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June 30, 2010

I'll probably see it. I see everything---

Even though I don’t want to see the new Twilight,  I can respect it for what it could do for a young audience of potential horror fans.  Stephenie Meyer tapped into something that the post- Harry Potter tweens didn’t even know that they wanted.  Horror.  They need to be careful though.  Horror is a fickle genre that has always moved like the tide.  One successful film will lead to twenty knock offs.  One great zombie adventure like 28 Days Later inevitably leads to the mediocre 28 Weeks Later, and I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen 28 Months Later.

Frank Darabont was a writer. How weird is that?

Ever since my parents brought me to see Nightmare on Elm Street part three The Dream Warriors, I have been hooked on horror.  That film, while horrific for a child, gave me exactly what I needed.  A group of ordinary people suddenly realizing that what they did in their mundane existences was in fact what made them special—- in their dreams!  They were able to re-imagine themselves, bending dream-reality to their will so they would have the tools and abilities at their command to combat the evil Freddy Kruger.  I realize it sounds horrible, but it was the only catalyst I needed to instigate an alphabetical tour through the horror section of the Ramsey NJ Blockbuster Video, leading to viewings of flops like Driller Killer, Mother’s Day, Halloween III, Chopping Mall, but it also introduced me to some brilliant horror as well, like Rosemary’s Baby, Near Dark, Carrie, and Psycho.

Several people over the years have referred to Alfred Hitchcock as the Master of Horror.  He earned that designation not because he gave us movies of goblins, vampires and wolf-men, rather he forced us to see a dark reflection of ourselves, our lives, and the dangers we could face just by stepping outside in the morning.   Strangers on a Train is an exercise in parallels, both visually and thematically.  Two lives, the tennis pro Guy Haines and the bored socialite Bruno Antony, collide on a train where they discuss the perfect theoretical murder.  Their theory rides on the fact that the police always get their man because they just look for motive.  Ergo, a person with no motive can commit the perfect murder.  In order to accomplish this act they would need to “criss-cross” and perform each other’s dirty work.  Guy thought the conversation was just ‘in theory.’  That was his mistake.

Strangers on a Train Trailer

Today, hordes of kids and their parents flood into multiplexes to get their PG-13 horror on with Bella, and I realize I have no problem with this.  If Twilight serves as an introduction to good horror films (and novels or course) I fully support its angst-ridden sparkly vampires.

I just need to suggest you see the following movies too:

Some all-time favorites:

Strangers on a Train

Rosemary’s Baby

Near Dark



The Last house on the Left

28 Days Later

Some new(ish) horror worth seeing:

Eden Lake


Trick ‘r Treat

House of the Devil

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Apryl permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:27 pm

    As a professor of the older side of the “Twilight” target audience it is interesting to learn that most of them, young women, of course, do not consider themselves fans of horror. Rather, it’s the love story that keeps them reading/watching. I’d love to see more horror made for this audience, horror that draws them in with characters they relate to, in college, in love with the outsider with smoldering eyes, and then stabs them in their own eyes (with a stiletto, maybe). Horror that says, “Hey, guess what? You’re watching an honest to goodness horror film. And you love it.”

    • July 1, 2010 7:08 am

      It is true that the love story brought them in. I hope that 1% of them realize what they read and watched utilizes numerous ‘horror’ plot devices and types of characters, then takes the initiative to discover that there is more to horror than just blood splatter. If they want ‘love conquers all’ horror check out Coppola’s Dracula. I think that was the slogan, or was it “Love never dies?” You should write your college horror drama and exploit this very large pool of movie goers.

  2. Paul permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:29 pm

    Does Twilight even count as horror? Yeah they are vampires but so were Anne Rice’s characters and the True Blood cast. Vampires are a horror convention but none of these stories are horror. You are never really afraid at all watching these things. Not that they are bad films but they ain’t scary. And not because they tried to scare you and failed, that was never their point. As Apryl said above the romance of all three of these stories are why people watch. As powerful and as charismatic as the Twilight Crew might be, they will never be as horrifying as Nosferatu or the Vampires in 30 days of night. It would be cool to see some actual horror made for the twilight generation, something with the sparkle of that film but also with the hardcore, truly depraved and terrifying elements of something like Ringu.

