The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#626 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 03, 2012 5:30 am

And I of course assumed we were talking about Maniac Magee

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#627 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 03, 2012 10:17 pm

Frankenstein Unbound (Roger Corman 1990) There's very little about Corman's last credited film as director that isn't absurd: An overconfident scientist (John Hurt-- no, really) from the future accidentally gets sucked back in time into the story of Frankenstein, wherein he shows Dr. Frankenstein (Raul Julia-- no, really) his digital watch, makes out with Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda-- no, really), endures the Wilde-lite gay coding of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron (Jason Patric and Michael Hutchence from INXS-- no, really), and eventually with the help of his KITT-esque best buddy car zaps many of these people and the ugly monster into a distant snow-bound apocalyptic future beyond his own future. There is something to be said for the mere existence of this film, and a little more for how smoothly it all unfolds. But not much more.

Maniac (William Lustig 1980) There's a great feature on the Blue Underground release of Maniac that collects multiple local news broadcasts about the film's controversial reception, and in one of these segments a Los Angeles reporter poses loaded questions such as whether the film hates women or if it would inspire viewers to mimic the film's violence against women. It's all a bit hyperbolic, as local news often is, but several of the "man on the street" answers obliviously arrive at a take on the film which took me very little time to reach while watching, namely that this isn't a film that hates women, this is a film engineered to terrify women by exploiting their basic fears. The assailant is a fantastically ugly greasestain of a man impenetrably bent on heinous violence with no hope of human emotional understanding or recourse. Every female victim is struck by this titular villain during a day-to-day moment of big city vulnerability: walking home late at night, relaxing alone at home, in the midst of a romantic interlude when defenses are lowered, out with a familiar male companion, &c. This is just a redux of the n-hankie melodramas of the forties that exploited fears of children being lost, husbands strayed, and love averted, updated for modern worries (and with slightly more decapitations). To be quite frank, unlike most slasher films, I don't think the intended viewer is male, and as such it proves most interesting in these regards-- I think there's something to be said for the honesty of the N.O.W. representative who criticizes the film (in the above-mentioned report) for making her scared to walk home after seeing it, which is less of a criticism than I think she realizes. That being said, the film is far less convincing during the long stretches of time spent in close quarters with Spinell's lunatic-- crazy people are not particularly interesting and the film isn't concerned with any intricacies of his mother-driven insanity beyond the plot convenience level (and even there it's not well-utilized).

Zombi (Lucio Fulci 1979) Maybe it was just the product of low expectations after the last couple Fulcis I've endured, but I found this to be quite an effective little zombie film, with a smart sense of structure and a more even-handed approach to its gore set-pieces-- I knew about the zombie shark attack and the eye piercing moments long before I ever ventured near this list, but both come about far more organically in the narrative than I've come to expect from Fulci. For all the obvious on-screen carnage, though, I found the simple image of the wrapped corpses with blood red splatter over the facial areas the most effectively chilling! A pleasant (?) surprise.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#628 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu May 03, 2012 11:50 pm

Oh, domino, the things you choose/choose not to get offended at never fail to surprise. That's not a criticism.

You know what's more unsettling that watching Maniac? Watching it with your mom after expecting it to be another run-of-the-mill horror film. I'm still to this day not quite able to gauge what her reaction to the film was.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#629 Post by knives » Thu May 03, 2012 11:56 pm

That's nothing compared to a 14 year old evangelical woman walking in on the BJ scene from The Piano Teacher.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#630 Post by colinr0380 » Fri May 04, 2012 1:17 pm

domino, if you think Frankenstein Unbound does crazy things to that story (though I remember liking that at least it was one of the few adaptations which actually ends up in a wintry landscape, thereby paying a kind of homage to the Arctic bookending of the original novel, even if it is a far future landscape here!), just wait until you see the 1980s remake of The Bride of Frankenstein called just The Bride, which features Sting as the Baron and Jennifer Beals ( :shock: ) as his creation! With support from Timothy Spall and Quentin Crisp!

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#631 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat May 05, 2012 12:45 am

Giallos, part 2

Same deal, only this time I want to emphasize that if you are going to dive into this sub-genre all the films you watch ought to be seen in the context of two films: Bava's Blood and Black Lace and, most especially, Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The influence of these two films is so pervasive that you really cannot understand everything that comes after without having seen them first. Anyway, recommended titles are in red, and list of DVD releases here.


