Hag Horror

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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tryavna
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#51 Post by tryavna » Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:20 pm

viciousliar wrote:
tryavna wrote:Oh, dear God! Have any of you listened to the clips provided?
Here you go, lovey
Funny stuff. For some reason, though, in the first clip, Davis sounds half-way decent. Or maybe it's just that, in comparison to the mind-bogglingly bad 30-second clip of "I've Written a Letter to Daddy," this one sounds like Maria Callas!

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Lino
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#52 Post by Lino » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:38 am

tryavna wrote:the mind-bogglingly bad 30-second clip of "I've Written a Letter to Daddy"
It's supposed to sound that bad. If you've seen the movie, you'll see that she's singing totally in character.

The Anniversary -- what a hoot! If you can imagine a film where Bette Davis plays the Mother from Hell and proceeds to make the life of each of her 3 sons as miserable as possible on the proverbial Anniversary day of her marriage (even though her husband is long dead!), you'll only then begin to see how bilious and sick this movie really is!

Davis is in top form playing it as campy and outrageously as she can and it's unbelievable the things she says -- she is really relishing as she spills the beans about the family's dirty little secrets. My jaw dropped many times at the many twists and turns this deliciously sick little movie has. Recommended of course.

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#53 Post by Lino » Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:46 am

The Nanny is available in France on DVD from Fox. If you're tired of waiting for a R1 edition, well, wait no more.

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#54 Post by Lino » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:42 am

Lino wrote:The Nanny is available in France on DVD from Fox. If you're tired of waiting for a R1 edition, well, wait no more.
And so I did. Just barely finished watching it and it's quite a shame that Fox has yet to release it in R1 land as this is one very worthwhile film that will please Davis fans and horror buffs alike. The story is indeed very macabre in parts and Bette gives us yet another magnificent portrayal but if I had to say what I enjoyed most about the whole deal, it would be two things: the crisp, sparkling B/W cinematography (it's beautifully shot and handsomely composed) and the overall excellent acting from every member of the cast (and I dare you to find a sympathetic or loveable character in this one!).

The french disc is completely english friendly with removable english subs on the feature (as well as others). Its sole extra is the original theatrical trailer. Recommended, of course, yet again.

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Re: "Hag Horror"

#55 Post by opaque0ne » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:06 pm

I realize this topic is old, but I have some 'Hag Horror" thoughts to share. Personally, I prefer these psycho-biddy films in black and white. There is something added, enriched with this sub-genre's entries when filmed without color; conversely, there seems to be something lost in the hag horror color films--at least to my eyes. Though I haven't seen every film mentioned in this topic I've seen the majority of them, and here are my favorites. Not necessarily the greatest in terms of cinema, but the ones I enjoy most:

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte
Dead Ringer
Straight Jacket
The Night Walker*
Lady in a Cage*
The Nanny

The 2 films with asterisks by them didn't get much attention. Has anyone here seen Lady in a Cage, with Olivia DeHavilland and James Caan? I enjoyed it for it's brutal willingness to go where few films had gone before--the ending--and it seemed ahead of its time. Also, while not a huge fan of William Castle, I think The Night Walker is one of his better films. Stanwyck is more the victim as opposed to the villain (like DeHavilland in Lady) but I find it a satisfying Castle film with a good score. and one thankfully light on Castle's overdone gimmicks. Any thoughts? I recommend both to any who've not seen them.

My one question is, if I were to allow one color hag horror film into my collection, what should it be? It seems like Aunt Alice and Die, Die My Darling are two of the favorites. Have not seen either. Thoughts?

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zedz
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Re: "Hag Horror"

#56 Post by zedz » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:36 pm

Lady in a Cage is really surprisingly sadistic for its time, and that's probably what keeps it watchable.

I would effortlessly recommend Aunt Alice, because it's the first film I remember seeing (late night TV screening when I was 3 or 4), and I never forgot it. It's still a lot of fun.

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Re: "Hag Horror"

#57 Post by MichaelB » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:31 am

zedz wrote:Lady in a Cage is really surprisingly sadistic for its time, and that's probably what keeps it watchable.
Banned outright by the BBFC at the time, if I remember rightly.

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Re: "Hag Horror"

#58 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:59 pm

Ruth Roman in The Baby!

