direct Questions thinks the claim that it’s the series’ best film is bogus. He believes Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is the superior film.

6. Streaming Wars

With a lot of production companies moving into the streaming market, many are beginning to make their content exclusive to their own services. Which definitely doesn’t sit well with Jonathan Boyd.

7. The Horror of Children

The opinion that children in movies are more annoying than they are effective is nothing new. Though kids in horror films not being scary when movies like The Innocents (1961), The Exorcist, The Omen (1976), and The Shining (1980) exist? Eric S. Kim’s opinion is definitely controversial.

8. Trashing Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino is one of modern cinema’s most acclaimed filmmakers. With several of his films being considered among the best ever made. However, as with anyone who is well acclaimed there are always those who believe them to be overrated. But which camp do you fall into? Are you a true Tarantino aficionado or are you like Global Affairs?

9. Stay Mysterious

Many agree that trailers and reviews sometimes give too much away. But how much should you know about a movie to become interested? To Rigmarole Film a movie is improved vastly when you know as little as possible going in. And therefore, have more of an open mind.

10. Henry Cavill’s Superman

Henry Cavill’s Superman films generally divided opinion among both audiences and critics. However, some people, like (thereal)Chris Grant Jr., consider him to be their favourite Superman portrayal.

So ends our brief look at unpopular film opinions circulating social media. What do you think about some of these controversial opinions? What are some of your film hot takes? Please let us know.

Also Read: The Film Fan’s Guide To Time Travel

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Reviews

Retro Review: The Shining

October 22, 2020

The BBC have spoiled us all by making The Shining available on iPlayer (until 16th November) and to celebrate here is a retro review of this classic of horror cinema. WARNING – THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

What’s Going On?

Danny and the Grady twins
Danny and the Grady twins (Credit: Warner Bros)

Aspiring writer Jack Torrence is given the job of winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a grand and isolated property, in which he, his wife and young son will be completely cut off. It is also revealed that the son, Danny, has The Shining – a supernatural gift that can warn Danny of danger, glimpse the future and see what has happened in the past – allowing Danny to see the various horrific things that have previously happened in The Overlook Hotel. Not long into their stay things begin to get strange and forces seem intent on driving Jack to repeat the horrific things in the hotel’s past.

Behind The Scenes

Nicholson and Kubrick on set
Nicholson and Kubrick on set (independent.co.uk)

The film was based on Stephen King’s 1977 horror bestseller of the same name, this only being King’s third book his legendary status had not yet been cemented. Not true of the director Stanley Kubrick at the time seen as one of the best directors in the world and whose reputation has only increased since. Kubrick is famous, or infamous, for overthinking his films – by which I mean years of research, hundreds of takes, layer upon layer of meaning and attention to detail like no other director. The Shining is a classic example of this and it has been endlessly examined and re-examined by critics and fans.

In Front Of The Camera

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (Credit: Warner Bros)

The Shining has a small cast and is essentially about three characters: married couple Jack and Wendy, and their young son, Danny. Jack is played by Jack Nicholson, Wendy by Shelley Duvall and Danny by Danny Lloyd, who has done little acting before or since. All three give amazing performances. Nicholson gives perhaps a career-best and bear in mind this is a career in which he has won two Oscars (neither for The Shining), his descent into madness and violence is utterly believable and compelling. Duvall arguably has the hardest job – she is an ordinary woman in an extraordinary situation with no supernatural powers or evil forces preying on her to explain her actions. Once things start ramping up she is terrified essentially for the rest of the film – but she never stops trying to defend her son, managing to convey her horror at the events going around her and how her need to protect Danny overrides everything. Lloyd is practically perfect as Danny and his portrayal of the “supernatural child” is almost the textbook example for every film that came after.

Does It Work?

Wendy finally seeing what Jack’s been writing (Credit: Warner Bros)

To put it bluntly – yes, magnificently so. To me, The Shining is the best horror film ever made and one of the best films ever made, it is a genuine masterpiece. The escalating tension over the course of the film as Jack is slowly overcome by madness is incredible. The wildness in Nicholson builds to an absolute fever pitch. The glimpses of Jack trying to battle the darkness overwhelming him are difficult to watch as he can see what he is being driven towards and Kubrick’s horror is as much about the unhealthy dynamic in that family as anything supernatural. Even without the intervention of ghosts, you suspect it would not have been a happy stay (indeed some fans are of the opinion there are no ghosts and it is just the isolation that pushes Jack to madness). Duvall becomes ever more frantic as things unravel around her and the scene where she discovers just what Jack has been writing all this time is phenomenal.

The hotel is hugely important in this film, this vast and grand hotel that is eerily empty. We see Danny riding around the hotel on his tricycle, the camera almost in point of view, giving a very unusual visual perspective. The design of the hotel is glorious – the hotel carpets are genuinely famous and I recently bought a face mask that features the iconic design. Somewhere so big and so empty is inherently spooky, simple things that are in themselves perfectly innocuous because deeply sinister when there is no one who could have them.

The Shining is a perfect film for the Halloween season and is in fact my go-to Halloween film. If nothing else watching this film will clue you in on forty years of references to creepy twins, Red Rum and taking an axe to a door.

Obviously and easily 5 out of 5 stars but that does not really do it justice – a truly unmissable film.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Also Read: The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Reviews

Retro Review: Frankenstein (1931)

October 19, 2020
frankenstein 1931 [Soruce: Letterboxd]

This Halloween season we are looking at James Whale’s Frankenstein. A movie so recognisable that many may think of this film adaptation before Mary Shelley’s original novel. But after almost 90 years does it still hold up?

