Monday, 29 October 2012

The Greatest Horror Films...that are not Actually Horror

Horror Month- Part 2

As Halloween approaches, a horror fever encroaches upon the life of a true film fan. What are the great horror films one might say? What films will make my Halloween party the social event of the nerd season?

Sure, there's the conventional route for conventional people: if Ringu (1998) is a 7.5 on the cliche-o-meter, then surely Halloween (or even, God Forbid, it's sequels) must be a 9.0

So, then, how about a fresh perspective. What are the great horror movies from other genres??
No, I don't mean movies that are so badly made they are scary (take a bow, Mr. Bay), I mean movies from other genres that have enough horror elements, and even a few genuine scares, to come to the party...

Here are six great horrors that actually aren't...

(NOTE: I will not include Alien (1979) or The Silence of the Lambs (1991) as they are both often seen as horrors and/or obvious choices)

6. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Dir. Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Vincent Price

Why? Because it is, even by Tim Burton standards, a gothic and highly melodramatic affair. With Johnny Depp's silent-film inspired performance, to the crazy castle upon a hill motif, to the fact that Vincent Price plays a bloody mad scientist in it, this is indeed a film in which Tim Burton brings his B-Movie A Game. It even has some bloodshed...

Most horror-like moment: Has to be the first encounter between beauty product-rep Peg and Edward in a spooky basement.

5. King Kong (1933/2005)

Dir: Ernest B Schoedsack or Peter Jackson
Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong or Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black

Why? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Romance? This one ertainly runs the genre gauntlet. All I can say is this: when a giant ape is prepared to devastate all in sight in pursuit of a giant woman, its hard to argue against horror influence.

Most horror-like moment: Anne is offered to Kong at his feet ritualistically; the build up to Kong's appearance is vintage horror fare.

4. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Dir. Darren Arronofski
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

Why? Though technically an indie film, the second half of this one is comfortably one of the most terrifying cinematic experiences I have ever had. Nobody said that drug addiction was pretty, but Ellen Burstyn's withered dementia, a hacked-arm, and (God help us) "ass to ass", all add up to make the sheer dismal nature of this film horrific.

Most horror-like moment: Without giving anything away, the final sequence involving Sara's dementia and a faux- happy ending is rather chilling.

3. Se7en (1995)
Dir: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey

Why? Well, this one is obvious. The sheer use of claustrophobic shots to turn an unnamed city into hell on Earth is enough to damn this one to the horror ranks...let alone the circumstances of the seven unforgettable victims. But, how about the special effects? And the 'hopeless' ending? Chilly stuff from Fincher and co...

Most horror-like moment: It has to be sloth and that big fright scene: "He still has hell to look forward to..."

2. Predator (1987)
Dir: James McTiernan
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers

Why? Though the quintessential action film, there can be no doubt that James McTiernan and co. created a horror icon in their eponymous alien beast. With the mischief of Lang's M and the allusive mystery of a Jason Vorheeves/ Michael Myers slasher icon, Predator was one bad horror dude.

Most Horror-like moment: How about blowing Carl Weathers away piece by piece?!

And, finally, my personal favourite...

1. Ghostbusters (1984)

Dir: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis

Why? Probably the best use of the horror genre for laughs...ever. Dan Aykroyd used his father's own ghost-hunting history to craft a script telling the story of a college professor and his nutty friends who make fighting the undead a 1800 service. Yes, it's amazing!

Most horror-like moment: The opening sequence in the library- yes, you can laugh and soil your pants.

Honorable mention: Vertigo (1958), Blood Simple (1983), The Prestige (2006), Coraline (2009)

Thanks for reading. 'Till next time!
Hasta la vista!

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