    • July 1, 2010 7:30 am

      I think it counts as horror as much as Dream Warriors did, which was more like a Hanna Barbara Cartoon than a horror film. If it was just the romance that brought the hordes of fans in, then why didn’t Dear John have lines around the building? There is something about the blending of the romance with horror, fantasy, adventure, and teen angst that just struck a nerve in millions of people. The horror is definitely there though. Monsters, fog, who-done-it murders, and the ‘every man’ or in this case ‘every woman’ finding herself in the midst of all of this makes it a horror film. The choice to set it in these pacific northwest forests is soooooo inspired by the classic settings of Gothic literature. Catherine Hardwicke did a very good job in the first film in her attempts to remind us that this is more than just romance or adventure or horror. There was a scene in a boathouse that had no place in a run of the mill Rom-Comedy.

      A sprakly hardcore horror film would be great, and we might just get that soon than we thin in the form of ‘Cabin in the Woods’……. you should IMDB it.

      thanks for reading!

  3. Paul permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:32 pm

    ps– just look at Robert Pattisons face in that promo shot. Does he scare you? He doesnt even look like a vampire as much as he looks like a mentally challenged individual who was bitten by a zombie.

    • July 1, 2010 10:42 am

      Dude, that is just mean. The great thing about zombies is that they are not fussy eaters.

  4. July 2, 2010 7:38 am

    I would hazard saying that the second film contained a pretty equal balance of romance and light horror. Hardwicke definitely emphasised the love theme in the first one (Yes, I’ve seen both of them…)- If they depart from that theme too much in the third one, “Twihards” could be displeased, since they are largely a young female audience.
    As far as I know, David Slade is involved in Eclipse?? Hence an adaptation ( similar to that of 30 Days of Night, which was visually pretty close to the comic book. I would say that Condon’s attempt is likely to reflect more closely the first film.

    I must visit C.F. more often, as a few posts have appeared (magically!) since my last visit.

    • July 2, 2010 9:42 am

      Thanks for the return visit Roisin!

      David Slade directed the latest installment, and that is what will probably get me in the theater. But it wasn’t 30 days that made me notice him in the first place, it was Hard Candy ( . That is one horrific film on so many levels! IT made me scream in shock at one moment, if you’ve seen it you know when.

      Saddest Music in the World is next on my Netflix queue.

      Have a good weekend.

  5. July 4, 2010 4:05 pm

    I went to see a preview screening of Eclipse today – The action sequences in this were a lot better than the 2nd one, but again it was extremely cringeworthy and contained the usual below-average acting and of course script 🙂 It was relatively entertaining though!

    I wrote a review of the Saddest Music in the World for a guest post on a blog, to appear next week. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it after watching it!

    • July 5, 2010 5:20 pm

      Glad to hear it was watchable. I need to get out and see it. It has been near 100 degrees the past three days, and I’m enjoying my air conditioning. Saw a few films at home that were fun though, including the surprisingly decent “The Crazies” Starring Timothy Olyphant. I’m happy to find good horror on a long weekend. I also did my annual 4th of July Viewing of Jaws. That film just doesn’t get old for me.

    • July 6, 2010 11:04 am

      Vampires in the news. Too funny :

  6. jadesmith09 permalink
    July 6, 2010 4:29 pm

    I like this post–I like horror fiction, as you know, especially the masters, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P Lovecraft. And I’m glad you mentioned “Strangers on a Train.” I think that’s a great movie because of the suspense–and suspense is what makes horror believable. Horror can quickly turn into mush, as you said! There’s only one short step between the creepy and the hokey. Getting it right is a tough job, but when you get it right, it rocks!