Synopsis

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has lately been walled up in his laboratory. So, his fiancé Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), her friend Victor (John Boles), and Henry’s former mentor Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) decide to investigate. Upon confronting him they find that Frankenstein aims to give life to a monster. Made by stitching together dead body parts and inserting an abnormal brain stolen from Dr. Waldman’s classroom. Ultimately Frankenstein succeeds. But can “The Monster” (Boris Karloff) be controlled?

What did I like?

Frankenstein works well for many reasons. First being its tight and well-paced script. In a short time-space, the script intrigues us with the mystery of Frankenstein. And then emotionally invests us through exploring Frankenstein’s motivations and how his various relationships affect him, and consequently the Monster. And because the film is full of interesting, now iconic, scenarios like the grave robbery, the monster’s introduction, the windmill finale, and more, it’s never boring.

Secondly, the cast is almost uniformly excellent. Mae Clarke, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr, and Dwight Frye particularly stand out, investing heart, humour, and discomfort where needed.

But the film also features two truly legendary performances. First being Colin Clive’s Henry Frankenstein. Clive really sells us on Frankenstein’s drive and ambition through his stern; occasionally frantic manner, without making him unlikable. But when The Monster enters the picture, Clive makes us empathise with his emotional vulnerability. As he takes responsibility for The Monster. And Boris Karloff’s portrayal of The Monster is unforgettable. Not only is he immediately frightening and imposing thanks to his tall frame and Jack Pierce’s iconic makeup design. But Karloff’s performance engenders a lot of sympathy. He feels like a vulnerable animal. Causing pain because he’s unfairly victimised or doesn’t know better. This makes us want to see him nurtured not persecuted. Because otherwise, the consequences could be deadly.

Frankenstein-Source-Movie-Monster-Wiki-Fandom
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

And there’s some brilliant technical work on display. The set and production design are fantastic. The classic romantic feeling of the period costumes and picturesque Victorian decorated sets and backlots greatly contrast with sets like Frankenstein’s gothic laboratory and the expressionistic graveyard. Which when combined with the inventive direction that has cameras gliding through rooms, interesting camera angles, and a lack of music creates a uniquely horrific and disquieting atmosphere.

What did I not like?

There are some flaws that prevent Frankenstein from being perfect. For one Henry’s emotional recovery and wedding seemingly happen only a few days after he decides to kill the monster. As it’s hard to believe that Dr. Waldman’s disappearance and discovery would take more than a few days to happen. And this short time frame does somewhat lessen the emotional impact of Frankenstein’s decision to destroy the creation he cared about.

The character of Victor also doesn’t contribute much to the story. His use as emotional support could easily have been filled by a more prominent character and the film would remain the same. Which isn’t helped by John Boles’ wooden performance. A shame as everyone else does such great work.

And the film has a fair amount of editing choices that can pull one out of the movie. As this is an older film before modern film language was perfected this is expected. But the breaking of the 180-degree rule in some sections as well as some imperfect matches between cuts and a sped-up crucial moment are unintentionally jarring.

Verdict

The script’s limited timeframe undersells some moments. Victor doesn’t add much to the story. And the bizarre editing choices can be nit-picked. But they pale in comparison to Frankenstein’s strengths. With stellar performances from most of the cast including iconic turns from Clive and Karloff, brilliant atmosphere thanks to inventive direction; beautiful set and production design and a well-structured script packed with iconic moments that keep you riveted till the end, love for Frankenstein will remain alive for years to come.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Also Read: Horrors On Horror Sets

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Editorials

Underrated Movies: Ma

August 14, 2020
Ma (film)

Ma was released back in 2019, if you can remember that such a time existed. Starring the wondrous Octavia Spencer as the titular character, it begins with a group of naïve high school students trying to get some alcohol, and ends with a house on fire, with Ma cradling the corpse of the man who once humiliated her when she was young. In-between there’s emotional pain, a psychotic break and of course, scenes that make your toes curl. Yet, it seems to have flown under the radar.

One reason for Ma slipping by without much fanfare could be what it was up against on opening weekend, facing box office giants Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the Elton John biopic Rocketman, both of which earned so much more than Ma on that all-important first weekend. Another could be because of critic’s mediocre reviews, with Benjamin Lee from The Guardian saying “It’s a shame as, by the time we reach the overwrought finale, investment has diminished and so has interest…” Another very real, and more likely, possibility is the fatigue audiences may be feeling with horror films right now.

Much like Star Wars and any superhero film, there almost seems to be a guarantee that at least one horror film will be released in the year, almost like an endless churn of content being pushed onto our screens. Ma‘s production company alone, Blumhouse, has released around 74 horror films in the past 11 years, not all of them driving the success they want them to have.

Horror films recently have become nuanced, using more than gross-out techniques and jump scares to keep an audience entertained and yet, there are still plans for a Paranormal Activity 7. With a refusal to seemingly change the formula, it could just be that audiences saw a cliched horror film trailer and thought to themselves ‘let’s not bother’.

Though perhaps there is a stigma around horror films right now, it’s a shame to let some pass you by. Octavia Spencer unexpectedly shines as Sue Ann aka Ma. Perhaps most well-known for her (dare I say, iconic) role in The Help – though with 138 acting credits to her name, it may well be you know her from elsewhere – there wasn’t many who anticipated seeing Spencer in a role like this.

