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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Now that's some serious forum archaeology! I didn't even remember I'd posted on this film.

Re the creepy subtext:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I agree that the explicit motivation in the film for the father anxiety is as you note, but I don't think that's anywhere near enough to justify the terror he inspires, and the moment with the photo, when that terror steps out of the dream world, suggests to me that he has at the very least been physically abusive to his daughter, if not sexually abusive.


I wish the 70s children's TV series was available - I believe it's partially or entirely lost - as it was one of the scariest things I'd ever seen (I was 6 or 7 at the time), even with much of the nastier implications stripped out. The rock monsters out in the dark would rasp "we're coming. . . we're coming. . ." and both my brother and I had nightmares about them (and would use the same phrase and intonation to terrify younger children!)


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:00 pm 
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Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
I think I would agree more with kidc85:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
There's definitely a worrying tone to the father in the fantastical parts of the film but I think repressed abuse memories are too extreme. I see it as a combination of anger towards her father leaving her for long periods at work along with worries that he might be angry or upset at what she has been up to in bunking off school in his absence, plus the drinking element that might have caused problems in the past. In a sense it might be more worrying that the relationship with the mother (with her being caring for her daughter but often distant and rather brusque and with seemingly no interest in her daughter's inner world, just the everyday one of getting her to school, taking care of her during her illness, making her soup and so on) does not lead to her being ‘brought into the picture’ at all!

I also wonder whether Anna creating the world with her drawing eventually leads to some of Mark’s illness and death coming back the other way and ‘infecting’ her. I was reminded of the characters in The Seventh Victim who have been described as ‘rushing towards death’. Mark is too (since he's been created that way) and this attitude rubs off on Anna. It is a two-way thing (maybe a comment on how an artist can get too involved with their creations to an unhealthy extent) rather than purely her conscious influence on the drawing, though her physical actions are emphasised over Mark’s mental influences. Initially Anna starts off cheerful and happy and it is Mark who acts jumpy and fearful even when there is no real reason for him to be that way. The person she brings in to protect and care for them both gets corrupted subconsciously through the ‘angry’ drawing but at the same time it gives Mark a legitimate source of his fear – his disease made into a physical antagonist. Then he gets to be a hero, save a girl from death and have a happy ending.

Anna in a sense nurses Mark through and lets him die happy (letting her come to terms with death and grow up to be less dependent on her parents) but he has had an effect on her that is difficult to shake off and she is obviously having difficulties seeing her father in the real world as someone separate to the purely created one in her dreamworld after this experience. She has used her father as an evil figure that has to be killed before she and Mark can be happy and taken herself to the brink of death in the process of guiding him on his way. Those final scenes with the lighthouse in the real world suggest that the distinction between the two states are getting muddled up in her mind due to her wish for the fantastical relationship with Mark to be real and she is now ‘running towards death’ herself, not wanting to let him go. But in their final encounter she can in some way come to terms with him leaving, get closure, and can return fully to health and the real world. She can then go to her father as a caring father figure again knowing that the fever has broken and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Though the use of sensitive real world subject matter in a fantastical manner ties this neatly into Bernard Rose’s later film Candyman, where our hero has an evil fantastical force either kill and force her to take the blame, or to become a killer herself through becoming ‘infected’ through too much research into the Candyman mythos. And it balances quite nicely as such, at least until the gory coda that pushes things too far to one interpretation, no matter how much we might be wating a particular character to get their just desserts! They’re both films about an inner fascination with and total immersion in work on a personal project, a drive that gets corrupted and externalised until it consumes (or threatens to consume) our heroes' normal lives. Maybe even Immortal Beloved would fit with this 'all consuming, totally created obsession' theme.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:11 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
As usual, an interesting and thoughtful critique, Colin. My quibble with the film and the source of my reading is really just a basic plausibility thing:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Why would the father's remoteness, and Marianne's anger about it, manifest itself in her dreamworld as him being violent towards her, unless there was already a history of such behaviour? I could understand him being portrayed as a victim or a loser, but not as an aggressor.

But I agree that the film doesn't actually go that far. Personally, I think it tries to fudge the issue, and as a consequence this aspect of the film doesn't hold up. My reading is a post facto attempt to unfudge it, I suppose!


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:11 pm 
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Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
I should admit that I don't think either Paperhouse or Candyman are perfectly realised films. In some ways they are really rough (though I'm quite fond of the fake looking backdrops of London outside Anna's window in Paperhouse, or the view over the Cabrini Green projects in Candyman, and like to think they were intentionally showing the unreality of the wider world for our increasingly fixated characters, though it could just as easily have been nothing deeper than a budget thing!) and don't completely hold together for any interpretation without a few logic holes here and there, but I still think they are most worthwhile for their interesting modern takes on the classic theme of a fantasy relationship sapping the energy from and dooming the real member of the couple to a similar fate.