Autopsy (Armando Crispino, 1975): A really bizarre giallo brimming with delirium, perversity, and madness. Opening with a strange montage of contextless suicides punctuated with inexplicable shots of sun flares and solar eruptions and scored with a cacophony of groans, sighs, and whistles courtesy of Ennio Morricone, the movie is bewildering and disturbing in odd ways. It's fascinated with artistic representations of the grotesque and the perverse, containing repeated close ups of the intertwining limbs of mannerist sculptures, photographs of deformities, autopsies, and other atrocities, rooms filled with wax sculptures in the midst of acts of violence, and one unaccountable montage of photographs of turn of the century brothels that seem filled with malice and suggestion. With all this weirdness, it's too bad that the plot has such a prosaic resolution. The atmosphere of this movie is so bizarre, grotesque, and inexplicable that the actual plot can't but be a let down. Some of the more intense themes (incest, necrophilia, sex phobia, clergical abuses, etc.) are not developed sufficiently, although they do contribute to the atmosphere of sweltering depravity. It's such a strange and suggestive movie, even for this genre, that I can't help but recommend it even if it's not a great giallo.

The Black Cat (Lucio Fulci, 1981): A giallo with a supernatural tinge: people are dying under mysterious circumstances in a small English village, and the only thing connecting their deaths is the presence of a black cat. There is a lot less gore than you'd expect from eighties Fulci, but other than that it's the same nonsense: incoherent, silly, no sense of pace or timing, and just really repetitive. The movie pretty much plays its hand in the first scene, leaving it with nowhere to go. The final revelation to its limp mystery would be anti-climatic had the movie actually been building toward a climax. With the exception of the very last scene (which Fulci had already done, and much better, in The Psychic), the film bears no relation to the Poe story.

A Blade in the Dark (Lamberto Bava, 1983): An inferior Argento imitation that also manages to plunder from both Blow-Out and Psycho. A composer of film scores rents a villa in order to work on the score for a new horror movie. A couple of murders occur in the villa that bear some mysterious relationship to the film our hero is working on, so naturally he must solve the mystery. Considering Lamberto Bava's pedigree (son of Mario Bava, protege of Argento), you would expect him to show more directorial skill than he does. But with the exception of an effective sequence early on where the hero wanders around the empty, unlit villa, this is a drab, visually undistinguished movie. The plotting is exceptionally lazy, too, relying on random characters wandering by to up the victim count, a pile-up of coincidences so far-fetched as to be incoherent, and a final explanation even more baffling than anything it tries to explain. The movie's tedium is somewhat offset by the unintentional hilarity of most of its dialogue.

The Bloodstained Butterfly (Duccio Tessari, 1971): This feels like a courtroom/police procedural adapted at the last minute into a giallo. A woman is killed in the opening frame, after which we get a montage of various bystanders witnessing the killer's escape. These snippets plus the evidence gathered at the scene form the basis of a trial that will determine whether or not a television personality committed the crime. This more or less takes up the first two acts. In the third, a series of murders are committed that resemble the original crime, at which point the movie finally starts to resemble a giallo. I thought the procedural aspects were more interesting than the generic thriller action of the third act, as there seemed to be real care exercised in representing the Italian court system accurately (occasionally dubious science aside) and with as little melodrama as possible. Solid, unremarkable, you get the point.

The Case of the Bloody Iris (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1972): The usual: cloaked figure kills pretty girls in apartment building, hero is suspected, heroine is constantly menaced but no one believes her. The movie tries to pad out its thin script with an undercooked subplot about a pagan cult that worships irises and engages in ritual orgies, but nothing is ever made of it. There are a lot of scenes of the police engaging in poorly written banter, including one jaw-dropping scene in which the lead detective tries to persuade a lesbian to grow up and try men instead. I appreciated the look of contempt she gave him. The murder-mystery is forgotten for long periods, not helping the movie's already loose structure. There is however one particularly novel sequence where a girl is stabbed in the middle of a busy sidewalk and slowly stumbles forward as faceless pedestrians brush by, oblivious. For a movie that relies heavily on scenes of women wandering around apartments whose lights don't work, it was a nice change of pace. Otherwise, this giallo is just going through the motions.

Killer Nun (Giulio Berruti, 1978): Despite its considerable notoriety as one of the infamous Video Nasties, this movie is a perfect example of a schlock film not living up to either its reputation or the lurid promise of its title. For a movie about nymphomaniacal, sadistic, drug-addicted, homicidal nuns, it's extremely tame. The problem is that, having made a grab for attention with a provoking title and premise, the filmmakers lost their confidence and tried to give their schlocky material a veneer of what they supposed was respectability. So the majority of the film is spent on Anita Ekberg wringing her hands and making faces meant to suggest inner turmoil, as if this movie were meant to be a serious psychological drama. Alida Valli pops in from time to time to remind you how fantastically creepy she can be, and Joe Dallesandro plays his obligatory role as wooden post. It's all very dull.

