Sunday, 24 January 2016

Shock horror


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.


26 comments:

  1. The 1976 film Carrie is my favorite horror film and I think it really is a horror film.

    I am an Ingmar Bergman fan, as you know. I love all that angst, religious fervour, death and sex.

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    1. I've never seen Carrie, and I see that they have just re-made it. I like The Shining, I've just remembered. A good Horror usually involves children, doesn't it?

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    2. Like the Exorcist. Carrie is much better than the Exorcist though. You should see it in the original 1976 version.

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    3. I was just going to mention The Shining, and I see you've beaten me to it. The little dead twin girls were the scariest part of that movie, to me. Stephen King has given the world some truly scary stories!

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    4. Yes, the wall of blood coming from that room was a bit on the humorous side. Must have been fun to film though - one take only.

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  2. I'm not easily frightened but remember finding Amityville Horror really creepy. I think it was based on fact?

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    1. I haven't seen that on either. I like my Horror English if possible, either that or set in very remote and bleak areas, like The Shining or The Thing.

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    2. Amityville really freaked me out. Still expect to see a dolly with glowing eyes sitting in a darkened window.

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  3. When i did my psychiatric nurse training in the 1980s we students were shown Repulsion in class.....so good it was an account of the hallucinations and delsuions of a severe psychotic episode

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    1. Did they? A true psychological thriller then.

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    2. The hands through the wall!

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  4. Tom - I hate to admit it but I am scared in the dark - always have been. So any horror film is definitly not on my list of 'must sees'.

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    1. I cannot believe that the Daniel Radcliffe character would go upstairs in the horrid house to investigate strange noises, armed with a candle. Nah. I wouldn't do that, not even with a hatchet. Wait for them to come to you is my policy.

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  5. A scary movie that I recommend is The Others with Nicole Kidman. There's no blood involved, it's very "quiet", and it truly sent shivers down my spine.

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    1. Oh, I have never heard of that one. That maybe a good sign.

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  6. No, I'm with Weave here, I'd be watching from behind the sofa ! I couldn't go to the cinema and watch a horror film on the big screen !

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    1. I'm not really scared of the dark unless I think that real humans may be hiding in it.

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    2. That reminds me of something my grandma used to say if the topic of ghosts and haunting came up: "Don't worry about dead people. It's those live ones you've got to watch out for."

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  7. As a teenager I watched horror movies. I remember The Shining, it was a creepy movie. Nowadays I just like to have a laugh when I watch movies, so comedies tend to be my favourites.

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    1. I laugh inwardly at Hammer Horror films.

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  8. One of the most horrific films I've seen was with Mia Farrow playing a blind girl in an old house with a murderer on the prowl (inside). I have no idea what the film was, but I haven't seen another like it.

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    1. It was called "Blind Terror" Greetings Maria x

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    2. I haven't seen that one, but I always found Mia Farrow a harrowing experience on her own.

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  9. Pacific Heights with Michael Keaton.Can't say more as it was too frighteningly real.

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  10. We agree on the Archers, but I'll have to part company with you on horror films. I can't stand them. As a kid I skipped those Saturday afternoon movies and never gave them another chance. I'm sure they've gotten better in cinematic terms, but I don't like being scared in that way. Thrillers, yes.

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