Looking back at your earlier post on Paperhouse I note that in your description of the film you talked about Anna creating monsters around the house in a fit of anger at Mark and that situation then forcing her into creating her father as protector with a hammer as a weapon to fight them off, which then leads to the accidental creation of the angry face that she cannot remove. I haven't read the original story but would be interested to know whether this was the way it was originally handled, since it would seem to give a more practical motivation for the father to suddenly be brandishing a hammer! I'd agree that in the film (where there is only the sequence of creating the angry face) the dream father does seem more unmotivatedly violent, which when combined with the scene of the developing photograph (which I think is perhaps meant more to be where Anna begins to get the subconcious idea of giving Mark the antagonist to fight, leading to the shock scare of the father in the flashback suddenly getting jumpy himself!), could start to create ideas of real life abuse that might be unintended, since if those themes were there they are never really followed through with in a film whose focus is much more on the impossible relationship between the two children.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
There was quite a big gap between my seeing the film (only once, on release) and writing that comment, and an even bigger one (30 years!) between seeing Escape into Night (only once), which made a much bigger, formative impression on me, and I read the book (once) some time in between, so my description of events quite likely conflates details that appear in some, all or none of them.

But I was surprised to read that the addition of the father to the picture in the film is apparently completely unmotivated. My recollection of my own patented reconstituted version of the film is that, once Marianne / Anna realises that she has trapped herself within her drawing / nightmare, and that she can't erase what she's drawn, her focus is on somehow adding details that will relieve their plight - hence the knight with shining hammer, daddy.

I'm with you that Rose does a good job with this film, and delivers some tremendously effective moments, but he doesn't quite get everything sorted out . It's such a great premise that it could probably stand another go-round - not something I'd normally advise. I think the major challenge with this material is that it's basically a children's story, but at another level it opens up on a yawning chasm of darkness, without necessarily delivering the expected scares - so there's a problem with tone that will confront anybody who tackles it. Rose at least acknowledges this problem, and delivers a film that straddles genres, but I don't think he masters it.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:23 am 
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am
I heard somewhere that in the original cut down release of Daughters of Darkness that Delphine Seyrig sings the opening credits. Does anybody know if this is true? I've been thinking about picking up some of the older VHS releases off of ebay to try my luck. Also for the novelty of learning what was cut down as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:59 am 
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Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
zedz wrote:
But I was surprised to read that the addition of the father to the picture in the film is apparently completely unmotivated. My recollection of my own patented reconstituted version of the film is that, once Marianne / Anna realises that she has trapped herself within her drawing / nightmare, and that she can't erase what she's drawn, her focus is on somehow adding details that will relieve their plight - hence the knight with shining hammer, daddy.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
In the film Anna, when she meets the disabled Mark and he acts unmotivatedly afraid of whatever is outside the house, says that she will bring her father in to take them away but she doesn't see any downside to this idea. Then she makes the mistake in her drawing, crumples it up (thereby corrupting the dreamworld) and then the father appears brandishing the hammer. In the film there are no monsters other than those we create for ourselves.


I don't know how long it will stay up once I provide the link, but I did notice that Paperhouse is on Youtube at the moment


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:01 pm 
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In that case I am clearly conflating more than one version! (I even have a very clear recollection of scenes and shots that probably don't exist) I really ought to see Rose's film again!

EDIT: I took advantage of that YouTube link to try and sort this out, and I must admit I find Rose's film, for all its effective set pieces, very inconsistent. The last twenty minutes, for instance, head in quite a different direction from the rest of the film, and are rather banal.

I also now remember other things that annoyed me about the film when I first saw it. 'Knowing' (from the previous versions) that the standing stones outside the house were the threatening monsters that kept the children trapped there, it seemed ridiculous to me that Rose, in a film that was far more overtly a horror film, didn't activate that aspect of the scenario. They're just another non sequitur in this version (although their hissing mantra "We're coming" is relocated to the father and they do become animated for an arbitrary shock effect at one point).