Knife of Ice (Umberto Lenzi, 1972): Routine giallo from Umberto Lenzi, a prolific genre director in the Italian industry. It was one of four or so giallos Lenzi made with actress Carol Baker in the early seventies. This was slightly before Lenzi become a full-on exploitation filmmaker, so there is no sex or nudity and next to no blood. Indeed, the murders all happen off-screen, something that ought to come as a surprise to anyone who knows him from movies like Cannibal Ferox and Nightmare City. This is one of those giallos where the evidence is so equivocal that whoever the killer ends up being is ultimately arbitrary--which is why it's so hilarious that the character the filmmakers actually do use as the culprit is the one person who could not possibly have committed all of those murders given what we'd been shown up to that point. I guess the filmmakers were hoping their audience wasn't paying much attention.

Lizard in a Woman's Skin (Lucio Fulci, 1971): Fulci's best film, and the most impressive of the early Bird with the Crystal Plumage imitators. I have never seen Fulci display this much creative energy, before or since. See my full capsule here.

New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982): If you've gone anywhere near the Lucio Fulci thread you've probably noticed this movie and I don't get along. I think it's crude, bereft of anything resembling skill or talent, and outright hateful towards women. This movie single-handedly contains every bad tendency this sub-genre has taken criticism for over the years. Of all the giallos I've see, I like this one the least.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Emilio Miraglia, 1971): For a movie that tries to be so many things--giallo, old dark house melodrama, new-wife-in-strange-family thriller, serial killer portrait, family-intrigue thriller, ghost story--it's a surprisingly coherent and cohesive movie. Granted, the resolution isn't satisfactory, but aside from those last few minutes it's a decent, elegantly shot mystery that balances its various sub-plots and minor characters rather well and has just enough odd-ball touches to keep things interesting. That the movie can use so many familiar tropes and still manage to seem unusual is its main strength. I also appreciated its assured pace, a rare quality in this sub-genre. Not really at the top, but much better than average.

Paranoia aka A Quiet Place to Kill (Umberto Lenzi, 1970): Not quite a giallo, even if you'll often find it listed as one. Part of Lenzi's trilogy with Carol Baker, it's a tepid thriller involving murder plots, counter-plots, twists, turns and all that. There are two admirably done suspense sequences and a good amount of filler. The cinematography, using locations somewhere on the Spanish coast I think, is excellent. Everything else is workmanlike. Mostly an excuse to revel in early seventies 'mod' decadence.

Perversion Story aka One on Top of the Other (Lucio Fulci, 1969): I often see this one listed as a giallo, but it barely resembles one to me. It's more a conspiracy thriller, where various forces in the hero's personal life may or may not be entrapping him in a web of intrigue. The set-up is pretty good: while on a trip with his mistress, a doctor is informed that his ailing wife has finally died. He finds, to his surprise, that she had recently taken out a huge insurance policy naming him as the sole benefactor. Things then start to get weird when a mysterious phone call directs him to a psychedelic strip-club where he meets a dancer who, hair and eye colour aside, exactly resembles his wife. With a set-up this promising it's a shame the movie wasn't more exciting. As usual, Fulci has no idea how to pace a story. The movie saunters along, casually hitting its plot points, oblivious to the whole idea of ratcheting tension. Decent, but never comes to life.

The Pyjama Girl Case (Flavio Mogherini, 1977): A movie that seems structurally incompetent up until the final reveal, at which point it turns out to have been put together with more thought and care than one would've expected. Its editing fools the viewer into thinking that past and present events are occurring simultaneously, giving the impression that this is a lax police procedural that forgets its own mystery for extended periods, when in fact it knows exactly what it's showing and why. This is the strange case of a movie that so effectively hides its own structure that it appears to be pretty bad for most of its running time before suddenly supplying the viewer with a totally cogent reason for almost every narrative choice it had so far made, rendering an incompetent movie competent. A totally unexpected turn around. It's not a great giallo, but it is a surprising one for the way it fools the viewer over its own construction. Ray Milland and Mel Ferrer can be seen slumming it, and there are numerous scenes that are in poor taste or just outright silly. And yet it won me over in its last minutes. In a sub-genre like this, genuine surprises are hard to come by, so I find myself appreciating this movie more than it probably deserves.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (Emilio Miraglia, 1972): Great title--so it's unfortunate that it's also a pretty complete summary of the movie's contents. A murderer in a red cloak does indeed kill seven times, and that's the extent of it. There is some talk about an ancient family curse and whether or not a dead person could be the murderer, but little is done with it. The movie is a waiting game: everyone, viewer included, waits for the murders to complete their cycle so that the mystery can be revealed. The way to avoid this kind of waiting problem is to focus on an active investigative element that uncovers clues that further complicate the story and invite viewer participation, with each new murder providing more clues and increasing the momentum. Without that detective element you're just watching characters mill around, waiting to be killed. The movie also makes the mistake of having most of the victims be arbitrary, giving the unfortunate impression that it's just going through the motions of offing seven people so that it can conclude. That said, it's not a bad film on the whole. It is directed with some competence, given an appropriate pace, and one of the murders was pretty novel. Watchable enough, but too easily reduced to its parts.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#632 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 05, 2012 8:51 am