She was exceptional though, the terrifying glue holding this film together. In the hands of anyone else, the character of Sue Ann could have easily become another two-dimensional horror villain with no real motive for her crimes. Spencer turned her into a pitiable character, displaying her incredible range in an otherwise formulaic plot.

This isn’t to say that none of the cast was good – Spencer stars alongside Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Juliette Lewis and Diana Silvers – it’s just so surprising to find an otherwise dramatic actor show up and shine in a film like this.

Honestly, it’s also just refreshing to see variety in horror villains. It’s rare nowadays to see a woman be the lead villain in the story, let alone a scorned woman, let alone a scorned, black woman. This film, as much as it flew by without much notice, will hopefully push Hollywood to expand their gory horizons more, beyond the usual tropes.

I have noticed a rise in female-led horror films, especially from director Ari Aster, but it would be great to see more female villains in the story, with more interesting backstories. I get the scorned woman angle, it’s an easy angle to go for – in fact, most horror films could be boiled down to ‘this person was scorned by another and now must wreak havoc’ – but there are other angles.

Is there a lot more Ma could have done push boundaries? Yes, absolutely. I don’t think it deserves to be as underrated as it is, but I understand why. There was a lot more that could have been done and it just seemed to have been played safe, taking no further risks than hiring Octavia Spencer to be the big bad. That risk paid off though (please do more films like this Octavia Spencer if you’re reading), so it’s a shame the team behind this didn’t have the courage to do more.

Also Read: My Favourite Actor: Octavia Spencer

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Editorials

Five Upcoming 2020 Horror Releases

August 4, 2020
Upcoming 2020 Horror Films [Source: Empire]

At the start of the year, we had many upcoming horror releases to look forward to. But global events forced many cinematic releases to be delayed. However, with many cinemas making plans to reopen soon we’re seeing plans for a few upcoming horror films to have a cinematic release. In today’s article, we’ll be going through five horror movies that will be coming out before the end of 2020 (at the time of writing). We will be looking at the information we currently have about them and why you should be excited about them.

Antebellum (21st August)

With a cast headlined by Janelle Monáe, Antebellum looks at a modern author, Veronica, who becomes trapped in a reality-based around slavery. Will she be able to figure out what has happened to her and escape before it’s too late? Many modern horror films have dealt with issues of race (see Get Out & Us) and Antebellum looks to specifically address issues regarding past and present treatment of people of colour in potentially really interesting ways by having a plot based around a modern woman forced to feel the hardship of slavery. If handled right Antebellum could not only be scary but prove again that horror is fertile ground for thought-provoking examinations of real social issues.

Antebellum’s Final Trailer [Source: YouTube]

The New Mutants (28th August)

The New Mutants is a spinoff of the X-men series. Focusing on five teenagers with mutant powers imprisoned in a facility against their will. The new mutants must come to terms with their dark pasts and fight their way out of captivity. Initially set to release in early 2018, New Mutants’ release date has changed many times since then. With reshoots also taking place to make the film scarier. With it finally set to release in August many are curious to see the result of the long-delayed film. And while the film may not justify the wait, the idea of a superhero horror film with a talented cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton; Alice Braga and directed by The Fault in our Stars‘ Josh Boone is just too intriguing to resist. Hopefully, the upcoming film will at least be an entertaining attempt to do something different.

The New Mutants’ 2020 Teaser Trailer [Source: YouTube]

Relic (5th October)

This Australian film is about a family that begins to have their home haunted in a way that feels like a manifestation of their grandmother’s dementia. Relic has received many good notices since its premiere at Sundance. Many reviews praised the performances of leads Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin and the film’s slow-burning suspenseful nature. Reviews also compared the film to both Hereditary and The Babadook meaning that it could have a very divisive reception. But if the scares are built-up right, with suspense rather than shock in mind, and the characters are written and performed well, we could have another modern Aussie horror hit on our hands.

Relic’s Official Trailer [Source: YouTube]

Cordelia (23rd October)

Coming to us from TV and film director Adrian Shergold (director of Pierrepoint: The Last Hang Man); written by and starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes. Cordelia is a British horror film about the titular character who lives in a flat with her twin Caroline. Cordelia was once an up and coming actress but suffered a traumatic experience that changed her. She now seems to have recovered but when her sister and her boyfriend leave her, the trauma threatens to resurface. Boasting a cast that includes Michael Gambon and Johnny Flynn and a trailer rife with quietly unsettling imagery. Cordelia bears the hallmarks of being a potential spooky surprise.

The Official Trailer for Cordelia [Source: YouTube]

Saint Maud (23rd October)

The feature debut from Rose Glass follows Maud, a very religious nurse who becomes obsessed with saving her patient from damnation. With solid critical reviews, some disturbing trailers, and A24, which has produced some of the most disturbing horror films of the last decade, backing it, Saint Maud looks set to be another creepy home run for A24.

Saint Maud’s Official Trailer [Source: YouTube]

So while we may not be seeing the release of every big horror film we wanted in 2020, horror fans still have plenty of upcoming releases to look forward to. Let me know what horror films you’re looking forward to down below.

Also Read: The Best of Blumhouse

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Editorials, How Film Changed Me

How Film Changed Me: On Moving House

August 2, 2020

A classic car, maybe a people carrier, crawls slowly up a dusty drive. The young family inside crane their necks to look at a large house, one that’s kind of old and a little creepy. The car comes to a stop, and the kids (maybe a dog too) burst out from the backdoors and go running into the house – screaming about which bedrooms they want. The mother and father stand, gazing up at the house, holding each other. ‘This will be a new start,’ one of them says and they both smile. 