And the creepy aspect of the father / daughter relationship is clearly not developed / explored, but there are nevertheless a number of lines of dialogue earlier in the film that I had read as corroboration for such a reading (only to find that this wasn't where the film was heading after all):

[Reveal] Spoiler:
- Anna's cryptic and concerned "he was drunk when I took that picture" - the picture that subsequently is reimagined as his violent lunge towards her.
- Anna: "I'm frightened that Dad's going to come into my dreams looking like that"
- Mother: "You have to be honest with me, about when you see things that maybe I don't see. It's really important." - Even in context, this seems to me to be way too urgent and specific to be just about bad dreams. If I heard a mother saying that to her young daughter, it would certainly set off alarm bells.

Plus, there's his extraordinarily violent behaviour towards her in the dream world, which culminates with him straddling her in the missionary position, pounding her chest. And her dream action of barricading her door against him. Both of these behaviours have faint echoes in the 'real world' at the end of the film: Dad grabbing Anna's arm roughly while he's having his chat with her on his return; Dad playing around with the bedroom door at the hotel, taking out the key and handing it to her, telling her to look after it.


But I still agree that Rose doesn't develop these ideas, which is one of the things that makes the film seem slightly out of focus and muddled to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:35 pm
aox wrote:
My only problem with the original Exorcist is the 10 minutes they put back into the film a few years ago. There is a reason why those scenes were taken out. It turns the movie into a cartoon and even those 10 minutes completely ruin the film for me. When she goes down the stairs on her hands and feet backwards, I break out in laughter. I remember the original cut being more subtle and much more terrifying and therefore, effective.

For the most part, I agree, though the Spiderwalk is fricking hideous to look at. Too bad it happens in a place in the narrative that makes little sense. Plus it's so shocking it drains later, more psychologically damaging shocks of their bite.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:32 pm 
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Location: Berlin, Germany
One recent(ish) horror film which I love but which is barely known is the Belgian Linkeroever/Left Bank by Pieter Van Hees, starring a pre-fame Matthias Schoenaerts. The discussion about Bernard Rose made me think of it, because it too uses a social housing high rise building to menacing effect and its a far more accomplished film than Paperhouse or Candyman (both of which I like). The film is a slow burn and incredibly atmospheric. With hints of Rosemary's Baby, it combines social realism with the supernatural in a way which is similar to Let the Right One In in that the specificity of its setting makes the supernatural elements more persuasive.

It's about a young athlete who falls in love with an archer who she meets at the changing room where she trains. To get away from her overbearing mother, she moves in with him, maybe a little too soon. The notorious high rise which is her new home was the location of the mysterious disappearance of the woman who was the previous resident of her apartment and there is something very sinister going on in the basement. The end is unlike anything I've seen in a horror film.

Trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHJCyaMSROE


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 6:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
It's often been stated that films that are ostensibly geared at children have diminished their value for adults, particularly with regards to live-action movies and American animated features (at least those produced by DreamWorks). The 1980's produced such a huge spate of fantasy films that endure as a result of their acknowledgement of the dark facets of maturation, and utilize lonely, but idealistic protagonists that learn about their own capacity to broaden the scope of the worlds. As seen in movies like Labyrinth, The Black Cauldron, The Neverending Story and others, children are guided by strong senses of morality that must be reconciled with their desire to play and retain the comforts of a family or their own imagination. This is perhaps most explicit in Bernard Rose's 1988 feature film debut Paperhouse.

This film deals with a young girl, Anna (Marianne in the novel it's based on, which had previously been adapted for British television over a decade earlier). whose fixation on an ideal home that she draws in class and finds herself repeatedly entering through falling asleep. Finding the dream world to be preferable to her home life, which is plagued with challenges in school and a father who is frequently absent due to work obligations, Anna continues to expand her dream reality, which gradually includes people as well. There are several "jump scare" moments that add a horror tinge, and the fantastical elements imbue it with a gothic, phantasmagorical quality that's almost a hybrid of the worlds in BEETLEJUICE and THE REFLECTING SKIN. I won't give away anything else about the film, but I hope that I've sufficiently piqued the interests of those who haven't seen it here to check it out! You can find it streaming on Amazon in HD, although Lionsgate has yet to give it a Blu Ray release.


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 Post subject: Re: Serious Horror Films
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:15 pm 
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"Suspiria" or the director's cut of "The Exorcist" in a dark room are still my go to, and if you're looking for the type of horror that is more nihilistic and terrifying than gory:

James Watkins' Eden Lake from 2008 has an incredibly level of grit and sticks with you. Bug by Friedkin/Letts, Funny Games (I'm one of the few who prefer the English version, but I have a thing for Naomi Watts...). Angst is a great cult piece if you want to devastate your entire head, Antichrist, and Begotten are right up there as well.


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