A great write up Mr Sausage! I've been meaning to pick up The Pyjama Girl Case for a while now, so this recommendation gives me extra reason to.

In terms of Autopsy's opening and sunspot activity intercutting, I wonder if this was influenced by the opening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, given that the opening of that film is doing a similar thing of rooting the specifically horrific story in the context of a wider society going insane (whether due to solar activity or just human politics!), in this case using the incessant chatter of depressing news on the radio rather than a string of suicides.

(Another film which uses sunspot footage over the opening credits is Wilder Napalm, starring Dennis Quaid and Debra Winger. It is not exactly a horror film though, rather an extremely strange comedy about two pyrokinetic (like telekenetic but with fire!) brothers and the love triangle between them and the pyromaniac wife of the other!)

The opening scene of Autopsy also reminds me a lot (although I doubt this is intentional in any way) to the suicidal opening of Chabrol's Dr M, as all of the people under the control of Alan Bates's Mabuse figure get tempted to their suicides under the cajoling influence of Jennifer Beals's (her again!) advertising temptress from billboards plastered throughout the city! There's no footage of that literally explosive opening sequence but here's a clip from later in the film, showing our (modern, weary and bestubbled, rather than a plump, Langian Lohmann) detective hero starting to make the connection.

EDIT: The sound is not very good on the video, but I finally found the opening of Dr M!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat May 12, 2012 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lack of real quality horror films?

#633 Post by Jerryvonkramer » Sat May 05, 2012 9:52 pm

My wife and I are both big fans of really high-quality horror films. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Exorcist, The Mist from a few years ago, the original Night of the Living Dead, Suspiria, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, Black Christmas, The Vanishing, Audition, The Grudge, The Wicker Man, Kill List, Psycho even ... [NB. we both have an ongoing dislike of, for my money, the most overrated film of all time: Don't Look Now, which is why it's not listed, and we find Cronenberg hit and miss, but assume we've seen them all -- I like Shivers and The Fly, don't like Videodrome]

Here's our problem though: we just have no time for or patience with schlock. None at all. For horror to be effective in my view, your basics of film fundamentals have to be in place: the acting, direction and so on. We both also have limited patience for over-the-top gore. We want to be scared, not see blood squirting everywhere.

So, while Night of the Living Dead is great, I've got no real time for the awful acting witnessed in Dawn of the Dead. While Texas Chainsaw is just FANTASTIC, both of Tobe Hooper's next horrors -- Eaten Alive and The Funhouse are really awful. We had to turn Eaten Alive off after 40 minutes, and while we endured the full running time of The Funhouse, it was a totally scare-free and tedious experience.

Bad or amateurish acting is proving to be a real barrier against us enjoying any number of horror films with big reptuations: Last House on the Left, for example (70s) is borderline unwatchable for us because the performances are so bad.

We both love a great horror film, but have found the genre so hit and miss. The search has been far and wide. I've been extremely disappointed with highly rated older films like Night of the Hunter or Carnival of Souls, which both seem extremely overrated if you ask me. The old 30s Universal pictures or the Hamer films of the 50s and 60s are a bit creeky to be really scary these days. We don't really get on with the "video nasties" of the 70s mostly because of the aforementioned poor acting and then as the 80s wear on you either get increasingly formulaic Hollywood slashers (Halloween, Friday 13th, etc. etc., although you do sometimes come across the occasional semi-obscure gem like The Stepfather) or increasingly OTT blood and gore zombie films that veer towards being more comical than scary (basically all the big name 80s zombie films from The Evil Dead onwards). Then the horror films of the last 15 years or so, the so-called "torture porn" stuff, again often suffers from ropey acting and a sort shininess I can't put my finger on. Found [rec], Paranormal Activity, and The Descent pretty effective, but, for example, hated Session 9, and HATED Cabin in the Woods a couple of weeks ago.