    • July 6, 2010 10:51 pm

      I totally agree. Suspense is always better than shock or surprise. Hitchcock used to give the example of a bomb under a table in a cafe. If the bomb just went off, it would be shocking. He would instead choose to show the bomb at the beginning of the scene, but not let us clearly see how much time is left on the timer. Suspenseful situation, right? Way better than the sudden explosion.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the horror entry. It is a genre that I enjoy very much when I see a good horror flick.

  7. July 7, 2010 6:10 am

    I thought I left a comment this morning, but I think I forgot to click “submit”. Cognitive ability obviously not particularly strong today!
    That news headline is amazing. Next thing we know, it’ll be commonplace to say “Sorry I’m late for work – I was swerving zombies”.

    100 degrees? Woah. It’s so cold here that we had to turn on the central heating yesterday.
    Jaws doesn’t get old for me either. Richard Dreyfuss in particular.

    I noticed jadesmith mentioned Edgar Allan Poe – Anything involving Poe (Harry Clarke, films, animations etc) is usually excellent! Actually, I’m trying to track down footage of Michael Gambon reciting Tell-Tale Heart, if you happen to see it anywhere.

    This is not really linked to the above, but it just popped into my head while I was typing about Poe. Have you watched this particular performance of Play by Beckett:

    Also, my review of Guy Maddin and The Saddest Music in the World is up on 😀

  8. July 7, 2010 7:21 am

    They’re forecasting 102 degrees today…. I think Werewolves are to blame for the rising temperatures.

    I love Jaws. It is such a ‘go to’ when you want a good summer film. A film professor screened it for us in class years ago and he converted me to the church of Jaws, and the belief that it is pretty much the perfect film. I pretty much swear by it now.

    My cat’s name is Poe!

    Wow, the Beckett you tube is amazing! I’m going to need to watch again before I comment on it though. Amazing performances.

    I will need to keep from reading your review until tomorrow. The film will be at my house tomorrow. I will watch and read.

    • July 8, 2010 5:37 am

      In that case, vampires must be responsible for the lowering of temperature over here. There are definitely a few pale Irish versions of Edward Cullen walking about.

      Your cat is called Poe?! I’d love to call mine Orpheus and Proust, but unfortunately they are half-blind and quite deaf, so I’d don’t think they’d appreciate the weight of the title I would bestow upon them.

      I love that Beckett performance too. They carry off the rhythm of the language quite well.

      I’m really delighted that you are watching The Saddest Music in the World! Even if you watch it and aren’t keen on it, I’ll still be anxious to hear what you think of it 🙂

  9. July 12, 2010 5:02 pm

    I, through a series of indifferent events, have managed to see the first two Twilight films, I’ve since learnt my lesson though and although I am mildly curious as to how the story will continue I will not lose sleep over not seeing the latest installment. Teenage angst with fangs.

  10. July 12, 2010 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the visit Ronan. I just saw New Moon last weekend… I had to. I am talking about it, even though seeing it was not the point of my article, but rather the good that it can do for a new young horror audience. But anyway, it wasn’t that bad. There were moments that I actually liked. I love Edward’s precog sister. The acting was sort of mechanical, but then Michael Sheen made up for that. I have a theory about Kristin Stewart’s acting . I believe that she has absolutely no short term memory, and that is why she constantly stares at the ground. There are post-its everywhere with her lines on them marking her positions and eyelines… I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. Thanks again for swinging by.


  11. July 30, 2010 10:14 pm

    28 days later is when I fell deeply in love with Cillian Murphy 🙂 Love the movie and haven’t watch 28 weeks yet.

    To be honest, I don’t really into Hollywood horror movies which always ended up so cliche. My preference for good horror movies are always from Asia, maybe because we have similar ghost story. I can never relate slasher into horror. Ghost is the one that can freaked me out.

