Serious Horror Films

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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blindside8zao
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#1 Post by blindside8zao » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:14 am

In celebration of Halloween I've been seeking very serious horror movies. Not slashers, not theater-friendly weekend events.

Films like Exorcist and Audition (arguably not horror). Effective horror that actually reaches you. I also purchased Henry recently and will be watching that soon. Can anyone add any I should check out? I was thinking it'd be best for me to look at some more Japanese at they seem to be more serious about their horror right now than Americans.

I am also going to pick up kingdom, but it doesn't come out til nov.

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Theodore R. Stockton
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#2 Post by Theodore R. Stockton » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:24 am

Japanese wise I'd suggest Ringu. It's shot as if it was a drama with no giant string score scares or such. The un-official sequel Rasen (sp?), The Spiral, is also very good.
The Kingdom is creepy as hell, make sure you get both though.
Your main problem may be that Horror is subjective and is mostly a schlock, money making medium. I for example found The Exorcist more funny than scarry. For a not BOO!, but more of a creepy vibe check out early German films (Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and early universal horror (there are many box sets). These are more of a strange creepy production design than scarry as I said, also fitting with it is Carnival of Lost Souls.

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Lino
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#3 Post by Lino » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:44 am

Some suggestions:

The Innocents

Jigoku

The Eye 2


White Chicks

(wasn't that scary?!)

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blindside8zao
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#4 Post by blindside8zao » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:07 am

While I own and appreciate both Nos and Cabinet, I don't find them disturbing on any level, except for Schreck himself, it doesn't have anything to do with the atmosphere, that is just one weird looking guy. I'd like to see him sweep a gal off her feet like Lugosi.

does the eye 2 match up to the first? Some of the scenes in the beginning of the first are the most frightening I've ever seen.

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Lino
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#5 Post by Lino » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:16 am

I actually like The Eye 2 much more than the first one and that's why I recommended it to you. I think it improves on some of the ideas of the latter and the performances and scares are more competently handled this time around too. Plus the story is much more interesting IMHO.

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Rufus T. Firefly
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#6 Post by Rufus T. Firefly » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:45 am

Some more suggestions:

The Haunting (1963 version)

The Blood on Satan's Claw

Some of the earlier Bavas like Black Sunday and Kill Baby Kill

The Other

Candyman

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#7 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:08 am

My vote would be for Abel Ferrera's The Addiction which is such a powerful, disturbing horror film -- esp. the climatic scene near the end!

Also, Larry Fessenden's Habit (and actually Wendigo for that matter) are also good ones to check out.

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zedz
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#8 Post by zedz » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:30 pm

The Wicker Man - I find this particularly creepy because of all its mood shifts. It's almost as if it's trying desperately not to be a horror movie for most of its duration, then throws in the towel in spectacular fashion at the end.

Don't Look Now - not exactly a horror film, but moody as hell, with an unforgettable payoff.

Seconds - another film full of atmosphere (and, like the two above, challenging ideas) and with a truly horrific climax.

Kuroneko - the first half-hour especially creates some of the most chilling and disorienting supernatural imagery I've seen.

Funny Games - one of the most merciless, terrifying films I've experienced, because it adopts a generic template (the isolated family in peril) and breaks most of its rules. In this film the victims are resourceful and intelligent, making just the sort of sensible decisions in extremis that you would, but, as in real life, it's not enough. Most serial killer movies catch up with the murderers just as they're about to meet their comeuppance. In this case, we see some of those anonymous victims from the back-story.

and I'd consider The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a 'serious' horror movie, for the way it subverts the expected form of the genre and sacrifices conventional suspense for extended panic.

And hasn't a Val Lewton box just been released?

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#9 Post by franco » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:45 pm

I was just going to mention Funny Games when zedz posted his brilliant remark on it. Nothing I can add, but see this movie if you have not!

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#10 Post by zedz » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:53 pm

And how could I forget Alan Clarke's Elephant? An utterly chilling film, but it's hard to say whether that's because it's so abstract, or because it's so concrete. We're starting to stray outside the genre, but that probably depends on whether you define horror by a generic checklist, or by the effect it has on you.

Now OOP, so grab it fast!

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#11 Post by justeleblanc » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:25 pm

I suggest:

Lost Highway
Session 9
Carrie
The Tenant
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Hour of the Wolf
The Brood

I'm not sure if all of these are trully "horror" but they would all work well for what you're looking for... at least for what I think you're looking for.

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#12 Post by blindside8zao » Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:18 pm

funny last two posts in that, I am looking for effect not a genre film, and in that idea I started watching lynch films, including lost highway. LeBlanc I've seen your entire list but I will check out some of these others ive never heard of or seen like wicker man and elephant.

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#13 Post by ben d banana » Thu Oct 20, 2005 1:51 am

Dumont's Twentynine Palms fucked me up. It's been a year and I'm still looking over my shoulder.

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#14 Post by dvdane » Thu Oct 20, 2005 3:17 am

Safe

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#15 Post by Napoleon » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:52 am

Seconds is a fever dream on film. I felt sick all way through it.
Black Christmas is a slasher film (but wait!) in the vein of Argento rather than any of the US junk that has emerged since Friday 13th.
Last House on the Left. Gruelling, but telling. Not to be watched in a double bill with Henry.

