My Love of the Scary Movie and my Top 10!

It’s coming on Halloween, and if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll already know I’ve been sharing some of my old OLD posts on a few of my favourite scary movies. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have seen some of my random mentions of scary films as and when I watch them.

To get in the mood, a few weeks back we watched a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. I had never heard of it, but it was featuring as a scare zone at Orlando’s Universal Halloween Horror Nights, and the character Sam looked kinda cute for a scary sack headed ghoul, so we found it and watched it. For a movie that was released straight to DVD 2 years after it was finished, I was actually really impressed. It was scary enough, enjoyable and had a nice comic-book feel to it. I’d recommend it if you haven’t heard of it.

But I thought I’d share some of my favourites, whether they’ve been mentioned previously or not. And by favourites, I mean the ones that stuck with me, and I would watch more than once. Here’s my top 10 in order!

10: The Shining

the shining movie poster

I’ve seen this film so many times, that I wouldn’t even call it a horror film now. It’s just a work of art. Scary, violent, messed up it is, but it’s visually incredible and Jack Nicholson is epic. I tried to read the book, but just like Joey, I put it in the metaphorical freezer years ago and never took it back out. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day. If you haven’t seen this, and you like scary films, this Halloween make it a must-see.

9: The Gallows

The Gallows movie poster

This movie surprised me. As a big fan of found footage films, I was really surprised by how good this was. The scares were effective and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested.

8: The Fog

The Fog Movie Poster

As a child growing up with a massive Hammer Horror fan (my Dad) I was exposed to some very bad, and then some very good scary films. John Carpenter’s The Fog (not the remake please) was one of them and I’m not ashamed to admit that the end brought me out in a cold sweat on more than one occasion. What I love about John Carpenter’s films was not just the ability to make a fricking fantastic horror film, but also how he composed and used the music almost as a character in itself. I just have to think about his films to hear the score in my mind. Having stood on the very shore that inspired this story, on a dark misty night not too long ago, I can honestly say this film is one that stays with you.

7: Halloween

halloween movie poster

Another John Carpenter film, you can have Halloween films without Halloween itself, and it’s sequel (we don’t need to talk about the other sequels really) Adequately frightening and creepy, this is the paradigm of films about Halloween and is a great place to start if you’re wanting a classic scary movie fest this October 31st.

6: It Follows

This movie has such a retro feel, so much so that you’re never really sure when it’s set, but can only assume it’s present day based on some of the technology used. The music, costumes and sets are so ‘of an era’ – and this isn’t even mentioning the storyline. You can read my full review here, if you’d like to know more.

5: Ghost Watch

cover of video Ghostwatch

Not strictly a film, but it’s made the list anyway. This BBC drama caused such a kerfuffle it was actually banned. Due to its style of filming and use of well-known presenters at the time, people actually thought this was a real event. Based on the Enfield Haunting (which was the inspiration for The Conjuring 2) Ghost Watch has inspired so many films after it (The Blair Witch Project to name one), is used as a case study in film schools and still has a cult following. I can honestly say it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, and the effects and technology used in it are so impressive for its time. Watch it, then research it to find out why it caused so much drama.

4: Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters movie poster

I really bloody loved these films. There’s only two but I secrectly hope there’s a third. Again this is found footage, but it really pulls inspiration from other places (but not in a copycat type way) and offers scares and weirdness in a way I just liked. Read my full review here.

3: The Blair Witch Project

The blair witch project poster

You may have seen my recent review of this film and it’s sequel (I’m going to just forget that The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows ever happened) so you can head there for a full review. But this movie marked a change in scary films. Using found footage, which was never mainstream before, and also the brand new power of the internet, they created a cult following even before release. And the film didn’t disappoint. To this day I still get chills watching the last shot of The Blair Witch Project.

2: Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity Poster

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of these films. I don’t understand why people trash them. Yes, the last one was VERY bad, but when you’ve invested in the others you kind of have to include it. The first one was epic and covered found-footage ground in a way that had never been done before. Some of the effects in the first 3 were pretty epic – gobsmacking in fact. Even the spin-off movie ‘The Marked Ones’ was REALLY good and towards the end literally made me gasp in the cinema when I realised what was happening. I guess I know the films really well, and I was pretty much the only one who realised what was going on, BUT still. I honestly think they’re worth the investment in time. And they made it to my number 2!

1: Scream

scream movie poster

This film was made for my generation, it was the first 18 film I ever watched and will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, parody films have pretty much ruined if for any generation afterwards, so there’s that. But I’m a staunch fan and will always be! I wrote a review of the first 3 films ahead of the 4th being released, back in 2011 which you can find here if you’d like to read it.

And that’s my top 10! Of course I have many many more I’d love to include, and I hope I find more in the years to come, which knock others off the list. But until then, if you’re looking for some scary film recommendations I’d go with this list!

Let me know if you have others in your top 10 or if you watch any of these on my recommendation, let me know what you think! Just don’t have nightmares!