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Professor Wagstaff
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Re: "Hag Horror"

#59 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:22 pm

Can anyone recommend further reading on 'hag horror' films? I've been catching up with many of the titles in this thread and wanted to research for an article I'd like to write.

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colinr0380
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Re: "Hag Horror"

#60 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:40 am

Watching What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? for the first time in a couple of decades it really struck me how influential this must have been on something like Misery later on, and how Baby Jane itself is influenced by Psycho (the house is even laid out the same, with Blanche's room in the same place as Mother's!). The abusive and controlling yet also pitiable monster wanting to keep their life in order while the normal and decent person starts to seem shifty and duplicitous in their eyes (because they are! They're desperately trying to escape and sell the house, or to just try and stop writing a character they hate, but they do not realise that they are destroying someone else's entire world by doing that. Or they know but that's the sacrifice they have to make to be able to move on with their own lives), to such an extent that locking them up probably does make some kind of sense to prevent their betrayal!

Of course all the plans to sell the house and put Jane in some sort of institution are sensible ones (and only becomes more and more sensible as we go through the film - we're really seeing the last moments of 'normality' in the first scene with the maid, and then the rest takes place in the claustrophobic twilight zone area of inevitable capture and/or death of the prolonged fantasy world), yet the film is very much about Jane's collapse into madness rather than Blanche's struggles to escape and that seems the case from the way it feels as if Blanche and the maid are 'ganging up' on Jane in the first scene. They're doing the right things but far too late (perhaps a comment on how they've tried to keep up a façade of normality for much too long, especially given the haggard state we see Jane in compared to Blanche being, relatively, well cared for at the opening. Perhaps this is a film about the toll that 24/7 caring takes on a carer more than anything else?) and behind Jane's back, something which would only drive someone paranoid even further into delusion!
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I particularly like that the twist to the film of who was driving the car and who was at the gate is twisted around at the finale to only emphasise that Blanche (and her jealousy) is as responsible for Jane's mental deterioration as Jane's celebrity downfall was. Or rather that Blanche caused the downfall of the brattish Baby Jane and then felt so responsible that she needed to either (charitably) help Jane by keeping them in their family home as long as possible, albeit with Jane as the carer and thinking that she had crippled her sister in a drunken stupor (likely a drunkenness caused by her transitioning into an adult career not going so well), or (uncharitably) by using her able-bodied sister's guilt as a way of holding power over her and only starting to feel guilty about that (and making plans to drop the dead weight to a mental hospital, and move in with her more practical nurse) once Jane was about to become entirely unhinged. Its really a film about the physically disabled versus the mentally ill, and who has it worse in a war between siblings. Whilst Jane does all of the very worst actions in the film, I end up seeing Blanche as the true monster of the piece, refusing to take responsibility for her actions until she is about to die, putting her sister into a guilty form of caring and then making plans to drop her behind Jane's back. Finally the truth comes back but both sisters are too far gone to really follow up on it - although Jane seems liberated for the first time in her life on the beach, she is surrounded and performing again to a menacing-seeming circle of onlookers, and is about to be arrested for her crimes. Whilst Blanche herself is left suspended in a Schrodinger's cat-like limbo between life and death.
Everything else in the film feels like a bit of a distraction from the task at hand, (though at about the three quarter point of the film the main relationship has flatlined a little, or at least gone unconscious!) though the subplot scenes of seeming confidence trickster Victor Buono and harridan proto-Norman Bates (just without the spooky old dark house) mother responding to Jane's ad is wonderful simply just for that first telephone call between the two parties, with the film cutting between the petty criminals and the insane housebound ex-star with career delusions, both of them putting on a businesslike façade of civility and professionalism over the phone to set up an interview appointment whilst the audience can pretty obviously see the truth of the situation that the other character cannot! Each hoping to use the other, but it turns out there was nothing of value to be bilked out of either side of the deal! (Maybe Jane just chose the wrong section of the newspaper's small ads section to put the advert in?)