This is starting to become very very frustrating. The list of horror films we've watched and not enjoyed is pretty extensive now. The film we keep citing and coming back to is Texas Chainsaw. It's just got that perfect blend of superb direction, great performances and grittiness that you need for a properly disturbing and above all scary horror film. Is it really just a one off?

I'm looking for some genuinely good horror recommendations here. So many horror fans seem to delight in schlock, in B-movie "so-bad-it's-goodness", I'm not interested in that. I'm looking for something that can genuinely compare with Texas Chainsaw. We're starting to feel like we've exhausted the genre and there's just no good ones left. Any help here would be much appreciated. Please note though, I'm looking for proper horror here, not arthouse films that may have disturbing elements (e.g. Lynch, Begotten, Jan Svankmajer, Jodorowsky, Salo, or the likes of Cannibal Holocaust etc.), but films that could only really be classed as "horror".

Also, if you find yourself with a similar problem, please mention it.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#634 Post by criterion10 » Sat May 05, 2012 10:09 pm

Well, I agree with you that the horror films today are terrible. None are scary; they are all about the gore. Sure, some may be fun but none are truly good.

Some of my horror films include Bergman's Hour of the Wolf, a really underrated film that is very surreal and scary, and Eraserhead by David Lynch, although from your post I don't think you consider this to be the type of horror you are intersted in. I'd also recommend Repulsion and Eyes Without a Face, two other really eerie horror films. If you are looking for a disturbing, uncomfortable experience, check out Funny Games.

We clearly disagree on Don't Look Now; I will call that the scariest film ever made. I first saw it when I was ten, and didn't sleep for nights.

The film that has my largest recommendation is Ken Russell's The Devils, my favorite film along with A Clockwork Orange. This film isn't necessairly a true horror film (it's goal isn't to scare you) as much as it is a true story that depicts horrific elements. The film features Ken Russell's bravura direction, surrealistic sets by Derek Jarman, and Olvier Reed's best role. It's a masterpiece by the time the credits roll, you will feel as if a truck has run over you. The new BFI release of the film is a gem.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#635 Post by Jerryvonkramer » Sat May 05, 2012 10:20 pm

Thanks for this. The Devils has actually been on our "to do" list for a long time now, maybe 6 or 7 years. Since Ken Russell died, the urge has been strong but somehow never seem to get round to it. I suggested it tonight but we ended up watching Martha Macy May Marlene (didn't think it was a very good, contra Mark Kermode who gave it a good review).

On Don't Look Now, I understand that I'm in the vast minority on this. I really really dislike that film. The sex scene is just so ... milky and sickly. There's something indulgent about the film in general. I've just got a massive blind spot for Roeg, one my wife shares -- went to see Performance at a special screening with another couple the two women ended up walking out after an hour. I saw it through, but not really a fan. I like Man Who Fell to Earth but that's my Bowie fandom kicking in.

Will definitely check out Repulsion and Eyes Without a Face though. Funny Games is something I've been putting off for a long time, but I might as well get this too. Michael Haneke is the one major director I've somehow managed to evade to date.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#636 Post by criterion10 » Sat May 05, 2012 10:26 pm

Repulsion, Eyes Without a Face, and Funny Games are definitely three good ones. Funny Games is kind of looked down upon due to its messages (I don't want to get into them since you haven't seen it yet), but as an experience the film is absoultely terrifying and I enjoyed it for that.

And as for The Devils, it's a must see. So perfect in so many ways and one of the greatest hidden gems ever. Hopefully with the BFI release more people will start to see the film.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#637 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat May 05, 2012 11:36 pm

You'll find tons of recommendations in our Horror List project, which you are welcome to take part in.

You really ought to check out the Val Lewton horrors, especially Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Seventh Victim (although all of them are worth watching). Then there are the other wonderful 40's horrors, like The Spiral Staircase, Hangover Square, The Lodger, Dead of Night, The Queen of Spades, ect.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's films sound like exactly the kind of films you'd like (little gore, expertly directed, atmospheric). Pulse and Cure are the best places to start.

If you'd like to see some excellent B&W British horror from the sixties, Night of the Eagle, Horror Hotel, Nightmare, Paranoiac, and Scream/Taste of Fear are essential and masterful instances of mood building.

And then there are masterpieces like The Haunting and The Innocents, if you haven't yet gotten around to them.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#638 Post by warren oates » Sat May 05, 2012 11:57 pm

What about other good J- and K-horror? A Tale of Two Sisters, Kairo, Seance, and the American remake of The Ring.

