Five films for Halloween you may not have seen in other clickbait lists!

It’s nearly Halloween so this means clickbait lists of horror films that have the same films all the time. This isn’t to say the likes of Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Nightmare of Elm Street are crap films; they aren’t but they’re always on these sort of lists apart from this one.

So to dive right in…

5/ Deathwatch.

Horror films set during the two great wars of the 20th century are rare, mainly because the real horrors of warfare surpassed what people can imagine, but 2002’s Deathwatch, written and directed by Michael J. Bassett, tries in what is a gory, grim horror film set in the trenches of WW1.Jamie Bell turns in a great performance in the central role, while Andy Serkis eats up everything he can in a Cage-esque performance but the star of the film is how it looks and how it makes you feel as a viewer as various characters are broken down, in all senses.

This is firmly an exploitation film that relies on atmosphere as well as the jump scares and gore, plus it really is like no other horror film of the modern age thanks mainly to the setting.

4/ Creep

 

The 2000’s were a good time for British horror films thanks to works from Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Descent) and Danny Boyle ( 28 Days Later) helping kick the genre up the arse but films were lost, including writer/director Christopher Smith’s 2004 film, Creep.

Like the splendid Deathline, Creep is mainly set on the London Underground and like that film, uses the winding labyrinth of the network to scary advantage.It’s a film that plays up the oddness of being several stories underground in places, and being in an alien world of darkness and tunnels which in this case are inhabited by a creature that is more than it first seems.

Creep is a splendid, and of course, creepy film not to mention very violent, and very gory. After the July 2005 bombings in London the film seemed to vanish from the collective memory by the very real horrors of that July day and sadly it’s been lost somewhat but search it out as it is a wonderfully effective film.

3/Wolfen.

In 1981 the werewolf film was back with An American Werewolf in London and The Howling leading the way, and you’d think looking at the UK poster above that Wolfen was a total fucking bloodbath, but it isn’t. What it is, is in fact a film that mixes social commentary (this is probably the first film I saw which deals with the issue of gentrification) with a side-order of tense horror and a wee bit of quite wonderfully done gore.

Adapted from Whitley Strieber’s book and written and directed by Michael Wadleigh (who directed Woodstock) this is an eco-horror film mixed with a cop thriller that bends genres and oh, it isn’t actually a werewolf film even if the marketing of the film strongly suggested it was. What it does do is use the decaying New York of the early 80’s to tell the story on the surface of the investigation of the murder of a Donald Trump-esque character who was redeveloping parts of the rotting city. Wadleigh uses New York amazingly well as a backdrop, while Albert Finney turns in a great performance as the jaded New York cop in whose lap this mess lands.

It’s a flawed film for sure, and at times it does get a tad too preachy, but it’s got an odd feeling of unease running through the film, and when it scares, it does it right.Search it out.

2/ The Last Broadcast

The found footage film is everywhere these days, as is the mockumentary but back in 1998 it was still experimental as more portable video equipment and digital technology became available. Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler‘s The Last Broadcast predates The Blair Witch Project,  and is easily its equal, if not often the better film. Both share the concept of footage being found and reconstructed to find out what happened to the people in that footage, but both come at this premise from different angles as the Blair Witch Project is a pure found footage film, while The Last Broadcast mixes elements of found footage with mockumentary.

What I love about The Last Broadcast is the slow burn and the general atmosphere of something dreadful coming. In 2018 you may well be familiar with the tricks used in the film, but remember this was one of the first in a genre while more importantly it works as a horror film exceptionally well. Go watch it now!

1/ Lake Mungo

First time I saw Lake Mungo it was sometime in the late 2000’s on the recommendation of a mate down the pub. I went home that night, a tad pished, downloaded the film, thought ‘ach, this is going to be rubbish‘ after a few minutes watching thinking I’d be drifting off to sleep soon with a cold kebab to wake up to. Instead I spent 90 minutes or so being gripped and scared in equal amounts as writer/director Joel Anderson spins an incredible story of some sadly, all too real horror but something else creeps in from nearly the start.

The terror is almost Lovecraftian as Anderson plays with our fears brilliantly to the point where after I’d watched it and gotten over the end, I couldn’t sleep til the first shards of light poked into my living room. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about as the less you know going in the better because this needs as few preconceptions as possible.

So there you go, five films for Halloween night you probably won’t see on most clickbaity lists. Go try them out, and remember, watch with the lights off…

The Exorcist-1974 documentary film

I love archival films, especially recent ones which show how the world of the recent past has been lost and that applies to the blockbuster film, the first of which in the modern era is William Friedkin’s excellent The Exorcist.

The Exorcist was the first mega-blockbuster of the modern age that predates Jaws or Star Wars as something where everyone had to see, even if that meant queuing for hours and hours to get into a cinema to see it. Which brings me to this wonderful wee bit of archive footage from 1974 which shows the queues, as well as the audience expectation and reaction.