How many times have you seen some variation on that scenario? I’ve seen it in about 100 horror movies. They’ve likely bought the house at some reduced rate, for sketchy reasons they don’t understand, but, because they’re facing financial hardship, they had no choice. After arriving, the father might become possessed and start chopping wood shirtless, or maybe the mother becomes ‘paranoid’ about all the spooky things that happen when she’s home alone. The youngest kid, the quiet one, might make a new invisible friend or start hearing things in the night. Then comes the demons, or the ghost, the serial killers, or the zombies.  

No wonder we find it all so stressful. Often touted as one of the most stressful life events, along with divorce, moving house can be a nightmare. To top it off, when we watch people move on screen, it never really ends well. The family in The Amityville Horror? Bad. The Conjuring? Awful. The Shining? Oh, boy. 

The Shining
The Shining (Credit: Warner Bros)

Since I’m on the precipice of moving house, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I might do if the place I’ve bought is haunted. I’ve had visions of myself, walking around the apartment in a chic grey turtle neck, being frightened by the slightest noise. Pulling back shower curtains or opening wardrobe doors with a quickness to see if there’s a demon hiding inside. Or waking up late at night and scoping out some disturbance in the next room while wearing delicate silk pyjamas. I’m thinking of myself as Sarah Michelle Geller in The Grudge, obviously. 

In actuality, it’s unlikely my new place is haunted. It’s in a building that was only built around seven years ago, and, to my knowledge, it isn’t on any ancient burial grounds. Yet, I could be wrong. I mean, how often do the families in those films insist the place isn’t haunted before they admit it to themselves? Anyway, the idea of a ‘haunted house’ has been around for centuries and was imbedded within gothic literature. Over time, that has expanded into the mainstream as houses themselves became, as Edwin Heathcote wrote in the Financial Times, ‘the embodiment of evil.’ He goes on to write that the success of this type of horror comes from the subversion of the home as somewhere safe. ‘Home should be a place of comfort and refuge,’ he writes, ‘its violation is a kind of mental rape.’ So, in the decades since those gothic stories – in which haunted houses were distant, creaky, places that were eerie and decrepit – we’ve moved towards the suburbs, the everyday home, the new apartment I’m moving into, as a place of terror. In short, you can’t spot a haunted gaff anymore. The ghosts could be anywhere, and they’re just as likely to be in that abandoned Victorian house around the corner as they are to be in a new build semi-detached on the latest development. 

The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror (credit: MGM)

It seems these horror films, which throw families into the midst of a ghostly nightmare after moving house, play on our fear of change? The idea of ghosts or demons might all be fantasy. Still, they represent the genuine fear of homeownership and the concerns about responsibility, permanence, repossession, house insurance, solicitor fees, burglary, choosing the wrong colour for the bathroom wall, and burst pipes that come after a purchase. The idea of owning something like a house or a flat is scary, and so it makes sense that horror films play on that fear by showing us the horrendous things that happen to these families once they’ve moved in.  After all, the genre is famous for tapping into our innermost fears and exploiting them in various ways. 

At the end of these films, the ghost is dispelled or the demon banished back into the depths of hell and, eventually, through some exorcism of the soul, I’ll send my doubts and fears packing too. I will grow into owning my own place, and it will all pass. Though, I’ll still have to keep an eye on the neighbours because, well, don’t get me started on Rosemary’s Baby… 

Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On ‘I May Destroy You’

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Editorials

What Happens To Your Brain When Watching A Horror Movie?

May 4, 2020
Us Movie Jordan Peele

Whether it’s the classics such as The Shining or The Excorcist or more recent horror films such as Us and The Invisible Man, they all have a pull and push effect on us. There are moments we look away from the screen with fear and disgust but seconds later, we’re drawn to the picture with excitement and joy. Yep, there’s definitely a love/hate relationship between the audience and horror. It should come as no surprise then that this so intriguing situation was researched by Front Psychol, the peer-reviewed open-access academic journal that focusses on Psychology. According to their “(Why) Do You Like Scary Movies? A Review of the Empirical Research on Psychological Responses to Horror Films” there are many factors that have an impact on our brain while watching a horror movie which can explain our love for horror.

Why Certain Brains Love Horror Movies (USA Today)

The psychological element

There are many different descriptions of ‘horror’ but they all agree on the same: it’s a genre that makes people shiver and shudder and that it’s both frightening and fascinating at the same time. According to the study from Front Psychol, horror is also the only fiction genre that’s specifically created to inflict fear consistently. If that’s done excellently then this has the right impact on our brains. It makes us want to look away, closing our eyes, stopping with breathing for a moment or screaming your lungs out. Alongside those elements, there’s also the increasing amount of (temporary) anxiety, disgust, and fear.

That anxiety and fear is the most common reaction to horror but according to some studies, such as the one from Ballon and Leszcz (“Horror films: tales to master terror or shapers of trauma?”) and Bozzuto (“Cinematic neurosis following “The Exorcist”. Report of four cases.”), exposure to horror films can also lead to an increase of stress and distress. These can come in the forms of insomnia, excitability, hyperactivity, irritability, disturbed sleep, and decreased appetite. However, luckily for us, those symptoms don’t last very long. In their study, Front Psychol mentioned that the panic and fear that was evoked by the horror have no significant long-term consequences on the mental and physical state of the audience.