 

 

The Blair Witch Project

The blair witch project poster

It’s been way too long since I wrote a good horror review and in the spirit of the Halloween season, I thought I’d write about one of my favourites, The Blair Witch Project. (This post does contain spoilers so if you don’t want to know about the films, then don’t read – then go watch them and come back!)

In 2017 it’s way too easy to take this film for granted, so I thought I’d school those of you who were too young to appreciate the rise of this film, at the time.

Ahead of its release in October 1999, a website appeared. This in the day when very few families even had a computer, let alone the internet, made for an exciting discovery. The website (which you can still visit today, albeit in a much pared down form) promoted a documentary about 3 film makers whose footage was found after their disappearance in the 1990s. The site took you to another other site that looked like a Burkittsville town site but was in fact part of the original one, which had small videos of interviews with towns people (some of which featured in the film), newspaper articles (fake of course) and allsorts of tidbits to immerse you into the story. I knew the site back to front, and everything was placed in there to lead you to the conclusion that this was a REAL documentary, and the film makers really were missing.

Of course the film came out in America way ahead of the UK, and reports of people having to leave the theatre part way through because of the found-footage style recording making them seasick, spread across the country.

I was sold! Finally seeing this at the cinema was a darn creepy experience but I was so impressed by the film style, of which hadn’t been seen in mainstream cinema before, and was so different from anything else I’d experienced.

The movie contains no score or sound effects. The actors had a basic storyline to follow, but their reactions to the scares they faced were, for the most part, genuine. Myrick and Sanchez, who made the film (and also The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows which we won’t mention again, and was more like a Marilyn Manson music video than an actual film) set up speakers in the woods and didn’t tell the actors. When they heard snapping branches, running or children playing around them, their reactions were real. Piles of rocks and twig things in the trees – they had no idea to expect them. They could only assume the sounds were part of the film making process, but in that environment, in the woods in the dark and in a tent – you can imagine how real it all felt. Even when one of the film makers went missing, the others had no clue that was going to happen.

The actual film’s a corker, so if you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of an indie film, and a found footage one at that, I’d say give it a crack. Then don’t watch the sequel.

Now that’s done, you can move onto the 2016 Blair Witch.

blair-witch-poster-s

I was skeptical about this ‘sequel’. As such a fan of the original, I really didn’t want a repeat of Book of Shadows, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This film’s story starts with a guy who turns out to be the brother of Heather, the original film maker from the first film, who went missing. He receives tapes of the house she went missing in and is convinced he sees her reflection in a mirror. So sets up a team to go into the woods, find the house and see if she’s there. Sounds legit.

I won’t go into any more of the storyline, but I will discuss how this movie uplifts the first one. Firstly, obviously there have been changes in technology since the first movie, and changes in found footage style. There is use of a drone camera, head-worn cameras, GPS equipment. There’s an element of sound effects used, where there was none in the first, and you do actually see menacing ‘things’ in this film, where in the first it was mostly left to your imagination.

But at the bare bones of this, the 2016 Blair Witch is still raw, still about the relationship between the people and the woods, and still feeds on the fear of the viewer as well as the actors in it.

There are a few hard to watch parts in this, flashes of the original film and a supernatural element that wasn’t in the first. There’s also a suggestion of time shifting. But all of these just bring the story up to date. You can’t continue a story 20 years later and not expect some changes to be made.

All in all, these two films are great companions. They’re scary, play with your mind a bit and leave you adequately unnerved. And I wouldn’t want anything less.

It Follows

img_4781

I didn’t know what to expect when we started watching It Follows one dark winter evening. As a massive fan of classic horror, I had low expectations for this movie. They tend to steer towards some kind of new innovation, be technology themed or contain lots of gore. I’m down with all but the latter, so I hoped this wouldn’t turn into some kind of zombie-fest.

But It Follows pleasantly surprised me. This is a slow burner of a movie. It’s intelligent and leaves a lot to your imagination, which you’ll probably agree can be the scariest place to be. It starts with the main character, Jay, meeting and dating her new boyfriend. They sleep together and everything seems calm and relaxed on a balmy summer evening. Until he kidnaps her, ties her to a rusty wheelchair takes her to an disused warehouse. Here he explains to her that he has passed on some kind of curse to her, via their sexual encounter. This curse means she is followed where ever she goes by figures that only she and those afflicted can see, and if they get hold of her they’ll kill her. If this happens they will start to follow him again, and so on down the line.

She then has to work out what to do, and whether to sleep with someone else to pass the curse on again, knowing that it’s possible this might kill him. Needless to say she has a few male friends who are willing to take the risk for her. Kind of sweet, kind of sleazy. With the help of her friends, they try and work through this huge turn her life has taken. The movie continues in a swathe of anxiety in dangerous world where anyone she sees could be out to get her.

It’s a whole big thing, and as the viewer you have to be prepared to accept the curse exists. This movie leaves a lot to the imagination, but it can still shock you. It’s so John Carpenter, all the way down to the music. The characters, and their wardrobe, could have been straight out of a 70s flick, and I’m still not sure when it’s set, though will the inclusion of a few bits of technology and shiny cars I’m only to assume it’s set in present day.