Today much of this reaction is transitory as there’s a new blockbuster out next week, but in 1974, The Exorcist stood alone in drawing the sort of crowds we take for granted. This is a wonderful little film showing those early days of the modern blockbuster, enjoy.

My Top Ten Hammer Films

So I’ve done my top 20 horror films, and the horror films I hate, and as promised, here’s why I didn’t include any Hammer Films in my top 20. I wanted to do something separately as really, I could fill a top 20 up just with Hammer Films, so let’s crack on….

Number Ten: Hands of the Ripper.

A female Jack the Ripper? What’s not to like about this!

Number nine: Frankenstein Created Woman.

Ever since I saw this on the old BBC horror double bill I’ve adored it for the bizarre bit of Gothic it is, and Peter Cushing is brilliant in it.

Number Eight: Dracula A.D. 1972.

It’s the 1970’s. It’s Hammer. It’s groovy.

Number Seven:The Plague of the Zombies.

It’s the best Zombie film not made by George Romero.

Number Six: The Mummy.

Christopher Lee in bandages!

Number Five: Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter.

Why this was never the huge hit Hammer wanted and needed is a bloody mystery. It’s brilliant.

 

Number Four:The Curse of the Werewolf. 

Oliver Reed. Werewolves. Heaving bosoms! It has it all!

Number Three: Dracula.

This is simply my favourite version of the Bram Stoker story. It’s got Christopher Lee being all mean and hunky, while Peter Cushing plays Van Helsing like an action hero. It’s fantastic stuff.

Number Two: Quatermass & the Pit.

There’s something coming up in regards Quatermass as a whole that I’m planning, but I couldn’t leave this film out. It take a brilliant bit of television and makes a brilliant bit of cinema that still thrills, scares and excites me as an adult as it did when I was a kid.

Number One: The Curse of Frankenstein

This is the film that gave us Hammer Horror. It recreated the classic monsters from an Americanised setting as the Universal monsters left them in. It gave us Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as fully formed stars. It gave us Kensington Gore by the bucketload. It upped the ante for screen violence. It created modern Gothic Horror. It’s also a bloody great film.

 

So there you go, there’s the countdown of my top ten Hammer Films. but as an extra bonus here’s the trailer for Carry on Screaming!

Frying tonight!

 

Next time I wrap up my cliche ridden October/Halloween celebration with one last special blog about a house on Foxhill Drive…

 

 

 

 

My Top 20 Horror Films-20-Audition

It’s October, the month of Halloween and what would be more clichéd than doing a rundown of one’s top horror films, so fully admitting to being a walking cliché, I will be doing a series of blogs running down the films in my own personal top 20. I will be tight in what I’m putting in so I’ll be talking about horror, not monster movies like King Kong or Godzilla, or the thriller/horror crossover film like Psycho or Silence of the Lambs. I’ve been tight as well and excluded glorious things like Theatre of Blood or Night of the Comet as although they are horror films I wanted to stick very firmly to what I suppose are pure horror films, and also, I’m not restricting myself to cinema but television series/films as well.

Essentially these are the films I watch to be scared, repulsed, shocked & horrified. My rules so there! Obviously spoilers will be included so be warned if you don’t know any of these films and want to see them fresh.

First up is Audition.

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Audition was my first encounter with the Japanese director Takashi Miike. To say I was utterly unprepared for what I saw is an understatement to end all understatements. I was expecting something shocking, but when I first saw it I was frankly utterly bored rigid by the first 40 minutes or so of the film as it’s a sort or bizarre romantic drama as a widower organises fake auditions in order to find a woman to go out with. The concept is a bit stalkery but this opening 40 minutes lures you in with the empty life the main character Shigeharu Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) leads with his son.

We’re led through the auditions until Aoyama comes across Asami Yamazaki (played by Eihi Shiina) who he instantly falls for. This leads the film for a while into a romantic drama which is part sweet, cold, and boring all at the same time. There is however a point to all this as Miike is building up to something, or in this case a series of somethings as we’re told that Asami isn’t all she seems. The rest of the film builds up to some of the most horrifyingly painful scenes you’ll ever see in a film. These scenes are agonisingly horrible but you can’t look away from the beautifully shot horror that’s in front of our eyes.

Coming into this blind as I did was an amazing experience. I left the cinema shaking. Few films have ever done that to me and Audition still haunts me. It’s also truly perverse in a way a lot of mainstream horror films made since the millennium can only hope to be as it’s truly transgressive even 14 years later.

See Audition for what it is which is a film which makes you empathise with the leading characters as much as you can before it literally tears one of them apart in front of you. It’s a hard film to enjoy, but it’s an unmissable film.

Next up is is a horror film referenced by Kate Bush in one of her songs…………….