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#16 Post by Penny Dreadful » Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:41 am

The Sentinel Based on your appreciation of The Excorcist, I assume you like horror with a religious tone. The Sentinel has all the creepy monks, nuns, and deformed creatures from hell you could ever ask for. It's extremely creepy and quite gory toward the end. A lot of people find it schlocky for some reason, but I think it's a very serious and disturbing film.

Near Dark Modern-day vampires characterized as violent transient punks; beautiful desert landscapes at sundown; a moody score by Tangerine Dream. By night, the vampires are terrifyingly invincible, but during the day they are pitiable creatures constantly in flight within a society that doesn't understand them.

Martin If you see Near Dark and like it, I suggest checking out this George Romero film with a similar modern-day vampire theme. This time the setting is the industrial wasteland around Pittsburgh. It also has a great score and will leave you feeling quick melancholy.

The Experiment Technically not a horror film but still EXTREMELY terrifying. The other movies I've recommended here are mostly good for their overall tone and aren't actually too scary. But The Experiment, a German film about a scientific prisoner/guard role-playing study which quickly spirals into chaos, shocked me to the core and left me wimpering and covering my eyes. I watch horror films constantly, but this is the ONLY movie that has TRULY frightened me in years. (Even scarier: it's based on a true story!!)

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#17 Post by Michael » Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:28 am

I don't think I could sit through In A Glass Cage again. Too upsetting. I second dvdane's choice Safe...brilliant, creepy. What about Eraserhead?

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blindside8zao
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#18 Post by blindside8zao » Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:52 am

i have heard there are two versions of the wicker man. Which is the one I need to see?

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#19 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:35 am

Penny Dreadful wrote:Near Dark Modern-day vampires characterized as violent transient punks; beautiful desert landscapes at sundown; a moody score by Tangerine Dream. By night, the vampires are terrifyingly invincible, but during the day they are pitiable creatures constantly in flight within a society that doesn't understand them.

Martin If you see Near Dark and like it, I suggest checking out this George Romero film with a similar modern-day vampire theme. This time the setting is the industrial wasteland around Pittsburgh. It also has a great score and will leave you feeling quick melancholy.
Good call on both of these -- two excellent examples of the vampire genre. Also, another Romero gem, The Crazies which is a nice bridge (sort of) between Night and Dawn of the Dead.

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#20 Post by rumz » Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:18 am

blindside8zao wrote:[...] very serious horror movies.
What the hell does this mean, serious horror movies? You seem to be attempting to apply a filter to the genre which will limit, in my opinion, most of its best offerings--and on that note I'm suggesting "Sleepaway Camp" and "Harry and the Hendersons." Both scared the crap out of me. Seriously.

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#21 Post by Napoleon » Thu Oct 20, 2005 12:19 pm

rumz wrote:
blindside8zao wrote:[...] very serious horror movies.
What the hell does this mean, serious horror movies? You seem to be attempting to apply a filter to the genre which will limit, in my opinion, most of its best offerings--and on that note I'm suggesting "Sleepaway Camp" and "Harry and the Hendersons." Both scared the crap out of me. Seriously.
I'm guessing that by serious he means good. Which would not eliminate Sleepaway Camp which, despite being 99% utter crap, uses this crapness to pave the way and set up its 1% of utter god-like genius.

Not sure about Harry and The Hendersons though.

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#22 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 20, 2005 1:36 pm

Some more in the horror-but-not-quite-horror vein:

Robert Altman's Images: Schizophrenia never looked so scary and Susannah York is a mistress of her craft on this particular film.

Jerzy Skolimowski's The Shout: A very strange story but cleverly told - plus it features my favorite Alan Bates performance on any film (also stars Susannah York and John Hurt).

Ken Russell's The Devils: Track this one down at any cost! This might be as close as reality and film have come to real horror (it was based on actual events).

Cronenberg's The Dead Zone: I've just recently watched this one for the very first time and it was a pleasant surprise. Do check it out if you still haven't.

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#23 Post by blindside8zao » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:53 pm

Horror can be divided into a series of sub-genres. Sleepaway Camp is part of one and a film like say, Dead Alive is another, and Exorcist is another, etc, etc...

When I say horror, I mean something that has good creepy atmosphere and that doesn't need to depend on jokes, breasts, etc to take the strain off the director. While I appreciate the other forms of horror, probably about 70-75 percent of my 300 DVDs or so are horror, and only a few of them was I able to fit into this "serious" form of horror. Horror that keeps a straight face. I want more. I wasn't attempting to limit the genre or make a claim disqualifying non-serious films, I was asking for a particular type. Read more carefully before you snap next time.

BTW, just as further evidence, one of my favorite horror flicks is CHUD.

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#24 Post by zedz » Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:23 pm

blindside8zao wrote:i have heard there are two versions of the wicker man. Which is the one I need to see?
The longer one. I think most current releases feature it (or both cuts). I don't think it is as complete as the director originally intended, but it's much closer than the badly truncated initial release. If Christopher Lee is reciting an ode to a snail, you're watching the right version.
dvdane wrote:Safe
Good call. Another very intimate nightmare, and Julianne Moore gives an astonishing performance. If you like this, try to track down a bootleg of Superstar, in which Barbie gives a similarly astonishing performance.

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#25 Post by Penny Dreadful » Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:05 pm

Unfortunately I'm pretty sure the extended (better) version of the Wicker Man is out of print now.

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