The screeching sound

The feelings of fear and anxiety aren’t only created by the stunning visual or intriguing dialogue but also (and mostly) because of the sound and audio. The musical score is always from vital importance but for a horror movie that significance increase immensely. Normally we wouldn’t jump out of our seat when hearing an owl, a cat, or a phone ringing but when these happenings occur in a horror movie, they have a completely different impact. They’re specially designed to create fear and suspense. According to Front Psychol, nothing can beat the so-called “jump scare. A loud bang after a long moment of silence seems to be able to do the trick as “jump scare” is the most used and successful sound effect in a horror movie. Yes, think about a strange figure pop-up out of nowhere or a sudden reflection in the mirror that shouldn’t be there.

When it comes to audio in a horror movie, the music and soundtrack are equally as important as the sound effect you hear. We all know that music has an undeniable emotional impact on the viewer. In a horror movie, the sound is designed to be troublesome, to create tension, and to raise a vibe of negativity on the screen. This increases the level of fear and unpleasantness even more.

How Sound Effects For Horror Movies Are Made (Insider)

Why do we like horror so much?

Suspense and resolution of suspense are the two main components of horror and those are the ones the audience reacts to the most. When it comes to suspense, this mostly means the build-up of tensions, the increasing level of threat, or reaching a potential climax. It’s also exactly that suspense that makes from the horror such a lovable genre as the feeling of suspense is something we undeniably enjoy. No matter how gruesome the images are. According to Front Psychol, enjoyment must come from a ‘degree of negative effect built up during exposure to the horror film and from the positive effect/reaction that results from the resolution of the threat’.

What’s next for horror movies?

Well, pretty sure that horror films aren’t going anywhere any time soon and that’s not so bad at all. Hopefully, we will be able to enjoy upcoming movies such as A Quiet Place Part II, Last Night in Soho and Candyman and if in the meantime, you want your fix of horror films, then Shudder will do the trick beautifully (or should we say ‘horrifically’).

Candyman (Official Trailer)

Also Read: The Greatest Horror Villain of Each Decade

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News

Dreamland | Available On DVD & Digital HD 13th April

April 6, 2020
Dreamland directed by Bruce McDonald

A unique, stylish, genre-bending neo-noir adventure from cult Canadian indie filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Pontypool, Weirdos) starring Stephen McHattie (Mother!), Henry Rollins (Lost Highway) and Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers). Dreamland immerses the viewer into a diabolical underworld, where doppelgängers, vicious child-traffickers and a creepy vampire cross paths and tells the story of a gang who hires a hitman to cut off a finger from a heroin-addict trumpet maestro. Dreamland is a hypnotic descent into a violent and corrupt world ruled by madness, and yet the evil chaos boiling at the surface is deftly tamed by its elegant cinematography and cool, haunting jazz score.

Watch the trailer below.

Dreamland (Official Trailer)

Dreamland is available on DVD & Digital Download on Monday 13th April 2020

Also Read: 7 Reasons Characters Die In Horror Films

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Editorials

The Greatest Horror Villain of Each Decade

March 18, 2020
horror-movie-villains-collage [Source: shnakebite91 Wordpress]

Horror cinema has many iconic villains and today we’ll be counting down 10 of the greatest merchants of menace. I will choose a single villain from each decade, look at a bit of the villain’s background and how they managed to traumatize audiences who watched their films. So, let’s get spooky.

1920s: Count Orlok – Nosferatu (1922)

Originally made as a Dracula stand-in, Count Orlok has become a great villain in his own right. With actor Max Schreck’s towering frame, creeping shadow, sharp teeth, and keen unblinking eyes Orlok has become an instantly recognizable cinematic predator that has lasted almost a century. Not even Stoker’s estate could prevent him from becoming a cinematic nightmare.

Count Orlok one of Cinema's greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]
Count Orlok one of Cinema’s greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]

1930s: Frankenstein’s Monster – Frankenstein (1931)

The archetypal mad scientist creation. The monster isn’t necessarily evil but because of continual abuse and a lack of moral guidance, he begins violently lashing out at the world. Frankenstein’s Monster has a legendary look courtesy of makeup artist Jack Pierce. And thanks to Boris Karloff’s animalistic performance, which makes the character threatening and sympathetic, Frankenstein’s Monster has been cemented as one of horror’s most tragic monsters.

Frankenstein's Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki - Fandom]
Frankenstein’s Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

1940s: The Wolf Man – The Wolf Man (1941)

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man garners great sympathy because of host Larry Talbot’s (Lon Chaney Jr’s) inability to control the monster within him. But unlike Frankenstein the Wolf Man is vicious. Murdering innocent people and leaving Larry to deal with the consequences. With Jack Pierce’s brilliant makeup making the monster the midpoint between man and beast, the Wolf Man is an iconic example of the darkness in all men.

One of cinema's most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]
One of cinema’s most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]

1950s: Godzilla – Godzilla Series

Cinema’s biggest monster. Starring in 35 films since 1954 Godzilla is a Japanese icon. He’s a prehistoric monster awakened by hydrogen bomb testing and was created as a symbol for the destructive powers of the atomic age, though lately, he has become a metaphor for nature striking back at humanity. He’s the embodiment of destruction and for 66 years he’s shown that for all our advances annihilation is never far away.

Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954)
Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954) [Source: USA Today]

1960s: Norman Bates – Psycho (1960)

The grandfather of all slasher villains. While seemingly normal, Norman hides another personality that forces him to kill anyone who threatens the illusion that his mother is still alive. Thanks to Anthony Perkins’ understated performance and Alfred Hitchcock’s direction Norman Bates (based on murderer Ed Gein) terrified audiences by showing that even the quiet good-looking boy next door could turn out to be a murderer.

Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960) [Source: Bloody Disgusting]

1970s: The Caller – Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas‘ sorority house killer remains perhaps horror’s most terrifying villain. Because nothing about him is explained. His victims are random. The only insights we get into him are his disjointed, threatening ramblings. And his appearance, voice; name remain a mystery. Inspired by the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairsthe Caller embodies the fear that you’re never safe. Even in your own home.

The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974)
The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974) [Source: The Dead Meat Wiki Fandom]

1980s: Freddy Krueger – The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

The burnt, razor glove wielding, Christmas sweater and fedora sporting dream killer has been scaring viewers since his 1984 debut. Inspired by stories about young people suddenly dying in their sleep and brought to life in skin-crawling fashion by Robert Englund, Krueger takes sadistic pleasure in twisting his victim’s dreams into nightmares. And the sheer glee he takes in his cruelty is what makes him cinema’s most iconic bogeyman.

The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) [Source: NME.com]

1990s: Candyman – Candyman Series

Originally, Daniel Robitaille, Candyman became a vengeful spirit after he was killed over a 19th-century interracial love affair. His hand was mutilated, his body smothered in honey and he was stung to death by bees. Now he kills anyone who dares say his name five times in a mirror. With his imposing figure, hooked hand and Tony Todd’s intimidating voice, Candyman is a true terror titan.

The urban legend Candyman (1992)
The urban legend Candyman (1992) [Source: The Clive Barker Podcast]

2000s: Jigsaw – Saw Series

Jigsaw is the horror villain of the 2000s. Embodying post 9/11 anxieties about the morality of torture Jigsaw, aka John Cramer managed to carve out a gruesome legacy for himself. His use of ironic traps to reform/eradicate those who he believes don’t appreciate life, Tobin Bell’s commanding voice and his animatronic mascot made him the face of torture horror. And his legacy has continued through multiple accomplices and successors.

Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask
Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask [Source: Screen Rant]

2010s: It/Pennywise – It (2017)

Stephen King’s iconic horror creation made a huge impact with Its 2017 reimagining. The creature that haunts Derry, Maine can change into many forms that will give anyone nightmares. His most recognizable form is Pennywise The Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) whose smile hides a desire to devour children. It exploits our fear of the unknown and attacks the sanctity of childhood innocence all at once. Making It the perfect modern horror villain.

Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017)
Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017) [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

So ends my list of horrors 10 best villains. Which horror villains did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Also Read: 7 Reasons Characters Die In Horror Films

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Editorials

A Quiet Place Part II: A Film Too Far?

January 16, 2020

Warning – this article contains major spoilers for A Quiet Place

For me, A Quiet Place came out of nowhere. One day I heard there was a new film coming out where the hook was none of the characters spoke or made noise in the film. This was A Quiet Place and while it wasn’t as silent as the original stories suggested to make a film with so little dialogue was very ambitious. The film could have been a disaster, it could have been a gimmicky movie that just didn’t work and it’s a testament to all involved that it was a great film. With IMDb estimating the budget at $17,000,000 and it making around $50,000,000 in its opening weekend in America it’s not terribly surprising that a sequel is coming out.

What happened in Part I?

A Quiet Place (source: bloody-disgusting.com)

A Quiet Place showed a post-apocalyptic world where society had completely collapsed, the cause was terrifying monsters who hunted by sound but essentially couldn’t see anything. The film followed the Abbott family as they tried to survive in this world, going to extraordinary lengths to not make any noise. Viewers immediately picked up on one potential problem which was Evelyn Abbot was pregnant. The film was a masterpiece in tension with the audience constantly on the lookout for potential causes of noise – at one point a loose nail sticking out of a floorboard was shown and everyone knew it was a matter of time before someone stood on it. At the end of the film, Evelyn managed to give birth but they lost the dad, Lee Abbot (played by Josh Krasinski), who sacrificed himself to save his family.

The Trailer

A Quiet Place Part II (source: themarysue.com)

The trailer shows us some glimpses of the moment these monsters arrived and the chaos they caused but mainly focuses on the life of the Abbot family, forced to leave their home and find somewhere safe. The sight of them trudging out is not at all hopeful and not long after reaching a deserted city they set off a trap. Fleeing this trap leads them to Cillian Murphy’s character who seemingly saves them. They join a community of survivors of which Murphy is a part, but whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is not quite clear.

Potential Pitfalls

The monsters – in the first film the monsters were barely glimpsed, sometimes you saw a flash of movement, sometimes not even that. Yet in the new trailer, it is clear you see more of the monsters. It’s long been a cliche of horror films that you shouldn’t show too much of the monster as it will always be disappointing (Alien perhaps being the classic example of getting this right with only glimpses seen until the very end of the film). Secondly, while many monsters are terrifying it’s often hard to imagine how they would seemingly overwhelm modern armies. Yes, they’re good at killing, but are they better than helicopter gunships?

Stretching Credulity – the first film had a very contained environment, most of it revolving around the family’s home consisting just a few buildings in a secluded area. The family went to extraordinary lengths to limit the sound they made and that was how they survived. It’s hard to imagine the family simply taking off and managing to keep the requisite level of silence – and, of course, they also have a newborn baby. And as the trailer shows – they are going to find a lot of people, how will their survival be explained?

Losing The Mystery – People always want to know how a situation came to be, in this case, how did these monsters destroy society but it’s not always a good idea to give them what they want. Sometimes the mystery is better.