What about the new French extremity, films like High Tension and Martyrs? Or Let The Right One In/Let Me In?

Stephen King likes the remake of The Last House On The Left way better than the original and I agree with him. Or the remake of The Crazies, which was surprisingly good. What about The Strangers?

We'll have to disagree about Don't Look Now, The Night of the Hunter and about Lynch. I find a number of his works scarier than most other proper horror films, especially Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire and Fire Walk With Me.

Likewise with Bergman, who's made effective horror films about sanity Hour of the Wolf, identity Persona, war/marriage Shame and death Cries and Whispers and the original Last House On The Left called The Virgin Spring.

There's always Tarkovsky's Solaris, a horror film about memory and guilt that just happens to take place on a space station.

With Haneke, I'd say he's made other films that are even more disturbing than Funny Games, but not as clearly horror, something like Benny's Video or Cache.

Since you put Salo on your list, albeit as an example of what you're not looking for I'm tempted to mention a Russian film about the secret police called The Chekist.

You know what's really scary? Nuclear war. Try Testament or the U.K. film Threads. Or what about the kind of total war that destroys your country, your soul and likely you mind as in the WWII Come and See.

A few stragglers: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Stir of Echoes, Below, Race With The Devil, The Others, Take Shelter.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#639 Post by JPJ » Sat May 05, 2012 11:58 pm

Jerryvonkramer,if you live near a good library check out Phil Hardy's horror film encyclopedia.Hardy(and his staff of writers)is maybe even too critical at times but I think browsing the book you'd get a good(and quick!) sense of movies that might interest you.Unfortunately the edition I have ends in 1985 but I believe there is an updated edition that covers at least part of the nineties,but since you also like sixties and seventies films those are covered quite extensively.

A couple of seventies recommendations from me:Messiah of evil(don't want to spoil the movie so I just say that it features one of the creepiest scenes ever,Code Red released an excellent dvd couple of years back.), a Spanish film Who can kill a child? and definitely John Hancock's Let's scare Jessica to death.

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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#640 Post by Murdoch » Sun May 06, 2012 12:11 am

This thread has some worthwhile suggestions.

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domino harvey
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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#641 Post by domino harvey » Sun May 06, 2012 12:38 am

Does no one else think this is an unnecessary idea for a thread: Recommend horror films not based on shared content but that you think are subjectively good (or, more correctly, that the original poster won't think is bad)? Isn't there at least one 20+ page thread about just this already?

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#642 Post by knives » Sun May 06, 2012 1:24 am

Chosen Survivors
There really is not reason for this movie to be effective with overly clean and bright sets and near incompetent directing, yet as the film moved on I felt my heart racing and a nice level of chill enveloping the whole experience. The set up and execution is very poor man's Night of the Living Dead and the attempts at social commentary are hilariously hamfisted at best yet it works which might be the must frustrating part.

The Earth Dies Screaming
Not just a Tom Waits song this late Terence Fisher sci-fi horror makes the most out of its obviously non existent budget allowing the circumstances to develop a nice sense of horror. The script and acting isn't much to make bones over though Virginia Field has a few nice moments so the strength of the film is left entirely to that atmosphere that Fisher musters.

Poltergeist
Going into this one as a popular Speilberg helmed '80s movie I figured I would get nothing more than some cultural obligation out of the way, but instead this one really lives up to its reputation. right away the development of the characters and how they react to their situation is so real that even the more ridiculous sequences work (the spinning room scene is just horrifically dated, but works well enough because of Williams reaction). That said the movie in general works best when it is people reacting to things versus us witnessing those things. This is all aided by a great sense of humour which somehow only works to make the stakes higher. Every little bit that has been absorbed in the culture still works as a surprise and shock within the context of the film. Definitely a pleasant surprise.

One Missed Call
Leave it to Miike to take such a tired and never was interesting premise as the technophobic J-horror and to turn it on its head until it does manage to work. The self aware tone such as with the news sequence helps a lot in this regard, but what I think really helps him is that the film takes away that pleasant and reassuring sense of mystery. There's nothing to find here and even if you play nice with the ghost like in The Ring it will still bite you in the butt.

301/302
This is actually the oldest Korean film I've seen. Clearly I need to branch out. Anyways I largely don't think the film works traditionally with the story being told rather poorly (Miike took very similar material and did better with it in Audition) and the directing is just odd. All this offness works though in making the way the themes are expounded upon not seem as ridiculous as they are.

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#643 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sun May 06, 2012 4:25 am

Yeah, god forbid someone should get help navigating a genre and finding films to watch ...