The movie moves on slowly, but you don’t need it to go any faster. It’s the classic horror idea of the chased can run away, but the baddy only walks menacingly towards the victim slowly, enough to cause anxiety and concern that they’ll still be able to strike somehow. I love a movie that grabs my attention, and makes me think. This was one of them. Apart from wishing I could still pull off shorts and long socks without looking like mutton dressed as lamb, and wondering where these teenagers are finding the money for pretty pink satin underwear, I found myself thoroughly intrigued by the concept of this film. Plus parts of it were just darn scary!

This is definitely one I’m going to watch again, and if you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s classics, but want to see something new, then this is one for you.

Unfriended

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of scary movies, and most recently found footage movies. I saw the trailer for Unfriended not so long ago. I think it was called something else at the time – it seems to have gone through a few title changes before its release. Either way it looked intriguing. I’m not sure whether I realised the format it would take at that time, but after seeing the final cut I was not disappointed.

If you’re yet to watch this movie, I’d suggest not reading this blog yet. Maybe come back afterwards.

Have they all gone?…. Right I’ll begin.

The whole movie is viewed from the desktop of a Mac – the whole thing. Windows, screens, tabs, apps – that’s all you see. The story focusses on a circle of friends who lost one of their group a year earlier when she took her own life. This event was spurred on by a video of her, drunk and not in control of her own body, at a party. The video brought on a lot of hateful messages from her peers and she couldn’t take it. So back at present day, this group of friends are having a Skype chat and there’s an intruder on the call – just a blue silhouette avatar. And then the girl whose computer your viewing, Blaire, starts getting messages from the dead girl’s Facebook account. Creepiness ensues.

There are some great intense and very creepy moments in this movie. There are also some gratuitously gory moments, but these are fleeting, effective and then they’re gone. At just 83 minutes, you can see how they may need to create a super intense atmosphere, but in this format it works. There are some funny bits, some sexy bits and some downright scary bits. There’s a lot of product placement but then I guess there had to be. And if you’re not familiar with the workings if a Mac then you might see this as an educational experience too! Apparently the whole film was shot in one cut – if this is true (and it’s certainly possible) then that’s very impressive. I guess all of the desktop graphics will have been tweaked in post production.

I can’t wait to watch this movie again. It fits right in with Paranormal Activity and Grave Encounters on my shelf of scary movies that work. It was bang up to date, not over the top and didn’t come over as stupid. It was as clever as it needed to be, and was enough to make the girls sat in front of me in the theatre get up and leave just as the intensity ramped up.

I went in with no preconceptions and I hope you can do that to, should you choose to watch this. It doesn’t leave you thinking about it or wondering how ‘this’ happened or why ‘that’ happened. It is what it is. And I really liked that about it.

Sometimes they’re bad, sometimes they’re good

I love movies, and try and watch them as much as I have time for. I don’t have enough dosh to go to the cinema as much as I’d like. When I was about 17 me and a friend used to go to the cinema every Tuesday and just watch whatever was on. (That’s how I ended up seeing Zoolander….. urgh!)

Anyway, we recently acquired some vouchers for free rentals at Blockbuster and so we decided to take advantage of those. We saw two movies last weekend and one this weekend.

Last Friday night we watched Knowing. It’s got Nicolas Cage in it. The only movie I’ve ever really liked him in was Bringing Out The Dead. That stuck with this movie too. It was a bit rubbish imo. Very loose plot lines stuck together with sticky tape. Some great special effects of disasters though. But. anyone who knows me well will know I hate movies that change genre half way through. I hate when you think you’re watching sci-fi and it changes to supernatural. I hate when it’s realistic and they change it to something so out there at the end. I felt that way about The Green Mile and White Noise too. So I felt it was all a bit strange with this movie.

Then on Saturday we watched Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I really enjoyed this one. It had some funky music and it was filmed well. I really like the actors anyway. Although there was too much throwing up (I have a severe phobia to vomit, fake or real) which means I probably will never watch it again. But it had that nice arty independent feel to it. I would like to see Michael Cera in another kind of film though.

And so we reach last night. We rented Let The Right One In. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a Swedish horror movie about a young boy living in the 80’s who befriends his young female neighbour. She just so happens to be a vampire. (Now I will add here, this has nothing to do with my Twilight obsession. This movie intrigued me a long while ago.) It’s based on a book, and shot in Swedish and shown with English subtitles. It’s dark, arty and the music is beautiful. It’s more a romantic film with a bit of horror spliced into it. If you found the beauty in Pan’s Labyrinth then you’ll find it in this movie too. The young actors are incredible. It’s amazing you can look at the face of a young girl with blood pouring from her eyes and hair line, and think she’s beautiful, but you do! I think it’s a dvd I’ll be buying soon!

So what’s next? Well, as a birthday treat next weekend I shall be going to see The Time Traveler’s Wife with my husband. It’s one of my all time favourite books and I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s translated onto screen, though I won’t have my expectations too high!

I just have to work out how to wait for New Moon…….. 😀