Lightning Never Strikes TwiceA Quiet Place is ninety minutes long, which is about as short a film you can get away with these days, the director, also Krasinski, knew that after a while an audience would get sick of the confined world of virtually no dialogue. It’s a very clever idea but it could very easily have been a bad film and it is very risky thinking that idea will stretch to a second film. It’s a good sign that Krasinski is back to direct but I’m not sure it’ll be enough.

Should There Even Be A Part II?

A Quiet Place Part II (source: www.metro.news)

I’m sure we all have examples of films where you wish the sequel hadn’t been made; where an interesting and original film was left as a complete story. Will A Quiet Place II be one of those films? I’m not sure as I am intrigued by the trailer but I certainly think the first film did not need a sequel. There was no need to continue the story, especially as the first film ended on a note of tragedy the sequel cannot possibly match. Still, whatever happens A Quiet Place will remain a great film.

Also Read: The Best Horror Films of the Decade

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Editorials

The Best Horror Films of the Decade (2010 – 2019)

December 31, 2019
Horror Movie Collection

There have been many fantastic horror movies released this past decade. So today I am celebrating the decade’s end by picking my 10 favourite horror movies from 2010 – 2019.

I’ll pick one movie from each year (using the IMDb release year as reference), briefly summarise each movie and explain why you should watch it. I’ll also include honourable mentions for you to also enjoy. Well, let’s get spooky.


2010: I Saw the Devil (Dir. Kim Jee-Woon)

This horror/thriller follows a detective (Byung-Hun Lee) who tracks down his wife’s murderer (Min-Sik Choi) and aims to drive him insane by continually capturing, brutalizing and releasing him. From there the mind games escalate until you’re not sure who you should be rooting for. With violence that’ll make even hardened gorehounds’ wince, I Saw The Devil is an experience you won’t soon forget.

HM: Tucker and Dale vs Evil

I Saw The Devil (Official Trailer)

2011: Kill List (dir. Ben Wheatley)

Beginning as a movie about a former assassin returning to work to make some money and gradually morphing into something more horrifying, Kill List benefits from knowing as little as possible going in. But thanks to its perfectly pitched naturalistic presentation, which makes the outlandish plot feel realistic, Kill List is now considered one of the most disturbing movies ever made.  

HM: You’re Next

Kill List (Official Trailer)

2012: The Woman in Black (dir. James Watkins)

Arthur (Daniel Radcliffe) a recently widowed solicitor is tasked with settling the affairs of Mrs Drablow at her estate, Eel Marsh House. However, something is stalking the Eel Marsh grounds. Could it be linked with the deaths of several children in the neighbouring village? Hammer Studios’ best modern film is a perfect old-fashioned ghost chiller. Dripping with atmosphere, backed by a solid cast, and genuinely effective jump scares.

HM: Maniac (2012)

The Woman in Black (Official Trailer)

2013: The Conjuring (dir. James Wan)

Using the Perron Hauntings case as its basis, The Conjuring is one of the decade’s most fun horror films. With likeable leads in Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life figures Ed and Lorraine Warren, some inventive camerawork and eery production design. The Conjuring is a thrilling modern haunted house ride that leaves you invigorated.

HM: Mama

The Conjuring (Official Trailer)

2014: It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell)

After having sex with her boyfriend, Jay (Maika Monroe) discovers she’s been cursed. Now a demon follows her wherever she goes. Her one advantage is that it can only follow her at walking speed. It Follows is a wonderful genre tribute with relatable characters, suspenseful direction, a beautiful score and a creepy monster that’ll have viewers checking over their shoulders next time they’re in a crowded place.

HM: The Babadook

It Follows (Official Trailer)

2015: The Witch (dir. Robert Eggers)

My personal vote for the scariest movie of the decade. A paranoid period piece, The Witch, like Kill List, is most impactful when seen with little knowledge of the plot. However, rest assured you’re in for a skin-crawling slow builder with great performances and brilliant direction that will constantly leave you doubting your own judgment.

HM: Green Room

The Witch (Official Trailer)

2016: Raw (dir. Julia Ducournau)

Justine (Garance Marillier) a devout vegetarian vet in training is forced to eat meat in a university hazing ritual causing her to develop a craving for human flesh. Hilarious, disturbing and touching, Raw speaks to many modern fears about identity, gender and sexuality; and keeps the audience thoroughly invested with fantastically drawn characters and perfect visual storytelling. Plus a woman eats her sisters’ finger, so there’s that.

HM: Hush

Raw (Official Trailer)

2017: Tigers Are Not Afraid (dir. Issa López)

Sadly underappreciated by mainstream audiences, Tigers tells the heart-breaking tale of Estrella (Paola Lara) who attempts to use three “magic wishes” to help a group of children caught up in the Mexican drug war. Firmly grounded in harsh reality and never pulling its punches when it comes to the violence, Tigers is a tough but rewarding watch.

HM: It (2017), Get Out & The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (Official Trailer)

2018: Hereditary (dir. Ari Aster)

A family unravels after their grandmother’s death as a mysterious outside force invades their lives. Featuring one of the decade’s greatest performances from Toni Collette and incredible tension. Courtesy of a sympathetic cast of characters and magnificent direction that subtly (using of camerawork and visual cues) and overtly (the scares) keeps the audience on edge to the end.