But this time I did like the scenes of the neighbour girl and the mother introducing the characters of the sisters next door by watching a performance of Blanche on a season of her films on television (where are the 1930s Crawford/Davis films on television now BBC? [-( ) and the mother having a beautiful little reverie about the first time of having seen the film on a date with the girl's father. That (and the cut to the wheelchair bound Blanche having her own reverie about the film, although her memories are more specific to the making of the film!) I think gets to the power of cinema, that it is about the unchanging set of images telling its individual story whilst the audience changes and evolves around it, and as an audience member a film cannot just transport you into its particular world but also remind you of your own past too, of when and where you were when you saw it. Its like a shared experience of time travel, especially through the mass medium of a television broadcast inspiring renewed interest in Blanche, and a fresh batch of fan mail (you can occasionally see that process happening on Twitter these days, when a television screening of a film provokes a sudden flurry of tweets from people watching, and which due to the international nature of Twitter can occasionally even sometimes inspire a slightly bemused response from the film's director or star themselves, unsure of why a film they made five or ten years ago is suddenly 'trending' again!). Even if the fan mail goes straight into the bin before it reaches its destination!

The film is not entirely positive about the effect of television though. It allows a film to reach a wider, younger, even housebound audience but there are regular intrusions to the screening by commercials for dog food. Which finally for me tied into and makes sense of the brutally upbeat, superficial dog food commerical ending of The Legend of Lylah Clare!

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Feego
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Re: "Hag Horror"

#61 Post by Feego » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:32 pm

colinr0380 wrote:The abusive and controlling yet also pitiable monster wanting to keep their life in order while the normal and decent person starts to seem shifty and duplicitous in their eyes (because they are! They're desperately trying to escape and sell the house, or to just try and stop writing a character they hate, but they do not realise that they are destroying someone else's entire world by doing that. Or they know but that's the sacrifice they have to make to be able to move on with their own lives), to such an extent that locking them up probably does make some kind of sense to prevent their betrayal!
Great write-up as usual Colin! Have you ever read the original novel by Henry Farrell? I read it earlier this year, and while the film is overall a pretty faithful adaptation, it's the little differences that are always most interesting to me. One of the most significant differences concerns the movie careers of Blanche and Jane.
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The film of course shows that each had separate movie careers, with Jane's lack of talent sending her on a downward spiral of depression and alcoholism. In the book, however, it's Blanche who breaks into movies first and puts it in her contract that Jane must be given a supporting role in all of her pictures. Others of course think this is a noble and generous gesture on Blanche's part, but in fact it's her way of ensuring that Jane will never become a star herself by being relegated to small (and rather unflattering) roles. There's really no indication in the book that Jane is not a talented actress. Her descent into alcoholism and eventually mental illness seems a direct result of her depression caused by her career being stymied by her sister. All of this is on top of the final twist that it was Blanche who caused the accident.
Because of this, Blanche is actually a less sympathetic character in the book than she is in the film. She actually is "shifty and duplicitous," and Jane's abuse, while vicious and grotesque, starts to seem much more honest by comparison. At least Blanche is aware of her victimization which enables her to attempt to fight back, whereas Jane's victimization was far more subtle and downright invisible to others.

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Re: Hag Horror

#62 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:06 pm

I have not had a chance to read the book, so it is really interesting to hear that it originally went a bit more in that direction. I wonder if that is one of those aspects that had to be balanced out due to the whole Joan Crawford and Bette Davis casting meaning their characters needed to feel a bit more equal in the audience's sympathies? (As well as one not being subservient to the other movie career-wise, even in the form of their fictional characters!) Either way, its good to know that my siding with Jane isn't (entirely) about having a contrarian streak!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hag Horror

#63 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:38 am

There were a couple of great meta-moments in episode 6 of the Feud: Betty & Joan mini-series dealing with the post-Baby Jane and Oscar fallout: one involved John Waters cameoing as William Castle at the premiere of Strait-Jacket, getting his head lopped off by Jessica Lange playing Joan Crawford (Although Waters is a slightly different type than the hulkingly cuddly Castle, it works for the showmanship through-line! Incidentally Strait-Jacket is a great little film - the severed heads are rather fake, but that just adds to the fun!). The other was the brief line that "at least in Titus Andronicus the kids were baked into a pie!", which I would like to imagine was a slight nod to Jessica Lange having starred as Tamora in the great 1999 adaptation of the play, Titus!

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Re: Hag Horror

#64 Post by Slaphappy » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:40 pm

I think Burnt Offerings is hagsploitation too. The difference is of course, that we never really see the mysteroius/sinister hag. Instead we get another brilliant hag-era horror performance by Bette Davis and in the end Karen Black’s unforgettable
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transformation into a hag!

