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An Octoberfest of Horror Films 
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is the ultimate example of a film that flawlessly accomplishes everything it sets out to do. If anyone's paid attention to anything I've said on these forums over the past few years, you know that I'm a huge believer of judging a movie on its own merits. Using that logic, John McNaughton's movie is about as "good" as a movie can get. I say "good" because the picture's aims are to show a world where human life has little to no meaning and nihilism rules the day. It's some seriously depressing shit.

There are plenty of films with this same worldview, but none that deliver that message so viscerally or effectively. McNaughton shot the movie on 16mm and the result is an almost documentary-like feel. There isn't a traditional narrative, the film is more or less just a few weeks (or maybe months?) of Henry's life. These two aspects of the production combine to make you feel like you're watching real life. Movies about serial killers are nothing new. Hell, Henry isn't all that far removed from someone like Michael Myers. What makes the movie terrifying is how seriously it takes its subject.

Often serial killer movies attempt to understand the "why" behind their subjects. I've usually found that to be an exercise in futility because there's no real way to understand someone like that. How can a "normal", rational human being who's capable of compassion, sympathy, and empathy understand what makes someone choose that kind of life? It's impossible. Henry uses this concept to it's advantage. It isn't that the movie completely ignores things like Henry's motivation or how he connects with other people. The film starts down these paths multiple times, and each time dead ends. Henry eventually does something inexplicable and horrifying, partly because its usually him murdering someone and partly because it's so illogical and removed from anything a person can reference. He just doesn't make sense. He kills people for no reason other than to kill people. He loves killing people.

As I've eluded to, McNaughton's film is one that defies rating. Doing so would be cheap and dishonest because this is a movie that wants its audience to really, truly feel something. That feeling is hopeless and irrelevant, and the movie pulls it off really well. Personally, that's about as scary a thought as I can imagine. This is one of the few films in existence that is legitimately horrifying. In the spirit of full disclosure, I had to pause the movie for 10-15 minutes at around the 60 minute mark (right after the home invasion scene...that kid, just walking in...fuck) to gather myself and curse the name of Phil Spires on Facebook. It's some sort of sick, twisted masterpiece. I've been shook up for days since seeing it and I'm still in a funk. Usually your memory of films fade with time (mine does, at least), but I can't imagine ever forgetting this one. It's just so damned effective.


Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:58 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Evenflow8112 wrote:
johnny larue wrote:
Snapshot in USA Today of "TOP 5 scariest movies of all time" as surveyed from 938 Redbox customers:

5) The Shining (9%)
4) Paranormal Activity (10%)
3) Halloween (10%)
2) A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) (12%)
1) The Exorcist (31%)



Funny how the #1 film isn't remotely scary, or even really all that much of a horror film. But then, any horror list that bypasses Jaws is inherently doomed. Or The Thing. Or Henry...

How about that last one, Petey? :)
The Exorcist has a certain level of cerebral scariness, if you're willing to buy into the old-school Catholic gobbledygook.

Paranormal Activity is the only movie I'd say outright doesn't belong. At the end of the movie, I'd concluded that (A) I was not scared, and (B) I'd hit it.


Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:34 pm
Director

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:44 pm
Posts: 1494
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Quote:
What are some Hammer films you'd recommend?


quite a few are airing on TCM on Monday, you should check out Curse of Frankenstein if you can.

Quote:
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (quite possibly my favorite Hammer -- gob-smackingly creepy atmosphere)


thanks for making me waste a netflix rental on this garbage.

Quote:
The Exorcist has a certain level of cerebral scariness,


and the score is creepy as hell. I'm one of those that thinks it deserves its title as scariest movie of all time. but I went to 12 years of Catholic school. and saw it for the first time when I was like 8, one of the more traumatic viewing experiences of my life.


Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:05 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
calvero wrote:
thanks for making me waste a netflix rental on this garbage.


...so you're saying it was alright, then?


Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:08 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Michael Rooker scares the shit out of me in "normal" movies so I'm honestly a little afraid of seeing "Henry". I suppose I'll get around to it eventually, but like Cannibal Holocaust and others, I worry that I won't be able to "unsee" those experiences.


Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:24 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Bah. I thought Psycho was starting last night, but it started at noon today. I'll probably be seeing it at noon tomorrow.

Noon... a decidedly un-scary hour.


Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:32 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ed_metal_head wrote:
Michael Rooker scares the shit out of me in "normal" movies so I'm honestly a little afraid of seeing "Henry". I suppose I'll get around to it eventually, but like Cannibal Holocaust and others, I worry that I won't be able to "unsee" those experiences.

I don't particularly like seeing films that are relentlessly downbeat and downbeat myself, while i'm sure "Henry" is very well-made, I have absolutely no desire to ever sit through it for as long as I live it.


Sat Oct 29, 2011 3:24 pm
Director

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:44 pm
Posts: 1494
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Quote:
All of this longwinded-ness aside, despite a clever premise and some inspired direction, this is a movie that feels very padded at only 95 minutes. Slow burn has become a sort of shorthand for film fans and critics to mean something that's slow paced but still effectively tense. However, in The House of the Devil, West takes the tactic much too far and the result is a movie that's fairly boring for much of it's running length.


Trailer for his new movie, The Innkeepers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=endLt6cX0fk

I hear its a lot like House of the Devil(slow burn etc)

are you gonna post your review of The Fly soon?


Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:51 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
calvero wrote:
Quote:
All of this longwinded-ness aside, despite a clever premise and some inspired direction, this is a movie that feels very padded at only 95 minutes. Slow burn has become a sort of shorthand for film fans and critics to mean something that's slow paced but still effectively tense. However, in The House of the Devil, West takes the tactic much too far and the result is a movie that's fairly boring for much of it's running length.


Trailer for his new movie, The Innkeepers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=endLt6cX0fk

I hear its a lot like House of the Devil(slow burn etc)

are you gonna post your review of The Fly soon?


I saw that trailer the other day. I'll check the movie out at some point, especially since it's coming On Demand before it's going to theaters.

I'll be posting some write-ups soon. I figured that since I wasn't getting this done in October that I'd slow down a bit and try to come up with some better write-ups rather than try to cram as many in before the end of the month as possible. So yeah, there will be at least 1 on Monday. This is still going and I still plan on finishing.


Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:19 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
^ cool. And please let us know when you post the Suspiria review in the post you've reserved. I doubt too many will look back for it. Have you finished watching all the movies though?


Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:50 pm
Director

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:44 pm
Posts: 1494
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
any ETA on more reviews?


Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:44 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
calvero wrote:
any ETA on more reviews?

We like reading Petey, Petey.


Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:17 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ram1312 wrote:
calvero wrote:
any ETA on more reviews?

We like reading Petey, Petey.


For reals. A paragraph will do if you're struck by the old writer's block. We want opinions. So, start opining, goddammit!


Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:06 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
I don't know if I feel guilty for not posting more reviews or if my ego is being stroked by the requests for more reviews, but I'm going to get back into this. Shameless self-promotion coming up - and here it is: I've been busy writing stuff for my newest blog and this has sort of been moved to the back burner. No longer. I'll post at least 1 write up today (likely Suspira or Freaks) and will stay on track until this is all done. Who cares if I took a month off, right?

I'm sure it wasn't your intent to force me to finish this, but that's what the effect is. And for that, I sincerely thank you guys. I need a kick in the pants a little too often for my liking sometimes.


Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:51 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Image

Tod Browning's 1932 entry into the horror genre, Freaks, is a movie most film buffs know pretty well. We all know that the movie used actual circus performers as its "freaks". That's pretty neat, right? We also all probably know that the movie was critically panned, a box office flop, banned in the UK, and didn't gain its cult status until the 60s. If not, you do now.