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kidc85
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:15 pm

Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#644 Post by kidc85 » Sun May 06, 2012 6:17 am

I take exception to how you define "quality" with regards to horror films. What you consider "shlock" is often the very language of horror cinema itself. As an analogy, if somebody demands 'realistic' acting then silent cinema is going to be a near fruitless area for them but that doesn't mean that silent actors are of a bad quality, it just means that they have fallen short of an opinion which forces a universal standard upon everything.

If you took most of your complaints to the makers of the films you dislike I imagine you would be met with a sea of blank faces: you dislike either precisely what they were going for (comedy is a major part of horror) or what they consider irrelevant.

Having said that, although I dislike the manner in which you put it, your opinion isn't unusual and, if you don't want to rethink your essential opinion on what constitutes 'quality' with regards to horror, I'd second most of the recommendations Mr Sausage and Warren Oates have made.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#645 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 06, 2012 9:32 am

Try Gordon's DEVIL DOLL, Trevas DIE NACKTE UND DER SATAN, Leslie steven's INCUBUS, THE EYE by The Pang Brothers, THE BLACK SLEEP by LeBorg, Epstein's USHER, also of course KURONEKO, ONIBABA, KWAIDAN, (there is another excellent version of the O'Hearn SNOW WOMAN alone but I can't remember the director).

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Felix
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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#646 Post by Felix » Sun May 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:Yeah, god forbid someone should get help navigating a genre and finding films to watch ...
A bit harsh Lemmy.
Domino, and someone else I think, correctly pointed out that there is a long, worthwhile and comprehensive Horror list in the Lists Project. That's where I have been looking for things to fill the gaps in my own knowledge, and most films there have a fairly thorough write up so Jerry can make up his mind. That's your best place to look Jerry.

There is also this, though I have quite a lot of disagreement with it, just like their Western List.
http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/2 ... rror-films" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Drucker
Your Future our Drucker
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Re: Lack of real quality horror films?

#647 Post by Drucker » Sun May 06, 2012 12:06 pm

Just to chime in, I'm not a big fan of horror, but my girlfriend is all about it all the time. I have to agree that I found The Haunting to be an excellent film (though I admit, the interior monologue of the protagonist throughout the film is really annoying and mostly unnecessary). Still, the film is pretty scary and there's some awesome moments and scenes.

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gcgiles1dollarbin
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#648 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Sun May 06, 2012 3:15 pm

I cannot resist holding forth here, as this genre is my favorite when it’s done well, and the worst scourge upon the earth, in my estimation, when it’s done poorly. The polarized responses I have to each example make the genre all the more fascinating to me; I am never indifferent toward a horror film.

A sense of my horror aesthetic: I happily forfeit all claims to the excellence of a horror film on the whole if it contains a few moments of genuine frisson amidst the mediocrity. Horror movie fans who are otherwise indifferent toward film are often like this, looking for individual moments rather than total cohesion; when it comes to horror, I do share this bias (and perhaps this is what adumbrates the genre for me). I realize the pitfalls of this sensibility (if, for example, I chose films based on the authenticity of blood color). But I come to horror films looking for the uncanny (rather than the well-made or the excessively bloody), and if there are no unheimlich moments in a film, then it hardly constitutes a horror film, at least by my definition. I would like to think I’m both cinephile and fanboy, but I have seen so many horror films by now that the thrills I seek can only be satisfied by moments or sequences so inexplicable that the joy/discomfort they elicit can frequently compensate for poor performances, shoddy direction, worthless story, and, yes, even moral bankruptcy.

Having said all that, when I look at my list as it stands, it seems pretty “safe,” and in most cases, the films are excellent on the whole as well as replete with eerie moments. Most of them have strong comic elements, now that I think about it. But I thought it might be helpful to know where I’m coming from, at any rate.

Here are some that might make my list, have not been discussed yet in this thread, and are all worth watching:

Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968, Jonathan Miller) Surprised this hasn’t come up here, given the excitement for the Ghost Stories series coming up from BFI. Eerie adaptation of M.R. James story, starring Michael Hordern in a fantastic performance as the complacent, socially awkward academic brought to total abjection by a specter. One of many great BBC horror tales (including The Stone Tape, Dead of Night, Beasts, A Ghost Story, The Signalman, and the 1989 Woman in Black), but this is by far my favorite for its stark simplicity; in fact, this film is at number two in my list right now. Also features the funniest line delivery (involving the appearance of a dog) I have ever heard; I can’t say enough about Hordern’s eccentric performance. For those who can't wait until August, you can watch it now in glorious Youtube-o-Vision, albeit in fifteen minute installments.

