Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 31 Trick or Treat

In 1978 John Carpenter put a man in plain coveralls, a William Shatner mask, and created the Halloweenseries. Little did Carpenter know that his $325,000 movie would earn over $150million and spawn a new genre of horror films, after this no teenaged babysitter would ever be safe on the big screen again.

When Halloween was set to be broadcast on television in 1981 the censors deemed several sequences of the film to be too graphic for viewing audiences. Coincidentally Halloween 2 was being film at the same time, and additional footage was shot to replace the sequences the censors did not approve of. This version of the film features the replacement footage as well as the original footage, creating an extended cut of the film with more details on the background and mental illness of the killer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure sharing 31 of my favorite horror films with all of you. I feel that the past 31 films are some of the best (and worst) fright films that the cinema has offered us, it was not an easy list to assemble, and I am well aware that I left out many classics. Thank you for joining me in this trip through cinema horror.

Happy Halloween, and if you see a hitchhiker on the side of the road, next to an insane asylum, down by the abandoned amusement park, off the corner of Terror Drive and Dead Mans Notch, stop and pick him up. After all, he might have candy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 30, there’s no way of knowing which direction we are going

For 37 years Gene Wilder has terrified children and adults alike in his portrayal of Willy Wonka. Wonka, an eccentric candy maker decides to open the doors of his ultra secretive factory for one day, and only allow children to visit him. Wonka is without a doubt in my mind the inheritor of all the morality lessons, destruction, and violence that the Brothers Grimm ever wished to impart to children.

This movie is as much musical as it is nightmarish visual masterpiece. Every cast member sings and dances, some with more style and skill then others. No matter how much Wilder and Fred Astaire have in common, his skill is over shadowed by the antics of the Oompa Loompas. Singing and dancing midgets with bright orange skin and hair that only the Joker would approve of. Some call this movie horror, some call it a classic, some obsess about its comparison to the novel by Roald Dahl, and some prefer Johnny Depp.

Tune in tomorrow, when 31 days of horror concludes. What will be the movie selected for Halloween? Will it be one of your favorites? Will it scare you? Will you even bother to tune in? Or will Oprah Winfrey ban the whole thing as “indecent and immoral? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 29, having dinner with an old friend

Silence of the Lambsis a delicious example of a movie where the supporting actor over whelms the main characters and steals the attention of the audience. When asked about this movie, most people do not mention Buffalo Bob, or the FBI they simply render an impression of Hannibal Lecter flicking his tongue quickly over his lips. This is a movie that gets into your head, just as the villain of the movie does to the hero of the movie.

Ever since Jack the Ripper terrorized White Chapel, serial killers and lunatics have given audiences a perverse thrill. Silence of the Lambs brings the audience two killers in one movie, all from the safe warm perspective of a young FBI agent. It’s a guilt and calorie free ride, where the audience is rewarded with the exciting possibility of a sequel. Really, what chef could ask for a better complement then the audience doing their best impression of Oliver Twist as they say; “Please sir, can I have some more?”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 28, the Pumpkin King

Werewolves, ghosts, witches, vampires, the Boogie Man and musical numbers, it must be a horror movie. Only Tim Burton could imagine a story like The Nightmare Before Christmaswhere Halloween is prepared and exported to our world by fantastical creatures of our darkest nightmares. Disney was reluctant to release this movie, as they thought its content would scare children, so they released it under their Touchstone Pictures. Little could they suspect the pop cultural impact this movie would have on audiences.

This stop motion animation film is a tribute to some of Burton’s favorite movies and cultural icons. Jack Skellington’s dance moves are reminiscent of Fred Astaire; Halloween Town itself is a tribute to the German Expressionist film era, while Christmas Town could have been drawn by Dr. Seuss himself. With a basic story, extremely detailed animation, catchy tunes, and an on screen torture scene with Santa Claus this movie should fit nicely into your Halloween viewing schedule.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 27, Suspiria

Suzy Banyon is a talented dancer from New York City who has just received an invitation to a prestigious dance school in Germany, it’s the chance of a lifetime, and it may be the end of her life. Italian horror director Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a very rarely seen piece of horror movie history. An innocent young girl follows her dreams, and quickly finds herself at odds with a murderous witches coven.

Argento’s film draws the audience into the world of his characters. Garishly colored sets, harsh lighting, and a soundtrack that burns your eardrums, make the viewer feel as if they are a part of Suzy Banyon’s story. If visual and audio assault is not enough to turn your stomach, this movie brings you unsettling events that will leave their mark on you. A fleeing young dancer falling into a room filled with razor wire, a seeing eye dog turning on it’s master, and a chilling sequence with death brought on by shards of a stained glass window. American audiences rarely see Argento’s films, but they have made their mark on horror movie history.