Usually a movie released to a universally negative response only later to be found worthy means one of two things: 1) The film was "ahead of its time" and was misunderstood by audiences and critics or 2) The more recent "rediscovery" is an excuse to tout a crap film. For a lot of its running time, Freaks falls firmly into the latter category. Technically, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. The film uses mostly static shots with little to no angles, has poor lighting, and employs a script that's pretty mundane - in other words, standard order, by the book, Hollywood filmmaking from 1932. At only 64 minutes, it's a movie that, aside from the last 10-15 minutes, doesn't offer a whole lot to get excited about. Even the film's ultimate message feels a bit silly and, well, corny. Who are the real freaks, the disfigured circus performers or the normal looking human beings? Tolerance must rule the day! The entire concept reminded me of this Dazed and Confused scene. I can't help but hear some stoner saying, "We're the freaks, man!"

That all said, there are a some nice moments in the film. The famous "one of us!" scene is as good as advertised. It feels very cultish. It manages to be somewhat scary even though we know Cleopatra deserves what's happening. The ending of the film, when all the circus performers take arms against the humans, is equally as effective. The humans pay for their transgressions against humanity with the freaks handing out the punishment. Its good stuff, and its really creepy watching those little people crawl around.

I'm not sure that I've heard anyone who's seen this movie react negatively toward it. I wouldn't consider my reaction negative, but it wasn't exactly positive, either. It's a decent enough movie, I just don't really get what all the fuss is about. Using real circus performers is a novel concept, and I'm sure the material was pretty edgy in 1932, but the film feels dated in both concept and technique. Maybe one of you guys can tell me what I'm missing here. Lukewarm is my official response to this one.


Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:19 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
I like 'Freaks' a great deal more than you do, but I find it hard to pin down the reasons. Perhaps I like how the 'freaks', while being shown for the 'freakish' nature and, therefore, arguably being exploited, are all presented as threedimensional characters rather than monsters.

Btw, 'Freaks' was banned in the UK until the late 60ies, so I'm not sure it exactly bombed at the box-office.


Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:27 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Completely agree with ya Pete. It's very slow in the beginning, but damn if that scene with them coming after her isn't freaky.

I remember watching a countdown of the 100 scariest movie moments on Bravo where that scene was discussed. I forget who it was that mentioned the armless, legless man crawling around in the rain and mud with a knife in his mouth....like, what the hell is he gonna do with that knife?


Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:20 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Unke wrote:
I like 'Freaks' a great deal more than you do, but I find it hard to pin down the reasons. Perhaps I like how the 'freaks', while being shown for the 'freakish' nature and, therefore, arguably being exploited, are all presented as threedimensional characters rather than monsters.


I can see that. It's an element of the movie I appreciated, but was more of an interesting novelty to me than a sign I was watching a good film.

Unke wrote:
Btw, 'Freaks' was banned in the UK until the late 60ies, so I'm not sure it exactly bombed at the box-office.


Weird. I knew it had been banned in the UK, but everything I've read said that the public mostly stayed away and those who did see it weren't big fans. I even read that the film's lack of success was a major reason for Browning's career virutally ending after that film.

ram1312 wrote:
Completely agree with ya Pete. It's very slow in the beginning, but damn if that scene with them coming after her isn't freaky.

I remember watching a countdown of the 100 scariest movie moments on Bravo where that scene was discussed. I forget who it was that mentioned the armless, legless man crawling around in the rain and mud with a knife in his mouth....like, what the hell is he gonna do with that knife?


Good to hear you're in agreement, Rammy. Paragraph #2 gave me a good laugh. I LOLed, if you will.


Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:22 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ram1312 wrote:
Completely agree with ya Pete. It's very slow in the beginning, but damn if that scene with them coming after her isn't freaky.

I remember watching a countdown of the 100 scariest movie moments on Bravo where that scene was discussed. I forget who it was that mentioned the armless, legless man crawling around in the rain and mud with a knife in his mouth....like, what the hell is he gonna do with that knife?


Obviously, he is going to turn Cleopatra into a half-woman-half-chicken creature.

Also, the guy is able to roll and light a cigarette with his mouth, so god knows what he can do with a knife.


Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:40 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Freaks was a strange experience for me. I'm not sure that the picture is very good but I flat out love individual scenes so much that I ended up liking the movie quite a bit. Not sure that Browning was a very good technical director and his sound-era career certainly seems less illustrious than what came before.


Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:02 pm
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