HM: Climax & Incident in a Ghostland

Hereditary (Official Trailer)

2019: Midsommar (dir. Ari Aster)

Dani (Florence Pugh) attempts to get over a family tragedy by going to Sweden with her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his friends. Initially, the locals seem welcoming but as the Midsummer festival begins a sinister plot emerges. While slowly paced Midsommar hits hard because of Florence Pugh’s performance and subtle tension building through camerawork and the performances of the villagers. Culminating in one unnervingly weird finale.  

HM: Extra Ordinary & Us

Thus ends my list of the 2010s best horror movies. If I’ve missed some of your favourites, then list them in the comments. One thing’s certain, with so many new masters of horror, the 2020s will be very exciting to see.

Also Read: Horrors On Horror Sets

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Editorials

7 Reasons Characters Die in Horror Films

November 5, 2019
There are rules for surviving a horror movie

Horror films thrive on spooking their audience in a variety of ways. For example, the recent tech horror Countdown tapped into our anxiety about our mortality with an app that predicts the time you’ll die, down to the second. The central conceit being, how do you avoid death?

Well, today we’re counting down seven reasons characters die in horror films. Avoid these things to ensure your safety.

1. Taking drugs/having sex

Let’s get the obvious reason out first. Now many tend to overstate the significance of not taking drugs and having sex in horror movies. There are many iconic horror movie survivors who didn’t die after taking drugs (Laurie smokes marijuana and survived Halloween (1978)) and having sex (Ginny in Friday the 13 part 2, Sidney in Scream and Jay in It Follows).

But generally, it’s best to play it safe. For every iconic horror survivor who disproves this claim, there are slews of iconic horror victims that prove it. Just see Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) who had sex moments before her tortuous slicing by Freddy Krueger.

Tina’s death is definitely an endorsement for abstinence in A Nightmare on Elm Street [Source: Youtube]

And Palmer in The Thing (1982) definitely shouldn’t have gotten high with a shapeshifting alien creature running around.

Palmer the resident pothead morphs into a killing machine upon being discovered as the thing [Source: Youtube]

2. Mocking conventions

Something less widely recognised is the fact that knowing genre clichés can also be a death sentence. How many times in horror movies have you heard someone mock their compatriots, by saying, “haven’t you seen a scary movie before?” only for them to die soon after. Unless you’re part of the Scream series self-aware characters rarely live to the end credits.

If you don't want to die in horror movies, don't talk about genres tropes.
Lizbeth demonstrating self-awareness in Friday the 13th Part 6 [Source: Tumblr]

For a great example of how self-awareness kills, look at the character of Lizbeth from Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives.

Lizbeth proves that self-awareness can’t stop Jason [Source: Youtube]

3. Heading into the unknown

A word of advice, if you’re heading somewhere and find that it’s abandoned, rundown, has measures in place to keep people out, contains weird items or you don’t know much about it, just leave. You don’t know what may be lurking around.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) typifies this. Two of our leads wander onto a property with a drained swimming pool, blacked-out windows, and teeth are found on the porch. When they don’t leave there are very unfortunate consequences.

Kirk enters into the disturbing Sawyer house in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) [Source: Youtube]

4. Going anywhere alone

Following on from the last entry, while it’s a bad idea heading into the unknown it’s even worse to go anywhere without bringing someone with you. It’s a good rule of thumb, when you go off alone you’re easier to stalk, terrorize and kill because no one’s there to keep you grounded and out of harm’s way.

No series exemplifies this trope better than the Friday the 13th series. The first movie, in particular, features several effective reasons for why you should never go anywhere alone.

Marcie shouldn’t have gone out on her own in the storm, Friday the 13th (1980) [Source: Youtube]

5. Being generally unpleasant

As in life, don’t be unpleasant to people. Don’t insult, belittle, harm or be rude, it just makes everyone hate you. And when everyone hates you in a horror film you can rest assured that you are going to die.

Look no further than this scene from Silent Night for proof of that.

Santa brings death to Christmas in Silent Night [Source: Youtube]

6. Ignoring warnings & premonitions

I get that sometimes it’s hard to accept warnings from strangers, close friends, relatives or even your subconscious (in the case of dreams). It may feel patronising or like you aren’t personally in control. But these warnings are for your safety. It’s so baffling that horror film characters continually ignore them, as it usually leads to someone biting the big one.

Again Friday the 13th shows that warnings should be heeded. If the kids listened to Crazy Ralph, they’d still be alive.

Always listen to doomsayers in Friday the 13th (1980) [Source: Giphy]

7. Cheating death

The final irony of horror movies is that you’re seldom truly safe. There was a time when good people survived and lead happy lives after the credits rolled. But besides the odd exception, that’s not the case nowadays.

If you’re in a self-contained movie maybe, one or two survivors will live to tell the tale. But if you’re a returning character from another film (and you aren’t Sidney Prescott, Ash Williams, Tommy Jarvis or Alice Johnson), you’ll more than likely die. So, if you survive, avoid sequels.

The master of dying in sequels is Laurie Strode. Originally dying in an off-screen car crash between Halloween 2 and 4, she was brought back in H20 (which continued from Halloween 2), only to die again in Halloween: Resurrection. She also died in the director’s cut of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (the second film in the reboot timeline) before being brought back in Halloween (2018). It seems the universe has a fascination with reviving and killing Laurie.

Laurie Strode’s 2nd death in the Halloween Series (Halloween: Resurrection) [Source: Youtube]

So there’s our list of seven reasons why characters die in horror movies. Just avoid doing these things and you’re sure to live to see another day.

Also Read: 5 Horror Films and The Real Events Behind Them

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