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Re: Hag Horror

#65 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Apr 28, 2018 3:38 am

Slaphappy wrote:I think Burnt Offerings is hagsploitation too. The difference is of course, that we never really see the mysteroius/sinister hag. Instead we get another brilliant hag-era horror performance by Bette Davis and in the end Karen Black’s unforgettable
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transformation into a hag!
I think that’s stretching it. It’s a haunted house film, for a hag horror movie you need on-screen hag-action. The movie’s most disturbing presence is not an old woman but the ghostly, male chauffeur. Davis in a sympathetic, non-grotesque supporting role as the aunt and a too young Black don’t go up against each other and are no hags. Hag horror films always are psychological thrillers rather than supernatural horror films.

I always found Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte far more entertaining than Baby Jane, a movie which I like better in theory than having to sit through it. For the first 30 minutes it’s great (the grotesquely cloying I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy prologue is my favourite scene) but it becomes repetitive and is far too long. In Hush, Hush
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the cast-against-type de Havilland is a tremendously effective villain. When she drops the gracious demeanor and shows her true colours, Melanie has well and truly gone to the dark side.
Would love to have Aunt Alice on BD, there can never be enough Ruth Gordon as far as I’m concerned. Her and Geraldine Page are wonderful adversaries. The nasty Lady in a Cage is another favourite. Loved that Feud: Bette & Joan referenced it.

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Re: Hag Horror

#66 Post by Slaphappy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:16 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Slaphappy wrote:I think Burnt Offerings is hagsploitation too. The difference is of course, that we never really see the mysteroius/sinister hag. Instead we get another brilliant hag-era horror performance by Bette Davis and in the end Karen Black’s unforgettable
SpoilerShow
transformation into a hag!
I think that’s stretching it. It’s a haunted house film, for a hag horror movie you need on-screen hag-action. The movie’s most disturbing presence is not an old woman but the ghostly, male chauffeur. Davis in a sympathetic, non-grotesque supporting role as the aunt and a too young Black don’t go up against each other and are no hags. Hag horror films always are psychological thrillers rather than supernatural horror films.
[Some major spoilers here.] The house is not haunted, it is possessed by a vampiric presence of an elderly woman, but naturally the concept is a mash-up of hag horror and haunted house genres. The chauffeur does not haunt Davis. It's the memory that's haunting her, probably conjured by the spirit hag, because it feeds on negative emotions of the people living in the house. The psychological key is very similar to hag horror: Dependency on other people's suffering. I find Davis' death scene to be extremely grotesque and pure hag horror as such, because it is caused by that dependency. You can see Karen Black's slow transformation into a hag during the movie as the house renews itself and in the final scene the transformation is complete: http://www.basementrejects.com/wp-conte ... -black.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Lost Highway
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Re: Hag Horror

#67 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:39 am

Sorry, I’m not having it. Burnt Offerings falls into the tradition of haunted house tales where the place itself is evil. It searches out female companionship and keeps replacing “mother”. It’s similar in its premise to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, one of the two or three most famous haunted house novel. Most importantly the genre label “psycho biddy” gives away that we are not dealing with ghosts, witches, vampires or malign real estate. It’s a sub-genre rooted in old women’s unhinged mental states, not about external supernatural forces.

Of course the film capitalized on Davis‘ late career horror fame, but then it doesn’t give her much to do. Just because Davis stars in a horror movie, doesn’t automatically make her a "hag“.

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Re: Hag Horror

#68 Post by Slaphappy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:09 am

[Looks like because of my post count my previous message disappeared for now, when I tried to edit some grammar, so I'm quoting my previous post too.]
Slaphappy wrote:The house is not haunted, it is possessed by a vampiric presence of an elderly woman, but naturally the concept is a mash-up of hag horror and haunted house genres. The chauffeur does not haunt Davis. It's the memory that's haunting her, probably conjured by the spirit hag, because it feeds on negative emotions of the people living in the house. The psychological key is very similar to hag horror: Dependency on other people's suffering. I find Davis' death scene is extremely grotesque and pure hag horror as such, because it is caused by that dependency. You can see Karen Black's slow transformation into a hag during the movie as the house renews itself and in the final scene the transformation is complete: http://www.basementrejects.com/wp-conte ... -black.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Lost Highway wrote:Sorry, I’m not buying it. Burnt Offerings falls into the tradition of haunted house tales where the place itself is evil. It searches out female companionship and keeps replacing “mother”. It’s similar in its premise to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, one of the two or three most famous haunted house novel. Most importantly the genre label “psycho biddy” gives away that we are not dealing with ghosts, witches, vampires or malign real estate. It’s a sub-genre rooted in old women’s unhinged mental states, not about external supernatural forces.

