Sunday, 24 January 2016
We watched 'The Woman in Black' last night - the one with Daniel Radcliffe. I kept trying to rid myself of Harry Potter imagery, but couldn't. It was billed as very scary horror, but the only time I jumped it was for the shock, not horror. I don't think they know what they are talking about when they call something a 'psychological thriller'. Well I suppose it was made by the reincarnated 'Hammer' producers, but it lacked the camp humour of the originals. As H.I. said, the director of this one had obviously never seen 'The Innocents'. 2/10. End of critique.
I am trying to think of any film that has genuinely given me the creeps, and the only one I can think of is Roman Polanski's 'Repulsion'.
The whole film takes place in a grim and seedy, very dark London flat inhabited by a young woman who is steadily going off her head, aided by a Rachman-type landlord who comes to a sticky end at her hands. Now THAT is what you call a psychological thriller. It is so effective that I have no desire to put myself through the gruelling experience of watching it twice, and the first time I did was when it was first made.
Over the years, H.I. and me have discussed all the films we have seen in the past, and I began early by joining an Art Film club aged 14, at which I saw all the classics, one after the other. It turned out that H.I. had actually stayed in the very apartment where Polanski filmed 'Repulsion', and she said that it was just as creepy in real life as it is in the picture. I once visited the East German town where the exterior, night shots of 'Nosferatu' were filmed, and that too needed no tarting-up by the set designers. Location is everything in moody films.
When I wasn't watching deeply depressing Swedish angst films at the Arts club, I liked nothing more than to see the very latest 1960s Hammer Horror on the first day it hit the screen of our Odeon in Woking. I just loved them, rather like I loved seeing the latest Harry Potter as soon as it arrived in Bath. To hell with Ingmar Bergman.
These days, Hollywood's idea of a horror film involves extreme violence and a lot of blood, as if there were not enough of that in real life as it is. The early Hammer films sometimes involved buckets of fake blood, but even then the shedding of it was not done without a touch of humour, and later, Mel Brookes didn't have to change much to make the pastiches - just highlight the campness a little more was all that was needed.
I loved the bit where the innkeeper of the pub near Dracula's castle (played by Alfie Bass) has obviously been turned into a vampire, and Van Helsing holds up a large cross to keep him at bay. Alfie says, "You've got to be joking!" in a very Jewish accent. Dracula is also gay in that film.
Posted by Tom Stephenson at 05:23