Viy (1967, Georgi Kropachyov) Mosfilm’s channel on youtube has a good subtitled version of this fantastic Gogol adaptation, and Image released this at one point on DVD, although I can’t vouch for the quality. This film really captures the grim predestination of dark fairy tales and the uncanny logic of nightmares. The images are as burnished and lurid as a Hammer film, and between the peasant crone riding the shoulders of the seminarian and the floating coffin of the witch, folk tale horror does not get creepier or more fatally amusing.

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933, Michael Curtiz) While detractors note that this is as much (feeble) comic relief as horror, I maintain that the two facets complement each other here in the best tradition of horror-comedy, which reached its absurdist height in the 1980s, but has this forebear to thank for some of its conventions. I think the purer mood of House of Wax (1953) convinced fans of the latter that the former was too desperate to offset the terror with humor, but I am more frightened of and moved by Lionel Atwill’s disfigured artist than Vincent Price’s version, and at any rate, Grand Guignol always depended on comedy as much as horror. The makeup in the former is more ghastly, and the two-strip technicolor adds a garish patina to some startling images of wax figures melting in the flames. Also, I love the morgue scene… Still available with House of Wax on a Warner dvd.

(And speaking of horror comedy, I would like briefly to celebrate the 1980s as a superlative decade for this difficult balancing act, examples of which are mostly dreadful throughout time, but better-represented in these ten years, thanks mostly to Stuart Gordon, Sam Raimi, and Frank Henenlotter. Basket Case (1982, Henenlotter), Brain Damage (1988, Henenlotter), Re-Animator (1985, Gordon), From Beyond (1986, Gordon), Evil Dead (1982, Raimi), Evil Dead II (1987, Raimi), Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O'Bannon), Parents (1989, Bob Balaban), and Society (1989, Brian Yuzna) are all gleefully anarchic, willfully bizarre, defiantly offensive, and vastly more imaginative than the tedious slasher films that otherwise dominated the '80s. Chuck Jones with sex and gore. Also, the special effects are analog and charmingly, disgustingly tactile! From Beyond and Brain Damage are often overlooked and worth digging up here and here; I particularly like classic horror host Zacherley as the voice of the brain stem slug in the latter.)

Dark Eyes of London (1939, Walter Summers) Unsung public domain Edgar Wallace shocker, produced in England when Bela Lugosi spent some time there at the tail end of the horror ban. I have fond memories of watching this over and over again on a VCI video copy kept in a clamshell case. Lugosi is absolutely cruel in this film, even more so than he is in The Raven, and it’s rather astonishing to watch. I would join this with other poverty row horror classics like White Zombie, Bluebeard, Devil Bat, and Strangler of the Swamp, although it was obviously only distributed by Monogram in the U.S. and had better production values than its peers.

I guess I'll stop there for now and provide a laundry list of other worthy horror films that haven't been recommended yet in this thread: Horrors of Malformed Men (1969, Teruo Ishii), Ghost Story of Yotsuya (1959, Nobua Nokugawa), The Black Room (1935, Roy William Neill), Flesh and the Fiends (1960, John Gilling), Horror Express (1972, Eugenio Martín), A Bucket of Blood (1959, Roger Corman), The Tingler (1959, William Castle), Mill of the Stone Women (1960, Giorgio Ferroni), Wizard of Gore (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1970), Scream and Scream Again (1970, Gordon Hessler), Don't Deliver Us from Evil (1971, Joël Séria), Blood Spattered Bride (1972, Vicente Aranda), Don't Look in the Basement (1973, S.F. Brownrigg), Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973, Richard Blackburn), Alucarda (1977, Juan López Moctezuma), Deranged (1974, Jeff Gillen), Vampyres (1975, José Ramón Larraz), Zombie Holocaust (1980, Marino Girolami), Ginger Snaps (2000, John Fawcett), Uzumaki (2000, Higuchinsky), Left Bank (2008, Pieter Van Hees), Splinter (2008, Toby Wilkins), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, John S. Robertson), and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941, Victor Fleming).

EDITS: Whistle and I'll Come to You temporarily removed because of one technicality, sulked about, and then reinstated thanks to another technicality. Order is restored.
Last edited by gcgiles1dollarbin on Sun May 06, 2012 4:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#649 Post by knives » Sun May 06, 2012 3:18 pm

Technically Whistle isn't eligible for voting.

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gcgiles1dollarbin
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:38 am

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#650 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Sun May 06, 2012 3:43 pm

knives wrote:Technically Whistle isn't eligible for voting.
But, but, but, but, but I thought
domino wrote:Made For TV Movies are eligible
as well as
domino wrote:short films
...

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