Of course the film capitalized on Davis‘ late career horror fame, but then it doesn’t give her much to do. Just because Davis stars in a horror movie, doesn’t automatically make her a "hag“.
The presence in the house does not seek female companions, but host bodies to posses. So we have this old rundown 19th century mansion possibly possessed by the original matriarch, which tries to regain it's former glory. The owners of the house identify it as The Mother. It takes over female bodies and turns them into hags while possessing them. The house/hag psychologically molests character played by one of the original hags reminding her about a childhood trauma. I still think it's safe to say, that there are major hag horror influences. I would actually label it as hag horror, but then again, I'm not a purist in these matters.

"The character is often brought to life in an over-the-top, grotesque fashion, emphasizing the unglamorous process of aging and eventual death. Characters are often seen pining for lost youth and glory, trapped by their idealized memories of their childhood, or younger days, and the trauma of a past episode that haunts them." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho-biddy" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Hag Horror

#69 Post by domino harvey » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:15 am

Mod here. When new members edit their initial posts, they have to be re-approved by a mod. Your post has returned to its spot

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Lost Highway
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Re: Hag Horror

#70 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:53 am

Slaphappy wrote:[Looks like because of my post count my previous message disappeared for now, when I tried to edit some grammar, so I'm quoting my previous post too.]
Slaphappy wrote:The house is not haunted, it is possessed by a vampiric presence of an elderly woman, but naturally the concept is a mash-up of hag horror and haunted house genres. The chauffeur does not haunt Davis. It's the memory that's haunting her, probably conjured by the spirit hag, because it feeds on negative emotions of the people living in the house. The psychological key is very similar to hag horror: Dependency on other people's suffering. I find Davis' death scene is extremely grotesque and pure hag horror as such, because it is caused by that dependency. You can see Karen Black's slow transformation into a hag during the movie as the house renews itself and in the final scene the transformation is complete: http://www.basementrejects.com/wp-conte ... -black.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Lost Highway wrote:Sorry, I’m not buying it. Burnt Offerings falls into the tradition of haunted house tales where the place itself is evil. It searches out female companionship and keeps replacing “mother”. It’s similar in its premise to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, one of the two or three most famous haunted house novel. Most importantly the genre label “psycho biddy” gives away that we are not dealing with ghosts, witches, vampires or malign real estate. It’s a sub-genre rooted in old women’s unhinged mental states, not about external supernatural forces.

Of course the film capitalized on Davis‘ late career horror fame, but then it doesn’t give her much to do. Just because Davis stars in a horror movie, doesn’t automatically make her a "hag“.
The presence in the house does not seek female companions, but host bodies to posses. So we have this old rundown 19th century mansion possibly possessed by the original matriarch, which tries to regain it's former glory. The owners of the house identify it as The Mother. It takes over female bodies and turns them into hags while possessing them. The house/hag psychologically molests character played by one of the original hags reminding her about a childhood trauma. I still think it's safe to say, that there are major hag horror influences. I would actually label it as hag horror, but then again, I'm not a purist in these matters.

"The character is often brought to life in an over-the-top, grotesque fashion, emphasizing the unglamorous process of aging and eventual death. Characters are often seen pining for lost youth and glory, trapped by their idealized memories of their childhood, or younger days, and the trauma of a past episode that haunts them." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho-biddy" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
That’s some selective quoting there from Wikipedia to make youth arguement fit, while ignoring the other 90% and the very gist of the entry. Anyways, I think I’m done with this.

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Re: Hag Horror

#71 Post by Slaphappy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:12 pm

Lost Highway wrote:That’s some selective quoting there from Wikipedia to make youth arguement fit, while ignoring the other 90% and the very gist of the entry. Anyways, I think I’m done with this.
Sorry for partial quote. I picked the part which matched best, though I do think, that pretty much everything except lifelong rivalry/jealousy and blood relation matches too. Then again, I tend to jump into conclusions pretty easy, so no need to argue about that.

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