    I remembered watching nightmare on elm street in the middle of the night ALONE and not feel scared at all. And I watch Ju-On with my father and it freaked the hell out of me.

    and twillight is out of my list to watch.

    • August 1, 2010 11:17 pm

      28 days later was a great film. It really changed the whole Zombie sub-genre.

      The more indie horror in America is better than the studio films. The original “Last House on the Left” was freaky, but slasher. The Exorcist is a classic good time. The Shining too. I really like Eden Lake out of the UK. Horror is hit or miss and really subjective.

      I recently saw Oldboy for the first time. I found it horrific, but is it horror? Great film, but can I recommend it to people? I just don’t now.

      Elm st. is a little laughable now. Freddy is as Hollywood as they come now.

      Thanks for reading, and the great twitter conversations!

      • August 2, 2010 2:51 am

        whuaat?hehehe I just wrote my review on how I hate The Shining 😉 I love the book but I hate the movie.

        Agree on the indie, for me…blairwitch project remains as the best horror movie from Hollywood.

      • August 2, 2010 7:18 am

        We are just going to have to agree to disagree here. I’m a huge Stephen King fan, but I actually like the movie more though. It is one of the few times in my life that I think the film outshone the novel. Kubrick, for me, was the star in that collaboration. I could go further, but I want to go read your review.

        Blair witch is excellent horror. Very good call.

        One of the best indie horror films I’ve seen recently, The Signal, which was directed by three different people. It was the result of a film making contest that I have taken part in a few times.

      • August 2, 2010 7:39 am

        Hehe don’t read my review if you like The Shining (movie) because I butchered that movie and you might not like it 😉

        I think The Mist is the one that outshine the novella…it has much better ending.

        Film making contest? you make movies? awesome!! I’ll check on the link now

      • August 2, 2010 9:38 am

        That is totally cool. We can have differing opinions. I’m not so much into the Asia Extreme (as they call it here) horror. I’m not a ghost movie guy, except for the classics. I lean towards the terrifying “This could happen to me!” horror…. and zombies.

        The Mist was terrific. That last scene…. wow. Thomas Jane’s cry was haunting.

        Yes, my wife and I are filmmakers when we can be. We’ve made a few films, they’ve been in festivals. Two years ago we made a TV pilot called “The independent.” You can check out one of the trailers here:

        and the short film that the pilot is based on is here:

  12. August 2, 2010 11:52 am

    That’s totally understandable 🙂 we Asian believes in ghost while Bule (this is how Indonesian people called westerner) don’t believe in them and therefore they don’t find ghost as something scary. ‘This could happen to me’ notion applied in ghost story for me. If you have seen Ringu (the Japanese version of the ring), Sadako looks exactly like Indonesian ghost called kuntilanak…I hate it when I accidentally heard her laughing in the middle of the night.

    Yeah…that last scene is incredible…I remembered when my students were pissed off because the ending is so heartbreaking.

    I’ve read The Signal in the link you gave me, It sounds similar with Cell, the detail might be different tho.

    Wow…that’s amazing, I wish I can make movies too…unfortunately, I’m just a movie-lover. I will check the youtube link when I go to internet rental. Mobilephone is very limited

    • August 2, 2010 12:42 pm

      I find our cultural differences as applied to horror films absolutely fascinating.

      If you screened The Mist to students, then you are a hero of a teacher in my eyes! Do you teach film theory or writing? I’m interested in how you came to show it.

      The signal is a fun film. It is humor/ horror as it tracks a really bad day for a city that is aptly named “Terminal City.”

    • August 2, 2010 5:08 pm

      no, I’m not a film teacher…I’m not that creative. I used to be an English Conversation teacher (not anymore now because I have return to my origin as Chemistry Teacher) and at the end of the semester I always let my students watch movies with no subtitle to practice their listening ability. My students trusted my choice of movies and I often gave them horror or thriller movies.

      Humor/horror…that’ll be interesting to see. Too bad it’s indie movies 😦 it’s so hard to find indie movies here.


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